The Borno State government has read a riot act to operators of private laboratories, pharmacies and patent stores against diagnosing and treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in the state.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr Salihu Kwayabura, gave the warning on Monday during a media briefing in Maiduguri, the state capital.
He decried that some laboratories and pharmaceutical stores were misleading residents into approaching them for diagnoses and treatment of the disease.
“It has come to our notice that a few private laboratories are engaged in this dastardly and unwarranted act,” the commissioner said.
He added, “Again, I sound a very strong warning on behalf of the committee and the government of Borno State that they should desist henceforth or face the law.
“We will close down all such premises and prosecute the offenders in accordance with the extant laws of the country.”
Kwayabura informed journalists that while the total number of recovered patients who have been discharged from the isolation centre was 18, the death toll has risen to 21.
He said 10 out of the 21 cases were managed at the isolation centres before the patients gave up the ghost, but the remaining 11 were brought in critical conditions and their status was only discovered after a post-mortem was conducted.
The Commissioner, who is also the secretary of the State COVID 19 Task Force, lamented that some infected patients wait until the disease knocks them down before presenting themselves at the hospital.
According to him, the Ministry of Health had already sent out letters to the culprits with very clear warnings that none of them has the capacity to test for COVID-19.
Kwayabura added that as laboratories conduct diagnostic investigations, they do not have the mandate to attend to patients medically or prescribe the drugs to use.
“I want to sound a very strong warning to pharmacies and patent medicine stores outlets across the state, to private laboratories and private hospitals spread across the state; it is absolutely clear in the laws of this nation that they cannot provide medical care to any individual.
“Therefore, it remains an illegal act to consult within the premises of your facilities,” the commissioner caution.
He, however, asked all government and private hospitals and clinics to be on high alert and properly profile all patients who come to their facilities for medical care.
Kwayabura also asked medical personnel to immediately arrange for the referral of any suspected case of COVID-19 to the state isolation centre for necessary actions.