SWITZERLAND, MAY 10 – Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has debunked claims of tampering with the COVID-19 test result of the state’s index case, Mrs. Susan Okpe.
United Kingdom-based Okpe, who was in the state in March for a burial, has accused the federal and state governments of keeping her in an isolation centre after claiming she was coronavirus positive and named as Benue’s index case.
In a viral video, Okpe claimed she had not been given any medication by the government in her 43 days in isolation and had not developed COVID-19 symptoms.
She accused Ortom of stigmatisation by disclosing her identity and not forwarding the results of the tests to her.
But the governor denied her accusation, saying it was the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control that carried out the COVID-19 test on her.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, on Saturday, Ortom said he had no regrets in revealing Okpe’s identity.
He said, “The decision was made in the best interest of the people of the state who have continued to appreciate the governor for the proactive approach to contain the pandemic. With the identity of the index case known, tracing and isolating all who came in contact with her became easy.
“It is the constitutional duty of the governor to ensure safety and wellbeing of his people. Section 26 (2) (e) of the National Health Act 2014 gives the government the powers to disclose information relating to a person if ‘non-disclosure of the information represents a serious threat to public health’.”
He added, “Even in the United Kingdom where she left for Nigeria, the Prime Minister tested positive for COVID-19 and went public to say that he had contracted the disease. He was treated and later discharged.
“But here, Mrs Okpe has refused treatment and taken to the daily production of videos to castigate all medical personnel who attempt to attend to her, government officials and anyone who holds a contrary opinion regarding her case.”
“It is important to state that Ortom is not the architect of Mrs Okpe’s problems. If there is anyone who promotes unity and shows love to the various ethnic groups in Benue State, that person is Ortom.
“She claimed not to have seen her COVID-19 test results, and in another breath described the same results as fake. How was she able to know that the results are fake without seeing them?