- Fears pandemic might hinder fight against other diseases as patients crash from 4m to 2m
- Says face masks compulsory
- Urges govs not to deviate from presidential guidelines
- Holds talks with Canada on evacuation of Nigerians
- 93 new cases bring tally to 5,162 with 1,180 discharged, 167 dead
- Lagos launches mobile enlightenment campaign
- Preliminary report shows manpower gap in Kano
Chuks Okocha, Olawale Ajimotokan, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Eromosele Abiodun, Martins Ifijeh, Nume Ekeghe and Peter Uzoho in Lagos
The federal government Thursday expressed concern about the disruption unleashed on the nation’s healthcare system since the onset of COVID-19, which has resulted in a significant drop in the number of outpatient population of non-COVID-19 ailments in hospitals nationwide.
It said data showed a 50 per cent reduction in the number of outpatient cases from four million people to two million while antenatal patients slumped to 655,000 from 1.3m and immunisation figures halved.
Nigeria recorded 193 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing to 5,162 the total number of confirmed cases in the country.
Announcing this last night, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Lagos recorded 58 new cases, Kano 46, Jigawa 35, Yobe 12, Federal Capital Territory nine, Ogun seven, Plateau and Gombe five each, Imo four, Edo, Kwara and Borno three each, while Bauchi, Nasarawa, and Ondo have one each.
It said: “There are 5,162 cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria. 1,180 persons have been discharged with 167 deaths.”
The federal government also said wearing face masks in public places is compulsory, going by the COVID-19 regulations signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, pursuant to Quarantine Act.
In addition, the government has opened talks with Canada on the evacuation of Nigerians just as the Federal Ministry of Health has started implementing some measures to contain the health challenges posed by the virus based on the preliminary findings of the exploratory teams sent to investigate the unexplained deaths in Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Sokoto, Bauchi and Borno States.
Speaking at the media briefing by the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19 in Abuja thursday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the country’s health sector had witnessed some drawbacks due to the outbreak of the virus.
He spoke against the backdrop of the reports that hospitals, both public and private, had been rejecting patients since the onset of the pandemic over the fear of health workers contracting the virus from patients.
Many patients have been accused of fudging their travel history or lying about their medical conditions so they would not be suspected of having the virus.
“Latest statistics from the National Health Management Information System (NHMIS) indicates that outpatient visit has dropped from four million to about two million; antenatal visits from 1.3 million to 655,000, skilled birth attendance from 158,374 to less than 99,000 while immunisation services reduced to about half,” he stated.
According to him, the hope of the government is that these failings in healthcare services with yet-to-be-determined consequences will considerably be addressed by the easing of the lockdown.
Ehanire explained that special emphasis is now being placed on ensuring the continued delivery of routine services in all hospitals.
FG Urges Govs Not to Deviate from Presidential Guidelines
Ehanire’s counterpart in the Ministry of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, advised governors not to jeopardise efforts at combating the spread of the virus by undermining the guidelines rolled out by the federal government.
Mohammed was reacting to a report that Bornu State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, had directed the relaxation of the lockdown in the state to allow on mosques and churches hold congregational worshipping.
While admitting that it would be premature to comment on the issue because he did not have the details, the minister cautioned that governors should not encourage moves that could reverse the gains recorded in recent times.
He added that the Chairman of the PTF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who had been in touch with the governors, would continue to engage them concerning easing of the lockdown.
“I also read that the Borno State government has ordered the relaxation of the lockdown. But we don’t have the true picture and, therefore, it will be premature to comment on this situation. But as we are always working together with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, we believe the governors won’t do anything that will put in jeopardy all we have achieved in the last few weeks of lockdown. So, I think it is better we continue the engagement and I am sure that the chairman of the task force, who is constantly in touch with the governors, will take up this matter and we hope we will be able to give you feedback when next we are here,” Mohammed said.
FG Insists Wearing Face Masks Compulsory
Mustapha dispelled the insinuation that the wearing of face masks in public is optional.
