Pandemic Diary #4 – Infectious Diseases Specialist

This week, Farida and Damilola spoke with an infectious disease specialist working in the COVID19 management team.

What is your current role in the COVID-19 response and what was your role before getting involved?

Primarily, I work as a clinician, I am a doctor; I see patients and that’s what I do on a day-to-day basis. For the response, I see patients and I work in the infection, prevention and control unit. I do training for doctors. I also help to assess health centre standards for COVID-19 management.

I specialize in infectious diseases.

From your background, it’s evident that you worked during the Ebola period.

Yes, I did.

Based on your experience managing both outbreaks, what are the major differences so far?

They are both RNA viruses, though Ebola is a type of hemorrhagic fever similar to Lassa fever. However, COVID-19 is a bit different because it is more of a respiratory virus so the route of transmission is different. Also the major difference between these viruses is that the Ebola virus outbreak was quite short, it basically lasted from July to October before Lagos was declared free. In addition, the confirmed cases in Nigeria were not up to 20 patients. However, with COVID-19 the confirmed cases are in the thousands with no end in sight for the response, so it’s more of a marathon.

Why was Ebola controlled in a shorter space of time?

When you look at the global response, we have never dealt with something like COVID-19 before in recent world history, of course, we had the Spanish flu in the 19th century. The problem is that we have never dealt with something on this scale. So it has been quite difficult.  

When you look at Nigeria, Lagos state had a tremendous advantage over other states because of the extreme experience we had with viruses like Ebola. So there was a more coordinated response but these are two different viruses and no one has experienced COVID-19 before, so we are all learning as we go.

Cool. How do you feel about the federal government’s imposed lockdown, as seen by the developed countries of the world?

It would be difficult to make a judgment call on that now. This is because all over the world people have been placed on lockdowns and there are many arguments on whether lockdowns are effective or are not. The U.S tried to lockdown but they currently have the highest cases of COVID-19 patients in the world. Now that they are trying to reopen, we can see a surge in cases. Sweden didn’t lockdown and the virus dealt with them rather badly. For Nigeria, based on the situation we were in at that time, I think a lockdown was inevitable. The effectiveness of the lockdown can be questioned. Did we achieve what we sought to achieve? I don’t think so but like I said, we wouldn’t beat ourselves too much over many of these things. We just rather move on, learn, and go.

On treating patients, what’s the mental effect it has had on you?

As physicians, we face one of the highest levels of mortality. It’s not very strange to see patients die; sad to say. The problem with COVID is that it has been difficult to predict. We see patients who get into critical situations and go home. Some get in similar conditions and die. The most disturbing aspect for me is those that talk until they die. You examine them breathing well and all of a sudden, like the snap of a finger, they are here and the next minute they are gone. I’m like, “What?! Is this the man I just spoke with?” So it’s been challenging, you know.  

I have been practicing medicine for years now so I have kind of built a fortitude against these things. However, you can’t be hardened. These things still consume us and we just try to move on to the next patient.

Any highs and lows so far?

Well, I will start with the lows; In the early days of the response, especially when we saw a lot of funds being spent on unnecessary PPEs and the guidelines weren’t being followed.  Personally, it was a hard time for me because I saw things sliding and I couldn’t do much about it. Change is difficult. It was only about two to three months after that we were able to win people over and people started coming around. I was happy that people were trying to conserve PPE like hazmat suits, as they knew they could do well with just a surgical gown. This aided in the preservation of limited PPEs.

Furthermore, I am happy with every patient that survives COVID, we have had a 98 year old survive, and for every patient I discharge, I reiterate the fact that they are very lucky to survive. It has been quite challenging, I have never been this stressed in my life. I am chronically tired, a lot of times I wake up but I doubt I have the energy to get up but I just have moved on. I pray we just get out of this phase because this has very challenging for all of us.

As an experienced doctor, we realize that you are used to this, however, have you heard of other doctors breaking down?

