Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has stated why he was treated at a medical facility in Abuja when he was diagnosed with the covid-19 disease.
Ikpeazu, who was responding to a question during a zoom enabled online interactive session with a cross section of Abia born journalists, explained that he came to Abuja to seek further answers on his ailment and a second COVID-19 test was conducted. The result returned positive.
The governor stated that his initial test that turned negative while in Abia State was conducted in an NCDC facility in another state as Abia was still setting up its own laboratories at the time.
In his words: “I started having symptoms of something that looks to me like malaria fever and then some slight headache. So my physician who is an Abian, gave me Lonart antimalarial and I had that for 3 days and after the third day, the symptoms persisted and he now changed the course of treatment to Emal. He gave me shots of Emal and later Fansidar. Meanwhile, as that was going on, he administered Covid-19 tests on me and at that moment we were taking our samples to Irrua in Edo State. The samples returned to indicate that I was negative for COVID-19. I continued to treat malaria, I took malaria tests and they said I had residual one plus or something like.
“But after taking Fansidar, I couldn’t make urine again and that gave me a shock because I am a Biochemist and I understand the implications of not being able to move my waste through urine. We assembled 4 doctors from around Abia here who came to look at me and they recommended that I begin treatment at a hospital in Abia known as Mecure. I went there and had my first run of dialysis, as they diagnosed, I also did 3 scans and they looked at my organs. While they were working on these, my ill health was deteriorating and I started to seek further opinion of other doctors elsewhere. And in embarking on that journey, I went with 3 doctors from Abia and a 4th joined us in Abuja.
“Since we had already eliminated the possibility of Covid-19 infection based on the result from the test centre in Edo State, my sojourn to Abuja was in further diagnosis of what the situation could be. It was while I was in Abuja that the covid-19 test was conducted again, and when it came out positive that time round, we felt it was advisable to start treatment there immediately considering the deteriorating state of my health instead of us wasting the time to return to Abia. Unknown to the people around Nigeria, the Amachara Medical Centre has achieved more than 98% success in the treatment of COVID-19.”
He commended the medical personnel that managed his case in Abuja as well as those managing the patients in Abia state and expressed joy that the state owned isolation and treatment facility in Abia State Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Center, Amachara, has continued to maintain one of the best survival rates in Nigeria.
“I pride myself to say that Abia doctors and the facility at Amachara remains one of the best that anybody can use. The initial diagnosis of negative for COVID was later upturned at Abuja. If I had remained here, I would have continued to shoot in the sky and I wouldn’t have been available to answer this question today as you asked them. Therefore, I thank God that I took the decision to go and also thank God that in leaving the shores of Abia, I went with 3 medical doctors in our health system that supported my recovery.”
Vanguard gathered that as August 8, 2020, Abia State has recorded 644 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 523 patients successfully discharged with a record of 99.9percent survival rate.
The state Commissioner for Information, John Okiyi Kalu, told Vanguard that the state has embarked on community case search across the 17 council areas with 4,436 tests already carried out.
According to scientists, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the strain of coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the respiratory illness responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. In our environment, this highly contagious virus, when in a human host, is known simply as the coronavirus.
While many are aware of the above, it appears not many understand the emphasis on “severe” and “acute” associated with this and other related respiratory diseases, hence, they lose their lives or that of their loved ones.
Describing something as “severe acute” should warn of very dangerous clinical nature of a disease signposted by sudden onset, lasting for a short time and requiring urgent medical care. Indeed, the duration of illness between life and death, for highly symptomatic COVID-19 patients may not be longer than 5 days from the first day of manifestation of symptoms to death, unless a prompt medical intervention is made in between.
Sadly, in the Nigerian environment, the average number of days between submission of sample and release of test results is sometimes more than 4 days. Hence, many of those recorded as COVID-19 related deaths in Nigeria actually die between the time of sample collection and the intervening period of awaiting result. Within that window, patients suffer from rejection by some clinics as medical practitioners would rather exclude COVID-19 and its associated contagious nature before they take the patients in for proper care. While this is a terribly dangerous practice, experience has shown that medics are also at risk, indeed much more than the rest of us, hence, the need to also take measures to stay alive even while trying to help others.
Practice expectation is that when medics have strong suspicion of likelihood of a patient presenting with COVID-19 they (where space is available for case holding) should not turn away the patient but instead wear full personal protective equipment (PPEs) to engage and stabilize the patient then invite the lab scientists to come forward and collect samples for testing. But this is not the case currently. To worsen our peculiar situation, when fully licensed public healthcare facilities turn away suspected patients they end up in prayer houses or traditional healing homes. In either case, the outcome is same: undocumented deaths from COVID-19 and rapid community spreading of the disease.
During a pandemic, a global outbreak of disease, and other escalating health crises, public health statisticians from leading organizations, such as the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), track the number of confirmed cases, deaths and recovery cases.