He explained that in accordance with the regulations signed by the president pursuant to the Quarantine Act, it is compulsory for everyone to wear a face mask.
He said all the protocols, including the use of face masks, were predicated on the Quarantine Act.
He urged governors and security agencies with the power of enforcement to ensure that that it is enforced for the overall good of all.
“Because we are persuasive does not mean there is an option to it. It was part of the declaration signed by Mr. President. All the protocols are predicated on the authority vested on Mr. President by the Quarantine Act. And once he appended his signature to that, everything listed there has the force of law.
“Our appeal is borne out of the fact that it is a collective effort that each and every Nigerian has a responsibility to himself and to other Nigerians to ensure that when we are in the open we wear a mask. We are deliberate about it so that our people will not go and be picking things from the dust bin and be hanging on their faces. As simple about it, even a handkerchief can serve a purpose. It is not in any way an optional thing; it is a must,” Mustapha said.
FG Holds Talks with Canada on Evacuation of Nigerians
In his speech, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Godfrey Onyeama, said the federal government was engaging Canada on its refusal to give landing right to a Nigerian carrier that was detailed to evacuate Nigerians from the country.
It was reported that the airline lacked the licence to undertake commercial flight to the country and was not known to Canadian authorities.
Onyeama said the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada was already in talks with Canada to reverse the refusal as the evacuation arrangement was an emergency situation.
Preliminary Reports Identifies Manpower Gap in Kano
On the situation in Kano and other northern states, Ehanire said although the final report from the Kano investigation was not ready, his ministry had identified manpower gap in the state and had started acting on the preliminary findings of the exploratory teams sent to investigate the unexplained deaths in Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Sokoto, Bauchi and Borno States.
In addition, the federal government has scaled up training “in infection prevention and control, case finding and management, Emergency Patient Transport Systems, Surveillance Outbreak Response Management Analysis System (SORMAS), down to the training of hygienists, stretcher-bearers and security personnel,” he added.
According to the minister, these efforts will increase confidence in the healthcare system, reduce instances of health workers’ infection and desertion and improve overall performance.
Chinese Medical Team Not Guests of FG
When asked to explain the whereabouts of the Chinese medical team, which arrived Nigeria along with package of medical supplies donated by a Chinese construction firm, CCECC, Ehanire said: “I want to explain, first of all, I think not all of them are doctors, I think some of them are technicians and they are the staff of CCECC; the Ministry of Health is not their host; so, we can’t possibly say what happened to them or where they are. There seem to be a lot of interests on these doctors but they are the staff of the company and they are on its reserve. So, I will be very happy if you don’t ask me about their whereabouts because they are not really our guests.”
Nigeria May Not Have Access to Vaccines, Says NCDC
The Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, drew the attention of Nigerians to the likely scenario that would play out in the event of the development of a vaccine against COVID-19, saying that Nigerians may not easily have access to the vaccines.
He said Nigeria should realise the intricate web of global interests in a vaccine with scientific acclaim to effectively prevent coronavirus and start repositioning itself for the epic competition for the drug.
“Why do we need science and why do we need to engage globally? Now the end of this outbreak will come when we get a vaccine, but getting a vaccine doesn’t mean inevitably that we will have access to it. We have had a vaccine for human pathology for the last 10 years but because this vaccine costs about $50 per shot, we don’t access it in Nigeria. So, we have to engage globally to insist on equitable access to these vaccines when they are developed. We do not do this by looking inwards but by engaging globally,” he said.
Madagascar Drug Gift an Embarrassment to Nigeria, PSN Insists
Meanwhile, the President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mr. Sam Ohuabunwa, yesterday restated the position of the association, describing as insulting the COVID-Organics donated to Nigeria by the government of Madagascar.
He said the PSN was not against Nigeria accepting the gift, adding that there are certain gift a country like Nigeria must not accept given its size and knowhow in herbal medicine.
