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EXCLUSIVE: COVID-19: Four staff of University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital test positive, 39 under quarantine

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Four staff of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital have tested positive to COVID-19, while 39 others are placed under quarantine, according to an internal memo seen by Daily Correspondents.

Although staff of the hospital were strictly told not to reveal the contents of the memo to outsiders, but Daily Correspondents was still able to obtain a copy of the secret document.

Daily Correspondents reports that the first index case of COVID-19 death was recorded at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital on Saturday, April 18th, 2020.

The deceased, a 56 years old nurse working for Medicine Sans Frontier (MSF), was admitted to the hospital shortly after being brought in from Pulka, a town in Gwoza local government, with severe “respiratory disease”, which, tests result after his death, was later discovered to be Coronavirus.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and WHO has listed such respiratory ailment as one of the symptoms of the new coronavirus disease.

Despite his critical condition, the patient was admitted to the general male medical ward of the teaching hospital where medical personnel battled to save his life.

No test for COVID-19 was carried out on him while he was alive.

Soon after the first case of COVID-19 was announced, blames began to pour in, with many in Maiduguri accusing the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital of professional negligence of exposing her staff and their families and relatives to danger.

There was also a report that a nurse of the institution who suspected that the deceased nurse’s case was that of COVID-19 and hence alerted that he be immediately isolated before further medical attention, was ignored by her superiors who should know better.

The hospital in recent time has also come under series of attacks from residents of Maiduguri over the unprofessional conduct of some of the doctors and nurses, that resulted in many unavoidable deaths. According to feedbacks received from Maiduguri residents, severe medical cases that required expertise attention at the hospital were being left in the hands of students medical doctors who are barely new into the profession.

Daily Correspondent could not however independently verify these claims.

About five days now since the first COVID-19 index case was announced in Borno, the management of the teaching hospital has yet to explain why the deceased humanitarian worker, who was brought to the hospital with symptoms associated with the novel virus, did not have his blood sample taken for testing as required.

Although the names of the infected four staff were not mentioned, however, according to the leaked internal memo, staff of the hospital were told to observe precautionary measures against the pandemic.

This is even as Daily Correspondents was told by an insider source that the entire teaching hospital is facing shortage of safety equipment like PPE, face masks and hand sanitizers for staff, patients and visitors to the facility.

Our source, who said staff of the hospital are now completely demoralised, told this newspaper that this could not be unconnected with the meagre risk allowance being paid to them.

He said the doctors of the hospital receive N15,000 monthly as risk or hazard allowance, while other non-professional staff receive N5,000.

“How do you expect us to risk our lives and that of our families because of N5,000 in the face of this dangerous situation we are in now. We are truly in trouble in this country,” our source lamented.

He said attempts by medical personnel and other staff of the hospital to push for an increment of their risk allowance has met solid brick wall from management of the hospital, even before the outbreak of the pandemic.

A call put through to the Public Relations Officer of the institution did not go through. Our text message was also not replied to.

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