PSYCHIATRIST Dr Oluseun Ogunnubi has warned that Nigeria faces a renewed threat from coronavirus due to the ignorance of the public as affected members of the public resort to cursing health workers and rejecting positive test results in the name of God.
Nigeria currently has 28,711cases of coronavirus, of which there have been 645, with over a third of all cases being in Lagos State. In a bid to arrest the spread, the Lagos State government has stepped up testing, with anyone who tests positive sent to one of the isolation centres until they recover.
However, Dr Ogunnubi, a member of the Lagos State Government Psychosocial Support Group for Covid-19 patients, said that they are facing cultural and religious opposition in carrying out their tasks. He pointed out that when officials call people whose tests are positive, they resort to cursing health workers, while also rejecting the outcomes in the name of God.
Dr Ogunnubi said the reactions were due to the stigmatisation usually encountered by people who test positive to the global pandemic. He thus warned against stigmatising Covid-19 survivors, saying discrimination against them could push patients to suicide or result in psychosis, a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.
He added that stigmatized Covid-19 patients may also suffer other side effects including agitation, anxiety and sleep impairment, as well as poor eating habits. According to the Lagos State government, 2,683 active cases of Covid-19 were yet to turn up for admission in care centres, either due to ignorance or fear of stigmatisation or preference for home care.
Dr Ogunnubi added: “Those who are not able to overcome stigmatisation will become agitated, withdrawn, they will have poor self-esteem, and some may become suicidal. It can lead to anxiety, panic attack and they may feel that people are talking about them and before you know it, they begin to have psychotic experience.
“It can lead to poor sleeping habit and poor eating habits.” Comparing Covid-19 infection with mental illness, the psychiatrist said the contagion was plagued with a lot of stigmatisation, just like mental illness.