Press Briefing By Hon. Minister Of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire At The Presidential Task Force On COVID-19 Press Briefing On Thursday 10th December, 2020

PROTOCOL

We are seeing the increase in the number of confirmed covid19 cases in the last few days, which we have frequently alluded to in recent times. This rightly suggests that we may just be on the verge of a second wave of this pandemic. Last week, we recorded 1843 against 1,235 two weeks before that and 1,126 the week before that. In the past 24 hours, 474 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded, with an indication that this week's figure will beat last week's. As at today, we have crossed 70,000 mark with a total of 70,669 confirmed cases of which 65,242 have been treated and discharged. Sadly the number of deaths has now reached 1184 as against 1,167 two weeks before.

2.    Everyone of us has a role to play in the effort to prevent explosive spread of this infection in Nigeria. While we strive for the best, we must prepare for a possible second wave which we must ensure, does not get to be worse than what we have seen so far, judging from what we observe in other countries. The US, UK and other countries are going through very difficult times, and we do sympathize with them. To prepare ourselves, I have directed that all Isolation and Treatment Centres, which were hiterto closed due to reduced patient load, to be prepared for reopening and the staff complement put on alert.

3.    The increase in infections stems certainly from rising community transmission to a large extent, but also to a less extent  from travelers entering Nigeria, among whom we have recorded 87 positive cases arriving to the country, as against 59 in the previous week. This number can increase as the volume of travelers rises, especially as people return home for the Christmas and New Year holidays. To ensure that we further contain imported cases, Port health officers at Points of entry have been directed to be vigilant and diligent in screening travelers arriving Nigeria, especially from high burden countries.

4. I oversaw the handover of the Infectious Disease Centre at FMC Keffi last Friday, 4th December, which was constructed by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. It is the second centre to be handed over, with more in the pipeline. The goal is to ensure that every state in Nigeria has a standard infectious disease treatment centre.  We shall continue to engage States constructively for better coordination and outcomes.

5. The Federal Ministry of Health organized a media engagement on Monday, 7th December, 2020, with participation of FMoH Departments and Agencies and joined by Stakeholders, Partners, Donors, Civil Society, Academia and well wishers, to examine our health system and inform on it's organizations and functions. The FMoH unveiled plans and aspirations, guided by President Buhari’s nine point, medium-term "Health Sector Next Level Agenda" of 2019, to ramp up the push towards Universal Health Coverage. A key event of the media engagement was the public presentation of revised Guideline for Administration, Disbursement and Monitoring of the Basic HealthCare Provision Fund, as  approved by the National Council on Health. It resets the implementation process to align with the National Health Act.

6. The first set of candidate vaccines are ready  to be rolled out in Europe and the USA, and a Technical Working Group led by the National Primary Health Development Agency is working on evaluation of prospective vaccines and Nigeria's vaccine needs. We are working with the WHO and GAVI led covax facility and other stakeholders, to ensure that Nigeria will access quality vaccines, when they are deployed. We also continue to explore all avenues of getting access to additional vaccines and in that connection met with H.E. the Ambassador of the UAE to Nigeria, at the Ministry of Health, to discuss cooperation in access to vaccine technological  and production. His reaffirmed the support of his country for our response to the pandemic.

7.    The Ministry of Health and Katsina State Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding to upgrade Federal Medical Centre, Katsina to a Teaching Hospital for the Medical School of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, a testimony to the commitment of the Buhari administration to develop human capital and move the health sector to the next level. A similar arrangement is pending for Oturkpo in Benue State

8.    Until vaccines are available, our best bet is still the appropriate use of face masks, physical distancing, hand sanitizers and observance of respiratory hygiene, for prevention and control. We must  avoid unnecessary travels and crowded places. In that connection, it is not too early to advise strongly against throwing caution to the wind during the upcoming Xmas and new years holiday. We must not forget that Covid will not take a holiday. Please endeavor to protect yourselves and others and still obey the measures at Xmas.

Thank you.

FMOH Agencies

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