Doctors at the Federal Medical Center, Lokoja, Kogi state, have accused the administration of Yahaya Bello, the governor, of frustrating efforts to test patients who have COVID-19 symptoms.
In the May 17 situation report released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Kogi was reported to have tested just one patient whose result returned negative.
This is despite the state government’s claim of testing 111 patients, all of which were confirmed negative for COVID-19.
In a statement received on Tuesday, Agwu Nnanna, president of the Association of Resident Doctors, FMC Lokoja, said the lack of adequate testing has increased the risk among health workers.
“Many patients with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 have been seen severally in the hospital but efforts to get them tested were frustrated by the state government authorities,” he said.
“There is a palpable fear at the Federal Medical Centre Lokoja as medical doctors and other health workers raise alarm of imminent danger posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to their lives.
“This was against the backdrop of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) report issued on 17th May 2020 that only a single COVID-19 test has been conducted in Kogi State since the disease was recorded in the country about three months ago.
“The doctors fear that they are at a high risk of contracting the disease and transmitting same to their families and other unsuspecting patients. It is a known fact that without COVID-19 tests, physicians cannot properly categorize and treat the patients coming into the hospital in accordance with the management protocols.”
Nnanna called on the federal ministry of health and the presidential task force on COVID-19 to “rally all relevant stakeholders in Kogi State to ensure that tests are being done to ensure the safety of the healthcare workers as they are now the most-at-risk population in the state.”
“One cannot underestimate the impact of this disease on the lives of the families who have lost loved ones to it. As at today across the country 603 doctors have been exposed, 149 confirmed positive and 7 deaths recorded. We in FMC Lokoja do not wish to be joined in these statistics,” he said.
The doctors said if nothing is done to commence testing of all suspected cases, they may be forced to take their destinies into their own hands.
The NCDC had visited Kogi in the first week of May, but the state claimed the agency’s officials “fled” the state when they were asked to undergo tests for COVID-19.
Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of the NCDC, expressed disappointment with the outcome in Kogi, saying his team can offer help where it is needed.