Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe
Gombe state governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, has approved the use of the abandoned intensive care unit of the Specialist Hospital as isolation facility for the COVID-19 (Nova corona-virus) in the state.
The facility as disclosed by Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Gana, the state commissioner of health is expect to accommodate about 20 patients and that is being converted into a standard isolation facility ventilators for patients require breathing support.
He said lack of isolation facility has been a major gap in the state for both the Federal Teaching Hospital (FTH) and the state government owned hospitals. “We don’t have a standard isolation facility for airborne affections. A kind with negative pressure room that is required, where patients with confirmed cases can be kept and be supported all through the period of their sickness, including life support with ventilators” Dr. Gana told Daily Sun in an interview on Friday in Gombe.
He said in terms emergency preparedness of the state, the health ministry had an emergency meeting on the 28th February that was a day after receiving information that there is an index case in Lagos, sent to the state by the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC). He explained that the meeting was to outline key interventions the state needed to provide and the line of activities needed. “In preparedness of the eventual which is the spread of the COVID-19.
Earliest bring out our communications strategies, engaging with the communities through sensitization and providing all the information about the COVID 19 disease. What people need to do in terms of personal hygiene, in terms of good respiratory etiquette and in terms of making sure that people that have complains that mimics COVID-19 are not just left to stay at home.
Dr. Gana added that even though treatment for the Novel Corona-virus is yet to be confirmed because it is a new virus among the coronal group of viruses, the state has adopted the method of providing symptomatic relief to patients when eventually affected. We stock pile of personal protective equipment (PPE), antibiotics in case they are associated secondary bacterial infections and sufficient analgesics and oxygen in cylinders.
However, the commissioner lamented the low testing capacity of not just the state but the country at large. He said: “General speaking I think Nigeria have a very low capacity to testing patients with corona-virus, and not just corona-virus, even the hemorrhagic fevers that we have been battling with, like Ebola and Lassa.
Most of the time, the nearest reference laboratory that we use, is the Abuja reference lab and you can imagine if all northern states have to take samples to Abuja. It means there is going to be a long queue,” Dr. Gana said adding that the state is still expecting some outstanding test result of suspected Lassa fever cases which were sent for testing.
As way forward Dr. Gana tasked both states and federal government to work on the improvement of the availability of testing. “They keep telling us is that they are too busy, that they have long queues. So you can imagine if you have a massive outbreak of corona-virus that required that each of the suspected cases are tested and you still have to send samples to them, I think we should be able to develop that capacity within Nigeria.
The Gombe state health commissioner equally reveals that all that is being done in the state is preparedness: “we don’t have any suspected case of COVID-19 in Gombe, but nonetheless once you have a case in the country then you have a case. And I the most important message for now is that people should not listen to theories about COVID-19, the main issue is that we have corona-virus affection in Nigeria so need to make sure it does not go beyond control.
People need to look at the issue from the practical perspective not to believe in rumors. The focus should be on how do we work as communities with the governments, hospitals and the health workers to make sure that we don’t have this affection in our society.