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Lagosians At Risk As COVID-19 Testing Centre Refuses To Test Suspected Cases




Zainab Sanni

The Infectious Disease Hospital, IDH Yaba has taken to refusing to test suspected cases of COVID-19 except they can produce the contact of an individual the hospital has recorded as a positive case.

This is even as a second wave of the deadly virus is rapidly sweeping across the country. This decision is bothersome as it is a fact that asymptomatic carriers of the virus can transmit it too.

Abisola Ganiyu had arrived the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba early Monday morning hoping to get tested for COVID-19. She had spent the the past week treating cough and catarrh symptoms and during the weekend, it worsened as she felt her throat burning. Despite these glaring symptoms indicating she might have the virus, officials at IDH insisted they would not test her and others with her unless they could produce the verified contact of someone who had contracted the virus and was admitted.

Meanwhile, the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu had on December 18, 2020 said that all persons who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 would be tested for free at government facilities. Sanwo-Olu who said this in a statement issued new directives on the management of the virus in Lagos State also emphasised the need for testing as he noted that the rate of positive cases recorded in recent times suggested active community transmission

He said “Of every 100 tests that we now perform, an average of 10 turn out to be positive. This is an increase from the 5 per hundred recorded in September, but lower than our peak in August which was between 20 and 30 per hundred. This suggests the existence of active community transmission, and represents the very likely possibility of the emergence of a second wave in Lagos State.

“All persons who are showing symptoms and fit the case definition for the coronavirus disease will continue to be tested free of charge in the government testing facilities. Collection of samples for testing remains freely available in our sample collection centres spread across all the Local Government Areas in the State.”

Ganiyu who spoke to said it was only after she called a senior government official to intervene did the medical personnel at IDH attend to her. She further noted that as she left, she saw others who were exhibiting clear symptoms of the virus being denied entry into the Hospital.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: NCDC Records 1,133 New Cases In Nigeria

Responding to enquiries by our correspondent, the Lagos State Ministry of Health spokesperson, Tubosun Ogunbawo said only travellers and students were not being tested at the hospital and that the request for contact was important to enable contact tracing.

Ogunbawo in a forwarded WhatsApp message said: “That’s far from the truth. Triage is done and samples are collected. Identification of contact is important so that we can do proper contact tracing. Also to be sure people are not coming under any guise to test( travelers , students).

“Anyone with symptoms or signs are tested and also referred for clinical review at Ward C. Nobody has been turned back from testing apart from travelers.”

The World Health Organisation in a feature on its website describes contact tracing as the process of identifying all people that a COVID-19 patient has come in contact with in the last two weeks.”

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