Highlight of response by the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire to questions from Journalists during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Press Briefing held on Monday 22nd, June 2020.
On agitations and demonstration by health care workers who transport samples for DOVID-19 tests protesting non-payments:
“I would like to use this medium to make an appeal to all health workers, all who have any issue either with payment or with organization, to please scale it up to the necessary and appropriate quarters of the Ministry for resolution, because we can look into these things rather than create situations that may lead to breaching all the things we are preaching. We preach social distancing, we preach wearing mask and not gathering in crowds, but when we carry out any kind of altercation you can easily breach those things.
So if you have any issue, please bring them up, I will deal with them in house and take care of whatever it is; that's why we are there. So this agitation over the pay which we initiated in the first instance, you can write to us, you can visit us; you can call before it becomes misunderstood. But, the issue itself is something that we shall look into, we'll look into it, find out what exactly is involved, what the problem is and then attend to it.”
On the cost of treatment per person who test positive to COVID-19:
“On the cost of treatment, that is not something which I believe that the person who made the statement might know very well. The case management is generally something that's happened at the level of the State and the level of the FCT, so the general approved cost to the individual himself and the precise figure of 1.7Million Naira as claimed, I am not sure about that the person who claimed it correct.
The medication we require for those who have no symptoms are very basic, if you have no symptoms or if you are just under observation those are very basic things; but for those who have more severe symptoms, theirs’ probably comes with a lot of attention, but we don't have any of those outside of Lagos, Kano and Abuja. So that figure in the first place is not uniformed for everybody and secondly it’s something, I'm not sure is precisely as someone has stated.”
On the strategy for and the list of home care where one can access COVID-19 care:
“Now the strategy for home care, let me say that first of all that it is not yet really fully a strategy. Some States are weighing it, we are looking at community management but the support care which the Primary Health Care Development and the Ministry of Health is working upon now that we are in the phase of community transmission in which to make the treatment as affordable as possible and use dormitories or health centres that are able to meet that purpose and doing that in collaboration with the States’ Government, so that the NPHCDA will not be going there and working on its own, we will select the places by working with Local Government and State Governments where the cases are, where the hotspots are, we follow the hotspots and then, the need and they select the facilities.
So there is not really a list of it that I can give you. Although we mentioned the names of the areas where the facilities can be found but the actual selection will be between the States’ Governments and NPHCDA and Ministry of Health for case management.”
On those who evade treatment at Treatment Centres and going for self care at home or at private hospitals:
“Let me say that those who choose to do home care by themselves are actually not doing the right thing. I've said consistently here that anyone who is positive need to submit himself, and there are complaints that people get their result and are positive and they disappear and go and arrange their own treatment. And I also said a while ago, that there are some private hospitals that are not actually accredited to be handling COVID patients who are trying to do so as we hear, but the point is that anybody who is positive should be under some kind of guidance and treatment or observation and it ranges from the very severe intensive care unit, to the high dependency unit, to the more moderate and not so severe monitoring, close monitoring and up to just what we call supportive management.
Just giving ordinary asymptomatic treatment to those who actually have nothing except observations, but it must be managed, it must be organized, and it must be known. You must have an address and where you are must be known and the arrangements must have been made for you particularly, and if it's officially sanctioned for you and for the case management then it must be provided and with a case manager assigned to you.
A lot of those who now take off by themselves and go and manage by themselves they are doing the wrong thing.
That is part of the reason why we are having this community support care that is coming up now from Primary Health Care Development so each one will have a case manager assigned to them who will follow them up and be able to understand where there is any change and immediately take the necessary action.
So, again let me seize the opportunity to appeal to all those who have tested positive to make sure that they register themselves; they should be in supervised institutionalized care or if its sanctioned to be in a facility, a private healthcare facility or in a home, it must be in a managed care, not on your own.”
Differentiating between the common flu during the cold season and the COVID:
“Now, the other question which is very relevant is the question of differentiating between the common flu during the cold season and the COVID which is a very good question but you see the Corona virus itself, the COVID-19 is within the same family of viruses that will give you the common cold. So the symptoms can be quite similar, so it’s quite a challenge for Doctors to be able to differentiate, but we always ask health care workers to exercise some suspicion.
I read out the symptoms regarding both:
Number One is the fever; that's why you see, they take our temperature here as we come in. If you see the temperature is high, it does not mean that you have COVID, it means that you have a fever that is indicative of something, it can be malaria, it can be COVID, it can be many other things so that's the first indication.
Another common indication is cough. You notice when the suspected case is coughing repeatedly and frequently, and then, don't confuse that with somebody who clears his throat once or twice and you give him a funny look, but it's a cough.
And then another common symptom that you will see is a sore throat which the suspected case will complain that he has a sore throat.
And then, finally you'll see the difficulty in breathing. Now, that is indicative.
The suspected case has difficulty in breathing, his oxygen circulation has gone down and he finds it difficult to move around; that one will not be common. In common cold, it will be unlike that tough difficulty in breathing, but anybody who has any doubt about their status can visit a hospital. Doctors will do a trial, do a diagnosis and determine with a certain degree of error that this thing needs testing and when in doubt, sends for testing. Now, the running nose is an additional symptom generally. So, that's not always there, or the headache is additional but not so common a symptom, but it can be present, so the Doctor will have to call on all these experiences to be able to make that differentiation and when in doubt, send for a test, a diagnostic test to be done.”
On the selected Primary Health Care (PHC) Centres designated Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres (FMCs) for treatment of COVID-19:
“Now, I think that talking about the PHC, I already mentioned that we work very closely with the State to select the PHCs that will work for us and also the need in the hotspot areas, where it will be. But generally all our Teaching Hospitals are designated and also Federal Medical Centres and even the Specialty Hospitals and many State Governments have relegated General Hospitals to this treatment. Thank you.”