Coronavirus hospital patients in Nigeria broke their quarantine this week to protest the conditions under which they are being kept, including being deprived of food, medicine, and care, Nigerian newspaper Vanguard reported on Wednesday.
Two separate demonstrations against the poor treatment of coronavirus patients took place in Gombe, located in northeastern Nigeria, on Tuesday.
The first protest occurred at Gombe’s Federal Teaching Hospital. According to Vanguard, the demonstration grew rowdy and some hospital equipment in the patients’ ward was destroyed.
The patients who staged the protest are all currently under quarantine at the hospital while they seek treatment there for the Wuhan coronavirus. The protesters complained of negligence by hospital authorities but were reportedly “pacified” by hospital staff after 30 minutes of demonstration. After the event, some officials promised to improve “their welfare,” Nigerian newspaper the Cable reports.
The second protest commenced outside Gombe’s Kwadon Isolation Center. There, more coronavirus patients took to the streets claiming they had been ill-treated by hospital staff. This demonstration was larger than the first; participants reportedly blocked a major city intersection while singing anti-government songs. Some patients appeared to use the demonstration as a chance to escape their quarantine, reportedly going to “unknown locations after the protest.” Others returned to the medical facility, Vanguard reports.
According to the newspaper, one patient said health officials from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) brought him to the Kwadon Isolation Center three days prior and had since “abandoned” him. He said he had not received any medical treatment or drugs and was left alone to share a space with other coronavirus-positive patients.
Another patient told Vanguard the only treatment he had received was a Vitamin C supplement given to him once as he entered the facility several days ago.
A female patient told the newspaper she was being deprived of food and forced to fast like a Muslim patient during the current Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which prohibits eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.
“We that are fasting and those that are not fasting are fed at the same time. It is about 5:00 PM and they are just serving us lunch. This is not fair! They are infringing on our rights,” she said.
On Monday, medical doctors in Nigeria went on strike over an insufficient welfare package for medical workers, which failed to protect them from the increased risks of treating coronavirus patients. Nigeria’s government has been accused of downplaying the country’s coronavirus outbreak, with some saying it has reported lower numbers of cases and deaths than exist.
At press time on Thursday, Nigeria had officially reported 3,145 infections and 103 deaths from the Wuhan coronavirus.