The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this on Tuesday in Abuja, at the 39th joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19. “A few weeks ago, I announced that Nigeria will participate in COVID-19 drug trial, which the WHO was leading but partly suspended. After consultation with top Nigerian scientists of the Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee, I am advised that Nigeria has something to add to the body of knowledge around these trials. “I have therefore approved continuation of the trial, as recommended, under strong precautionary conditions to be built into it,” Ehanire said.
According to him, the expanding laboratory and testing capacity all over Nigeria and growing community transmission rate both contribute to the increase in the number of COVID-19 positives we are observing in recent days.
He said nevertheless, the nation has not reached the testing targets as yet and therefore ask all persons who fit the case definition of fever, cough sore throat, loss of sense of smell or taste to first use a mask or face covering and find the nearest testing center. He added that those testing positive should report to the nearest treatment facility in the interest of self preservation and that this shall be included in the social mobilization and community engagement messaging.
The minister said, “We are working with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), to finalize plans on engagement of existing community volunteers and agents to conduct house to house sensitization on COVID-19 at community level, especially in high burden local government areas of Nigeria, since about 20 LGAs contribute nearly 60 percent of our COVID-19 positive cases.” Ehanire said Nigeria currently has a total of 10,578 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 35 states and FCT, of which 3,122 have been treated successfully and released, while the nation has sadly recorded 299 deaths. “The COVID-19 burden is, as we know not evenly distributed within the country, with Kano and Lagos bearing the highest burden.
A team from the FMoH, led by the ED of NPHCDA and comprising doctors from Departments of Family Health, Hospital Services and Public Health and NCDC, is in Lagos on an appraisal visit, during which a situation analysis will be conducted. “The team will also visit the contiguous Ogun State on the same mission. The visits are in continuation of similar useful initiatives in the past to Kano, Katsina Sokoto, Jigawa, Gombe, and Borno, to share experience and ideas, align strategy and support each other,” he said.
He said that the government will continue to advocate for states to strengthen their response activities and have begun a program to strengthen the capacity of all Federal Health Institutions in Nigeria to deal with COVID-19 challenges in their states by additional training, supplies and equipment.