Yes, we have had other doctors suffer a physical and mental breakdown which is quite worrisome. However, for me, I have not suffered either, although I get very tired. I wish everything could be over because it has been very stressful. Thankfully. we have not been as swamped like other parts of the world but we have also been strained. I have been close to breaking down but due to my reserve I am yet to suffer one

How has this affected your family life?

Interestingly, I got married in September 2014 which was smack in the middle of the Ebola response. My fiancé then, now my wife used to drop me off at Yaba; so she has been extremely supportive. There was also an outbreak of yellow fever at Bauchi in 2019. We went on vacation to the Yankari game reserve and all of a sudden, there was an outbreak. Immediately, I started case investigation and she was there with me.

Earlier in the response, there was the challenge of either going from home or staying in a hotel. And all she said was that it was also my house and we would get through the situation together.

End this for us on a happy note

We should thank everyone involved in the response. It’s been challenging for us in every single way. I think I want to salute everyone that has poured blood, sweat, and tears to get us to where we are today.  We just need to keep pushing until we get rid of it. We have been through this from the very first patient until now. We have seen all the ways we have evolved. We have become stronger, harder, tougher, better, and more skilled. We pray that God will shorten the days and we will go back to our normal lives sooner than later.

……….

We are grateful to this doctor for graciously granting this interview.

TWEETS #21

Sarcastic remark on claps for health workers

Wear a mask

America fattening the curve

Plea for correct wearing of masks

Paediatrics warns of spread between colleagues

Is there a new normal after this?

Canadian PM on plan to give health workers protective wear

Bereaved relative appeals for mask wearing.

Nigerian lawmaker describes loneliness of friend in isolation ward

Family appoints member to oversee plans for possible infection

ARTICLES #21

SA’s coronavirus cases continue to soar: Exceeds 200,000 mark

Coronavirus: How fast is it spreading in Africa?  

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53181555

Egypt reopens airports and welcomes tourists to pyramids after COVID closure

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-egypt/egypt-reopens-airports-and-welcomes-tourists-to-pyramids-after-covid-closure-idUSKBN2426VX

The effect of COVID-19 on food and income security in Africa

Egypt’s economy to decline due to COVID-19 impact: IMF

COVID-19: African countries reliant on tourism, oil exporters to be ‘hardest hit’: AfDB

How Pandemics Wreak Havoc—and Open Minds

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/07/20/how-pandemics-wreak-havoc-and-open-minds

The Covid-19 changes that could last long-term

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200629-which-lockdown-changes-are-here-to-stay

Madagascar re-imposes lockdown amid surge in virus cases

https://m.guardian.ng/news/madagascar-re-imposes-lockdown-amid-surge-in-virus-cases/

Malawi’s election cheer dampened by coronavirus surge              

https://af.reuters.com/article/idAFKBN24608L-OZAT

Malawi cancels Independence Day celebrations due to COVID-19

Ghana president self-isolates despite negative virus test

https://www.france24.com/en/20200705-ghana-president-self-isolates-despite-negative-virus-test

AU Commission sets stage for start of clinical Covid-19 vaccine trials

https://www.nation.co.ke/kenya/news/africa-cdc-to-start-covid-19-vaccine-trials-1447988

African Union Commission launches Covid-19 vaccine trial consortium

Covid-19 hit July 4th travel harder in some states, study finds

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/08/covid-19-hit-july-4th-travel-harder-in-some-states-study-finds.html

Hundreds of people celebrated the July 4 weekend at a Michigan lake. Now some have Covid-19

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/12/health/michigan-coronavirus-torch-lake-sandbar/index.html

PRECIOUS-Gold ticks higher on worries over rising COVID-19 cases

https://uk.reuters.com/article/global-precious/precious-gold-ticks-higher-on-worries-over-rising-covid-19-cases-idUKL3N2EK04O

COVID-19: Govt to ban some countries from Nigeria        

COVID-19: Nigerian govt releases new guidelines for resumption of schools

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/402738-covid-19-nigerian-govt-releases-new-guidelines-for-resumption-of-schools.html

COVID-19 may be transmitted through air – NCDC

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/402746-covid-19-may-be-transmitted-through-air-ncdc.html

