By Onome Oghenetega
Palpable anxiety is currently brewing in Ozoro, the administrative headquarters of Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State following the discovery of a suspected case of COVID-19 from Kano state which was secretly buried in the polytechnic community.
NIGER DELTA TODAY Online can exclusively report that the deceased (name withheld) corpse was sneaked into the state on Wednesday and buried at about 2am.
The deceased whose test result is due to be released today (Friday) was brought in from Kano by relations and subsequently buried upon arrival along Anomu Street Erovie Community of Ozoro Town.
The suspected case was said to be suffering from Diabetes before the health of the deceased, a male, degenerated and reportedly gave up the ghost.
Our correspondent learnt that Kano State officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) alerted the Delta State Government of the development on Thursday.
Government sources informed our correspondent on Friday that the state government had deplored security personnel and the state taskforce on COVID-19 to forceful quarantine those who took part in the secret burial.
Sources in the community, who confirmed the presence of security operatives in the community, said the entire compound where the corpse was buried had been surrounded by officials of COVID-19 taskforce and the operatives pending the release of the test result of the deceased.
It was further gathered that the no resident is being allowed to leave the compound until the Kano State government disclose the outcome of the result to the state government.
At the time of filing the report, the officials were alleged to have been stationed at Anomu Street, Erovie Community, Ozoro where the body of the suspected victim was buried.
“It was brought in and buried at 2:00am Wednesday morning. It was the NCDC in Kano that alerted the Delta State Government to monitor the situation. The Covid-19 test result of the deceased is being expected today (Friday)
“The person is said to have died from diabetes”, several government officials who spoke on condition of anonymities said on Friday.
Our sources claimed that the residents of the compound and all those who took part in the burial would be moved to isolation centre if the deceased sample taken for test proved positive, adding that “Officials will also leave the area if the result proved negative.”
When, however contacted, the Isoko North Council Chairman, Hon. Emmanuel Egbabor, confirmed the burial of the deceased but said he is not aware of the presence of security operatives and officials of the COVID-19 taskforce forcefully quarantining residents of the area.
Egbabor said family of the victim were invited and placed on self-isolation pending the outcome of the test carried out on the suspected case.
The Isoko Council boss said, “The result has not been released. The test was not carried out in Delta; it was carried out in Kano. The result didn’t come out before the person died. They said the deceased had diabetes which led to stroke before now. So, we cannot ascertain whether it is a case of COVID-19 until the result is released.
“While people are talking about it is because of the increase of the case in Kano. If the corpse was properly brought from Bayelsa or may be a state where the rate is low, nobody will be talking about COVID-19. With what is happening these days, when somebody dies naturaly, people will say it is COVID-19.
“We are waiting for the result to be released. We have established contact but the result is not yet out. According to the family, when they brought the corpse the mortuary said the morgue is filled and there’s no space. You know the culture of the Delta people, no matter how far, they like bringing the corpse of their loved ones back home for burial. That was why it was brought.
“For members of the family who participated in the burial, we have spoken with them. I invited them to the council and I spoke to them and they linked us up with the first people that had a contact with the corpse. We have asked them to place themselves on self-isolation. So, we are still waiting for the result but at the moment we cannot say the remote causes of the death. “
Egbabor responding to questions on the presence of security operatives at the venue where the deceased was buried said, “I am not aware because myself and the Executive Secretary Primary Healthcare Centres in Isoko North and the Disease Surveillance Officer (DSO) have been on it.
“If the taskforce need further information, it behooves on them to reach me who is the COVID-19 Committee in Isoko North. I am not aware if they went there. No one contacted me. Security personnel as at yesterday (Thursday) did not went there. We only invited the family to the council where we asked them to place themselves on self-isolation.”
Further efforts to speak with the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye, on the development proved abortive.
Since the outbreak of the virus in the state, Dr. Ononye, has not been picking calls from journalists calling to make enquiries and this wasn’t different.
Delta as of Friday morning had recorded 17 cases of the coronavirus with two deaths and two discharged after recovery from the pandemic while 13 cases are currently undergoing treatment at various isolation centres in the state.