Joe Effiong, Uyo
Controversies have continues to shroud the death of an Uyo-based medical doctor, Mr Dominic Essien, who passed away on Thursday, allegedly, on complications akin to those of the dreaded coronavirus pandemic.
However, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Akwa Ibom State branch has called for caution, advising members of the public including medical professionals not to jump to the COVID-19 conclusion yet, pending the outcome of the test or a coroner’s inquest into the death of their colleague.
A statement issued by the state chairman of NMA, Dr Nsikak Nyoyoko as made available to Saturday Sun, said all doctors in Akwa Ibom State have reasons to be sad over the death of their colleague.
“I was called last night by a colleague who intimated me that one of our colleagues was sick with a week history of fever, cough, and shortness of breath which worsened yesterday with his SPO2 as low as 72%, requiring him to be placed on oxygen at his clinic.
“I immediately called upon a member of the State #COVID19 Response Team to swing into action and somehow, later last night, our colleague was admitted into ISH and managed by specialists in respiratory medicine.
“With the symptoms elucidated above, a suspicion of COVID-19 was entertained, and he had his sample taken today awaiting transportation to the laboratory for COVID-19 testing.
“Unfortunately, this revered colleague of ours died mid-afternoon today (Thursday). Details of the case management are still sketchy as attempts to reach members of the incident Management Committee (IMC) were unsuccessful as they were out for a meeting.
“Dr Dominic Essien was a revered colleague of many parts. He was a renowned private practitioner, a physiotherapist and a lecturer in the department of physiology, University of Uyo.
“We have just lost a friend, colleague and a brother. It’s been a sad day for us at NMA Akwa Ibom State but rest assured that the lessons learnt from this tragic event would not pass in vain.
“I want to urge all our members to remain calm, stay safe and please reach out to a colleague or the association when in need of help,” the NMA boss said.
But apparently disturbed by the frenzy following the death of Dr Essien, who was the proprietor of San Dominic Clinic, Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo, Nyoyoko cautioned his colleagues thus: “Please let’s help reduce the spread of rumors concerning our late colleague. Please take some effort to verify a story before sharing.
“I’m surprised that some of our colleagues have converted a suspicious case of COVID-19 to a confirmed one without running the required lab tests. Some are spreading the ‘breaking news’ that he died of COVID-19 which is not true at the moment.
“The cause of death is yet to be ascertained. Emerging facts have it that Dr Dominic had a pre-existing pulmonary condition that dates back 30 years characterised by intermittent chronic cough.
“The fact that he spent less than 24 hours ( about 15 hours) in the hospital calls for a coroners inquest (i.e. an autopsy).”
Nyoyoko said in order to forward, the NMA shall ensure that Essien’s samples are sent immediately for testing for COVID-19; and, “If he is COVID-19 negative, an autopsy would be performed as required by law.”
A statement the NMA later made available to the press, said speculations are that the deceased needed a ventilator but was denied. “We want to know. Is it true he spent more than 6hours in ISH? Who gave the order for the ventilator not to be used on Him? Who carried out the order of not using it? Is it true that in this profession you are strictly on your own? . Are we co-wives in this medical profession? “
He NMA boss however wondered why a medical doctor would prefer to manage himself at the risk of infecting others in his private centre. “Could it be the isolation centres are not habitable? Are there personals on grounds there to manage cases? Are facilities like water power etc relatively available?
How easy is it to be tested if symptomatic or have history of contact? Why will someone want to hide the information of his or her COVID-19 status?”
When contacted, the state commissioner for health and chairman of the COVID-19 -19 Incident Management Committee, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, said through a text message:
“The Dr (doctor) came to the hospital and died under 24 hours of arrival. He had a chronic prolonged respiratory illness of about 30 years duration which deteriorated seriously in the last week leading to his death. Samples had also been taken for test to exclude COVID-19. The result is being awaited.”