Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has taken over the treatment of the Index case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Benue State.
Deputy Governor Benson Abounu disclosed this while briefing newsmen following the controversy that has trailed the index case, identified as Mrs Susan Okpe, regarding whether she had actually tested positive for the virus.
Abounu, who is Chairman of the State Action Committee on COVID-19, revealed that the state government in conjunction with the NCDC had decided to take the victim’s blood sample for another test.
Social media has been awash with stories of how Mrs Okpe had debunked claims that she had tested positive for the virus, claiming she was being unjustly detained at an isolation centre.
Related: Benue records first COVID-19 case
She further raised the alarm that she was unjustly pronounced positive for COVID-19 even when she was not shown the result of her blood sample by the state government.
However, reacting swiftly to the claims on Monday evening, the Benue deputy governor said that the lady had come to the state from the United Kingdom for her mother’s burial and had reported to the hospital on Tuesday.
“When the MD saw a young doctor taking her vital signs and overheard that she had just returned from the UK, he asked that she should not be discharged. He then reported to the state government. It was discovered that she had a fever and temperature higher than normal with a persistent cough.
“I was briefed on Wednesday and by Thursday her sample was taken and sent to Abuja alongside that of a 21-year-old patient which came negative while Okpe’s came positive.
“When her result came, the committee moved to the hospital and asked that she be transferred to a treatment centre and between 2 pm to 7 pm she refused. Then I went to the hospital and pleaded with her to be moved to the BSUTH and she finally agreed at about 9 pm.
“She eventually agreed after I spoke with two of her brothers. Doctors visited her at the isolation centre yesterday and she was not yielding. It is worthy of note that the building she’s staying is a new building and the bed she’s sleeping on is brand new. She’s unwell and our duty is to counsel her. We understand why she’s agitated.
“She’s on her way to recovery as her temperature has been normal and she’s not been coughing for the past three days. Her samples would be taken again and sent to Abuja for test and if it comes negative, she will be released into self-isolation, and when a second test is conducted and she’s negative she can then be released to go,” Abounu explained.
He went on to dispel insinuations that her identity was revealed to stigmatise her, stressing that her name was mentioned because it was an emergency situation and it was necessary to mention her name and save lives.
The deputy governor urged those who have been in contact with the index case, especially members of the planning committee for her mother’s burial, as well as her younger sister who was with her at the hospital and all staff of the hospital who attended to her, to self-isolate for 14 days or report to the state COVID-19 committee if they showed any symptoms.
Also speaking on the controversy, NCDC representative Prof Stephen Abah said that the committee had been working with the state team.
“I’ve been to the treatment centre and can confirm that they are following the protocol to the latter. We already have an index case in Benue and NCDC is interested in the case,” he said.