Press Briefing By Hon. Minister Of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire At The Presidential Task Force On COVID-19 Press Briefing On Thursday 17th September, 2020
As of this morning, the Federal Ministry of Health has recorded a total of 56,604 covid-19 positive cases out of a total of 482,321 samples tested, giving a positivity rate of 11.7%. 47,872 persons have been treated and discharged, but we have sadly lost 1091 persons to the disease.
2. Our objective is still to lower the case fatality rate to less than 1%, but an additional challenge we have observed is that most fatalities are among those reporting late for treatment, when their clinical condition has worsened. The delay in deciding whether or when to go for treatment is what we must fight. I therefore renew my plea to all those who test positive, are 60 years or older and have underlying health conditions, to report immediately to a treatment facility. Other persons cleared for, or performing self-Isolation should report to a treatment centre without delay if they notice any covid19 evocative symptoms like high fever, persistent cough, loss of sense of taste or smell, and especially breathlessness. There is no shortage of beds reported from any of the States.
3. To improve chances of survival, the Federal Ministry of Health shall be distributing oxygen concentrators and ventilators to various health institutions, to be able to provide oxygen therapy to persons presenting with respiratory distress, till they are referred to treatment centres. We work with state government officials to sustain sample collections and response activities, with emphasis on surveillance and treatment, in order to drive containment.
4. We joined the rest of the world today, to mark World "Patient Safety Day", which was set aside in May 2019 by the World Health Assembly, to recognise and highlight the safety of patients under treatment, as a global health priority. The theme for this year is “Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety”, with the slogan “Safe health workers, safe patients”. We are all called upon to “Speak up for health worker safety”, which puts focus on those who provide healthcare, in so far as they too, need to be safe and healthy, to do their jobs. Confronted, as we are with this pandemic, the heroic role of frontline healthcare workers to keep the rest of us safe must be recognized. They work odd hours, endure stigma, risk infection and even their lives.
5. But I also use the opportunity to renew my call to members of Joint Health Sector Union to put the plight, safety and well-being of their patients into consideration, and to call off the on-going strike, while differences are being addressed by negotiation.
6. It is important to remind ourselves that COVID-19 is real and spreading wildly in some parts of the world as we speak. Some countries are experiencing the so-called second wave, with all the complications that go along with this easily spreading disease, another country is to go under lockdown again. This is something Nigeria must endeavor to avoid. Compliance with all recommended measures, like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding gatherings etc. will go a long way to help. Vaccines will not be available till next year at best and no new reliable therapeutic has been confirmed, but we must restart businesses, including travel, to allow citizens to earn their livelihoods. We must be each other's keepers to mitigate the risks of the exposures that are going to be involved.
7. How easily covid spreads and how deadly it can be, is illustrated by this story I read of recently. It is said to have happened in the US that 65 persons attended a wedding and wore no masks, ignored social distancing, all against recommended measures. One of the guests was a worker in a nursing home over 100 miles away, and on returning to duty, transmitted covid 19 to the inmates there. 35 persons among them contracted COVID-19 of which seven of died. These 7 did not attend the wedding party. They had been isolating peacefully at the nursing home within a month.
8. This is a clear pointer to how important it is for all of us to take responsibility for ourselves as individuals, for our families and communities. Know therefore that when you obey non pharmaceutical recommendations you protect yourself and others. This remains the best way to defeat this pandemic.
9. Thank you for listening.
The Honourable Minister then responded to questions raised by journalists during the press briefing.