Press Briefing By Hon. Minister Of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire At The Presidential Task Force On COVID-19 Press Briefing On Monday 14th September, 2020

Protocol

Seventy nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection were reported in the past 24 hours from 13 states of the Federation, bringing the total number of known cases as of today 14th September, 2020 to 56,256 out of a total of number of 442,075 tests conducted. 44,152 persons have been treated and discharged while 1,082 have sadly been lost to COVID-19.

2. Though we continue to record declining positivity rates every day, we are reluctant to conclude that we are halting the spread of disease, because some states have not sustained the testing rate that would give us more assurance. Only 13 States, for example, reported their figures in the past 24 hours. This can be better. Until all parts of the country can sustain a certain testing rate, it would seem presumptuous to conclude that we are flattening the curve. In the words of Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), we are not safe until everyone is safe. I therefore again request our state governments to ramp up the testing momentum, so that we can together get control of the spread of this disease in our country.

3.    On Thursday and Friday last week, I had the honour of participating in the mid-year programme review of a Memorandum of Understanding on Health Systems Strengthening, Routine immunization and Primary Health Care, entered into by Kaduna, Bauchi  Yobe, Borno, Kano, and Sokoto States with Aliko Dangote Foundation and Bill & Melina Gates Foundation on the other hand. The achievements of the States in implementing the terms to strengthen routine immunization at sub-national levels is impressive, as is also the benefit derived from it in the fight against COVID-19 and the progress made to improve primary health care services in the six states. I was particularly delighted with the level of participation of traditional rulers in all the states. I commend the governors of these states for their increased investment in Primary Health Care, as well as Alhaji Dangote and Mr Bill Gates, for their sustained interest and contributions to support the states.

4.    It is gratifying that the National Association of Resident Doctors has called off their strike,  but unhelpful that the Joint Health Sector Union has begun theirs. The position of the Ministry of Health is that strikes by healthcare workers jeopardize the lives of citizens, especially at such times of global health emergencies as now. Nigeria needs the service of all her health workers, to control COVID-19 spread. Issues around allowances are multisectoral and have always been solved with negotiations, no matter how long it took. I acknowledge the commitment of health workers who continue to man the frontlines in the fight against this disease and use this opportunity to appeal to JOHESU to suspend their industrial action, not to erode gains we have since made in health care delivery. The FMoH is doing all within its power to expedite processes that address the bones of contention.

5.    I paid a working visit to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport yesterday to review the process of passengers arriving on international flights and to observe their Health related compliance and the challenges of staff of Port Health Services. My observations and suggestions for remediation have been made known to PTF and to the Hon. Minister of Aviation. I thank all travelers for their patience and understanding as the processes to keep our country safe are further fine tuned. I also advise intending travelers to and out of Nigeria to acquaint themselves with the regulations and Provisional Quarantine Protocol. You can find this on the websites of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC. Our primary concern is to limit the risk of importation of COVID-19 virus to our country, especially with increasing flights to Nigeria, and for this purpose, we have remained vigilant. Our Health system should not be overwhelmed by new imports, even as we struggle to contain the epidemic in country. There are no reliable new therapeutics available and vaccines are up to one year away. The much advertised non pharmaceutical prevention measures remain the back bone of our defence. There is no doubt that the economy needs to be reopened for business and commerce to resume. To compensate for the risks this may bring, we all .eed to follow the preventive advisories. That is our individual contribution.

6.    I thank you for listening.

The Honourable Minister then responded to questions raised by journalists during the press briefing.

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