Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
At the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Anambra State, the task force on COVID-19 has been working round the clock to mitigate the spread of the virus as well as to ensure that confirmed cases are treated with highest degree of professionalism and care.
Led by Dr. Ugboaja Joseph, an obstetrician and gynaecologist who is the current chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, the task force has been central in identifying, isolating and managing cases of COVID-19 in Anambra State.
At a recent encounter, Dr Ugboaja, who is also the director, Clinical Services, Research and Training, NAUTH, said the task force on COVID-19 in the hospital, between May and July, had 25 admissions in the isolation centre and, within the period, collected, transported and reported the result of about 150 samples from patients and their contacts.
He noted that, as long as the pandemic subsists, the hospital would continue to receive and manage cases of those infected, even though the experts are putting their lives on the line.
Expressing immense gratitude to the NAUTH Chief Medical Director, (CMD), Prof. Igwegbe Anthony, and the management board, led by Chief Ezekiel Afukonyo for providing leadership and the needed logistic support, Ugboaja said owing to community spread, there is need for public-spirited individuals to lend their support in fighting the pandemic.
“What we need is support in terms of the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), especially the N-95 facemasks, the PPE gowns and the hand gloves. The last COVID-19 case we managed consumed about 200 pieces of both the gowns and the N-95 facemasks. Currently, a standard PPE gown goes for between N7,000 and N12,000, while the N-95 sells for between N2,500 and N6,000.
“Leaving this huge responsibility to the teaching hospital is not sustainable and, if we allow the hospital to get overwhelmed, all of us are in trouble. So, key stakeholders have to rise to the occasion now and donate materials to the hospital so that the healthcare workers, (HCW) will continue looking after the patients. We can’t afford to expose the HCW unduly in their line of duty. They are already putting their lives on the line.
“The management and taskforce are doing their optimal best. What remains is the complementary efforts from the stakeholders. We remain grateful to the state government and the Anambra Progressives for their assistance so far.
He said the use of face mask and observance of physical distancing should be taken seriously as evidence showed that COVID-19 was still very much around in the country.
“There is need for citizen cooperation in tackling community spread of the virus. Time has come for everyone to take responsibility because that’s the only way we can arrest the situation and flatten the curve.”
Ugboaja also described the situation where, even in the face of new cases, most people still go about their business as if nothing is happening as unfortunate and highly worrisome.
“Every day, you see people moving up and down in groups without facemasks and with minimal regard to physical distancing. The markets and workplaces are filled with people clustered together without facemasks.
“The bars and other public places are all bubbling with activity, with people paying little or no attention to COVID-19 preventive strategies. This could be dangerous.”
He said stakeholders, including religious, community and political leaders, should join hands with NAUTH and government in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 by sensitising members of their constituencies and monitoring compliance.
On the activities of the task force, he said members, especially those in the Rapid Response Team, Isolation Unit and Accident and Emergency Unit, have been outstanding and deserved commendation.