COVID-19: 113 doctors test positive for virus –FG

•Says majority of them from private hospitals •We’re struggling for bed spaces in Lagos

The Federal Government yesterday said  that the numbers of medical workers that have tested positive to the coronavirus is now 113.

Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, who made the disclosure during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, however, said majority of them were those working in private hospitals with no accreditation to treat coronavirus patients.

He said, “As for 300 doctors testing positive, that is a fable, there are not so many people in the health sector who are infected. The latest figure we have is that they are about 113, actually, and these 113  doctors are not all public health workers, a good number are from private hospitals. And you could hear us speaking here frequently against people treating coronavirus in private clinics, we are actually referring to people who do so without the necessary precautions, without the necessary training. Because they infect themselves and then go home and give these infections to their family and it is not the right thing.

“So, the healthcare workers who have no training have no business actually handling coronavirus patients.

“As for those who do not have equipment, we have said that we have provided PPE for all the people out there. But let me remind you again that there is a global shortage of PPEs, every country is struggling for masks, PPEs.”

He said the daily laboratory testing capacity has been increased to 2,500 in the 15 molecular diagnosis laboratories across the country.

The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, explained that it will no longer wait for persons who suspect they have the virus to call the agency, but its staff will now be going into communities to actively find and test people that fit its case definition.

“We are in the process of scaling up testing across the country and the key component that has changed in this, at least in Lagos, Abuja and Kano, instead of waiting for people to call us, we are now going to where the patients are.

“We have set up specific testing locations, of course in collaboration and under the leadership of the states in these three states to increase the throughput of samples being collected from cases that actually do meet the case definition. Meanwhile, the Federal Government is currently “struggling” for bed spaces for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in Lagos State, which has the highest number of infected persons.

Director-general of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, said efforts were being made to change strategy in order not to allow the inadequate bed spaces affect the fight against coronavirus.

“Lagos is the only place where we are struggling with bed spaces for now. We will always tells Nigerians the truth. We are struggling with bed spaces in Lagos for now,” he said.

As of Wednesday, Nigeria had recorded 1,728 cases, with Lagos accounting  for 947, out of which 187 have been discharged. The isolation centrrs in Lagos are at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Yaba, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and at Onikan Stadium.

Ihekweazu also said the agency has adopted a new measure to make testing more effective, appealing to Nigerians for support.

“We are in the process of scaling up testing across the country and the key component that has changed in this is that, in Lagos, Abuja and Kano, instead of waiting for people to call us, we are now going to where the patients are, so we have set up specific testing locations and, of course, in collaboration and under the leadership of the state in these three states, to increase the samples collected from cases that actually do meet the case definition,” he said.

“So, we are going into the communities, health centres, to identify those with these case definition and bring them in. We are doing this because we are certain that we have ongoing community transmission, especially in these three cities. We have to adapt our response to this situation. We adapted to the circumstances in every state, every city where the nature of transmission changes.

“These changes means that more and more people will be going into the community. We really need Nigerians to support the work that they do and not stigmatise them. Currently, we are living with COVID-19, but not the way we thought about it during the HIV era. This is about communities. How can we as a country manage this as we transit into the next weeks? As we release the guidelines for implementing the non-pharmaceutical intervention that will be released very soon, we are doing this in the context of rising cases. We have to recognise that we still have cases and we have set up some level of activity.”

Kano deaths probe’ll be pursued to logical conclusion 

With 136 active cases, Kano has the second highest number, barely three weeks after recording its index case.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, which has been trailing behind Lagos, has 135 active COVID-19 patients.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of PTF on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said the on-going investigation into the cause of the high number of deaths in the state would be pursued to a logical conclusion.

He said a substantial foundation for a conscious fight against COVID-19 in Kano had already been established, adding that additional aid, from the PTF as well as the Nigeria military, were on the way.

He added that the team sent over to Kano on Monday to investigate the situation had already filed an interim report on its findings and that the Federal Government was poised to investigate recent strange deaths thoroughly.

Mustapha said: “I wish to reassure all Nigerians resident in Kano that the Federal Government, and particularly this PTF, is with them and shall do all possible to fight the spread in the state as directed by the President.

Kano is one of our historical cities and remains a backbone for the economy of this nation.

“The already established isolation and treatment centres with holding capacity for 274 persons, the proposed establishment of additional facilities with capacity for 500, two sample collection centres, along with six new proposed centres, have provided a strong foundation for tackling the spread of the virus in the state,” he  said.

Mustapha added that the Nigerian military, under its COVID-19 response plan, would establish an additional isolation centre, treatment facility and testing laboratory service in Kano State.

“The PTF COVID-19, in the immediate, would further strengthen Kano State to scale up its response with the provision of necessary facilities and equipment, capacity-building, improving stakeholder interphase and guidance on any existing policy capable of diminishing the fight against the pandemic in the state.

“Already, the testing laboratories in the AKTH and the BUK have become fully functional. The PTF has released a number of equipment to be transported immediately to Kano to beef up the response.”

He listed the equipment as two oxygen concentration and three ventilators; 280 protective gowns; 51 face shields; 538 examination gloves; 25 boot covers; medical masks and surgical caps; and infrared thermometers.

The SGF expressed confidence that the collaboration, in addition to the lockdown directed by the President in Kano, would help in slowing down the spread, while government continues to test, detect, isolate, trace and manage cases.

He added that, as the nation approached the commencement of a three-phased easing of lockdown from Monday, May 4, 2020, it was important that Nigerians received the implementation guidelines. He said it was also important for states, law enforcement agents, trade associations, employers, businesses and citizens to understand their roles, obligations and responsibilities.