Majority of patients who go into hiding after testing positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has said.
Mr Ehanire while speaking at the daily Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Thursday said about 80 per cent of those who have COVID-19 would have no symptoms.
He said it is quite tasking convincing asymptomatic patients of their positive results.
“It has been said that 80 per cent of those who have COVID-19 would have no symptoms,” he said. “And those who have no symptoms will not believe you that they are positive because they look at the TV and see people collapsing, they see intensive care, and there is nothing wrong with them.
”Again, you also have the issue of people who test and they are positive but they have no symptoms. They think you are going to look for them, they run and go into hiding or they disappear,” he said.
Several reports from across the country reveal how positive COVID-19 patients avoid being treated at the designated isolation centres and some break out from the centres after being admitted.
On April 4, six COVID-19 patients reportedly escaped from the dormitory of the Unity School, Ejigbo, where they were being treated.
Similarly, on April 27 three persons who tested positive of COVID-19 in Kano State allegedly ran away.
The Lagos State commissioner for health, Akin Abayomi also said many of the patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 are not at the isolation centres “because they are on the run.”
Some experts had said these actions may be attributed to the stigmatisation of COVID-19 patients in the country.
John Oghenehero, a medical officer and general practitioner, told PREMIUM TIMES that the fear of stigmatisation and the fear of the unknown are part of the reasons people do not want be admitted into the isolation centres.
“A lot of people still do not understand how the virus is managed hence they don’t want to be stigmatised,” he said. “It is common knowledge that there is currently no cure or vaccine. So people tend to be afraid or have the feeling that nothing can be done for them in these isolation centers realistically. So they may feel there is no need to go to the hospital.”
Meanwhile, at the briefing, the chairman of the Task Force, Boss Mustapha, expressed worry over the refusal of some Nigerians to help with contact tracing.
He said incessant contact tracing will help slow down the spread of the virus.
”We have received reports about citizens refusing to help with contact tracing as well as going into isolation after testing positive,” he said. “It is in the interest of everybody that contacts are traced so as to slow down the spread.”
He noted that some fatalities recorded from the virus are due to changes in the condition of patients while staying outside the isolation facilities.
”It is also in our interest to go into isolation facilities for close monitoring. A number of fatalities have been recorded due to the change in the condition of patients while staying outside the isolation facilities.
”Our appeal is that if agents of the state get in touch with you regarding testing, contact tracing activities, please cooperate,” he said.