Virus patients protest in north Nigeria

A group of coronavirus patients staged a protest outside an isolation centre in northern Nigeria to demand increased medical attention and food, officials and residents said on Wednesday.

Twenty patients on Tuesday walked out of the facility on the outskirt of the city of Gombe and blocked a nearby highway, regional information commissioner Alhassan Ibrahim Kwami said.

“Their complaint was that they were kept in the isolation centre without being administered any drugs,” Kwami said.

But he insisted the patients had “misunderstood their status” and did not require any drugs as they were asymptomatic.

Kwami said the protesters were also worried about who would look after their families during their confinement.

Local residents said they watched the protests from a distance, with the angry patients “ranting” about their plight.

“They complained of poor feeding arrangement at the facility by the health personnel attending to them,” a local resident who gave his name as Abdullahi said.

Gombe state has recorded 98 cases of coronavirus since it reported the first case on 20 April, making it the region with the fifth-highest official case rate in the country.

State authorities have banned large gatherings, including religious congregations in mosques and churches, and the wearing of face masks is mandatory in public.

Nigeria’s health system has suffered from years of underfunding and neglect and experts are concerned about that it could buckle quickly if cases surge.

Virus patients protest in north Nigeria