COVID-19: understanding isolation, lockdown and stigmatization (1), by John Okiyi Kalu

To isolate simply means to cause (a person or place) to be or remain alone or apart from others, and to isolate something is to examine or deal with it separately.

Flowing from that, an isolation center denotes a hospital or ward for patients with contagious or infectious ailments.

COVID-19 can readily be distinguished from Malaria by the simple fact that while the former is infectious the latter is not. An infectious disease is liable to be transmitted from one person to another..

The simple reason COVID-19 patients need to be isolated is to stop them from infecting others they might come into contact with as well as provide an environment for them to be clinically managed back to health. It is by no means a punishment for them or members of their family.

Isolation of COVID-19 patients can be done at a medical facility popularly known as isolation center or at the home of the patient. Based on current NCDC guideline, patients who are asymptomatic (not showing symptoms of the disease) should be isolated at home, especially if they have relevant space and are adjudged responsible members of the society who will not go out to infect others deliberately.

Where the individual violates this expectation of responsibility, he/she will immediately be taken to a proper isolation center and might be later sanctioned in line with relevant laws which might lead to imprisonment after the period of isolation. On the other hand, all those manifesting symptoms and are in some form of personal health danger are to be kept in an NCDC approved facility anywhere in the country for proper management.

COVID-19 patients do not pay for test, isolation and medical management at the designated NCDC approved facilities in Nigeria. States provide free ambulance services to move them into isolation where they cannot move themselves without risk to themselves and/or others.

During the period of home isolation, patients are expected to be locked into a room with zero contact with others as food and other materials are kept at the door for them to later open doors and collect. Usually, the lock-in period is for a minimum of 14 days starting from the day of sample collection that led to positive test result. It is strongly advised that once you send in your sample for testing you isolate yourself till the result is out, and, if positive you will immediately be contacted by relevant state officials.

To be continued….


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