Coronavirus – Nigeria: Individual, Collective Behaviour & Urgency of Behaviour Change Communication Underlie Stemming COVID-19 Positive Cases – Dr. Ehanire

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The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has stated that much now depends on individual and collective behaviour and the urgency of behavior change communication if Nigeria must stem the tide of expected rise in the number of confirmed cases spread of COVID-19 now that the pandemic has entered the stage of community transmission. He also stated that “Knowledge so far gathered about COVID-19 needs to be converted into practice, because our safety, now more than ever, depends on all of us.”

Further breakdown on State by State bases as given by the Honourable Minister is as follows: 148 new cases were reported in 17 states as follows: 43 in Lagos, 32 in Kano, Katsina (9), FCT (10), Zamfara (14), Taraba (7), Borno (7), Ogun (6), Oyo (5), Bauchi (3), Edo (3), Kaduna (3), Adamawa (2), Gombe (2), Plateau (2), Sokoto (1), Kebbi (1).

Dr. Ehanire stated that the continued rise in the number of COVID-19 positives is “not unexpected” due to “prevailing circumstances in certain States; and also for the fact that “We are clearly in community transmission phase.” The Health Minister insisted that “We are to adhere to public health advisories – wearing our face masks, observing social distancing, practising hand washing or sanitizing, standard respiratory hygiene, avoiding crowded places and all manner of non-essential travel, as well as reporting when we feel unwell, or someone close to us has symptoms of Infection.”

Dr. Osagie Ehanire cautioned that If Nigerians) fail to convert the knowledge gained about COVID-19 into practice, “we expose ourselves and our loved ones to risk and inadvertently increase the period this virus will be with us and make life worse for all of us.” The Honourable Minister of Health gave examples of some present practices which are not right and can aggravate COVID-19 spread as:

“Large crowds reported at certain events”; and “The movement and repatriation of persons from one State to the other” “do contribute to the problem and do not indicate a good understanding of the urgency of the situation.”

The Minister also seized the opportunity of the PTF Press Briefing for 6th May, 2020 to let the nation know what his Ministry has been engaged at lately: “While we are striving to increase our testing capacity, we have noted the complaints about turnaround time to get the results of tests conducted. We are doing what we can to resolve them.”

He added: “We have also continued to train and retrain our health care workers as well as provide them with the necessary personal protective equipment. Community mobilizers have been deployed at the grassroots to continue to sensitize our people through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.”

Dr. Ehanire also disclosed that he participated earlier this week in a teleconference of Northern Traditional Leaders Committee organized by NPHCDA in which the need for urgent engagement of all traditional, religious and community gatekeepers was emphasized and agreed on.

“We are encouraging and supporting States to increase the number of isolation centres nationwide, and we are extremely grateful to Corporate Organizations and Philanthropists who have donated Isolation facilities, diagnostic equipment, commodities and sundry supplies relevant to our response efforts to COVID-19 threat”, the Honourable Minister stated.

The Health Minister also mentioned the example of Chief Nduka Obaigbena who donated his ThisDay Dome, which has been purposed by the donor, to be a 320-bed Isolation Centre with a 10 bed ICU as worthy of emulation, saying that the new Isolation Centre “will be commissioned next week to significantly ease the supply of bed spaces.”

Dr. Osagie Ehanire gave updates on Kano, Katsina and Sokoto as follows: “With regard to Kano, progress has been made in collaboration efforts with the State EOC to restore routine medical services to hospitals and further drive the ongoing investigations.” He added that “Organized ambulance service is already in operation bringing relief to citizens who need to access medical services, especially in view of restrictions of movement and also in emergency situations.”

“The Federal Ministry of Health is sending supporting teams to Sakoto and Katsina for training and capacity building in case management and Infection prevention and control in the hospital setting. Other States shall follow at short intervals, to assist the State Ministries of Health in their response to the COVID-19 threat.”

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