Gold rate rises to Rs 49,000 on surging Covid-19 cases

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/markets/commodities/news/gold-prices-today-rise-to-rs-49000-on-surging-covid-19-cases/articleshow/76932493.cms

Coronavirus: Nations heading in wrong direction with Covid-19, says WHO

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-53393037

Egyptian journalist jailed on fake news charges dies of Covid-19

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/14/egyptian-journalist-jailed-on-fake-news-charges-dies-of-covid-19-mohamed-monir

Covid-19 restrictions are shattering Argentina’s short-lived political truce

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/14/covid-19-restrictions-are-shattering-argentinas-short-lived-political-truce

COVID-19: Linking loss of smell, depression, and anxiety

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/covid-19-linking-loss-of-smell-depression-and-anxiety

How COVID-19 is affecting HIV 2020 target – UNAIDS     

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/401786-how-covid-19-is-affecting-hiv-2020-target-unaids.html

Ocean investment could aid post-Covid-19 economic recovery

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/13/world/ocean-investment-world-resources-institute-cte/index.html

German study finds low Covid-19 infection rate in schools

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/13/german-study-covid-19-infection-rate-schools-saxony

Covid-19 immunity from antibodies may last only months, UK study suggests

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/13/health/covid-immunity-antibody-response-uk-study-wellness/index.html

US military bases in Okinawa hit by Covid-19 as outbreak worsens

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/13/asia/us-military-bases-okinawa-covid-19-intl-hnk-scli/index.html

Pandemic Diary #3: Frontline Driver, Lagos

First, explain the role you play in the COVID-19 response?

I primarily drive the ambulances used in evacuating confirmed cases from their homes to the isolation centre. Before we leave for any evacuation, we are given PPE like gloves, nose masks, and hazmat suits. While in motion, we put on our sirens to ensure swift arrival to the evacuation site. We drivers usually don’t get down from the car during an evacuation, the nurses and members of the evacuation team usually go into the house to evacuate the patient into the bus. Due to the nature of the virus, we do not use the air conditioners when we pick people that have tested positive to the coronavirus, this is to promote the circulation of air. Then they are transported to the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba.

Other than driving evacuation ambulances, what other role have you played?

Initially, when I got enlisted to join the response from my LGA, I was asked to help transport the samples from collection sites to the laboratory for testing.

How has the work affected your family?

The work has not been easy on my family, I have not been able to go home. I have been living at a hotel. Unfortunately, most Nigerians do not believe in COVID-19. Due to my exposure and experience, my family is very aware of the risk involved. Hence, they are very concerned about my safety.

Is it that they are frightened about your status?

Of course, they are. Usually, when I come home, they keep a distance from me *laughs*. I have not ever had symptoms that relate to COVID-19. Well, the thing is I have had the opportunity of conversing with medical doctors who have laid down precautionary measures needed to protect myself and boost my immunity against the virus. I have been encouraged to take vitamin C and fruits, to mention a few.

Since you work as a frontline driver, have you experienced any patient in a critical condition?

Yes o!!! I have seen patients that have had to be revived or stabilized with oxygen masks. For example, there was a patient in critical condition that we had to evacuate. Fortunately, we arrived early and were able to revive her with oxygen while for others, when they get sick with COVID-19, they assume that they can self-medicate which can be dangerous at times. I try as much as possible to inform confirmed patients, to seek professional medical help instead of taking unnecessary medication from local dispensaries. The biggest dilemma facing Lagosians in general regarding treating medical conditions is the misuse of medication. For example, one may have a common cold and proceed to use medicines for headaches while the actual condition worsens. This is exactly what is happening with the COVID-19 response in Lagos.

Have you seen anybody that has died during evacuation?

Yes a few about 3 to 4 deaths.

Silence

Have the deaths had any effect on your mental health?

Not at all, I am not affected. As I said earlier, the major issue affecting most people is the lack of awareness and information on preventive measures needed to prevent being infected with the virus. Like me now, after a long day, I always take my medication, supplement with fruits, and get enough rest.

