Press Briefing By Hon. Minister Of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire At The Presidential Task Force On COVID-19 Press Briefing On Monday 21st September, 2020

Protocol

Nigeria has today recorded, 57,242 covid-19 positive cases out of 479,628 samples tested.  Patients treated and discharged from hospital are 48,569, while 1,098 citizens have sadly been lost to the disease.

2.    The daily figures of the past few days seem to show a downward trend in numbers of covid19 positive cases as well as fatalities, but we unfortunately cannot afford to rejoice or speak of success, for many reasons. International news media shows scenes of upsurge in covid cases, called the 2nd wave in several high income countries, many of which had been thought to have defeated COVID-19 and which now see threat to their health systems. This is a situation we must endeavour to avoid, and for that, all steps must be taken.

3. It is important for us to generate national and international confidence in our data by conducting more targeted testing before we draw conclusions. It means that all States and local government areas must cooperate with NCDC by raising sample collection rate, using criteria listed, to increase testing to a desired rate and to report promptly; as we are still far from the target of 2 million tests. In this regard we can support States with community volunteers for contact tracing, case finding and investigation.

4. While stepping up surveillance and case finding, States can also ensure that suspected symptomatic covid cases are sent for treatment in time or supported before then with medical oxygen, to save lives and reduce fatalities.

5. The recommended criteria for testing are: persons who have been in contact with a covid positive patient or are associated with a cluster of persons of interest, those who have any of the 4 classical symptoms of fever, persistent cough, loss of sense of taste or smell and breathlessness; anyone facing surgery, as well as for any other compelling reason. Testing for travel is assigned to private laboratories.

6.    The distribution of oxygen concentrators and ventilators to various health institutions commenced with training of about 176 intensive care specialists, and biomedical engineers, who will use or maintain them in the hospitals. The ventilators and training are courtesy of the United States government and shall complement what we have at our ICUs.

7.    With regard to COVID-19 and growing complacency, it is important to stress that, even though adults, especially those 60 years and above are more vulnerable, complications do occur in all age groups. Records show that 10% of all positive cases we have treated are below the age of 19 years.
They are also the same mobile group that can be without symptoms, but can easily spread the disease. Therefore, as schools begin to reopen in some areas, I urge caution and adherence to the protocols and advisories for reopening schools, in order join us to prevent covid surge.

8.    I commend fellow health workers in JOHESU, for putting an end to their industrial action. It is my desire to work with them to resolve issues of concern. I also remind everyone that COVID-19 is with us for the foreseeable future, as DG of WHO has advised, with no definitive cure in sight. People are still being infected and are dying from it. Some countries are imposing or considering new lockdowns or other restrictions because of the second wave. As we reopen our economy, it is time for us to take preventive measures even more seriously. I have directed all our hospitals to be alert and watch for unusual increase in number of persons reporting at our hospital as emergency Centre.

9.    We all must take responsibility for each other by wearing our simple face masks, especially in public places, ensuring physical distancing and respiratory hygiene. Those with pre-existing illness and covid-19 evocative symptoms should report for treatment as soon as possible.

10.    Thank you.

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

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