Covenant University: Ogun govt, management speak, as more sources confirm suspected poisoning on campus

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As more sources including students and parents confirmed the news of alleged food poisoning on the campus of Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, both the state government and the management of the institution have reacted.


At the weekend, news of a possible outbreak of diarrhoea, vomiting, and fever, suspected to have been traced to food consumed by students, had gone viral on social media, including WhatsApp.

PREMIUM TIMES investigated the viral news and confirmed through multiple sources but the management of the university declined comment. Telephone calls were instantly rejected as soon as the subject of the inquiry was raised, and messages sent to the school officials were not replied to.

But following this newspaper’s report on Saturday, other sources, including parents and students, confirmed the unusual cases of diarrhoea, vomiting, and fever among the students, and how the health facilities on the campus were overwhelmed.

However, on Monday, when contacted, the Ogun State Government described the news as “misinformation” without explaining what truly transpired.

Commissioner speaks
When asked if the state was aware of the development, the Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Tomi Coker, said the case was investigated.

In a very terse message to our reporter, Ms Coker simply wrote: “We have investigated the report. I am informed it is misinformation.”

But when confronted with the facts contained in PREMIUM TIMES earlier report, the commissioner sent additional information that reads: “We have video evidence of the visit of my Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer and Medical Officer of Health of Otta LGA. Also, we have reviewed their admissions records and compared them to their monthly and same time of the year.

“Be rest assured our Public Health team has investigated the report.”

While the commissioner did not deny the unusual health situation on the campus, she also did not reveal the findings of the investigation conducted.

University speaks
In its usual evasive manner, the university management on Monday afternoon also released a statement on the development, insisting that nothing unusual happened on its campus.

The statement, which is titled: “Disclaimer,” a copy of which was made available to our reporter by the institution’s Head of Media and Public Affairs, Chichi Ononiwu, noted that the circulating information is “accompanied by misleading claims of an unbearable situation on campus resulting in numerous student admissions for dehydration due to a diarrhoea disease outbreak.”

Without denying the increased cases of hospitalisation on the campus, the university management simply said the “health situation is not out of the ordinary.”

The statement reads in part: “These claims do not represent the truth as the health situation of our students is not out of the ordinary. Covenant University continues to take all necessary measures to ensure the health and well-being of all students, faculty, and staff at all times.

“Covenant University and its students remain as peaceful as they have always been. We, therefore, urge our esteemed parents and guardians to remain calm and trust in our covenant commitment to providing a safe and conducive learning environment.”

The university noted that the students are well and are preparing for examinations.

Students, parents insist health situation unusual
Meanwhile, some students who reached out to this newspaper and their parents confirmed that the university witnessed increased hospitalisation among students who reported cases of diarrhoea, vomiting, and fever.

One of the students, however, noted that the development may not be connected to food poisoning, saying it could be as a result of water taken by the students.

According to the source, some students in the hostels, as part of measures to save costs usually drink water from the bathroom, and that this could account for the unusual development.

The source said: “Yes, there have been cases of people being hospitalised with similar symptoms. From what I have heard so far, the focus is not absolutely on the food. Different foods cannot possibly cause the same symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting. It’s most likely traceable to the water that some students drink. (Although it’s not confirmed).

“Some students drink water fetched from the bathroom and toilet. Some claim it’s clean, some feel they are using it as a medium to save money. So possibly something went wrong with the water at some point but the easiest thing students will blame it on is the food not considering the water they drink. It’s not like there is an outbreak of anything.”

Some parents, who said their children confirmed the situation to them, however, blamed the university for being evasive.

“I don’t understand why the authorities would not respond to inquiries on an important issue like this,” a parent who craved anonymity, said, noting that accountability is key whether in private or public life.

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