Give me a breakdown of a typical day for a frontline driver.

First, I work Sundays to Saturdays. Luckily, I do not sleep a lot, “Kerosene ni mi” (I am kerosene). I am ready for duty anytime around the clock, my roommate can attest to that. For example, a few days ago I was called by a doctor to evacuate a critically ill patient from a hospital to an isolation centre. Even though the rain was pouring heavily, I was able to evacuate the patient successfully.

What advice will you give the public?

My advice to the public is that no one is above the virus and immediately you discover you have been exposed to a confirmed case or notice any symptoms, do endeavour to visit your local health care centres or hospitals. Another thing is that for some people the fear of the virus is responsible for their deaths. In one of our female wards, a patient died after hearing of her roommate’s death. On a positive note, few of my colleagues have been infected and have survived, So COVID IS ONLY A DISEASE AND NOT A DEATH SENTENCE.

TWEETS #20

Person loses relative, says corona is real

Cousin who died alone

Mum lost battle with COVID19

Prudent alarmism saves lives.

We are sick and tired, the virus is not

500 Delta Airlines employees test positive with 10 dying

Grieving family requests hot coffee thrown on faces of those not wearing masks in lieu of flowers.              

ARTICLES #20

NHS faces staff shortages ahead of second wave

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/coronavirus-uk-winter-second-wave-nhs-hospital-staff-shortage-a9588041.html

Many people report delirium      

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/28/health/coronavirus-delirium-hallucinations.amp.html#click=https://t.co/PXDjEKwvzg

MIT Robots disinfect Greater Boston Food Bank 

Who gets the vaccine first?

https://www.wired.com/story/lets-say-theres-a-covid-19-vaccine-who-gets-it-first

How humanity unleashed a flood of new diseases

Fragile healthcare system in Peru is being tested.

A world without detention centres

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2020/6/19/coronavirus-emptied-detention-centres-they-should-remain-closed-forever

A story of two national COVID19 responses

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2020/6/19/a-tale-of-two-covid-19-responses

How British Columbia prevented new outbreaks

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-a-lesson-learned-early-how-bc-has-avoided-major-covid-19-outbreaks/

Coronavirus: UK’s Covid-19 alert level reduced from four to three

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-53106673

Coronavirus: Brazil becomes second country to hit one million cases

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-53092196

CureVac Begins Human Trials of Optimized mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19: UN health agency warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as cases mount

https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/06/1066732

Coronavirus: Palestinian Authority closes two West Bank cities after virus spike

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/coronavirus-palestinian-authority-closes-two-west-bank-cities-after-virus-spike

Coronavirus: Spain to allow UK tourists without quarantine          

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53122825

Chile reports more than 7,000 virus deaths under new counting method

https://m.guardian.ng/news/world/chile-reports-more-than-7000-virus-deaths-under-new-counting-method/

French stadiums to allow fans in from July 11 – government

https://www.eurosport.com/football/ligue-1/2019-2020/french-stadiums-to-allow-fans-in-from-july-11-government_sto7781096/story.shtml

Pope hails Italy virus doctors, nurses as heroes at Vatican

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/pope-hails-italy-virus-doctors-nurses-as-heroes-at-vatican/2020/06/20/1d5cbf10-b2ea-11ea-98b5-279a6479a1e4_story.html

How COVID-19 and the climate are transforming the real estate sector

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/what-effect-has-covid-19-had-on-the-real-estate-sector/

Novartis halts malaria drug trial against COVID-19 amid participant shortfall

https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2020/06/20/novartis-halts-malaria-drug-trial-against-covid-19-amid-participant-shortfall.html

Costa Rica halts reopening as coronavirus infections rise

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-costa-rica/costa-rica-halts-reopening-as-coronavirus-infections-keep-rising-idUSKBN23Q37L

Zimbabwe’s health minister charged in COVID-19 graft case

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/zimbabwes-health-minister-arrested-in-covid-19-graft-case/2020/06/20/8d71f362-b2e3-11ea-98b5-279a6479a1e4_story.html

Data fog: Why some countries’ coronavirus numbers do not add up

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/data-fog-countries-coronavirus-numbers-add-200607065953544.html

Nearly 1,500 deaths in one day: UK ministers accused of downplaying Covid-19 peak

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/19/over-1000-deaths-day-uk-ministers-accused-downplaying-covid-19-peak

COVID-19 spreads in cramped Rohingya refugee camp

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/covid-19-spreads-cramped-rohingya-refugee-camp-200620110652714.html

What is an immunity passport and could it work?

