As the country faces an impending third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, investigations by Daily Trust has shown that many states have shut down their isolation and testing centres.
This is happening as the Delta variant of the virus, which is more contagious, is now spreading across states.
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The federal government at the weekend put the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and six other states on red alert over a fresh surge of the virus. The states on the red alert are Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Oyo, Kaduna and Plateau.
Emirs in northern Nigeria have also been advised by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 to shelve the traditional Sallah durbar in the interest of safety.
Our correspondents report that COVID-19 isolation and testing centres have been completely shut down in some states, while only a few are functioning in others.
Some isolation centres in health facilities have also been converted back to medical wards or to other uses.
The Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said the COVID-19 pandemic is still active and Nigeria remains at high risk of a surge in cases.
He said “We have seen a slight increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Lagos State and remain grateful for the state government’s proactive leadership in recognising this risk.
“We have seen this in several other countries across the world and in Africa. This risk is even higher with the Delta variant of the virus which is more transmissible.”
As of Sunday, Nigeria had recorded 169, 329 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 2, 126 deaths while 164,672 cases have been discharged.
Segmented lockdown likely –FG
The Head, Technical Secretariat, and member of the PSC, Dr. Mukhtar Muhammad told Daily Trust that the federal government may apply segmented lockdown in the wake of the third wave of the pandemic and detection of the Delta variant.
“We are at the stage of intensive preparation, to upscale our preparedness to ensure that if the third wave comes, we are ready to fight it in both mitigations and containment.
“We are making adequate preparations in all other states to ensure that we do not lower our guards.
“We have trained our staff and mobilise them and the state governments to ensure that we are ready in case we start having rising number of cases.”
When asked if there would be a national lockdown due to the third wave and Delta variant of the virus, he said, “The Delta variant is very ferocious and virulent than other strains. So, whatever it takes to contain the spread of this variant, we would do it.
“It may not be a total national lockdown as we experienced last year. But rather it would be segmental. We would look at the areas that are mostly affected and we would try and contain the disease in those areas,” Muhammad added.
Most isolation centres in Kano no longer functional
Findings by Daily Trust revealed that most of the isolation centres for COVID-19 patients in Kano State have been deserted while one of them was totally vacated.
The isolation centres visited include the ones located at Kwanar Dawaki, Sani Abacha Stadium and Muhammadu Buhari Specialists Hospital, Giginyu.
It was gathered that the isolation centre at Kwanar Dawaki has not been used for a very long time according to nearby residents. Also, when our reporters visited the facility, there was no sign of activity going on.
Similarly, at the isolation centre at Muhammadu Buhari Hospital in Giginyu, there was general inactivity, which indicated that the facility has not been used and no patients or any sign of staff working at the facility.
The make-shift tent meant for the isolation of patients is now being used for the registration of COVID-19 vaccination.
Also, all facilities hitherto installed at the Sani Abacha stadium have been removed. It was gathered that the facilities were removed a few weeks ago as the stadium was prepared for the coronation ceremony of the Emir of Kano held on July 3.
The Deputy Coordinator of the state’s response team, Dr. Sabitu Shuaibu Shanono said the isolation centres are still being manned by staff despite not having any patient.
Only 5 centres functioning in Lagos
There are only five isolation centres in Lagos State functioning at the moment despite being an epicentre of the pandemic, with a surge in cases in the last few weeks.
This includes two at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Yaba, one at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), another one at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and another one recently commissioned at the Gbagada General Hospital.
At the peak of the first and second wave, the state had many public and private isolation centres. Many were makeshift centres, which were pulled down due to a reduction in the number of positive cases.
Dr Bowale Abimbola, the Medical Director of the IDH centre, said since the inception of the first COVID case in February 2020, the 300-bed state-owned and CACOVID donated isolation centre has been functioning.
At the LUTH isolation centre, the acting Public Affairs manager of the hospital, Mr Pius Awe insisted the LUTH’s isolation facility was never closed as the country still battles with the pandemic.
Most isolation centres closed down in Plateau
Most of the isolation centres have been closed in Plateau State. However, the one located at the Jos University Teaching Hospital is still open and active.
The State Commissioner of Health, Dr Nomkong Lar, said some of the centres were closed down because cases were no longer reported or found in the state.
He added that all facilities meant to fight the disease were still available and could be used
The commissioner said the state was fully ready for the third wave.
All Bauchi isolation centres converted to medical wards
All the five COVID-19 isolation centres in Bauchi State, have been converted to medical wards, with the exception of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital (ATBU-TH) for management of severe cases.
Findings reveal that the laboratory used for the testing of the COVID-19 is still functioning at Specialist Hospital, Bauchi.
When our correspondent visited one of the isolation centres at the Bauchi Specialist Hospital, he observed that that the facility was reversed to its original use as a medical ward.
Meanwhile, Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed has directed the state Ministry of Health to reactivate of Rapid Response Team in preparation for the COVID-19 third wave in the state.
Staff reposted out of isolation centres in Kwara
Our correspondent observed that only two nurses were on ground to attend to people’s enquiry or those willing to be tested during a visit to the COVID-19 designated centre located inside the Sobi Specialist Hospital, Ilorin.
One of the nurses said that nobody was on admission at the facility, adding that except for severe cases, the hospital usually asks patients who test positive to self-isolate.
A reliable source at the state Ministry of Health told our reporter that those that admit and manage patients at the facility apart from the two nurses have all been posted to other places four months ago.
However, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Raji Razaq denied that doctors and nurses were no longer on ground at the centre and patients were no longer on admission. He said the state is prepared for any form of outbreak.
Some centres closed in Gombe, Borno, Rivers
In Gombe State, investigations revealed that after the first wave of the pandemic, the isolation centres at Kwadon in Yamaltu/Deba Local Government Area and that of the General Hospitals in Bajoga, Kaltungo, and another at Federal Teaching Hospital (FTH) were closed.
A nurse who craved anonymity at the Specialist Hospital, Gombe told Daily Trust that only the isolation centre at the hospital is still in operation.
However, the state’s Commissioner for Health, Habu Dahiru affirmed his ministry’s readiness to handle the third wave of the pandemic, saying the state has never being off guard since the outbreak of the pandemic.
According to him, on daily basis between 700 and 800 tests are being carried out at the state-owned Molecular Laboratory.
In Borno State, the COVID-19 isolation centre in Maiduguri has been temporarily closed pending the arrival of new patients, according to an official there.
The official said all the facilities at the centre are intact but that no patient who tested positive for the disease was referred there since early this year.
Head Case Management Team, COVID-19 Task Force, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), Professor Ibrahim Kida, said all the previous arrangements made to tackle the pandemic are still in place and that the task force is prepared to handle the third wave.
The 250-bed isolation centre located at the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt is no longer functional. The centre was set up at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the patients were quartered at the centre while the facility also served as a quarantine shelter for violators of COVID-19 protocols in the state.
Our reporter also gathered that the Agbonchia Eleme isolation centre, which is located inside the Agbonchia General Hospital is no longer functional.
However, the isolation centre located inside the premises of the state-owned teaching hospital was still functional.
It was learnt that COVID-19 patients have been receiving treatment at the centre.
One centre in Oyo converted to health facility
Most of the isolation centres in Oyo state are still functional, Daily Trust reports. However, one of them has been converted to a primary health care centre.
No patients in Kaduna, Bayelsa isolation centres
Kaduna State has 30-bed isolation centres in southern Kaduna, in Zaria and other parts of the state, including the one located at Hamdala Motel in the capital.
The state said it is also building another centre in the Mando area of Igabi Local Government Area.
Our correspondent who visited the major isolation centre at Hamdala gathered that there was no patient at the time of the visit.
According to one of the staff, who didn’t want to be mentioned, workers report for duty daily even though there were no patients in the facility.
It was observed that grasses had covered some part of the building, an indication of lull in activities.
Meanwhile, the Niger State, Commissioner for Health, Dr Muhammed Makusidi said that testing had been ongoing in the state even though it had not recorded any case in the last four months.
“The third wave is not in Niger yet. We are prepared for it and we have the best laboratory. We are not relenting, we are still testing and no case has been recorded so far,” he said.
Also, checks by Daily Trust revealed that the Bayelsa State Isolation centre located at Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, Yenagoa is not housing any patient at the moment, because the cases of infection have dropped.
A source at the centre said that the state government is no longer operating an isolation centre but advised patients to always quarantine themselves at home and call medical personnel to treat them at home.
Director of Public Health, Bayelsa State Ministry of Health, Dr Jones Stowe, said the state is very prepared for the third wave of the virus and that trained medical personnel are ready for emergencies.
Benue, Jigawa reactivate response
In Benue State, our correspondent reports that currently, there are no patients at the COVID-19 isolation centre located within the Benue State Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) in Makurdi.
The Incident Manager, Risk Communication and State Epidemiologist, Dr. Sam Terungwa Ngishe said the isolation centre is open for operation despite not having any patients on admission.
Ngishe expressed worry that the number of people making themselves available for testing was low just as he disclosed that the molecular laboratory under construction by the state government would be ready in a month’s time.
Meanwhile the Acting Chairman of the Jigawa State Task Team on COVID-19 Implementation Committee, Dr. Salisu Mu’azu, said Jigawa has two functional isolation centres, located in the state capital, which, he said, have always been active.
He said the centres have been routinised in such a way that, they have been made to function like the conventional health centres.
Mu’azu, who is also the Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Health, assured of the state’s preparedness at all times to contain the possible outbreak of any disease, using the existing facilities.
We’re ill-prepared for third wave – Expert
Dr Casmir Ifeanyi said Nigeria, just like during the first and second waves is not prepared to handle the third wave. He said the situation was further worsened with the way both the government and the members of the public have let down their guards.
He said, “Over time, we have become relaxed with our response, testing and isolation centres.
“Most of the isolation and treatment centres have folded up or collapsed. We were supposed to integrate them into our tertiary health system; federal medical centres, university teaching hospitals, specialist hospitals and general hospitals.
“By default, all these tiers of hospitals are supposed to have isolation centres. What happened to them over the years? Why can’t we use the COVID-19 pandemic to revamp those units of the hospital, and get them to be top-notch and functional. That is what we need to do.”
Story by: Ojoma Akor & Abbas Jimoh (Abuja) Usman B. Balarabe, Salisu Ahmad & Muhammad Sulaiman (Kano) Risikat Ramoni (Lagos) Bassey Willie (Yenagoa) Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt) Hope A. Emmanuel (Makurdi), Ado A. Musa (Jos), Romoke W. Ahmad (Minna), Mumini Abdulkareem (Ilorin), Mohammed I. Yaba (Kaduna), Mohammed Abubakar (Dutse) Misbahu Bashir (Maiduguri), Hassan Ibrahim, (Bauchi) & Haruna G. Yaya, (Gombe)