Press Briefing By Hon. Minister Of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire At The Presidential Task Force On COVID-19 Press Briefing On Monday 23rd November, 2020

Protocol

As at today 23rd November, 2020, Nigeria has recorded 66,383 COVID-19 cases from 743,298 samples tested so far, with 62,076 persons successfully treated and discharged. We have sadly had 1167 fatalities with a case fatality rate of 1.76%.

2.    Eight states account for 72% of confirmed cases, because they are testing and reporting steadily. Of 1,235 confirmed cases reported in 22 states in the past week, Kaduna, Lagos, FCT, Oyo, Plateau and Ogun accounted for over 84%. We are thus not yet where we want to be with our testing rate. We shall continue to engage states to strengthen active case finding and testing, since we are committed to lowering case fatality rate to less than 1%, to save more lives from covid-19. We are by no means out of the woods and must not become complacent. Citizens with symptoms suggestive of COVID or those who had contact with confirmed COVID patients should present themselves for testing and, if positive, comply with instructions for treatment.

3. We are keeping vigilance, with regard to the exploding numbers of covid cases in Europe and America by strengthening our capacity for treatment, ensuring our health workers are kept updated and ensuring our health facilities have adequate supplies of needed materials. We are also reviewing the entry protocols at our borders, to reduce risks of covid importation by sealing gaps in present protocol and responding to emerging threats.

4. Strategies for capacity building continue, with nationwide training of intensivists, of which three trainers will emerge per state and FCT, who will scale training down to nurses and other cadres of Health workers.

5. The strategy to keep our health system ready include ensuring oxygen availability at Points of Treatment and scaling up oxygen availability to State hospitals and PHCs. I have also issued a directive to ensure adequate stock of recognized therapeutics like Dexamethasone and injectable corticosteroids.

6.    We analyse reports of Isolation and Treatment centres to Identify gaps and challenges, the result of which are used to address thematic areas like monitoring of Isolation and treatment centres, logistics, data management, training and development and review of protocols and SOPs.

7. It is necessary to continue to advise against non-essential travel to high burden countries, due to increased risk of exposure to infection, especially of persons with known co-morbidities. I am sure restrictions will be relaxed once more is known about protecting ourselves from infection.

8. Now that vaccines are known to be close at hand, the Federal Ministry of Health is taking measures towards vaccine security, for which an 18-man National COVID-19 Vaccine Task Team with 7 Terms of Reference will be inaugurated this week. The TOR will include generating strategies for acquisition, deployment and options for licensed production by Biovaccine Nigeria Ltd. Our options with WHO/GAVI led Covax facility remain our first line of engagement.

9.    I shall again renew my call to health workers to continue to have high index of suspicion and ensure strict compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions, like the use of masks, good hygiene, avoiding crowds and frequently washing hands, especially around treatment facilities.     These are the easiest, cheapest and best proven options for covid control, which we should urge neighbours to also adhere with, so that we together stand a better chance of interrupting further spread of this disease.

10. In spite of increased covid19 alert, Nigeria still virtually hosted the global Stop TB Partnership Board meeting last week, at which His Excellency the President delivered a virtual welcoming message and her Excellency the First Lady delivered a Statement, as our TB champion. Nigeria's response in the fight against TB suffered decline due to Covid19 and a new strategy is needed to ramp up performance.

11.    The reported "strange deaths in Delta, Enugu, Ebonyi Benue Bauchi and Kogi, have turned out to be yellow fever outbreak, as confirmed by NCDC, who are responding professionally with Rapid Response Teams  to the outbreak. Of 586 suspected cases, 40 were confirmed in laboratory tests, with 10 deaths as at last week.

12.    Thank you for listening.

FMOH Agencies

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