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/immunity-passport-quarantine-work-covid-19/

Three months, 14 swab tests: A 29-year-old Indonesian’s coronavirus ordeal.

https://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/asia/2020/06/months-14-swab-tests-29-year-indonesian-coronavirus-ordeal-200617232447617.html

Coronavirus live updates: Staggering jobless claims persist; global deaths near 450,000.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/18/coronavirus-live-updates.html

Premier League: One positive coronavirus test in latest phase of mass testing.

https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11095/12008446/premier-league-one-positive-coronavirus-test-in-latest-phase-of-mass-testing

Jakarta Post: New coronavirus cases in New Zealand rattle public confidence – The Jakarta Post.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/06/18/new-coronavirus-cases-in-new-zealand-rattle-public-confidence.html

COVID-19 infections surge in six US states.           

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/covid-19-infections-surge-states-200618083951837.

WHO urges caution on ‘breakthrough’ coronavirus drug dexamethasone, citing early data.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/17/coronavirus-update-who-urges-caution-on-dexamethasone-citing-early-data.html

Brazil faces the coronavirus disaster almost everyone saw coming.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/06/15/brazil-faces-coronavirus-disaster-almost-everyone-saw-coming/

Trump Says Coronavirus Will ‘Fade Away’ Even Without Vaccine.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-18/trump-says-coronavirus-will-fade-away-even-without-a-vaccine

WHO gives up on hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, stops trials.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/06/who-gives-up-on-hydroxychloroquine-for-covid-19-stops-trials/

ARTICLES #19

EU borders reopen: Many countries ease travel restrictions

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/eu-borders-reopen-countries-easing-travel-restrictions-200616103958313.html

Regional airports reopen in France as lockdown eases

https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2020-06-09/Regional-airports-reopen-in-France-as-lockdown-eases-RacclBSLmM/index.html

China races to contain a second wave of coronavirus cases in Beijing

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/china-coronavirus-cases-beijing-second-wave-surge-covid-19-infections-latest-news-today-2020-06-16/

New Zealand’s first COVID-19 cases in 24 days came from UK

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-53059633

Common Drug Reduces Coronavirus Deaths, Scientists Report

 

 

WHO welcomes preliminary results on new drug for treating COVID-19

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/398122-who-welcomes-preliminary-results-on-new-drug-for-treating-covid-19.html

Lagos Suspends Reopening of Churches, Mosques Due to Rising COVID-19 Cases

(Updated) Lagos Suspends Reopening of Churches, Mosques Due to Rising COVID-19 Cases

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asian Perspectives on the Post-Covid-19 World

https://www.forbes.com/sites/panel-of-economic-commentators/2020/06/16/asian-perspectives-on-the-post-covid-19-world/

How COVID-19 will change the world

https://www.ft.com/content/9b8223bb-c5e4-4c11-944d-94ff5d33a909

COVID-19: A look at global geospatial challenges and achievements

COVID-19: A look at global geospatial challenges and achievements

Global report: six US states report most ever new coronavirus cases

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/17/global-report-six-us-states-report-most-ever-new-coronavirus-cases

Don’t blame public for COVID-19 spread, says UK scientist

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/16/dont-blame-public-for-covid-19-spread-says-uk-scientist

Hydroxychloroquine: US revokes emergency approval of malaria drug for Covid-19

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/15/hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-fda-emergency-authorization

The president of Honduras has tested positive for the coronavirus.

