Fred Ezeh, Abuja, Job Osazuwa and Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
With no fewer than 23,835 persons so far tested for coronavirus, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has described the figure and Nigeria’s effort at testing for the virus as depressing.
In a statement titled “Preparing for the Worst Case Scenario,” Francis Faduyile, NMA president, decried the country’s testing capacity, and called for improvement.
Faduyile said the low testing rate was as a result of test kits shortages and difficulty in collecting samples.
As of Sunday morning, Nigeria had tested 23,835 persons — a figure considered very low, compared to Egypt’s 90,000, Ghana’s 155,201 and South Africa’s 324,079.
“This depressing development saddens NMA because it will wipe away efforts made so far by the government, PTF and Nigerians in public reaction against COVID-19 pandemic,” Faduyile said.
He said the association had carried out a review of the country’s response against coronavirus and developed a number of likely solutions to the pandemic.
A total of 4,151 confirmed cases have been recorded in Nigeria, out of which 745 patients have been discharged.
The NMA leader said, despite the announced increased capacity of 50,000 samples per day in 21 laboratories across the country, the problems of poor coordination and planning have contributed largely to the challenge of testing.
“The association places the responsibility on the PTF and NCDC to find the fastest workable solutions to fix this challenge, including incorporating the approved private sector laboratories that already have established specimen pickup and transport modalities,” Faduyile said.
The disease, which has spread to 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory, had claimed 128 lives as of Saturday evening.
Kogi and Cross River are the two states yet to confirm a single case of the disease, but the association asked the Federal Government to investigate the zero-case claims of the states.
“The NMA vehemently decries the stance of the governments of Kogi and Cross River states to NCDC’s advisory. While it would be welcome news for a ‘no-positive-case’ status in any state or FCT, every state must ensure that it is following the testing guidelines issued by NCDC. That way, no cases are missed, as that would seriously imperil the whole national response to controlling COVID-19 pandemic,” NMA said.
Meanwhile, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has charged government agencies and civil society organisations to brace up towards aggressive and conscientious enlightenment and education of citizens on the dangers of contracting COVID-19.
Chairman of CLO in Anambra State, Mr. Vincent Ezekwueme, in a statement at the weekend, said Nigerians, especially those in rural areas, need to be educated properly on the dangers of clustering in groups and observing the directives on coronavirus protocol.
“I decry the low level of awareness, especially to rural dwellers on the need to observe strictly government, experts and World Health Organisation advice to contain spread and escalation of coronavirus pandemic. Let fortunate Nigerians and government provide adequate palliatives stimulus to cushion despicable effects of coronavirus pandemic to the poor in our midst.
“I appeal to Anambra political gladiators to close ranks and think about the next generation, not next election, by embracing zoning arrangement formulated by former governor Peter Obi administration by collectively ceding the governorship position to Anambra South for interest of justice, equity, good conscience and morality. I was to reiterate CLO’s earlier call for Igbo leaders to close ranks and work towards actualisation of Nigerian President of Igbo extraction. It is of prime importance to note that the generation yet unborn will never forgive them and civil society organisations if they fail in that regard.
“I commend Anambra State government and Commissioner of Police, John Abang, for proactive and diligent actions they have taken to control the escalation of unnecessary and avoidable communal crises-torn areas in the state. At this period of hunger, anger and health challenges, Anambra State cannot tolerate another communal crisis hence the inevitable and, inexorable need to embrace peace by the waring communities” Ezekwueme said.
Medical specialists demand increase in testing centres
Members of the West African College of Physicians (WACP) have called on government in the sub-region to urgently accelerate and expand COVID-19 testing, including making available isolation facilities for a more accurate understanding of the pandemic.
In a statement by its president, Dr. Yveline Houenou, and secretary-general, Dr. Albert Akpalu, the doctors said the expansion became necessary to provide reliable evidence for the prioritisation of next actions against the outbreak.
They also counselled that the relaxation of the lockdown measures should be undertaken with extreme caution, and be informed by contact tracing capacity, as rapid community transmission is anticipated.
