The popular federal government-owned girls’ secondary school in Lagos state, Queens College Yaba, has been overtaken with tension following the mass bacterial infection which invaded the institution. Consequent upon the disease outbreak, the government of Lagos State advised an indefinite shutdown of the college.
The Lagos state Commissioner of Health, Jide Idris, while addressing journalists in the state on Thursday, March 16, said the re-opening of the school should be put off until appropriate health measures are put in place for the safety of the students.
Since the outbreak of water-borne diseases in the school, two students (Vivian Osuiniyi, a Junior Secondary School two pupil, who died on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 and Bithia Itulua, a JSS 3 pupil, who died on Wednesday, February 22, 2017) have lost their lives while more than 50 others are presently on admission in the school’s clinic after eating spaghetti and drinking water in the refectory.
According to Mr. Idris, water samples were taken from the school and analysed at the state’s Drug Quality Control Laboratory as well as the Microbiology Department of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
“The results from the two laboratories showed high bacteria content in the water samples from the kitchen, behind dining hall and Queens Delight, the school water factory,” said Mr. Idris.
“The bacteria range from Coliforms, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Klebsiella ozoana, and Aeromonas hydrophilia.”
Although Queens College is slated to resume from its midterm break on March 19, Mr. Idris has called for a postponement because, according to results from the institution’ sick bay, the onset of the students’ illness was on January 16.
“The total number of students who presented at the clinic on account of abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, and diarrhoea were 1,222 from the first date of presentation (11/01/17) to the last date of presentation (15/02/17).
“There were four different peak periods of infection namely 31st January 2017, 2nd, 8th, and 14th of February 2017.
“16 ill cases were admitted in various hospitals. Nine have been discharged, two died, while one is still on admission at the Intensive Care Unit of LASUTH and three at LUTH”, Mr. Idris said.
An investigation by Punch revealed that the health problem started in Queens College after the pupils, who were boarding students, ate spaghetti and drank suspected polluted water served in the refectory around second week of February.
An epidemic of diarrhoea was said to have broken out, as the pupils started vomiting and stooling with the sickbay overflowed with sick students. As a result, some parents were said to have been called to take their children home for treatment.
A pupil (of Queens College) who spoke with correspondents of Punch Metro from her hospital bed, explained that the school’s water system had been polluted for some time.
“I don’t know the number of boarders affected, but one of my friends is also in the hospital. The one that died is Vivian (Osuiniyi). She was in JSS 2. Those affected in my dormitory are not less than 10.
“The problem started after we took spaghetti and drank the contaminated water in the hostel. When I woke up, I started feeling pains in my stomach. I was given some drugs and asked to return to my dormitory, but the pain didn’t stop.
“We complained to the school about the water that we drink, but nothing was done.”
Another pupil, who was receiving treatment at home, said more than 50 senior pupils in her class were affected.
“About 50 pupils in my dormitory were stooling and vomiting after they ate the spaghetti and took the water. There are seven dormitories for SSS3 pupils and we are over 500.
“I went to the sick bay on Monday and complained that I ate spaghetti. A nurse said it was indigestion. When I ate it the next day, I vomited. When I went to report the second time, I was asked to stop eating the spaghetti. Aside from the spaghetti, the water is brownish.”
She said the school later distributed bags of sachet water to the pupils.