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Tension In Enugu As Woman Tested Negative To COVID-19 Dies

—Daughter Blames ESUTH, State Government For Negligence

By Izunna Okafor

What could be best described as bewilderment and fright have rocked Enugu State, Southeastern Nigeria, following the unexpected death of the 70-year-old woman who recently tested negative to Corona Virus in the state.

The woman, who was suspected of COVID-19 was said to have died a day after her result (which though showed negative) was out.

Reacting to the development, a lady who claimed to be the deceased's daughter has accused Enugu University Teaching Hospital, ESUTH, where she was handled, of negligence, and also accused Enugu State government of unpreparedness for the virus, despite the fact that the outbreak was reported in December.

In an open letter addressed to the Enugu State Governor, H.E. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, which was also widely publicized in social media; the woman who chose to remain anonymous, said her mother died of stigma and negligence on the part of ESUTH health workers.

According to her, the isolation centre at the 'Colliery Hospital' where her mother was isolated while her test was going on, was in  “a dilapidated environment that seems to have been left uninhabited over a long period of time.’’
She further claimed that the manner and state at which they treated my mother was inhumane.

The letter reads: “I am writing on behalf of myself and family in regards to the 70-year-old woman suspected of the Covid-19 in Enugu published on Saturday, March 14, 2020. The patient who is my mother unfortunately passed away on Sunday, March 15, 2020 having tested negative to the aforementioned.

“She returned to Nigeria on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 after five months trip to the UK to visit her children. Whilst the health workers/officials at ESUTH/Parklane had to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against this virus, the manner and state at which they treated my mother was inhumane.

‘’My mother was isolated in a dilapidated environment that seems to have been left uninhabitable over a long period of time. The isolation centre in Enugu is an abandoned old section of the hospital, where the grass and debris were being cleared whilst my mother was there.

“The staff at the hospital were unprofessional in the way they handled my mother. She was stigmatised and this made her feel worthless. My mother arrived at the hospital on Friday, March 13, 2020, blood samples were collected on Saturday, March 14, 2020 with results expected on Monday 16th March, 2020.

“As declared by the World Health Organisation that this is a global pandemic, one would expect a faster testing time. My mother had to spend three days in a dire situation, without adequate health care and unsure of what is happening around her.

“If the result for COVID-19 was ascertained on time, my mother would still be here with us, as she would have been moved to a better equipped hospital with the right experts to deal with her underlying illnesses.

“My mother died due to the negligence and unpreparedness of the state in putting adequate facilities, including staff training in place. The new strain of the coronavirus was detected back in December 2019 and it is absolutely disappointing that there is no appropriate isolation centre in Enugu State.”

As at the time of filing this report, on official reaction has yet been released by the so-accused government of Enugu State, as response to the woman's claims and allegations.

However, in their own thematic reaction through a statement signed by Chinwe Udeh, Agatha Nnamani, Nkem Eze, Emeka Anene and Peter Udemezue; some doctors under the brolly of “Concerned Health Workers in Enugu State” have dismissed the woman’s allegations as mischievous.

The statement reads in part, “As health workers in Enugu, we state that we have basic knowledge of what transpired as well as the high level commitment of the medical doctors and other personnel who worked tirelessly to manage the woman that was first rejected by all federal medical institutions in Enugu, before she was accepted by the ESUT Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu.

“On this note, we commend the Enugu State government for not joining issues with the so-called daughter of the woman who deliberately did not write her name in her  baseless vituperations against the state and integrity of our medical profession.

“It is disheartening that when we expected her and other family members of the woman, to show gratitude to the state government and the medical personnel for accepting to treat their rejected mother, under such intense panic and anxiety over the suspected spread of the deadly COVID-19 in the state, it was not forthcoming.

“We also feel bad to note that the daughter of the woman, who admitted her mother had multiple ailments, mischievously alleged that her “mother died due to the negligence and unpreparedness of the state in putting adequate facilities, including staff training, in place.”

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