Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic has said following a successful trip by a 17-man team to Calabar, the Government of Cross River State has finally aligned with the Federal Ministry of Health COVID-19 response and has started reporting to the national dashboard.
Cross River Governor Ben Ayade has always claimed his state is COVID-19 free.
Cross River, before now, was the only Nigerian state without any confirmed case of the coronavirus.
Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire at the PTF briefing on Monday said the interaction with the Cross Rivers State Government was useful and the team was able to address all areas of concern and interest to the Federal Government and also to the Cross River State Government.
‘The Federal Ministry of Health will encourage and prioritize patronage of locally made commodities which meet the minimum specification,’ he said.
‘With this successful constructive engagement, I am pleased to report that Cross River State is now aligned with the Federal Ministry of Health COVID-19 response and has started reporting on the national dashboard. We have activated the GeneExpert machine at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital to increase testing capacity in the state and NCDC has resumed deployment of rapid response teams to provide technical assistance to their Public Health EOC to strengthen their incident management system.
‘Following the intervention of the ministerial team with the Cross River State Branch of the Nigeria Medical Association officials, issues that led to the withdrawal of medical services by the doctors in the State were resolved and the strike action has been called off. We plan to replicate this success with other States where the need for policy alignment is found wanting.’
Ehanire said Nigeria has now carried out 183,294 COVID-19 tests, 28,296 of them within the week since my last briefing. 32,558 persons in total have been confirmed positive. The high figures within the past week compared to the previous weeks, suggest an increase in the pace of testing but also in infection incidence. From reports of the activation of sample collection sites in FCT, the laboratory throughput will increase, as will the number of positives until, the curve flattens at a yet unknown time. This strategy is to be replicated in other states of the Federation. Increasing bed space at State levels will continue to be advocated.
‘However, the expected increase in positives would not be so dramatic, if there were better adherence by citizens to all advisories and if we all determine to take ownership of, and the responsibility for reducing the spread of this disease. I emphasize again that conscientious wearing of masks is being confirmed in various studies, as the easiest, cheapest and most reliable way to check the rate of spread. Some countries have made it mandatory by law and imposed a fine for non-compliance. Regular washing of hands, avoiding crowds, social distancing and use of a minimum of 65% alcohol-based sanitizers remain as relevant as at the beginning.
‘13,447 COVID-19 cases have been so far been treated and successfully and discharged in Nigeria and we have regrettably recorded 740 fatalities. Our aim is to further reduce the fatalities by ensuring that those defined as vulnerable are protected with non-pharmaceutical measures and prioritized for admission to observation or treatment centres, even if they do not yet have symptoms.’