Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Doris Obinna and Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Federal Government has dispatched a delegation of health workers to Azare, Bauchi; Katsina and Jigawa states over rising cases of unusual deaths associated with the COVID-19.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this at the 29th joint national briefing of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, in Abuja, yesterday.
“A Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) delegation of experts is presently in Bauchi State on a fact finding mission to work with Bauchi State government and look into reports of unexplained deaths in Azare, Bauchi State.
“The similar missions to Katsina and Jigawa identified needs in those states, which include the need for a molecular laboratory in Katsina to reduce the backlog of pending tests and the turn-around time for results. This will be looked into.
“Other high burden areas or states grappling epidemic control issues will be offered similar support. In this connection, I must commend the ongoing initiative being developed by the (Nigera) Governors’ Forum to give each other mutual support, by rallying available human resource for health volunteers from states, to support other states with high burden and manpower shortages,” he said.
Responding to a question on Susan Idoko, the index case in Benue State who was transferred to Abuja, Ehanire said she has refused to take the third test that will certify her fit to go home.
According to him, despite meeting all her demands to see all her results, she had continued to come up with impossible requests.
“The history, I think, is already known that she came in from the UK and has had three tests, she is due for another test which she has refused to take.
“We strongly believes that by now she’s definitely negative, but we need to document it because we also work with guidelines released by the World Health Organisation which we follow. In order to document it, I called her on phone and persuaded her to just let them take the test and she gave me the condition that first, they must give her all her results from the past then she will agree just to take a specimen.
“Those of you here who have done it know how simple it is and I gave the instruction. They took all her results, photocopied all of them and gave them to her.
“But on the day of the test when NCDC got there, she told them she wanted the test to be taken by World Health Organisation and then the test should not be done in Nigeria, it should be sent to the UK.
“That seems to be a very difficult order and it demands that it should be taken to the UK and that the specimen must only be taken by the WHO. So, it is becoming a very hot drama.
“It was reported to me. So I called her again and asked her why have you changed the conditions? You said you wanted your results, you have your results and she wrote a text to me saying I should consult her lawyer that she has gotten a lawyer, so that was just yesterday. So we are going to continue with the lawyer business.
“But is only just a document that she’s okay and to live on, it seems to be a drama that is playing out there.
“So, that is the situation with the lady but she’s quite well, she’s in good health and the hospital authorities have also done their very best.”
The minister said that no new infections of health workers have been reported in recent times, adding that those who have recovered were waiting for certification to resume work.
State govts told to align with FG’s directives
The PTF has charged state governments to align their actions and enforcement with the guidelines provided by the Federal Government to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus.
According to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and PTF chairman, Boss Mustapha, the virus does not respect boundaries, neither does it respect status.
“All state governments are, therefore, urged to strengthen their monitoring and enforcement machineries in collaboration with the security agencies.
“Let me emphasise that we have seen visuals on the social media depicting total disregard for physical distancing in some locations. This is a dangerous journey towards uninhibited spread if not checked. The PTF is consulting with the authorities of the identified areas to review their strategies,” he said.
While recalling that the guidelines on the reopening of offices directed managements of such offices to take certain steps and put in place policies that would ensure the safety of their staff, he said the leadership of various offices should make such provisions including infra-red temperature guns at entrances, sanitisers, hand washing facilities, social distancing arrangements and ensuring that masks are worn always.
He said this was particularly critical for government offices in high concentration areas like the Federal Secretariat complex. He also warned of the danger of sharing masks: “The PTF COVID-19 at virtually all its national briefings, consistently pleaded with Nigerians for their support and understanding, especially in complying with the advisories and guidelines issued. We also shared our assessment of the level of compliance and the risks associated with non-compliance.
“I wish to use this medium to once again underscore the imperative of collective survival because the lack of compliance by any person or group of persons poses a threat to all of us.
“Particularly, the PTF has become aware of the on-going practice of sharing masks and picking of masks for recycling from dump sites. This places a lot of responsibilities on all of us to be self-educated and to educate others,” he said.
He said with the exception of fabric masks, every disposable used mask is a hazardous medical waste and should be disposed of properly, preferably by burning.
“It is very risky to share masks as the virus is capable of remaining on surfaces for several hours and you could get infected. The unhealthy practice of picking up disposed masks for whatever purpose is harmful to both the individual picking it and whoever procures it later.”
He said since the recording of the index case, Nigerians have clamoured for research into home grown solution to COVID-19 and that the PTF, as part of its mandate, has continued to promote research and appealed to all researchers to go through the validation process to enable humanity benefit from their hard work, while they in turn benefit from the intellectual property rights associated with such research.
