Nigeria became the first Sub Saharan Africa Country to record a coronavirus case after an Italian man who arrived in Lagos last week tested positive.
The case rekindles memories of how a firm Nigerian doctor dealt with the first carrier of the deadly communicable disease, Ebola, into Nigeria in 2014 to prevent its spread.
Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh is today seen as a heroine and was feted posthumously.
The Ebola virus struck West Africa back in 2014. Sources reported that it originated from Liberia and spread across the region.
By the time it had found its way to Nigeria, the virus had killed at least 660 people and infected over 1000 people.
Just like the coronavirus case, Ebola got into Nigeria via plane with Patient Zero identified as Patrick Sawyer.
He was to attend a conference in Calabar, a coastal city 750km from Lagos.
Adadevoh suspected Sawyer to be carrying Ebola which prompted her to do the unthinkable in a country where dereliction of public duty is the norm
To prevent the spreading of the virus in Nigeria’s densely populated capital, Lagos, she detained the patient in her hospital. Her decision ultimately would cost her life.
Quoting the Nigerian Journalist Simon Kolawole in his tribute said Adadevoh, The Guardian says she had three options.
“One, quietly say ‘e no concern me’ and discharge him quickly to avoid contaminating the hospital; two, refer him to [Lagos University Teaching hospital], not minding the bigger consequences for the rest of Nigeria; three, act responsibly in line with the ethics of the medical profession and ‘detain’ him because of the peculiarity of the disease”.
Adadevoh decided to detain Sawyer in a room at the same time overseeing his treatment.
Unlike in Kenya where China arrivals were Thursday asked to self-quarantine, Adadevoh unilaterally quarantined Sawyer then contacted authorities to supply her with protective gear and Ebola educational material.
According to The Guardian, “A young doctor Ada Igonoh, who would later on certify Sawyer’s death the Liberian national had initially denied contact with an Ebola patient even after his sister had died of the virus two weeks before travelling to Nigeria.”
She added that Adadevoh vehemently declined requests from Sawyer’s employers to allow him to catch a flight to the conference
While treating Sawyer, Adadevoh contracted the virus that killed her on August 19, 2014.
Seven others died out of the 20 cases recorded in Nigeria with all the cases being linked to Sawyer.
What would have possibly been the outcome if Adadevoh had asked Sawyer to self-quarantine?