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Italian man with Coronavirus attempts to escape from Lagos isolation center over poor living conditions

The 44-year-old Italian man diagnosed with Coronavirus in Lagos, allegedly attempted to escape from the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos of Friday February 28th.


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Punch reports that Health workers at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, said the Italian man threatened to leave over the poor condition of facilities at the Isolation center. A senior staff of the hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Italian man complained bitterly about the excessive heat and mosquitoes in the room where he is being isolated. 

“The patient wanted to run away yesterday (Friday). The Italian man, who seems to be an engineer, was very angry that the room where he was kept was very hot. There is nothing there (inside the isolation ward) aside from bed and hospital locker. He almost ran away and is still threatening to do that” the Health worker who did not wear any personal protective equipment required of workers in such an environment said

The anonymous health worker stated that the level of preparedness in Lagos State for infectious diseases such as Coronavirus and Lassa fever “is zero.” According to the staff, Lagos State does not have the facility to accommodate individuals who might have come in contact with the Italian, adding that the facility that is meant to accommodate both suspected and confirmed Coronavirus cases is still undergoing renovation “and might take a while” before it can function fully.

The worker also revealed that the isolation area was a room in one of the wards, and that it was quickly vacated to accommodate the index case.

“The only thing demarcating the room from other rooms in the ward is a red and white barricade tape. That is where the Italian man that tested positive to Coronavirus is kept. There is no single equipment inside that place. It is just like any other regular hospital room with a bed. That building you see that is being repainted is the original place meant to quarantine Coronavirus patients. As you can see, the place is not ready. The state government is just renovating it, despite the fact that the virus started spreading since December 2019. It is really sad that a country like Nigeria is never ready to medically contain infectious disease outbreak. This is why most health workers leave because they are predisposed to danger of infection.” the staff said

Speaking further, the source said that the Mainland Hospital does not have a ready and designated facility to isolate and treat Lassa fever patients, much less Coronavirus. 

“The place meant for Lassa fever patient has been under construction in the past one month. It is not yet completed. As you can see, they are makeshift structures, hurriedly put together with white tarpaulin. They are not permanent structures and I don’t know how this place can actually accommodate humans that have a highly infectious disease like Lassa fever,” he said.

The health worker added that indeed the state government has traced those the Italian man came in contact with in the state, however they allegedly have not been quarantined because the state lacks the requisite facility.

“The standard medical operational procedure is to track all contacts and have them quarantined to avoid further spread of the virus. But we cannot do that here because we lack such facility, which is why there is emphasis on self quarantine.

“Even where the Italian man is presently being isolated was a room vacated by a patient. I pray God saves us in the coming months because we are not ready for the danger posed by the Coronavirus.” the staff said

A nurse at the facility, who appeared unconcerned by the situation on the ground, was seen walking out of the isolation area without wearing personal protective equipment. When asked why she was not wearing a face mask and gloves, she told a Punch Reporter;

“What is coronavirus? Gloves and face masks cannot do anything. We have been working here for years with people that have deadly diseases. At last, all of us will die,” she said

The Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday held a press conference where he said the state government was ready to curtail the spread of the virus. The deputy governor, Obafemi Hamzat, was also on TVC on Friday where he said the state has a 100 bed space for the isolation and treatment of anyone with the virus. 

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