Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said that youths under the age of 19 account for 10 per cent of current confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
Dr Ehanire made the diaclosure on Monday in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19.
‘With regard to COVID-19 and growing complacency, it is important to stress that, even though adults, especially those 60 years and above are more vulnerable, complications do occur in all age groups. Records show that 10 per cent of all positive cases we have treated are below the age of 19 years,’ the Minister said.
‘They are also the same mobile group that can be without symptoms, but can easily spread the disease. Therefore, as schools begin to reopen in some areas, I urge caution and adherence to the protocols and advisories for reopening schools, in order join us to prevent COVID surge.’
Speaking on the need for improvement on testing, the Minister said that it was important for the nation to generate national and international confidence in the data by conducting more targeted testing before conclusions are drawn.
‘It means that all states and local government areas must cooperate with NCDC by raising sample collection rate, using criteria listed, to increase testing to a desired rate and to report promptly; as we are still far from the target of two million tests. In this regard we can support States with community volunteers for contact tracing, case finding and investigation.
‘While stepping up surveillance and case finding, States can also ensure that suspected symptomatic COVID cases are sent for treatment in time or supported before then with medical oxygen, to save lives and reduce fatalities.
‘The recommended criteria for testing are: persons who have been in contact with a COVID positive patient or are associated with a cluster of persons of interest, those who have any of the four classical symptoms of fever, persistent cough, loss of sense of taste or smell and breathlessness; anyone facing surgery, as well as for any other compelling reason,’ the Minister added.
Dr Ehanire also said that the distribution of oxygen concentrators and ventilators to various health institutions has commenced with training of about 176 intensive care specialists, and biomedical engineers, who will use or maintain them in the hospitals.
According to him, the ventilators and training are courtesy of the United States Government and shall complement what the nation have at the ICUs.
He equally commended the health workers under JOHESU for ending their industrial action, stating that it is his desire to work with them to resolve issues of concern.
He said ‘COVID-19 is with us for the foreseeable future, as DG of WHO has advised, with no definitive cure in sight. People are still being infected and are dying from it.
‘Some countries are imposing or considering new lockdowns or other restrictions because of the second wave. As we reopen our economy, it is time for us to take preventive measures even more seriously. I have directed all our hospitals to be alert and watch for unusual increase in number of persons reporting at our hospital as emergency centre.’