COVID-19 and Kogi State

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It is no longer news that NCDC has subtly accused Kogi state government of not testing suspected COVID-19 patients. On the other hand, the Kogi state government has declared that it cannot be forced to announce COVID-19 patients where there is none. To me, when two elephants fight, it is the ground that suffers. The ground in this case are the healthcare workers and the citizens.

I will illustrate with a personal story.

Sometime last year, we were operating a known HIV positive patient. It was her 2nd CS. Everything went well until the skin closure when I accidentally pricked myself with the same needle we were using to close her up. It drew blood. That day, I had to run a HIV test at the ARV clinic. It came out negative. I was then placed on Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) for 28 days. Subsequent HIV tests have returned negative for me.

Needless to say, the psychological impact on my wife and I was not funny during that period. The PEP had some unpleasant side effects.Though I didn’t think I could be infected, but I still was unhappy with the entire event. I was overjoyed when the 28 days were finally completed!

Now, let’s assume we didn’t know the HIV status of that patient. Let’s also assume the government refused to make the HIV test available to me. I would have gone home with a lethal virus in my system; in the course of time, I may have become HIV positive; I would have infected my lovely wife; and if I was unfaithful, infected others as well. Those others would have gone on to infect their own partners. Thus perpetuating a vicious cycle of infections.

So, you see why testing is important? It is not about assigning COVID-19 cases to Kogi State. It goes beyond “it is not our portion”. It is not that “NCDC are corrupt and want to assign COVID-19 to Kogi by force”. Rather, it is all about protecting the lives of healthcare workers and their families. It is about protecting and keeping all citizens, including you, safe.

You cannot say something is absent when you have not sought for it. And refusing to check for it is not faith but a dangerous kind of foolishness. Faith to me, recognizes the facts but states the truth of God’s word instead. 
By the way, after my theater accident, I told my Pastor. He made declarations over my life. Of course, I knew “it wasn’t my portion”. I believed that HIV could not dwell in my body. I exercised faith. But I first got tested. I didn’t live in denial. I followed the advice of the healthcare professionals that attended to me at the ARV Clinic. And God perfected my health.

I know COVID-19 is not as fatal as the media portrays it. But it is highly contagious. It spreads fast. A healthcare worker can get infected right in the hospital. Especially when attending to a suspected case without PPE and without prompt testing. We have already seen many of such cases. I personally know some colleagues in other states who got infected this way. This infected healthcare worker can unknowingly move about in the population and infect anyone, even you (though it’s not our portion).

When infected, most healthy young people will not manifest any symptoms but they can spread it to others. The spread may be to a person with compromised immunity who may eventually succumb and die from symptoms. This may be someone’s child, sibling or friend or parent or relative.

The question is “should we stick our heads in the sand, refuse COVID-19 test for suspected cases and endanger the lives of  that child, parent, or sibling or friend or relative?” I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think it’s right either. 

My submission is: it is not mandatory for Kogi state to have COVID-19 cases BUT suspected cases who meet NCDC current guidelines for testing should be allowed to undergo COVID-19 test. I think it is their fundamental human right. Lawyers will know better. This will protect us all and ensure a more transparent COVID-19 response in Kogi State.

Authored by a Kogi State based Medical Doctor who craved anonymity

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