Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has declared that it will enforce wearing of masks in places where physical distancing is quite difficult, like in markets.
Director-General of National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said this Thursday at the daily briefing of the Presidential Taskforce on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
He said: “Where physical distancing is quite difficult, like in markets, we will be firmer about prescribing the use of masks.”
He reiterated his earlier call for Nigerians to stop stigmatization of discharged patients as it will prevent people from willing coming out to test.
The NCDC boss said: “We should stop stigmatising COVID-19 patients. If we stigmatise patients, people will choose not to be tested and the virus might go unchecked and this lockdown will continue.
In these times, what unites us is more than what divides us.“
Ihekweazu who said every Friday by 6pm, the number of tests done by the center will be made public.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama said country has selected two airlines that will bring back Nigerians stranded in various countries around the world.
He said: “Because of the high numbers, and limited mandatory-isolation spaces in Nigeria, the evacuations will be done in batches.
“We‘ve received all the numbers from our various embassies around the world. We‘ve selected two airlines that‘ll be responsible for fetching them. Numbers are high and we don’t have isolation spaces for everyone at same time. So we‘ll have to stagger the repatriation.”
Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire, on his part warned that patients with mild symptoms are still very highly infectious, and mild symptoms in one person could be deadly infection in another.
According to him, “That is why we recommend the suspension of close contact between grandchildren and grandparents, at this time.
“Our valuable health workers are urged to adhere to all government instructions and regulations; always utilise personal protective equipment (PPE); maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19; and protect yourselves, your loved ones and your colleagues.”
The minister also warned that private facilities treating cases without accreditation risk being sanctioned.
Ehanire said: “I shall use this opportunity to again strongly advise health professionals against private or secret management of people who have COVID-19 outside of accredited health facilities. We cannot afford avoidable morbidity and mortality.
“Private facilities must obtain accreditation to treat this highly infectious disease. Practitioners engaging in unauthorised treatment of COVID-19, run the risk of being shut down for decontamination.
“This next phase of our strategy, due to the available evidence of community transmission in Nigeria, now focuses on the community. There will be more community testing and social mobilisation at the grassroots to ensure physical distancing and advisories on the use of masks or improvised face coverings like handkerchiefs or scarves over the mouth and nose, to reduce risk of transmission. Again, the revised case definition for testing includes: All patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome; Contacts of people confirmed to have COVID-19, with fever and respiratory tract symptoms; Persons with fever and respiratory tract symptoms of unknown cause.”
Minister of Health reiterated that one of the purposes of the lockdown is to prevent people from moving around and carrying the virus to other places. We need people to stay where they are.”
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