HEALTH workers in Delta State have complained about being physically attacked by a gentleman named as Emeka Ijeh who recently returned from the UK and took offence when he was asked to self-isolate in case he had coronavirus.
Although Nigeria has been spared the worst excesses of the global pandemic, the country has about 111 infected people so far, of which there have been two casualties. All the cases have involved people returning from abroad and those who came in close contact with them upon their arrival.
Apparently, Mr Ijeh assaulted some health workers from the Emergency Operation Committee on Covid-19 in Delta State, who insisted he must self-isolate as a precautionary measure against spreading the virus. Delta State epidemiologist, Dr Richard Ikwuogu, broke the news in a short message that went viral via social media and the development has been confirmed by the Delta State health commissioner Mordi Ononye.
According to the commissioner, the man was taken into custody by the police but was later released because it is not in line with best practices, as it will pose a health risk and further spread the disease if he is positive. Dr Ikwuogu, who said he was among those attacked, pointed out that Mr Ijeh returned from London on March 23 and when he was told to self-isolate, he became abusive and violent.
Apparently, Mr Ijeh used abusive words on the health officers who called him on the telephone to explain to him why it was important for him to follow their directives. Not satisfied, the health officials were said to have decided to visit him at Okpanam, a community in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Dr Ikwuogu said: “We went with the intent of discussing why he should self-isolate but because of the phone call experience, we went to the Ogoani of Okpanam who asked the chairman of a vigilante group in Okpanam to lead us to the place. On getting to his house opposite the Omu of Okpanam, he was informed that some persons were looking for him and he came down and while we tried to exchange pleasantries, he started abusing us that we were infringing on his privacy.”
Dr Ikwuogu said Mr Ijeh then ordered them out of his residence and they left quietly but never knew he was following them. Dr Ikwuogu said he and other health officials were immediately assaulted on the road by Mr Ijeh.
According to health commissioner Mr Ononye, Mr Ijeh complained that he has been treated as a leper since his return from London. However, the commissioner said that is not an acceptable excuse for his aggression on the health workers.
Mr Ijeh was said to have later apologised to the health officials, after he was persuaded to do so by the commissioner. Mr Ononye advised local residents in Delta State not to be hostile to health workers since they are at the frontline in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.
Earlier this week, Nigeria’s health minister Osagie Ehanire, said some Nigerians who flew in from other countries were refusing to abide by the nation’s advisory guidelines. He said people who exhibited such attitude were not only putting their immediate families in danger but everyone they come in contact with if they are infected.