The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has disclosed that 13 molecular laboratories had been activated nationwide by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) so far; stating also that the target is to double the current national testing capacity of 1,500 tests per day.
The Minister made this known on the 20th of April, 2020, at the Presidential Task Force briefing as he confirmed a total of 627 persons in 21 states and FCT to have COVID-19. He said that the 86 new confirmed are distributed as follows: 70 in Lagos, 7 in FCT, 3 in Akwa Ibom and Katsina and 1 each in Bauchi, Borno and Jigawa. 21 deaths have been recorded so far one of whom is Mallam Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari. He informed also that 170 people had recovered from COVID-19 in Nigeria and had been discharged while 146 persons are currently recovering from COVID-19.
Dr. Ehanire revealed that there are presently increased testing and mobilization on the community at the grassroots. This new strategy is as a result of the frequency and increase in the number of new persons with COVID-19 being recorded daily at the community level. He hinted that the further intensified strategic house-to -house and cluster testing in communities had helped towards promptly detecting, testing and isolating to mitigate the on-going community transmission. Health Minister emphasized on further increasing and improving isolation facilities "since finding more infected persons without facilities to accommodate them, does not contribute to a solution”. “Isolation and treatment centres are available to meet security and privacy requirements of all persons”, he said.
The Minister made it known that all persons entering Nigeria from abroad, will undergo a 14-day quarantine at a designated facility. He stated that state governments are collaborating to prepare a minimum of 300 beds for isolation and treatment while also exploring all options including engaging hotels for quarantining persons who may have COVID-19 with or without symptoms needing little clinical management.
According to Health Minister, “the Federal Government has the responsibility and capability to manage this viral infection safely, in the interest of public safety and national security, but can share this responsibility with private sector hospitals who meet laid down criteria”. He advised they work with the Ministry of Health and NCDC on surveillance and referral of patients for testing, or to isolation and treatment centres. Dr. Osagie Ehanire expressed his condolences to families of professional colleagues who had lost their lives while on duty and used the opportunity to also call on them to take precautions while attending to patients in health facilities.
The Minister urged citizens to continue to take responsibility through physical/social distancing, appropriate use of masks or improvised face coverings to be used outside the homes, especially in hotspot states of Lagos, Kano and FCT, maintenance of hand and respiratory hygiene, as well as strict adherence to the lockdown measures and regulations.
Speaking earlier, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha stated that “the PTF recognizes regrettably the unintentional violation of the principles and protocols that form the core of our messaging to Nigerians, at the funeral of the late Chief of Staff”. He said lessons had been learnt and that appropriate measures had been taken to close all gaps. He assured Nigerians of their safety and the determination of the PTF to combat the pandemic. He further stated that “We must all come together because we face a common enemy and potential risk. We must flatten the curve at all cost and restore our country to full activity”.