They backed governments’ order on compulsory use of face masks, the maintenance of physical distancing and frequent hand hygiene practices, saying these measures remain the best bet to slow the spread of the virus, especially community transmission.
But WACP advised that social distancing needed to be accompanied by comprehensive social support measures to ensure that people could comply without adverse effects on their livelihoods
“Therefore, there is need for community engagement and social mobilisation using a network of community health workers, local health centres, community leaders and structures for infection prevention and control as well as risk communication.
“There is a need to plan now how to ensure that the drugs and vaccines that are being developed are accessible to all in our region. Other concerns are the availability of diagnostic centres and reagents for testing for the confirmation of suspected cases, the protection of healthcare workers and development of a common framework for the guidance of further response to the pandemic in the sub region.
“We must build on the opportunities offered by the pandemic, and resulting good will, to strengthen the public health capacity and infrastructure in Western African countries. We need to secure the establishment, at strategic locations, of critical care centres for the clinical care of severely ill persons with HIDs, including COVID-19, and Ebola and Lassa fevers.
“There is need to build on the opportunities offered by the pandemic for development of surveillance and research infrastructure and capacity, which are in dire need for effective public health response to outbreaks in the sub-region. Just as was done during the outbreak of Ebola, the WACP has directed country chapters to form task forces/groups for the purpose of actively interfacing with national and sub-national governments to make their services available,” the WACP said.
WACP is an association of medical specialists in the disciplines of community health, family medicine, internal medicine, laboratory medicine made up of its major specialties of anatomical pathology, chemical pathology, haematology and medical microbiology, paediatrics and psychiatry. The college commended the national governments in the sub-region for the steps that they have taken so far in each country to mitigate the pandemic.
FMC confirms death of policeman as 2 staff, other test positive
The Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Abeokuta, Ogun State, has confirmed the death of a policeman who tested positive for coronavirus in the facility.
This was contained in a statement issued by the head of public relations and information, Segun Orisajo, in Abeokuta, yesterday.
Orisajo, however, dispelled the report that a medical doctor in the facility had contracted the deadly virus.
“The centre hereby confirms the case of three other patients, whose test results just returned positive.
“Two of them are members of staff of this centre, that is, a nurse and an administrative staff, which brings the total number to five.
“So far, no doctor in the centre has tested positive for coronavirus, contrary to some media reports.
“The deceased, a policeman, presented himself to the general outpatients department of the hospital about three days ago and later died same day.
“The result of his test returned this morning (Sunday) positive.
“His body is being prepared for release to his family for burial in strict compliance with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines,” he said.
Orisajo added that all the members of staff who came in contact with the deceased were currently in self-isolation.
47 health workers infected in Kano
At least 47 medical workers have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in Kano State, Dr. Tijjani Husaain, coordinator, Kano State Task Force on COVID-19, confirmed at a news conference yesterday.
Hussain said the health workers were confirmed to had caught the virus in the past weeks, noting that no new case of the virus infection were recorded among health personnel in the past few days.
He said the feat was achieved sequel to the state’s government’s prompt actions to protect health workers and guard against a recurrence. Hussain noted that Kano State had recorded 576 confirmed cases of the disease, with 29 new cases and 32 discharged.
“Out of the total number of confirmed cases in Kano State, we recorded 21 deaths. On Saturday, we also recorded 84 new suspected cases of the COVID-19, bringing the total number of the suspected cases to 1,820 in the state,” he said.
He disclosed that the task force, on Saturday, received 47 emergency calls, which were investigated, adding that they have so far received 1,313 calls.
“Between Saturday and Sunday, 29 of the 84 samples collected were confirmed positive to the virus. So far, we have collected 2,072 samples in the state.”
Hussain added that, as part of the state government’s efforts to stem the pandemic, over 1,000 frontline health workers were undergoing special training in the state.
He urged the people to adhere to the safety protocols, social distancing, use of face mask and the lockdown order.