Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazak of Kwara State has demanded the immediate sack of the medical team of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) for alleged professional misconduct in the way they treated a new case of coronavirus patient in the State.
“We demand immediate suspension of Professor Alakija Kazeem Salami and every other official of UITH whose professional misconducts brought us down this path pending further investigation, even as we step up our efforts to contain this virus.”
The governor, who briefed news men today, April 7 on the controversy surrounding a case of coronavirus carrier that sneaked into the State from abroad and later infested his wife before he died, said that the government is utterly disappointed at the sheer blatant disregard for protocol and ethics and breach of trust that played out in the UITH case, thus endangering the lives of millions of people and casting undeserved aspersions on the effort of the administration to fight this virus.
“We insisted at this point that cover up of any kind helps no one as COVID-19 is not a death sentence. It is a global pandemic that requires all sincerity, openness and joint efforts to combat.
“We request the Honourable Minister of Health to kindly use his good office to probe this unpardonable behaviour at the UITH and prosecute any of these officials as appropriate to restore confidence in the institution. We demand everything that would ensure this never happens again!”
Governor Abdulrazak recalled that one of the two coronavirus cases in the state was that of a wife of a man who recently returned from UK, secretly came into the state, had secret treatment administered on him by a professor of medicine, and eventually died at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) without any prior formal communication to the State Technical Committee on COVID-19.
“We realise this is no time to pass the bulk. However, we reject in totality suggestions in some quarters that the state government was complicit, had prior knowledge of the suspected case at UITH, or that the isolation centre was not functional.
“These claims are not only far from the truth but they are also irresponsible.
“We state that the government or the committee was never informed of the case by the UITH authorities until after the death of the husband of the COVID-19 patient. Claims that the patient was taken to our isolation centre were a tale by the moonlight. If we concede that he was indeed brought there, how come nobody ever contacted the committee or the government of such a suspicious case to be attended to?
“His treatment was completely shrouded in secrecy. When the government was eventually notified of the suspected case after death, the teaching hospital was specifically directed not to release the corpse until samples were taken from him.
“This clear advice was parried as the body was hurriedly interned without the government knowing. The question is: who authorised such release knowing how dangerous this was?”
The Governor was compelled by the prevailing situation to signe the newly prepared Kwara State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020 to provide legal backings for the local management of the global health situation.
He stressed that this is an emergency and the regulation, built around some enabling laws like the Quarantine Act of 2004, which empowers him to invoke various drastic measures in the days ahead, if occasion call for it.
Highlights of the regulation include sanctions for anyone caught endangering public safety in whatever form or seeking to unfairly profit from our collective vulnerability and need for essential commodities at this time.
Governor Abdulrazak vowed to “double down” in the ongoing aggressive sensitisation of the public across all media platforms, especially radio and social media, on the danger of this virus and a need to prevent community transmission.
“We need everyone to join this public advocacy in their various locality without exposing themselves or others to danger.”
He asked the people of the state not to panic because “this is no time to panic. It is no time to play politics. We are in this together. Please stay calm. We will do everything to keep you safe. But we need everyone to play their own role. Stay at home, except you are on essential duties. Keep social distancing. Avoid crowd. Prioritise personal hygiene. Eat well and rehydrate yourself. And finally, do not spread unverified news.”