The Curious Case Of Anambra’s CoVID-19 Index Patient

Since the governor of Anambra State announced that a patient in the state tested positive for COVID-19, on April 10 many counter claims have emerged with the patient himself denying the claims and the hospital where he was first admitted for heart condition saying the whole procedure was irregular. Our correspondent reports.

Barely a week ago, the Governor of Anambra State Chief Willie Obiano in a broadcast announced that one person in the state have been tested positive for the deadly coronavirus and subsequently quarantined.

However, that announcement triggered not only panic but controversy with the reported index case in the state denying that he has been tested positive for the virus and accusing the state government of doctoring the result.

The management of St Joseph Hospital Adazinnukwu, where patient was treated for heart problems, said though he showed certain symptoms of coronavirus infection, but it was not convinced that he was positive.

The hospital management also stated that ever since the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) collected the patient’s samples, it has not reported its findings to the hospital and the next they heard of the test was the governor announcing an index case on air.

The state commissioner for health, Dr Vincent Okpala insisted that the report made available to the government from the NCDC showed that the patient tested positive.

Okpala had a few days before also announced that 39 people were placed in isolation as direct contacts of the index case.

Over a week after, none of these people has exhibited symptoms of the disease.

The chief of staff to the governor, Chief Primus Odili and the secretary to the state government, Professor Solomon Chukwulobelu had earlier told the world that the index case is responding to treatment and is being taken care of along with others in isolation.

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But in an interview with the index case conducted by some reporters in the state via telephone as well as the WhatsApp calls between the patient and his friends, he insisted he is not positive to coronavirus.

“I don’t have coronavirus,” he said. “Government is claiming that I have COVID- 19. Let them come here and conduct the test.”

He alleged that he is not being properly taken care of with no food given to him and drugs whatsoever.

The patient claimed that the last time he was in Lagos was early in December 2019 and that as a business man, he deals on pharmaceuticals, he had never visited China before and had left Europe before the pandemic broke out.

In another development, the Administrator of St Joseph Hospital, Adazinnukwu, Rev. Fr Jerome Okafor in a release from the hospital said that the patient refused to state his travel history and that when he was admitted from Regina Celi Hospital, Awka, to Adazinnukwu, he was coughing and vomiting blood.

“The cardiologist said that the symptoms are not strong enough to conclude that he has coronavirus but advised that his samples be taken for test at NCDC,” he said.

He, however lamented that the announcement by the state government that the patient has COVID-19 has caused the staff, patients and image of the hospital to be stigmatized, especially since the hospital has not been informed about the outcome of the test.

“I wish to therefore state that St Joseph Hospital Administration has not received reports of the test of the sample the NCDC collected from one of the units of its complex.

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“The hospital Administration is advising well-meaning individuals to shun rumour mongering capable of hurting the psychology of patients and hospital staff and the psychological trauma of the patient, whose medical information the hospital staff is duty bound to protect,” he said.

Okafor also said that the patient got better and was discharged against medical advise because he insisted on going home.

According to him, the patient did not run away from the hospital as claimed. He paid his bills and the unit discharged him because the major reason he was suspected to have had the virus was that he was not forthcoming with information about his travel history.

Again, in a special broadcast on COVID-19, Governor Obiano on April 18, 2020 gave an update on contact tracing and progress of the index case.

“Today, I am delighted to announce that the report reaching me from the Protective Care Centre indicates that our Index Case is responding very well to treatment. In fact, the first post treatment result from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) returned Negative for SARS-CoV 2. However, following the standards, which have been rigorously applied by NCDC since the outbreak of the pandemic in Nigeria, he will go for a second round of tests before he can be conclusively declared negative. We shall continue to remember him in our prayers as he fights his way back from this illness,” he said.

He said out of the 39 persons traced to have contacts with the index, 5 are in the Protective Care Centre while the rest are quarantined at home.

“The people in our Protective Care Center are stable and have shown no symptoms of the virus so far,” he said.

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Obiano further said that those in home quarantine are being closely monitored in strict compliance with the WHO guidelines on COVID-19 containment.

Meanwhile, six people out of the 39 contacts have tested negative for coronavirus. These people met directly with the index case 14 days ago, the governor himself announced.

Similarly, he said out of 20 samples tested for the virus from the state, only the Index case returned positive.

These developments have led people in the state to claim that the reported index case in the state might just be a ploy from the state to attract monetary intervention.

One of them is Mr. Chika Uzo, a trader, who described the reported index case as a scam that the state government wants to use to get money from the federal government.

Reacting to the insinuations, the Anambra state commissioner for information and public enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba said, though the state would love federal government support but cannot compromise the integrity and lives of the people of the state.

He said since the pandemic started, the state government had lost over N6billion, and wondered how the state government would prefer to lose so much more just to get so little.

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