The Honorable Minister of Health in Abuja, Nigeria, Dr Osagie Ehanire has made known that there are 12 functional COVID- 19 testing laboratories, with a capacity to test 1,500 samples daily. He said, to ensure maximum utilization of increased testing capacity, the case definition and testing criteria had been expanded to include not only contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases with fever and respiratory tract symptoms but also persons with fever and respiratory tract symptoms of unknown cause.
The Minister said this at the Presidential Task Force briefing, today, 15th of April, 2020, when he confirmed a total of 373 cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria. He stated that 99 cases had been discharged and 11 deaths had been recorded in Nigeria. Stating also that, 30 new cases had been reported from 5 states: Lagos 25, Akwa Ibom 1, Edo 1, Kano 1 while the fatality occurred in Lagos
According to Dr Ehanire, “The advent of community transmission marks the evolution of our initial strictly containment strategy”. He added that there is need to scale-up risk communication to the public and coordination with the state level COVID -19 response preparedness. The Minister stated also that there is an increased drive to detect cases more rapidly in communities and advised all persons fitting the case definition to wear a mask of any type, isolate themselves from friends and family as they call the national emergency number 112, or the NCDC toll-free number 0800 9700 0010, or report to the nearest health facility for a referral. “The policy is to detect early, test, and isolate cases as early as possible, he said. Health Minister reminded health workers in both public and private health facilities to maintain a high index of suspension and refer patients with fever and respiratory tract symptoms for COVID-19 testing.
Dr Osagie Ehanire informed that a guideline had been produced by FMOH accreditation committee to ensure that standards are maintained at all COVID-19 isolation and treatment centres across the country. He revealed that there are three levels of isolation centres, isolation 1 is for suspected cases of COVID-19 while awaiting results, this is also used to designate the mandatory quarantine facilities for those returning from abroad with negative results, or those unable to self-isolate at home for 14 days. Isolation 2 is for confirmed COVID-19 cases with mild or moderate symptoms, which need little to no clinical management. Isolation 3 is for confirmed COVID-19 cases with severe or critical symptoms, which need enhanced clinical management or intensive care. He said, in Abuja, the designated isolated 3 facilities are the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH) and National Hospital while isolation 2 centres are located in 4 other places.
Speaking further, the Honorable Minister of Health hinted that the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) had issued comprehensive guidance on the use of masks, including improvised and homemade cloth masks or face covering like handkerchiefs or scarves over the mouth and nose which guard against particle emission in conversation, or when coughing or sneezing. He emphasized that the masks be worn as an additional layer of physical protection, where close contact or crowds may not be avoided with certainties, such as market, particularly food vendors and elderly people with pre-existing medical conditions with fragile health status. The Minister urged that the use of masks be used in combination with but not as a substitute for handwashing, physical distancing and good respiratory hygiene as well as sanitizing surfaces. He further stated that the medical-grade mask are reserved for patients and health workers who needed them most and reminded also that they are properly washed daily in warm water and dried or ironed.
Dr Osagie Ehanire said that well-published non-medical intervention advisories must be maintained which had been well-publicized while fake news must be ignored.
The Honorable Minister of Health thanked on the behalf of the Federal Government, the technical support from USCDC and the large donation from the United Nation Agencies of supplies and equipment that included 50 ventilators. He also commended all Nigerians for their sacrifices and understanding “As we work to ensure we defeat COVID-19”, he said.