The Federal Government has begun the distribution of oxygen concentrators and ventilators to various health institutions as well as training of about 176 intensive care specialists, and biomedical engineers, who will use or maintain them in the hospitals.
This was made known by the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Press Briefing in Abuja on Monday, 21st September, 2020, where he disclosed that the ventilators and training are courtesy of the United States Government and shall complement what we have at our ICUs.
Recall that the United States Government had on the 11th August, 2020, through its Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard made a donation of 200 ventilators which was tagged “life-saving equipment” to assist in tackling the rampaging COVID-19 in Nigeria. The donation was said to be a fulfillment of the commitment made by Presidents Donald Trump and Muhammadu Buhari earlier this year and it includes training on the use and maintenance of this equipment and ensuring that the ventilators can address other respiratory illnesses in the years beyond the virus.
Updating on the cases of Covid-19 in the country, Dr. Ehanire reported that as at 21st September, 2020, Nigeria has a record of about 57,242 COVID-19 positive cases out of 479,628 samples tested with 48,569 patients treated and discharged from hospital, while 1,098 citizens have sadly been lost to the disease.
The Honourable Minister upheld that, even though there seem to be a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases as well as fatalities, there was need for caution as the nation stands the risk of possible spike as being currently reported.
“The daily figures of the past few days seem to show a downward trend in numbers of COVID-19 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”, he said.
With regard to COVID-19 and growing complacence, Dr. Ehanire explained 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”, he said.
Dr. Ehanire also affirmed the need to generate national and international confidence in our data by conducting more targeted testing before conclusions are drawn. This he said requires 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.
The Minister further explained that the target of 2 Million tests is still a mirage, as such, Federal Government can support States with community volunteers for contact tracing, case finding and investigation. He added that, in order to enhance surveillance and case finding. States, he added, 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.
Dr. Ehanire highlighted the recommended criteria for testing thus: 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 four 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. He added that testing for travel is assigned to private laboratories.
While commending JOHESU, for putting an end to their industrial action, he urged everyone to take responsibility for each other by wearing simple face masks, especially in public places, ensuring physical distancing and respiratory hygiene and those with pre-existing illness and COVID-19 evocative symptoms should report for treatment as soon as possible, adding that “COVID-19 is with us for the foreseeable future, as the DG of WHO has advised, with no definitive cure in sight.”
By Blessing Egbo
Olujimi Oyetomi, Dir. Information, Media & Public Relations.