The family of late Joseph Obochi on Friday succumbed to pressure to get him buried though it questioned the circumstances of his death and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s (NCDC) declaration that he died of Covid-19.
The family is still at a loss as to why the NCDC was more interested in getting him buried than visiting the family to find out if any of them was infected, adding that nearly four weeks after his death, no contract-tracing has been done.
The family also hints at the illegality and immorality of taking samples from Obochi’s body by the National Hospital and NCDC for a test without any of them been present.
A letter of petition, dated last Monday, to the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and copied to the NCDC and Natural Hospital tells the family’s story. It reads:
Please Release Late Joseph Obochi Body For Burial
Compliments of the day, and we wish you the best in the pursuit of the battle against Covid-19.
We wish to bring to your attention the unfortunate plight we are facing in our family regarding our brother, father, uncle, and brother, late Mr. Joseph Obochi.
The late Mr Obochi was 58 years old. During his life time, he had never been diagnosed with any serious ailment, be it diabetes or prostrate as is often exhibited in aged people.
Last year, May precisely, he noticed his leg was swollen, a quick diagnosis was carried out and he was treated for Arthritis. From that period until his death,.the pains in the leg kept resurfacing at intervals.
On the 8th of May 2020, the pains in the legs resurfaced with other symptoms of swollen stomach, and pains in the chest. He was immediately taken to Kings Care Hospital, Mararaba Nasarawa State. After the diagnosis, his PCV was shown to be 82%. In addition, we were told that there was a trace of infection in his chest which is at its early stage of development and he was administered some drugs, and was told to come for a check-up on 10th, May 2020.
In spite of this, he insisted that he should be admitted and given close monitoring, but to no avail.
In the early hours of May 9th 2020, his condition began to deteriorate and he was immediately taken to the same hospital (Kings Care Hospital). The Hospital confirmed that they lacked the proper medical equipment and we were given a referral.
The Wuse General Hospital could not admit him due to insufficient bed spaces. He was moved to Garki Hospital, where the doctor confirmed that he was suffering from Cardiac arrest and that we would need the attention of a specialist from outside the hospital which would attract a high medical cost.
We insisted he should be admitted but we were advised to go to the National Hospital Abuja where medical bills would be moderate.
He was taken to National Hospital Abuja at 7:15 a.m; but he was left unattended to inside the car that brought him to the hospital at the front of the emergency ward. No medical personnel attended to him for four hours. After much plea he was wheeled into the emergency ward and had oxygen fixed on him.
Consequently, he was moved into the ambulance and taken to the isolation center of the National Hospital. At the isolation center he was moved to a ward and left unattended to. Neither a doctor nor nurse attended to him. The ward attendant beckoned on the nurse on duty several times to come and fix the oxygen on our father which already stopped functioning. She refused and insisted that she was tired and could no longer put on the PPE materials as a result of heat.
This lasted for a while before the ward attendant fixed the oxygen for him. No test was conducted on him; he was left to his fate until he gave up the ghost at about 2 p.m.
In addition, after his demise, we asked for his corpse to be released but were told that NCDC would need to carry out tests on the cause of his death. We were in the hospital until 8 p.m but no staff of NCDC came around.
On Monday, 11th of May, 2020, we were told that the samples were taken. The samples were taken from his corpse without the presence of any family member and no form was filled to that effect. We were simply told orally.
On 15th of May, we received a call from Public Health Service that our father died of COVID-19 and that we should fix a date for his burial and let them know.
In our view, we believe our father did not die of COVID-19 as claimed by the National Hospital Abuja. This is 22 days after, no member of the immediate family and those who cared for him have been visited by NCDC, no contract tracing has been done, and no one quarantined. No one, among family or care-givers, has suffered or complained of even a headache after his death. If he died of COVID-19 as the hospital claims, by now his wife and children and all those who were in contact with him should have been down.
Surprisingly too, 22 days after his death, neither the hospital nor NCDC has made any attempt to quarantine or test anybody. But they are interested in a burial.
In view of the aforementioned, we are calling for a thorough investigation while also demanding for the immediate release of his corpse so we can bury our dead.
With all due respect, sir, we have copied this letter to the NCDC, the National Hospital Management, while contemplating other measures that may be necessary to have closure on the issues raised here.
Accept, sir, the assurances of our warm greetings.
Salvation Idoko Obochi