 

 

Covid-19 can damage lungs of victims beyond recognition, expert says

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/15/covid-19-can-damage-lungs-victims-beyond-recognition-expert-says

Beijing lockdown After 106 COVID-19 Cases Reported in Recent Days

https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/beijing-returns-lockdown-after-106-covid-19-cases-reported-recent-days

The Premier League returns – all you need to know

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/53009593

Chile health minister replaced amid coronavirus controversy

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/chile-health-minister-replaced-coronavirus-controversy-200613194625391.html

Coronavirus: COVID-19 antibodies not detected in up to 8.5% of patients, study finds.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-covid-19-antibodies-not-detected-in-up-to-8-5-of-patients-study-finds-12007209

India’s COVID-19 cases jump from 2 lakh to 3 lakh in 10 days as it records worst daily spike

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/indias-covid-19-cases-jump-from-2-lakh-to-3-lakh-in-10-days-as-it-records-worst-daily-spike/articleshow/76353363.cms

The Latest: South Korea capital adds more coronavirus cases

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/latest-rise-infections-puts-india-globally-71212744

Uncertainty as Spain puts coronavirus death toll ‘on hold’

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1689226/world

Over 8 million views as football returns in Italy

https://www.nation.co.ke/kenya/sports/football/more-than-8-million-views-as-football-returns-in-italy-655160

Super Rugby returns in New Zealand with fans, hugs and handshakes

https://www.bbc.com/sport/rugby-union/53033938

Shahid Afridi tests positive for COVID-19

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/news/shahid-afridi-tests-positive-for-covid-19/articleshow/76355485.cms

Chile’s Health Minister Resigns as Coronavirus Deaths Hit Record

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-13/chile-s-health-minister-resigns-as-coronavirus-deaths-hit-record

Analysis: The countries where COVID-19 cases are on the rise

https://www.euronews.com/2020/06/12/analysis-the-countries-where-covid-19-cases-are-on-the-rise

Moderna set to start final-stage trial of its coronavirus vaccine by July

Moderna set to start final-stage trial of its coronavirus vaccine by July

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan seals off nearly 1,300 hot spots amid virus surge

https://www.gulftoday.ae/news/2020/06/13/pakistan-seals-off-nearly-1300-hot-spots-amid-virus-surge

Brazil’s coronavirus death toll now world’s second highest

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/brazil-coronavirus-death-toll-world-highest-200613050629869.html

Death toll from COVID-19 in Mexico rises by 544 to 16,448

https://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2020/jun/13/death-toll-from-covid-19-in-mexico-rises-by-544-to-16448-2156219.html

Nigeria records 627 new COVID-19 cases, another high for 2 consecutive days – NCDC

https://m.guardian.ng/news/nigeria-records-627-new-covid-19-cases-another-high-for-2-consecutive-days-ncdc/

Virologists vigorously debunk new study on origins of the novel coronavirus

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/virologists-vigorously-debunk-study-origins-coronavirus/story?id=71097846

US human trials begin for first antibody cocktail that might treat and prevent Covid-19.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/11/health/regeneron-covid-19-antibody-trial-starts/index.html

The World Reopens Despite Skyrocketing Coronavirus Cases

AfDB approves 288.5 million USD to support Nigeria’s COVID-19 response

AfDB approves 288.5 mln USD to support Nigeria’s COVID-19 response

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus: Brazil resumes publishing COVID-19 data after court ruling

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-52980642

Burundi president dies of illness suspected to be coronavirus

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/09/burundi-president-dies-illness-suspected-coronavirus-pierre-nkurunziz

COVID-19: John Magufuli declares Tanzania free of the pandemic

https://newsaf.cgtn.com/news/2020-06-09/COVID-19-John-Magufuli-declares-Tanzania-free-of-the-pandemic-RamZGeXYmQ/index.html

Traffic Jams and Jubilation as Moscow Emerges from Virus Lockdown

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/06/09/traffic-jams-and-jubilation-as-moscow-emerges-from-virus-lockdown-a70527

