A resident of Jos, the capital of Plateau State, Saturday said being from same community with Plateau’s Coronavirus index case has deprived him social freedom, since the test result leaked.
“People no longer see us as humans but monsters even in communities we previously shared life with,” said Mr. Bashiru Ummar.
A leaked test result, Thursday showed Kano returning resident of Dogon Karfe, Jos, Miss Hauwa Yakubu, 20, positive for covid-19, hours before the end of a two-weeks lockdown in the Central Nigerian State.
The result later confirmed by federal authorities “has taken our freedom of association, even freedom to feed in the city because I went to buy food but was turned down on realizing I’m from same community with the patient,” Ummar told our reporter.
A neighbor to Ummar, Mr. Abubakar Shafiyu (real name withheld on request) said he was stopped from boarding a commercial bus because he is from “Coronavirus community”.
“I stood at our community bus stop for hours but vehicles kept passing. One particular driver shouted to my hearing that he will not carry someone from Coronavirus community. I was devastated,” said Shafiyu.
“It has been terrible for the entire community,” said the Youth Leader of the Community, Shugaba Mohammed.
“We are law abiding citizens and we love Plateau, but once you mention or you are identified to be from this community, people will literally run from you,” cried Mohammed.
The youth leader blamed the “unprofessional” disclosure of Hauwa’s test result for the community’s plight.
“Our professionals conducted the test”
Mr. Matthew Adewale, the Secretary, Plateau State Association Medical Laboratories Scientists of Nigeria told our reporter, that “professionals” conducted Hauwa’s test “according to standard procedure”.
The result, Adewale said was “properly dispatched to appropriate authorities”.
From “investigations,” the union official said the leak was from “the quarters to which the result was dispatched”.
“Government is investigating “
The Plateau State Government is investigating the source of the leaked “confidential laboratory result”, says State Commissioner of Information, Mr. Dan Manjang.
Government, Mr. Manjang said is “immensely disappointment with this unprofessional act which has not only breached ethical medical standards, but also exposed the suspected cases to stigmatizarion and discrimination.”
“Government totally condemns this act which regretably has the tendency of jeopardising its efforts at fighting the Corona virus pandemic that is ravaging the world,” said the Commissioner in a press statement, Saturday.
Citizens, he pleaded not to be discouraged by this “isolated incident” and keep reporting suspected cases and observing social distancing, hygiene and sanitation.
The State had however said it had started contact tracing and proper management of the index patient.
Until our news report on Saturday morning, no one had visited the community for contact tracing.
The patient, it was learnt, was still in an isolation center outside the State capital, and had yet to be officially informed of her status.
Not transferring her to a proper healthcare center may have exposed over 40 lockdown violators on detention in the same isolation center to the virus.
Same was the fear of her home community, given the delayed contact tracing by government.
Officials only began moves to relocate the patient to the Jos University Teaching Hospital after the blogged news report.
The Government Officials, Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Danladi Atu and Health Commissioner, Dr. Nimkong Lar included, also at noon, visited the community and held a meeting with parents of the patient and leaders of the community.
None of the Officials however spoke to the press but it was gathered that an agreement was signed between the government and community to identify and evacuate all primary contacts of the patient as well as correct negative prejudices against the community.
How this helps the stigma already spreading to allow the community purchase food and other household essentials before the State goes on another lockdown by midnight, Sunday, only time will tell.