Press Briefing By Hon. Minister Of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire At The Presidential Task Force On COVID-19 Press Briefing On Thursday 27th August, 2020

Protocol

As at today, 27th August, 2020, we have recorded 53,021 COVID-19 positive cases out of   391,502 samples tested while 40,281 persons have been treated and discharged. Sadly, we have lost 1,010 persons to the virus with a case fatality rate of 1.9%

2.    We are continuing with plans to reduce case fatality rate to less than 1%, by optimizing response activities and cooperation with States according to the challenges they have.  A new state molecular laboratory is currently being optimized in Kebbi and Bayelsa States, while a Gene Expert machine have been set up at National Hospital Abuja and the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Gwagwalada, as was announced some weeks ago. This means that suspected COVID-19 emergencies can now be diagnosed on site, which will drastically reduce Turn around and waiting Time, and allow better utilization of Observation rooms.

3.    This is a major advancement in handling distress experienced by patients arriving as emergencies in these hospitals. The UATH has also found access to supplementary medical oxygen supply, courtesy of the generosity of the Nigeria Air Force, who has a good oxygen plant in Yola.

4.    On Tuesday, 25th August, 2020, Africa was certified polio free having passed through a formal standardized certification process where Nigeria was the last of 47 Member States of the African Region to meet the criteria.  These include no wild polio virus detected in the last 4 years in Nigeria, but also an obligation to faithfully adhere to keeping and expanding routine immunization, and active disease surveillance and containment.  

5.    This achievement was made possible with the strong commitment of the President of the Federal Republic, President Muhammadu Buhari, who had personally vaccinated his grandchild to openly demonstrate that the few drops of vaccine were not harmful, but lifesaving.

6.     His Excellency, the President delivered a virtual keynote address at the formal event and accepted the certification as a fulfilment of his promise that he would not bequeath a polio endemic country to his successor. We are appreciative and be proud of this achievement. I also thank the staff and management of NPHCDA for all their efforts and sacrifice. We shall not relent in our efforts to ensure that Nigeria remains polio free.  

7.    We shall be deploying material and human resource assets from the polio eradication to surveillance and fighting other disease outbreaks, including the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

8.     Nigeria also participated in a WHO African Regional Conference, held virtually and chaired by the Minister of Health of the Congo, due to the demands of the time. I led the Nigeria team and participated in discussions which centered around COVID-19 and included progress in the conversation around vaccines and in implementing the African Region sickle cell strategy.

9.    We shall sustain our interest in developments around covid-19 around the world and seek opportunities to exchange ideas with countries and organizations investing in new knowledge.

10.    Training and retraining on infection prevention and Control is on-going in all our facilities as well as ensuring availability of PPEs as an investment to continue the reduction in health worker infections. I renew my call on health workers to ensure judicious and prudent use of these PPEs materials, while observing full IPC measures.

11.     Finally, I wish to remind all of us that COVID-19 is still with us and will be for the foreseeable future, till there is a vaccine available for it. We are exploring all options and opportunities to ensure that when vaccines are available Nigerians will be among beneficiaries. This includes assisting NAFDAC to reach the International Maturity Level to assure products and processes, and encouraging our researchers to work towards the development of vaccine candidates.

12.    With the imperative to reopen our economy, relax local and international air travel to support restoration of livelihoods, the experience in other countries is that covid infection rates have gone up, in some cases, dramatically. We must strive therefore, not to lose our attention to preserving lives or lose the gains we have made over the months. The onus lies not only with the Ministry of Health, but is a shared responsibility with the populace. Our safest, easiest and cheapest option of achieving a balance remains adherence to non-pharmaceutical measures, as we have preached so many times. With these measures, we can balance or uphold our indices.

13.    Thank you for listening.

FMOH Agencies

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