Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Federal Government has raised the alarm over improper disposal of personal protective equipment (PPEs) which it feared could spike the number of Coronavirus ionfection.
Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, gave the warning during the daily briefing, yesterday, in reaction to photograph of two children wearing discarded PPEs trending on social media.
According to him, it is a dangerous development which requires public education even as he urged frontline health workers to ensure used PPEs are properly disposed.
The PTF also stressed the need for parents to teach their children not to pick masks, PPEs of any kind, as such actions amount to spreading the virus through ignorance.
Mustapha said: “Shortly after the briefing of 1st June, 2020 (Monday), the social media was trending with the photograph of two children wearing discarded PPEs (although it is not certain if the photograph was taken in Nigeria). Significantly, that photograph represents a dangerous development. It underscores the need for more risk communication, community engagement and diligence in the disposal of used PPEs on the part of our frontline workers and the administrators. It also underscores the need to broaden the theme and messages in our communication strategy. Above all, the photograph has left us to imagine what the impact would be, if schools were to be open and they attended school after being exposed so dangerously. Those three children represent a clear danger to themselves, family and the immediate community.
“While we take remedial measures to reach out to medical institutions on this, I use this opportunity to call on all our health authorities to make sure that waste disposal is done in such a way that would not create opportunities for increasing the chances of spreading the virus.”
The SGF reiterated that there is a lot of work to be done hence the the need for all to come together overcome the challenge together, adding, “you must take responsibility.”
According to him, the commencement of phase two of eased lockdown as approved by the president and announced by the PTF is not a signal that COVID-19 has gone.
Mustapha said: “It must be underscored that the decisions of the president and the guidelines providing the details are both products of a coordinated effort designed to enable us achieve a sustainable balance between lives and livelihoods.
“The PTF is conscious of the fact there is a high possibility of members of the public seeing the easing as a signal that COVID is gone. On the contrary, COVID-19 is still virulent, dangerous and infectious. Our lives have changed for good and will never revert to what we used to know. That is why we have urged all the employers, employees and leaders of sectors allowed to re-open to diligently comply with non-pharmaceutical measures prescribed in the guidelines and the protocols agreed by State governments.
“As we have always maintained, the fight against this pandemic is not a joke and because the science, data and experiences that drive our national response are constantly evolving, we urge all citizens to religiously implement applicable guidelines at specific phases of the battle.”
783 healthcare workers, 29 NCDC staff infected
Meanwhile, Nigeria now has the third-highest number of confirmed cases in Africa after South Africa and Egypt, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), revealed.
He also disclosed that 812 healthcare workers have been infected by the virus. Twenty nine of them work with the NCDC.
“We’ve had 812 healthcare workers infected. They’re not just numbers, 29 of these work for the Nigeria Center for Disease Control they are people I know they have families, wives, children about eight of them right now are in the Idu Treatment Centre. So they’re not just numbers, they people and the matter and we must remember.”
He assured that as the lockdown easing continues, the centre will further strengthen the public health response.
“We’ve had 299 deaths, s far representing a case fatality ratio of about three percent, now each of those days that are very painful and we report them because it’s important to count these things. But also we always remember and the SGF of our said is here severally these are people some of them we know and so many and privilege position have come to know through the course of their illness. So we know them and we remember them every time we go out in the morning to work harder the next day.
“We now have the second highest number of confirmed cases on the continent just after South Africa and Egypt. It means that there’s an added responsibility for us to work harder every day.
“We’ve increased our testing capacity, we have now tested over 65,000 samples and increase our lab network 30 having those activated a lab in Bauchi and one new one in Abuja and each of these are not numbers. There’s a lot of work behind every new lab activated means equipment have been procured, people have been trained, people have travelled to make sure this things happen, state governments have invested. So when you just hear a new lab activated, it’s not just a number. It represents the collective efforts of a country trying to respond to public health emergency.
“Another number that is important: 60% percent of our cases are in 20 local governments and we published this local governments with the new regulations, with the new easing of restrictions. So this will now define our response even further, out of 774 local government If we have 60 per cent of cases in 20 local governments in these are we will focus a lot of our efforts on those 20 while not forgetting that we need to prevent spread to others.”
Why more people are testing positive
Minister for health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has adduced reasons why the figure of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria keep rising day after day, in spite of several measures taken so far to contain the community transmission of dreaded coronavirus, including total lockdown of some states which, expectedly, led to socioeconomic disruptions.
As at Monday, 1st June, Nigeria has a total of 10,578 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 35 States and FCT, of which 3,122 patients have been treated successfully and released, while sadly, 299 patients have died of the diseases.
The minister confirmed that expansion of laboratory and testing capacity all over Nigeria, as well as growing community transmission rate jointly contributed to the significant increase in the number of COVID-19 positives cases being recorded in recent days.