Nigeria’s COVID-19 isolation centers have become the stuff that ‘Prison Breaks’ are made of.
A couple of states in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, have reported cases of fleeing or ‘absconding’ COVID-19 patients.
While not exactly the kind of stuff that ‘Prison Break’ seasons are made of, the trend is nonetheless growing and worrisome.
Here are 8 states where patients infected with the highly contagious disease have bolted from quarantine facilities.
On April 27, the Kano state COVID-19 coordinator, Tijjani Hussaini, announced that three persons who tested positive for the virus in the state had run away.
“We are yet to trace three persons, because they have changed their places of residence and switched off their phones. But we have sought the assistance of security personnel to trace them and take appropriate action,” Hussaini said.
On May 5, coronavirus patients at an isolation centre in the Kwadon community in Yamaltu Deba local government area of Gombe state, broke out of the facility to stage angry protests.
The patients barricaded the Gombe-Biu road, a highway linking Gombe with neighbouring Borno, to express their dissatisfaction with the quality of care on offer.
An estimated 20 patients complained that the government has not been taking proper care of them.
There was apprehension in Taraba on May 3 after a COVID-19 patient went missing.
Commissioner for Health in the state and Chairman of the state’s COVID-19 technical committee, Dr Innocent Vakkai, gave the name of the fleeing patient as Talatu Idris.
He announced that a manhunt for Idris was on and urged members of the public to be vigilant.
A COVID-19 patient who fled an isolation ward in Delta, was intercepted in Enugu.
Enugu state health commissioner, Obi Ikechukwu, announced the patient’s arrest.
“Following the directive of His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, the state’s rapid response team/taskforce on COVID-19 and the state’s security apparatus, in a coordinated sequence of events with the Delta State COVID 19 taskforce, moved swiftly yesterday, detected, contained and returned a confirmed COVID 19 case who had escaped from an Isolation and Treatment Centre in Delta State to Enugu.
“Consequently, contact tracing and decontamination has commenced immediately,” Ikechukwu announced.
On April 26, two residents of Borno bolted from the state’s isolation center hours after testing positive for COVID-19.
Two days later, the state reported that one of the runaway patients didn’t really escape, but had left the facility to self-isolate.
“She brought herself in a very responsible and medically professional manner which was highly commendable,” said Borno Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Babakura Abba-Jato.
Abba-Jato added that the lady reported at the UMTH (University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital) and demanded an apology because she said she was never contacted by the hospital to reappear.
“Unlike the other patient who the committee said switched off his phone when he was contacted and informed that he tested positive, she was not contacted by anyone regarding her test and only heard her name in the media that she was on the run,” Abba-Jato said.
On April 4, six patients from a cluster of COVID-19 cases who returned to the southwestern state of Osun from Cote D’ Ivoire, reportedly escaped quarantine.
Hours later, the state claimed only one coronavirus patient was missing.
On May 6, Oyo state Governor, Seyi Makinde, announced that two COVID-19 patients had absconded.
“Of the 33 active cases being managed by the state, two have absconded, possibly to their permanent places of residence. This brings the number of active cases in Oyo State to 31,” Makinde shared in a tweet.
On May 6, the Bauchi state Deputy Governor, Baba Tela, announced that authorities were hot on the heels of a COVID-19 patient who had fled the isolation ward.
Tela said even though the isolation centres are guarded by security personnel, dealing with infected patients requires tact to contain the spread of the disease.
“Once a patient is diagnosed he/she ought to follow the medication recommended by the doctor, no patient should run away from the isolation centre,” he preached.