Coronavirus – Nigeria: Health Minister Urges Extra Vigilance with Easing of COVID-19 Lockdown

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With the easing of lockdown which was imposed because of COVID-19 pandemic, Monday, 4th May, 2020, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has urged Nigerians to “be extra vigilant and be compliant with accompanying measures and guidelines that are meant to assure that we do not lose the health gains we have made so far, since our COVID-19 statistics are of considerable concern.”

The Honourable Minister made this call at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Press Briefing held on Monday, 4th May, 2020. Dr. Ehanire anchored his caution on the awareness that “countries who eased or lifted restrictions, suffered an increase in new cases.”

The Health Minister gave the breakdown of the nation’s COVID-19 statistics as at Sunday, 3rd May, to be 170 persons tested positive, giving a total of 2,558 confirmed in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Of the 2, 558 national figure, 400 persons have been discharged and 87 deaths have been recorded. Ehanire gave further breakdown on State by State basis: Of the 170 new cases, there were 39 in Lagos, 29 in Kano, 24 in Ogun, 18 in Bauchi, 15 in Kaduna, 12 each in FCT and Sokoto, 8 in Katsina, 7 in Borno, 3 in Nasarawa, 2 in Adamawa, and 1 in Oyo.

The Honourable Minister drew the necessary lessons for Nigerians in his words: “We can say we are fully in community transmission mode and our strategy is to take all persons who test positive to Isolation, even if they have no symptoms, so that they do not risk infecting others, who may be more vulnerable due to other diseases. We need to protect, not only ourselves, but each other and our loved ones. We need to make sacrifices today for a better tomorrow.”

Dr. Ehanire also gave insight into the Kano State’s situation which has confounded many health experts: “With regard to Kano, the Federal Ministry of Health is strengthening its support for Kano with service delivery and training in consultation with His Excellency, the Governor.” The Honourable Minister revealed what his Ministry and its partners are doing about Kano. He said, “The setbacks in routine hospital service delivery in Kano are being addressed by line experts from the Ministry, whether from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the Department of Family Health and a pathologist who is participating in the investigation of the unexplained deaths in Kano. The team shall be reinforced according to needs expressed by the State Government to strengthen its healthcare structure.”

Dr. Ehanire further said that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is working with Kano State’s primary health/community health workforce to sensitize the population on COVID-19, at grassroots level and expand our testing capacity.” The Minister reiterated his call to all Kano State citizens to cooperate with health workers and for those testing positive to comply with invitations to enter Isolation care.

The Minister further urged all health care facilities, both private and public not to reject persons seeking medical help, especially in emergencies saying “It is unethical not to attend to persons in distress”; while also urging citizens to go to the hospital when not feeling well and to cooperate by giving accurate information especially with regard to travel history.”

Dr. Ehanire revealed that Nigeria has indicated interest to the World Health Organisation to be part of the global solidarity trial of medicines being tried to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic”, stating that “efforts are ongoing to also conduct research here in Nigeria.” The Minister assured that “Other drugs can be added based on emerging evidence”, with “the maintenance of ethical standards and safety of our people.”

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