There are indications that several politically exposed Nigerians, diplomats and other public significant individuals exposed to the coronavirus are living in breach of the publicly declared quarantine Act, HumAngle investigations reveal. In Abuja, there is possibly a score of such ‘very important personalities,’ (VIPs) receiving medical attention under coded names in exclusive clinics over the past weeks.
The individuals, according to HumAngle investigations, ignored the public procedural protocols and guidelines handed out by NCDC to stem the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic. For instance, some 15 legislators from the House of Representatives who arrived Abuja from a capacity-building trip in one of the COVID 19 distressed countries created a scene at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport when officials approached them for testing.
Refusing to submit themselves for medical laboratory testing for coronavirus following their return, the lawmakers showed bad leadership, thereby putting several aides and colleagues in harm’s way. HumAngle understands that following high-level representations to them thereafter the legislators, individually sought medical attention, but notably outside the officially declared route.
Some legislative aides that HumAngle spoke with were not forthcoming as to the hospitals where the lawmakers were receiving medical attention. Medical officials at a few of the hospitals that HumAngle visited would neither confirm nor deny to HumAngle inquiries that any patient was admitted on COVID 19 related cases. Sources familiar with this development hinted that some of the VIP patients, including some legislators, diplomats, and some officials from the Presidency were receiving treatment across a few of the most exclusive clinics in the city for coronavirus related cases.
HumAngle made covert visits to three of Abuja’s top five hospitals, obtaining information that confirmed that some of the VIPs were in admission with some members of their families and were indeed receiving treatment for coronavirus related diagnosis. A medical doctor in one of the hospitals visited said they have isolated at least five high profile persons and treated them without recording any casualties.
Did they not consider such practice a breach of the quarantine law? The medical officer who would not have his name on record said: “We got in touch with the NCDC, but they were not responsive, so we took the necessary measures and went ahead to manage the cases with us.” In spite of these, Nigeria’s recovery rate of coronavirus cases is ranked among the best in the world.
Compared with countries in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States that have recorded heavy casualties, Nigeria’s recovery rate has impressed.
None of the high-end hospitals where the VIPs are receiving treatment in Abuja is accredited by the NCDC to manage COVID-19 related cases. Our probe reveals though that the VIP patients do not want to be sent to designated centers where they cannot control information about themselves. Said a manager in one of the hospitals who would not want his name in print, “these hospitals cannot afford to turn them back. Most of these cases are people that take their security seriously, they don’t want their case or location known to the general public.”
Medical personnel in one of the hospitals we visited volunteered that, “the only reason these patients require secrecy is to ensure adequate security for them and their families because some of them are at the very top of our society.” Two medical doctors that spoke to HumAngle admit that most of the cases are those that have tested positive but are asymptomatic or those that are afraid that they were exposed to people with known cases of coronavirus, so the hospital took necessary measures in order not to endanger their staff and members of the public.”
The major public health concern tied to the medical secrecy exhibited by the VIP patients is that the information about those who may have come in contact with them is not in the public domain and makes contact tracing impossible. Said a medical officer working with the COVID 19 response team in Abuja, “information about their travel history, where and who they have been with are not forthcoming.”