Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has appealed to state governors to increase the number of isolation centres as the cases of COVID-19 swelled to 2,950 on Wednesday.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, made the appeal at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, reiterating that the country was largely dealing with community transmission of the coronavirus.
The minister said, “The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria has continued to rise not unexpectedly, in view of prevailing circumstances in certain states. As at 11pm on May 5, 148 persons had tested positive, bringing the total to 2,950 confirmed to have COVID-19 in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
“We are encouraging and supporting states to increase the number of isolation centres nationwide, and we are extremely grateful to corporate organizations and philanthropists who have donated isolation facilities, diagnostic equipment, commodities, and sundry supplies relevant to our response efforts to COVID-19 threat.
“We are clearly in community transmission phase, where much now depends on individual and collective behaviour and the urgency of behaviour change communication becomes apparent. Knowledge so far gathered about COVID-19 needs to be converted into practice, because our safety, now more than ever, depends on all of us.”
He reiterated the call for the public to adhere to health advisories by “wearing our face masks, observing social distancing, practicing hand washing or sanitizing standard respiratory hygiene, avoiding crowded places and all manner of non-essential travel, as well as reporting when we feel unwell, or someone close to us has symptoms of Infection. If not, we expose ourselves and our loved ones to risk and inadvertently increase the period this virus will be with us and make life worse for all of us. For example, large crowds reported at certain events and the movement and repatriation of persons from one State to the other, do contribute to the problem and do not indicate a good understanding of the urgency of the situation. “Therefore, I again appeal for considerate and responsible social adjustment to the challenges Nigeria faces.
“While we are striving to increase our testing capacity, we have noted the complaints about turn around time to get the results of tests conducted. We are doing what we can to resolve them. We have also continued to train and retrain our health care workers as well as provide them with the necessary personal protective equipment. “Community mobilizers have been deployed at the grassroots to continue to sensitize our people through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency. I participated earlier this week in a teleconference of Northern Traditional Leaders Committee organized by NPHCDA, in which the need for urgent engagement of all traditional, religious, and community gatekeepers was emphasized and agreed on.
“We are encouraging and supporting States to increase the number of isolation centres nationwide, and we are extremely grateful to Corporate Organizations and Philanthropists who have donated Isolation facilities, diagnostic equipment, commodities, and sundry supplies relevant to our response efforts to COVID-19 threat. One example is the This day Dome, which has been purposed by donors, to be a 320-bed Isolation Center with a 10 bed ICU, which is to be commissioned next week to significantly ease the supply of bed spaces.
“With regard to Kano, progress has been made in collaboration efforts with the State EOC to restore routine medical services to hospitals and further drive the ongoing investigations.
“Organized ambulance service is already in operation bringing relief to citizens who need to access medical services, especially in view of restrictions of movement and also in emergency situations.
“The Federal Ministry of Health is sending supporting teams to Sokoto and Katsina for training and capacity building in case management and infection prevention and control in the hospital setting. Other States shall follow at short intervals, to assist the State Ministries of Health in their response to the COVID-19 threat.”