Family abandons Lassa fever victim’s corpse in National Hospital

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About two weeks after his death, the corpse of the patient that died of Lassa fever is still at the National Hospital in Abuja and yet to be buried.

Although the details of the delay for the burial were still sketchy, a source in the hospital told The PUNCH that the family might have abandoned the corpse “because of the manner of the death.”

The 33-year-old newly-married man lived in Jos, Plateau State, but came to see a relative in Kubwa because of his illness.

He, however, died within 24 hours of admission at the National Hospital, Abuja.

When one of our correspondents visited the hospital on Tuesday, many of the hospital employees were not ready to volunteer information concerning the corpse.

But an employee who pleaded anonymity said, “The information we got was that the family of the deceased patient are scared that they may contract the disease in the process of the burial. Several calls have been put to them but it seems they are not convinced. A lot of work should be done by enlightening them that the body has been decontaminated and is therefore safe and harmless.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for the National Hospital, Dr. Tayo Haastrup, said the hospital management had been waiting on the Federal Ministry of Health to give proper advice and directive concerning the corpse.

He also denied that employees had been scared and panicky whenever any suspected case of Lassa fever was brought to the hospital.

“Nobody is running. Our doctors, nurses and medical staff in the Accident and Emergency Department are prepared for any suspected cases of Lassa fever. We are prepared and there is no cause for alarm. All the kits are available.

“The corpse of the dead patient was well bagged as usual and cannot contaminate anybody. We have informed the Federal Ministry of Health. The ministry, through the Director, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi, should advise us appropriately on it. We are waiting for the directive of the ministry.”

However, when contacted, Nasidi told The PUNCH that the family of the dead patient had yet to come and claim it but did not explain why it was so.

The NCDC boss also ruled out cremation of the corpse simply because the death was as a result of Lassa fever.

Meanwhile, laboratory tests conducted on the patient with symptoms of Lassa fever who was brought to Kubwa General Hospital in Abuja tested negative.

The Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Mohammed Danfulani, made the clarification in an interview with The PUNCH.

The woman, who was brought to the hospital on Sunday morning, was said to be having fever, diarrhoea, passing out stool with blood, and vomiting blood.

“We have a patient that has such symptoms but the test was sent for confirmation by public health officials. The result was, however, negative, it’s not Lassa fever,” Danfulani stated.

*The Punch

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