The Borno State Government has revealed that no fewer than 16 health workers have been infected with COVID-19 since the outbreak of the disease in the state.
The 16 in Borno are among the 113 health workers infected with the virus across Nigeria.
The state Commissioner for Health, Salisu Kwaya-Bura, made this known at the weekend in Maiduguri, during a media briefing on the pandemic, organised by the State Response Team on COVID-19.
Kwaya-Bura said the development showed the increasing risks being faced by health workers in the fight against coronavirus.
He, however, said urgent measures were being taken to protect the health workers, adding that about 2,000 Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) had been ordered by the state.
The commissioner, who is the secretary of the team, said a total of 69 people were infected with COVID-19 in the state, out of which nine had died.
“At the moment, none of our patients is at a critical state.
“They are at the isolation centres receiving medical attention; though the kind of attention varies for those with mild symptoms and those with moderate symptoms,” Kwaya-Bura said.
He also announced that the team had increased its contact tracing and surveillance groups to 25, where 20 of them were out for tracing and five were respondents to alerts.
Earlier, the chairman of the team, who is also the state’s Deputy Governor, Umar Kadafur, said the inability of the team to brief the media on Thursday and Friday, was due to its busy schedule, part of which was the effort to expand the capacity of the state’s isolation centre.
Kadafur also disclosed that the government was making plans to expand the 100-bed capacity isolation centre to between 500 and 1,000 bed capacity.
He urged the public to observe all precautionary measures against COVID-19, particularly staying at home, physical distancing, wearing of masks and regular washing of hands.
Last week, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, cautioned health workers on treating suspected COVID-19 cases.
He explained that only health care workers with training in infectious diseases control are eligible to handle COVID-19 patients.
“If you hear us speaking here frequently against trying to treat coronavirus in private clinics, we are actually referring to those people who do so without having necessary precautions and training because they risk infecting themselves and go home and give this infection to their family.
“Healthcare workers who have no training have no business handling coronavirus,” he said.
The federal government had earlier barred private hospitals from treating COVID-19 cases, saying many of the health workers there are not trained to handle such a disease.
The federal government has now asked private hospitals willing to treat COVID-19 patients to register with their state’s health ministry and ensure proper training of staff.