Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on coronavirus (COVID-19), has said essential services are exempted from interstate travels restrictions.
It has therefore for the umpteenth time appeal to state governors, to align their decisions to federal government release guidelines on gradual easing of lockdown.
PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu said at the daily briefing of the Taskforce on Tuesday that, Agriculture services were highlighted as particularly essential.
He was responding to a question from Poultry Association of Nigeria, that lost N5 million worth of a day chicks (15,000) week Thursday, because the drivers conveying them from Ibadan to the north were stopped at Jebba bridge in Niger State by security agents on the order of the governor to close the bridge.
According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic is not going to end in the next few days or few weeks, hence the need for all to adhere strictly to the released guidelines.
Meanwhile, Federal Government warned that not all sanitisers are up to standard.
Minister of Health Ehanire Osagie provided key things to look out for things that will differentiate genuine hand sanitizers from substandard ones.
He urged Nigerians to look out for NAFDEC number and that the alcohol content must be 60 percent and above.
Osagie also disclosed that the audit and assessment of isolation centres have commenced across the country.
According to him, this is to continue strengthening response in states, that the Federal Ministry of Health and Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) are doing the assessment and were recently in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and Oshogbo, Osun State.
The minister said that though the cases and fatalities figure seems low compared to other countries, a disturbing picture emerging from statistics is that not only are most fatalities observed to be linked with preexisting diseases, many are educated, well-to-do people, who chose home-based care, where they develop sudden complication and have to be rushed to hospital.
“Experience is showing that breathing complications in COVID-19 patients can arise with little or no notice. This is an added reason why all persons should seek medical attention when they test positive,” he said.
Osagie said the government is also continue providing diagnostic commodities and facilities in collaboration with partners.
He said the two weeks extension of the eased lockdown authorized by President Muhammadu Buhari in Lagos, Ogun and FCT and also extended in Kano State was, to address remaining challenges to containing the increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“It is of great importance that we, members of the health sector and citizens, endeavor to use this period to dedicate their effort to strive for the best, but also prepare for the worst. As we learn more about coronavirus every day, we must be ready to adjust our strategy, based on knowledge and evidence,” Ehanire said.
He said that as at Monday, 216 new COVID-19 cases had been recorded with Lagos (74), Katsina (33), Oyo (19), Kano (17), Edo (13), Zamfara (10), Ogun (eight), Gombe (eight), Borno (eight), Bauchi (seven), Kwara (seven), FCT (four), Kaduna (three), Enugu (three) and Rivers (two), giving an aggregate number of confirmed cases of 6,175 in 34 states and the FCT.
He added, “1644 patients have been treated and discharged from care, but we have sadly recorded 191 deaths in 26 states and the FCT.
The minister said that a Ministerial Task Team led by a Director of the Federal Ministry of Health arrived Calabar on Monday 18th May to interact with Cross River State Ministry of Health.
He said they were well received and have had useful meetings with state government officials, medical directors of Federal Health Institutions in the state and traditional rulers.
“The team is made up of experts of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the NCDC, the Dept of Hospital Services, Dept of Public Health and Dept of Family Health, each with terms of refetence to work with relevant State officials to review and evaluate present status and needs of Cross River State. They will have audience to debrief H.E Cross River State Governor before they depart Calabar.
“The Ministerial Task Team to Kano reported improvements in the processes and indices of Kano, and also of strategies to control increasing cases of covid-19 infection in the entire region, by ramping up testing, isolation and case management capabilities,” Ehanire said.
He said the team also paid a fact finding visit to Bornu State same Monday and make recommendations on supporting the strategy there and that viral infectious disease experts from Federal Teaching Hospital Irrua are supporting the state initiatives with hands-on training and confidence building of health care workers.
He said the session of the World Health Assembly held normally in Geneva, Switzerland, was first time ever held by teleconference.
Ehanire said one of the important outcome of the Assembly is emphasis on the need for cooperation among citizens and with their state authorities in the fight against COVID-19.
He said the anti COVID-19 war concern citizens no less than the state, and requiring that citizens support and comply with advisories that are for everyone survival, thus no policing should be needed to do the right thing.