Six out of 127 people who returned from Ivory Coast to Osun State, and tested positive for coronavirus, on Friday escaped from the dormitory of the Unity School, Ejigbo, where they had been camped, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
But the state government said only one of the confirmed cases is currently being searched for and that efforts are in top gear to find the unnamed case.
Our reporter learnt that about five of them have been found and taken to the general hospital, Ejigbo, where they are currently being attended to.
However, as at the time of filing this report, it was not clear if the state government had been able to trace the contacts who they might have mingled with while they were on the run.
PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported how 127 indigenes of the state had been stranded at a border town in Ogun State, with the state governor, Dapo Abiodun, notifying his Osun State counterpart, Gboyega Oyetola, of the development.
According to a statement by the state’s commissioner for information, Funke Egbemode, Mr Oyetola was appreciative of the support granted the returnees, who, she said, were not only allowed access to pass through the state but were also escorted by security operatives.
The returnees, mostly from Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s capital, had returned home to avoid the planned lockdown of the city by the Ivorian government.
Following the record of the first death out of 165 cases in the country as of last week, the government locked down the city on Monday, barring free movement of the people except those on essential duties.
The chief press secretary to Osun State governor, Ismail Omipidan, told our reporter on the phone that on their arrival in the state, the Ejigbo-bound returnees were led to the town but were camped separately.
“The 127 of them were camped within the dormitory of a high school in the town and they were barred from moving out of the camp. The government has since been responsible for their welfare while their samples were taken for screening for the Coronavirus disease,” he said.
18 returnees tested positive
According to data released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Friday, 18 of the 20 Covid-19 cases in Osun State were among the 127 returnees camped in Ejigbo, headquarters of Ejigbo Local Government Area.
Findings by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that the result of the first batch of 24 samples taken among the 127 returnees indicated that three of them were positive, while out of another batch of 47, nine had tested positive.
Thus on Thursday when the result of the last batch of 56 samples came out, PREMIUM TIMES learnt six were positive, making the total positive cases among the returnees to stand at 18.
Meanwhile, before their arrival, the state had recorded an index case of a man who surrendered himself for screening after returning from a trip abroad. The second was one of the traced contacts who also tested positive.
How six escaped
Following the release of the last batch of results on Friday, which indicated that six of the 56 results had tested positive, the state suddenly realised that six of the positive cases could no longer be found at both the camp and the hospital.
On Friday night, a list of the wanted six cases was shared on social media, with the development causing panic among the people.
The list, which PREMIUM TIMES, confirmed emanated from the state’s Covid-19 task force, included 1. LAWAL Waliyulah, LASISI Murafat, Yusuff Afees, Isola Abibat, Nua Oyeleye, and Juel Olasupo. Their phone numbers were shared, too.
Some of the numbers called by our reporter were either switched off or not picked by the owner.
However, Mr. Omipidan, who said he was unaware of who released the list, said he had reached one of the contacts and that he claimed he was in the hospital.
We are searching for only one –Government
Meanwhile in a statement signed by Mrs Egbemode on Saturday morning, the government said a fresh headcount conducted in the morning indicated that only one of the returnees was being looked for.
The statement reads in part; “This morning we embarked on a headcount and found out that only one person could not be accounted for by officials stationed at the Isolation centre out of the 127 persons.
“The State Government is currently investigating the matter and will ensure that the missing person is brought back to the Isolation centre and we will also ensure we trace all his contacts. We want to reiterate that any official(s) found culpable will also be dealt with accordingly. We implore members of the public to discountenance the alarm being raised. We will continue to do everything to protect the lives of our citizens in this fight against Coronavirus.”