The Global Economic Outlook During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Changed World

https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2020/06/08/the-global-economic-outlook-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-a-changed-world

Long Distance

 

4AF6A8C5-A7A0-488C-8575-28E64BDCBA92

Long Distance

To save our lives

The tough decision

Was taken by our leaders

to close borders

 

The gulf of our distance

widening even further

Before, I could catch a flight

Now, nothing is certain

 

Each time the network 

Acts up I’m worried

Each time we connect 

A bigger treasure

 

You’d have filled the house

With that raucous laughter of yours

Would have said you were

proud of me as I face this war

 

You’d have got me a stash

Of sanitizer, panty liners 

And midnight snacks

The things I forget to buy

 

We would have smiled together

Prayed, fought, kept the watch

I’d take a gap of metres

Over thousands of miles 


Isolating sucks

Many times over

in your absence.

I miss you, love

Pandemic Diary #2: Doctor, USA

Second entry in the series

Could you tell us how COVID19 started in America?

From the news, it started from the city of Wuhan in China and was reported back in December 2019. We did not get the information here in the United States until the end of February. Although our government knew about it, they did nothing. The first case in my hospital was discovered the first week of March; the patient I admitted from the emergency room.

How does it feel to face the risk attached to COVID19 every day?

The risk is there and it is very scary. Right from the moment I admitted the patient who had had symptoms for about ten days. He was a school teacher who taught in two schools. He had pains, difficulty breathing and dry cough. I admitted him the third day when his fever didn’t subside, one of my colleagues decided to test him for COVID19.  Thank God I had my mask and my gloves on when I saw him at the emergency room. 

It was very scary because this was the first patient at my hospital. Due to this, I was told to stay home. That day, everyone kept on calling, my children were frightened.  I eventually didn’t develop symptoms. Regardless, we still have to see the patients and protect ourselves. However, the background anxiety and the reality of the situation is there. 

How does this affect your mental health?

Right. The first week when we had a lot of cases in my hospital, it wasn’t easy. I’m in a group of physicians and we are about ten in my group. Everyone kind of broke down in tears. People were crying all around, the day I actually cried was the day I had about 11 patients. Having to constantly change, this and that, about ten times. My head was hurting, I came down to my office and broke down in tears. My colleagues were all there and at this point, we all agreed this had to stop. Unfortunately, it has not.

To help ourselves, one of my colleagues brought in a 10-minute meditation tool to relax. We all sat in the office, put the lights off and listened; we did that continuously for three days. At this point, we just joke about it in the office because we can’t avoid the situation. So, I honestly don’t think I am affected now. I have a lot of friends who I open up to and who pray for me. I release a lot of tension by talking to my friends. That kind of helps.

What’s the typical day like working with a COVID19 Patient?

Hmm. Firstly, we have designed a protocol at my hospital. Instead of going into the room with the patient, we use a telephone. I call their room, introduce myself and give them their results.  If positive, I ask about their current symptoms. If the patient has had any CT scan done, I explain what their oxygen levels are like. I then give them the opportunity to ask any questions on the forum. After, I inform the patient that I will be coming into their room to examine them and that I would not be asking any questions in the room, as it is highly infectious.  When I go into the room, I do all the necessary examinations and between a minute or two, I’m out. That’s for a typical patient.      

How has your personal life been affected?

Well as a physician, I’m passionate about the wellbeing of my patients. It is my priority most of the time. It really affects me when I see my patients not getting better and still having to transfer them to the ICU, especially the young ones. When I come home, I think about it and I follow them on the computer to see how they are doing. Like I said, because I have so many friends that are doctors, I kind of let out my anxiety through my medical school forum and I have a lot of friendsand relatives that keep on praying and calling me to make sure that I keep safe. At the same time, I pray for my patients, just to make sure that they are okay. So far, I have not had any deaths on my list.

Do you think America has done a good job so far?

The news that you guys see over there is the international news. Over here, we get first-hand information from other news channels asides CNN.  The President originally made it political rather than listen to the scientists. Due to this, it took the government a while to believe that this was real. Initially, the government promised that the number of cases will be very low, about 15 cases and after two weeks, it should go away. The President actually mocked the Governor of Washington state, which was where the first case was recorded. 