What is flattening the curve?
In epidemiology, the curve refers to the projected number of new cases over a period of time. In contrast to a steep rise of coronavirus infections, a more gradual uptick of cases will see the same number of people get infected, but without overburdening the health-care system at any particular time. The idea of flattening the curve is therefore to stagger the number of new cases over a longer period of time, so that people have better access to care.
The word curve in the term “flattening the curve” doesn’t refer to the actual number of COVID-19 cases. Rather, it refers to the projected number of people who will contract the coronavirus disease.
More specifically, the curve is actually two curves in a chart that demonstrate the spread of the virus with and without protective measures, such as social distancing.
To avoid overloading the health care systems in our communities, because of rising number of people needing to be hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 infection, flattening the curve means slowing the spread of this virus over time using social distancing and wearing of protective face mask, which looks like a lower, smoother curve on the chart.
Based on past experiences, the most critical keys to flattening the curve are social distancing and wearing of face mask in public places. That also include closure of schools, people remaining at home for as long as possible, avoidance of worship centers and other gatherings where one is likely to come into contact with infected persons some of whom are asymptomatic and may not know they are carrying and spreading the virus.
With WHO confirmation that COVID-19 is likely airborne and spread through aerosols, it is even more crucial now to avoid gathering within enclosed spaces such as worship centers and event halls.
Within the Abia environment, the challenge remains testing as many people as possible to, as much as possible, determine the spread of the disease with a view to putting in place necessary measures to control, manage and ultimately rid the state of the virus. In this wise, Abia state government had on Monday, 20th July, 2020, formally launched a mass community testing program across the 17 LGAs, in partnership with World Health Organization (WHO) and Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), starting with Umuahia South LGA. The program which is expected to last for one month has as its main goal the breaking of the chain of transmission of COVID-19 in Abia State with the following measurable specific objectives:
1. To identify cases of COVID-19 in the state.
2. Isolate cases from the communities
3. Manage identified cases
4. Protect the entire population of the state from the infection
With 480 confirmed positive cases, as at Sunday, 19th July 2020, and 1,182 negative cases from 1,871 tests conducted in the state, it is expected that the community testing initiative will likely drive the number of confirmed cases in the state up as more than 10,000 samples are expected to be collected and tested. Ultimately, the state hopes to decentralize the response to the pandemic to LGAs where sample collection and surveillance activities will now be initiated and executed.
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It is instructive to note that with the measures put in place by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration since the outbreak of the pandemic, the state’s public health infrastructure is not in anyway overwhelmed at the moment. With 365 patients discharged and 110 active cases in the state (majority of whom are showing zero to mild symptoms) no single patient has been lost from any of the isolation and treatment facilities in the state.
In addition, two of the isolation facilities put in place by the state government with combined bed spaces of 135, including the fully equipped 100-bed overflow at Amachara and the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Aba which are yet to be used. Only the main isolation center at the Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Center in Amachara and that of the Federal Medical Center, Umuahia, have so far received and managed COVID-19 patients in the state.
As obtainable in wider Nigeria, most of Abia COVID-19 patients are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic thereby meeting part of the NCDC guideline for managed home isolation after proper review by medical experts in the state. It is therefore not expected that the ongoing case search and aggressive testing ordered by Governor Ikpeazu will overwhelm our medical response infrastructure. Similarly, with 2 state-owned NCDC approved testing facilities already in use and additional 2 facilities expected this week, it can be anticipated that the turn around time from sample collection to analysis will be much more reduced compared to the earlier days of the state response when samples were sent to Edo, Ebonyi and FCT for analysis.
If all go according to plan, we estimate that by year-end the state would have fully stabilized its response to COVID-19 pandemic and possibly manage the disease as a routine clinical challenge with designated facilities that test, isolate and treat patients. Until then, all citizens are strongly advised to compulsorily wear face mask when leaving their homes and observe other protocols on social distancing and regular handwashing with soap under running water.
As stated by NCDC, Community surveillance is key for prompt identification, isolation and treatment of COVID-19 cases, to slow the spread of the virus. But ultimate responsibility for our collective protection rests with each one of us. If you protect yourself and I protect myself we will all be safe from Coronavirus.
Following successful training of its Frontline Contact Tracers for coronavirus testing in the 17 council areas of Abia State, its COVID-19 Committee, yesterday, commenced statewide mass community testing for the virus.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Osuji, who spoke at Apumiri Ubakala, Umuahia South Council Area, disclosed that the exercise represented another attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the rural communities.
He explained that the targeted 10,000 persons would be tested within 30 days during the exercise, which begins in Umuahia North, Umuahia South and Isiala Ngwa North council areas
“It is mainly to break the chain of transmission and flatten specific objectives including cases identification, isolation of positive cases, managing symptomatic ones, as well as trace and monitor their contacts to stop the transmission.
Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the state, Dr. Linus Okoro, who spoke through the Technical Officer, Oje Chukwu, said in support of the state government response to containing the pandemic by setting up COVID-19 Task Force, “WHO carried out intensive surveillance (Active Case Search) in Ikwuano, Ukwa West and Umuahia councils to determine the burden and source of the scourge.”
While unveiling the programme, which featured collection of samples of some traditional rulers and community leaders, among others, Secretary to the State Government and Chairman of the COVID-19 Committee, Chris Ezem, said the state government would not rest on its oars in its efforts to protect the people from the pandemic.
Stressing that the pandemic was already tilting towards community transmission, he urged the residents to submit themselves for testing and continue to observe all prescribed preventive protocols saying.
“It would be wise for one to know his status and if one tests negative, he has to be more careful. But if one tests positive, our doctors and medical personnel will care for the person in our facilities. Control of the pandemic cannot be the responsibility of government alone,” he stated.
Responding, Transition Chairman of Umuahia South Council Area, Chief Ndukwe Adindu, commended Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for building the isolation and treatment centres, and the committee for working hard to contain the pandemic in the state.
Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has recovered from the attack of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has put him out of circulation for about a month.
The Governor has been receiving treatment for coronavirus since he was flown out of Abia for Abuja on June 6 in search of a cure
Ikpeazu, who handed over to his deputy before proceeding for treatment in a private facility in the nation’s capital, has not seen in public for weeks.
However, a video clip circulated by some of his top aides yesterday evening, Thursday, July 2, suggests that he has substantially recovered from the sickness to the extent that he can now engage in strenuous exercises
Credited to Erondu Uchenna Erondu Jnr, the video clip came with the caption, “Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, engages Dr. Godfrey Achilihu, MD, in a table tennis game today Thursday 2nd July 2020.”
News Express asked where the video was shot and if Achilihu is one of the doctors treating Governor Ikpeazu but the question went without an answer.
Three other state governors who contracted COVID-19 before Ikpeazu have since been successfully treated and returned to work. They are Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna).
Governors Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo and Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta is the latest to contract the disease. Both have since gone into isolation are currently receiving treatment
has commenced operation at the Abia State Specialist Hospital & Diagnostic Centre, Amachara near Umuahia.
This is coming as the state announced that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who has been undergoing treatment had recovered and is being expected back in the state after the stipulated isolation and treatment period.
The laboratory had been approved by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) whose officials inspected it on Monday and supervised analysis of the first test samples, which results tallied with those obtained from NCDC’s Abuja facility.
Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Osuji, disclosed that other testing centres would commence at Aba, Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Umuahia and the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.
Director of the Amachara Testing Laboratory, Dr Okorie Onuka, said the facility could produce 200 test results daily at the rate of one per 45 minutes.
Providing an update on the state’s COVID-19 situation, Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, said of the 252 confirmed cases in the state so far, 91 were discharged from the Amachara Isolation Centre, stressing that there had been no death in its isolation centres.
Also, Consultant Community Physician and Medical Director of the Abia State Health Management Board, Dr Ijeoma Nduka, hinted that in some conditions, asymptomatic patients could self-isolate in their homes under close monitoring.
The Enugu State Government yesterday confirmed 19 new cases of coronavirus, lamenting that with the new development, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have risen to 76 with five deaths, 44 active and 27 discharged cases.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ikechukwu Obi, stressed that COVID-19 was real and urged residents to continue to adhere to necessary protocols to protect themselves and stay at home when there was no emergency and wear face masks if they must go out. Besides, the state government shut down a health facility in New Haven following reports that some of its workers had tested positive for the virus.
The hospital, a Health Management Organisation (HMO) for workers of some corporate organizations and institutions in the state, was shut after its staff members had contact with a case, now spreading to other workers of the hospital.
As part of efforts to address the health needs of its patients and members of the public while tackling other challenges of coronavirus, the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku-Ozalla partnered the Health-In-A-Box initiative of the Federal Ministry of Health to introduce a telemedicine hospital response service.
Chief Medical Director of UNTH, Dr. Obinna Onudugo, said the technology-driven support system enables regular patients to dial-in to access critical health information and consult with medical practitioners.
Meanwhile, former representative of Abia North Senatorial District, Mao Ohuabunwa has expressed concern over the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in Abia State, saying the initial seven active cases had risen to 166, including Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, whose case was confirmed last week.
Ohuabunwa, who spoke while distributing face masks to his constituents, noted that the Deputy Governor, Dr. Ude Oko Chukwu, earlier described Aba as particularly vulnerable to the pandemic based on reports.
“According to predictions, the rate of infection may still rise as more persons will be tested soon when the two molecular laboratories take off as equipment for the laboratories are expected to arrive from the United States of America this weekend,” he stated.
He, therefore, urged the people of the state to ensure that they abide by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC’s) preventive protocols to avoid further infections.