PSN opposes importation of Madagascar herbal remedy as syrup is airlifted to Nigeria
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has described as distasteful the importation of Madagascar herbal remedy, COVID-Organics (CVO).
President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Presidential Task Force to pick up the plant-based Coronavirus remedy.
But PSN, in statement by its president, Sam Ohuabunwa, said news that the Federal Government was about to import herbal concoction, called COVID-Organics, from Madagascar was received with utter disbelief.
“While in principle we would not mind Nigerian government importing any new drug that is proven to cure COVID-19 or indeed any other disease for which we have neither the capacity nor the technology to produce locally, we are totally appalled that Nigeria is about to spend scarce foreign exchange to import ‘coal into Newcastle.’
“Even if we are not going to pay for this, it is thoroughly disgraceful that a country that should be the leader of Africa, with the largest GDP will allow itself to be dragged this low. Nigeria has about 174 universities (43 Federal, 52 State and 79 private), 20 Faculties of Pharmacy and about 69 Federal-Funded Research Institutes (including National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research & Development and the National Institute for Medical Research) while Madagascar has only six universities, one faculty of pharmacy and nine research centres.”
Ohuabunwa said Nigeria has some of the best scientists (pharmaceutical, medical, biochemical, biological etc.) in the world who have done so much work on natural and herbal medicines.
“Nigeria has developed a pharmacopeia of natural and herbal products and has one of the richest flora and fauna – potent sources of phytomedicines. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, a number of them have raised their voices that they have herbal and natural products that can be used to treat or manage COVID-19.
“Some have patents. Many herbal companies and producers have announced specifically that they have herbal formulations that can do what this ‘invention’ from Madagascar can do.”
He insisted the Society have raised its voices severally that the Federal Government should review these claims and help put them through clinical evaluation, as most of these producers cannot afford to conduct clinical trials.
“We have recommended that a portion of the nearly N25 billion donated/allocated for the COVID-19 pandemic should be dedicated for local research and development. But our government has remained essentially silent only waiting to participate in World Health Organisation (WHO) sponsored or mandated trials. We have been told that Nigeria is participating in the WHO solidarity trial, but nothing on trying our own inventions and formulations.
“Now we want to import COVID-Organics from Madagascar to try? Why are we like this? If the world can supply us synthetic and chemically-sophisticated medicines which we apparently lack the technology to pro-duce, why must we wait for the world to supply us herbal formulations which we can easily make and which we have similar products,” he queried.
Peter Obi backs Buhari
Former Anambra bi governor, Peter Obi has endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision on Madagascar’s COVID-19 herbal drug.
In a tweet, yesterday, Obi said: “I firmly support the authorisation of @MBuhari for importation and subjection of the Madagascar #COVID19 Syrup to standard validation process for pharmaceuticals, and possibly for use in the cure of this virus.
“Similar authorisation and encouragement should be given to local inventions. This will save us scarce forex and will give confidence to domestic researchers and inventors.”
Save Nigeria from looming danger, CLO tells security forces
Worried by the disobedience of presidential restriction on interstate movement, the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), has urged security forces to take up the challenge and save the country from impending danger.
CLO said inspite of the rising cases, Nigerians had continued to thwart the executive order on interstate movement, thereby jeopardising the fight against the virus in the Nigeria.
In a statement, yesterday, signed by CLO Executive Director, Ibuchukwu Ezike, the group said it had been inundated with reports of mass movement of people, especially those suspected to be infected with Coronavirus.
Warning that the flagrant violation of the order banning interstate movement of people and goods in the country would cause uncontrollable spread of COVID-19 across the country, CLO urged security forces to ensure strict enforcement.
FG disburses over N1bn financial support to vulnerable in Katsina
The Federal Government has disbursed over N1 billion financial support to the vulnerable in Katsina State for the COVID-19 through the Social Investment Porogramme (SIP).
The state Coordinator of SIP, Alhaji Aliyu Girka, disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Katsina on Tuesday.
He stated that over 153,000 vulnerable people had benefitted from the Federal Government assistance through the SIP.
According to him, another set of 173,000 vulnerable and the neediest were registered in 12 local government areas of the state.
The coordinator listed the local governments as Rimi, Danmusa, Kaita Mani, Baure, Ingawa, Bindawa Bakori, Musawa, Kankia Kankara and Dandume.
Girka said that the exercise would be carried out with the support of traditional institutions in the respective areas.
He appealed to people to give necessary support and cooperation in order for the programme to achieve the desired objectives.