Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government on Friday said medical teams have been dispatched to Sokoto and Borno states on fact finding and support missions over the rising cases and unrelated deaths in the two states.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, made this disclosure at the daily briefing of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19.
He explained that the medical team will engage with the state authorities and determine material and technical needs.
“A most immediate probability is the prioritization of these states for the deployment of repurposed Gene Xpert machines as soon as we start receiving the cartridges in a few weeks to bring speed to testing,” Ehanire said.
According to him, the situation in Kano has largely stabilized, attributing it to the good working relationship between the visiting team and Kano State Task force on COVID-19.
Ehanire said, “One manifestation of this being the high number of new cases recorded daily from the fact that all labs in Kano are now functioning and clearing the sample backlog, with over 350 tests done daily. The state government has been doing well in opening up more treatment and Isolation centers.”
The minister explained that part of the mission in Kano is to assist state pathologists and scientists to unravel the mysteries around unexplained deaths in some states and that the tools for forensic investigation have been jointly developed for a uniform approach and balanced results.
He said, “An innovation of the FMoH Kano task team is the training of journalists to take place tomorrow (Saturday), the aim of which is to ensure reporters are in a better position to interpret covid-19 related data and information and also learn to take necessary infection prevention measures.”
Ehanire also said that the government was able to persuade Mrs. Susan Idoko-Okpe, now popularly known as the ‘Benue Lady’, to allow a test sample to be taken to the laboratory for testing on Thursday and that the result is being awaited any time now and it will be given to her in person.
The minister, however, said that, while patients may disclose their result by themselves, the FMoH cannot do so, except with the permission of those concerned.
Ehanire added that 193 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the past day in 15 states with Lagos(58), Kano(46), Jigawa(35), Yobe (12), FCT(nine), Ogun(seven), Plateau(five), Gombe(five) Imo(four), Edo(three), Kwara(three), Borno(three), Bauchi (one), Nasarawa (one), Ondo(one), bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria over the 5,000 line to 5,162 in 34 States and the FCT.
“Till date, 1180 patients have been treated and discharged from hospital care and 167 deaths have sadly been recorded. The case gender ratio remains about 70 to 30 percent for men and women respectively, while case fatality hovers around 3 percent.
“A steady rise in these figures is what we envisage with more diligent testing, treatment, Isolation and tracing. Ability and capacity to keep up and align these activities with each other will determine the course of events as time goes on. We implore States and partners not to relent, but to keep up with the pace, which, in some States will increase well before it begins to decrease.
“Adherence to advisory against interstate travel and compliance with other simple measures like use of masks and avoiding crowds will significantly mitigate the burden,” the minister said.
He said that a strategy document of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency is being developed and repurposed for application to Kano; but also to similar high density, high burden metropoles like Lagos and othei to respond more specifically to the challenges of COVID-19 tracing, tracking, testing, Isolation and treatment in congested communities.