Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has reassured Nigerians that nine out of 10 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients recover from the infectious disease.
Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire gave the assurance at the presidential task force briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday.
This is even as he advised Nigerians not to panic each time they see an ambulance and attribute any such medical emergencies to COVID-19.
He was responding to a question on rumours regarding an ambulance used to convey some COVID-19 patients from Bwari in Abuja.
Ehanire noted that people are afraid as a result of the high number of confirmed cases while forgetting that such infected persons will most likely recover.
“I would like to appeal to everybody not to see an ambulance as a sign of COVID-19 for that’s not what it is. An ambulance can do a large number of things, so the sign of an ambulance does not immediately translate to COVID-19,” the health minister said.
“It can happen but in this case, I don’t believe so. There is no reason for apprehension because over 90 per cent of those who have COVID-19 will recover.
“Nine out 10 will recover, so what is the fear about? Only that the numbers are so large that we forget that people recover and the few get very sick, that is just about four or five out of 100.”
Earlier, the minister said 170 people had recovered from the COVID-19 in Nigeria and had been discharged and that another 436 persons were currently under treatment and recovering from the virus.
According to him, as of 06:00 am, April 20th, a total of 627 persons in 21 states and FCT had been confirmed to have COVID-19.
He said the 86 new confirmations were 70 in Lagos, seven in FCT, three in Akwa Ibom and Katsina; and one each in Bauchi, Borno and Jigawa.
“Twenty-one deaths have been recorded so far, one of whom, sadly, is Mallam Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Thirteen molecular laboratories nationwide have been activated so far by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and the target this week is to double the current national testing capacity of 1,500 tests per day.
“Our strategy now focuses on the community and we have increased testing and social mobilisation at the grassroots. The worrying increases in the frequency and numbers of new persons with COVID-19 being recorded daily, is attributable to this new strategy, in combination with the increased community transmission.
“A robust national Response Action Plan is presently under development, to address the challenges arising from entry to COVID-19 community transmission phase,” the minister said.
He said government engagement to further intensify strategic house-to-house and cluster testing in communities had helped towards promptly detecting, testing and isolating to mitigate the ongoing community transmission.
The minister said there was also renewed emphasis on further increasing and improving isolation facilities, since finding more infected persons without facilities to accommodate them did not contribute to a solution.
He assured that isolation and treatment centres were available to meet the security and privacy requirements of all persons.
He said the use of face masks, be they disposable or cloth masks or other face coverings, was advised for all activities outside the home, especially in hotspot states of Lagos and Kano, and the FCT.
He concluded that the Federal Government has the responsibility and capability to manage the viral infection in the interest of public safety and national security, but can share this responsibility with private sector hospitals who meet the laid down criteria.