The Governor acted swiftly on the case, as a result, he was mocked by the President of America. The President said that he was trying to gain the attention of the media and referred to him as a snake. Due to these, the government was not prepared for the tsunami attack of the virus. When it started spreading to other states, nothing was done about it till about the middle of March or something. Many people had died at this point in New York. 

The government’s response caused the majority of the lives that were lost. The President didn’t call a national shutdown, but it was done state by state. Most of the republican states did not call for a lockdown, this was because they were following the President. News stations like Fox news are largely republican and the President and other republicans speak through Fox News. Hence, most of their listeners are old, Caucasian men who do not listen to any other news besides Fox News. The result of this was a large exposure because they initially assumed it was fake news.

Many were affected because they did not stay home. As we can see, they’re getting the aftereffect of not staying home. In the next two weeks, the President will most likely call off the lock-down. There are a lot of asymptomatic patients moving around who will be the next wave of people that will be seen in America if the lockdown is called off. 

Even though many people are dying, he’s still saying that it’s better for 240,000 people to die than 2 million. If any of them were to be affected, they would be given utmost care whereas the majority of people who are affected here are really the African Americans. Those who their socio-economic class is low. They live in poverty, are uneducated, obese and usually have diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, heart problems, etc.  They really do not have the right kind of immunity. They are dying in thousands every day. The government has obviously not done a good job.

From another angle, the so-called African-Americans who are born here usually don’t have access to good health care due to educational status. Although the republican government has tried to remove so many subsidies away that makes life easier, they still largely depend on the government for assistance. This is one of the reasons it spreads fast among them. 

For example, an African American died of Corona so a funeral was organised in honour of the deceased. More than a quarter of the people that attended the funeral tested positive to COVID19. The funeral director and about four siblings of the deceased died.  I picked up one of the family members that attended this funeral and he informed me that he was still being tested.  By the time I arrived home that day, he had been moved into ICU.

Your advice to the common man 

We should listen to all the scientists talking on the radio and on the television. One, hand washing is very important. We must wash our hands for about 20 seconds, the back of the hands, in between the fingers and the nails should be caught short. This is not the time to have fake nails. Take out the fake nails and wash underneath the nails and all that. 

We should avoid putting our hands on our faces, mouth or the nose because that’s the source of the infection.  If you have to scratch your nose or eyes, you should find a cloth or tissue.

If you can wash your hands like hundred times a day, even if you had any contact with the virus, it would have been washed out. Also, if you have the virus or you develop symptoms like aches and pains, dry cough, runny nose, bad taste in the mouth that progresses to breathing difficulty, then it’s time to go to the health department in your local community. That’s not the time to go to your doctor’s office as this may lead to a wider spread of the virus. 

If tested positive, they can be isolated. However,  it’s going to be difficult for the Nigerian government to quarantine all patients in their homes. This is because people usually live in the face-me-I-face you apartments where there are a lot of people in a home. Hence, it’s better to go where the government is isolating the patients. 

What do you have to say concerning the use of various drugs to ‘cure’ Coronavirus? 

Yeah, these drugs are just being used as a clinical trial.

From the clinical trial being done with some medications, the analysis showed that nearly 14% of recipients were unable to complete the full 14-day experiment primarily due to adverse effects like anorexia, nausea, abdominal discomfort as well as diarrhoea. Some of these drugs have a lot of side effects. It can also prolong the QT level and if not monitored, the patient can develop cardiac arrest. In conclusion, the guideline I recommend is to use these only in the context of a clinical trial; additional clinical trials or prospective outcome registry are needed to conduct research.  There’s no guideline to practice for this new virus. We isolate them, tell them to hydrate themselves and manage their temperature. without giving out medication, the majority of patients will recover and go home. 

Wow. Thank you for your time and this information.

Thank you.

Interviewed by Faridah Bakare, 17th April 2020