By Ndahi Marama
Some doctors and nurses at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital in Borno State are currently under quarantine, following the death of a member of an international humanitarian organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, who received treatment in the hospital.
The deceased, identified as Babangida Buba, who joined the humanitarian organisation after retirement, was said to have been admitted to the hospital two days ago.
A nurse, who did not disclose her identity, said she and some of her colleagues had raised the alarm that the late health worker should be moved to the intensive care unit of the hospital but were ignored.
“The late nurse had a case of pneumonia and he had been admitted to the hospital before. I guess that was why they were not on high alert; they felt he had not travelled out of the country recently and he might have not contacted an infected persons, since he was brought in from a rural area, “ the health worker said.
Confirming the development in a statement yesterday, MSF Head of Mission in Nigeria, Siham Hajaj, said: “Our dear colleague died on April 18 in Maiduguri, and post-mortem test results indicated that he was positive for COVID-19. Due to patient confidentiality, we cannot disclose the identity of this patient.’’
The patient was the index case of COVID-19 in Borno State, while the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, also confirmed his death in an early morning tweet yesterday.
Until his death, the deceased was working in Pulka, a district in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State housing thousands of displaced persons.
Following the incident, Hajaj said MSF was supporting the Ministry of Health to identify the contacts of the patient.
He added that the organisation’s projects would continue to operate and provide essential treatment for communities in the country.
The MSF head of mission revealed that the organisation had strengthened infection prevention measures, hygiene facilities, infection control and the establishment of isolation spaces, in its bid to protect its staff and patients.
Borno govt expresses regrets
Reacting to the incident, chairman of the High Powered Response Team for the control and prevention of COVID-19 in the state, who is also the Deputy Governor of Borno State, Umar Kadafur, expressed regret about the outbreak of the disease in the state, being the index case.
He said: “In total submission to the will of Allah (SWT), and in full gratitude for his mercy,the Borno State High- powered committee on the prevention and control of COVID-19 hereby announce to the general public that one case of COVID-19 disease was confirmed in Maiduguri on Sunday, April 19, 2020.
“He was a 56-year-old citizen of Borno State who was brought in from Pulka in Gwoza Local Government Area that shares border with Cameroun Republic, with features of severe respiratory disease. He was managed in the UMTH but unfortunately, he succumbed to the disease (may his soul rest in peace).
“However, nasal swab specimen was collected from the body,which tested positive for coronavirus at the COVID-19 reference laboratories in the UMTH and validated by the NCDC. The remains of the body has been buried in line with standard protocol for disposal of infectious body.
“All contacts of the deceased are being traced and necessary measures to prevent further spread has been put in place. To this point, about 97 persons of interest have been traced and strategic testing instituted.
“Furthermore, the organisation he worked for in Pulka had been directed to provide line list, profile and quarantine all his contacts and submit same to the committee for action.
“Meanwhile, a team on surveillance and case management has been deployed to Pulka today (yesterday) for further investigation and sample collection.
“May I at this juncture reiterate to the good people of Borno that COVID-19 disease is real, and no nation or people are immune.
“People are advised to wash their hands with soap and water regularly, avoid over crowding and report any sick person to the healthcare workers,use hand sanitisers.
“The Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum, heartily commiserates with relatives of the deceased and, indeed, the entire people of Borno State.’’