Ohuabunwa stated this when he appeared on the Morning Show, a breakfast programme on ARISE NEWS channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers.
He said: “Nigeria is big and endowed enough with sufficient manpower and I believe expertise to produce something as good as or better than what we are getting from Madagascar.
“Our cry is not just because money will be spent, we are trying to draw attention to our lethargy, philosophy more or less in Nigeria that seems to make us always dependent, always looking for a solution from outside without challenging ourselves, without properly putting ourselves to strong efforts to solve our own problems.
“We are looking for people to solve our electricity problem, solve our water problem, solve our infrastructure problem and even in the area of sophisticated medication we get all from outside. My worry is when it will be Nigeria’s turn to begin to give something to the world outside liquid petroleum, which nobody is willing to buy now.
“I am not saying they shouldn’t take COVID-Organics from Madagascar if it is offered free of charge, the important thing is that there are certain gifts that shouldn’t be actually given to you, there are certain gifts carrying with it insult, there are certain gifts people give to you that is insulting. So, we think that this gift is one of them that look like some insult because a country our size should not be one to be receiving help in herbal medicine. We should be able to help other people, given that we have more and we have a better opportunity.”
Ohuabunwa hailed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the initiative to fund research locally, adding that the current leadership of the central bank will go down in history as the most proactive.
Dokpesi Recovers from Pandemic
Founder of AIT, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, yesterday said that he had recovered from the virus.
The Chairman Emeritus of DAAR Communications PLC, owner of AIT, Ray Power and Faaji FM said he had been discharged and free of the virus.
He was discharged along with some other members of his family.
Dokpesi, in an appreciation message that he signed, said that the past weeks had provided him with the first-hand experience of the enormous challenge before the country.
He said he and members of his family were better acquainted with personal sacrifices, many Nigerians were making to defeat the pandemic.
I Was Treated with Hydroxychloroquine, Says Okupe
Also, a former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said Hydroxychloroquine was amongst the medications he used to recover from COVID-19.
Okupe and his wife, Aduralere, were recently discharged after spending about two weeks in COVID-19 isolation and treatment centre in Sagamu, Ogun State.
He said on Wednesday night that there was no consensus yet amongst scientists on a particular treatment method for the lethal virus.
“My medications for COVID-19: Hydroxychloroquine 400mg, two times daily for two days; then 400mg daily for three days. Azithromycin 500mg, fly Zinc Sulphate 100mg daily. VitzC 1200mg daily. I also supported with a mixture of ginger, garlic, turmeric and lemon. In Kaduna they added Dongoyaro leaves.
“There is no global consensus among scientists or medical experts on any one treatment regimen. No credible scientific research document is presently available or acceptable for the treatment of COVID-19. The key factor is the immune status of patients. Boost your immunity with known supplements.
“If you must take hydroxychloroquine, please speak to your doctor to confirm if you have any cardiac arrhythmias. If you do, you need close monitoring before embarking on the use of these drugs. Ninety to 95 per cent of infected patients will go through, even without hospitalisation. 90 per cent of young people will survive an attack,” he tweeted.
Lagos Discharges 13 Additional Patients
The Lagos State Government has discharged 13 additional patients from its isolation centres, bringing to 541 the total number of successfully treated persons in the state.
The state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the patients were 11 males and two females.
He said: “The 13 Nigerians have been discharged after they tested negative twice consecutively to COVID-19.
“Four were discharged from the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, while nine were discharged from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba. With this, the number of patients successfully managed and discharged in Lagos has risen to 541,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Lagos Commences Mobile Advocacy Campaign
Also, as part of the efforts to reinforce the measures instituted to contain the community spread of the virus, the state government has begun an extensive public enlightenment campaign across all the 20 Local Governments and 37 LCDAs.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, said the exercise was initiated after the discovery that members of the public did not comply with the directives issued by Sanwo-Olu as the lockdown was eased in Lagos.
Omotoso said: “It was disappointing that residents threw caution to the winds immediately Mr. Governor announced the partial lifting of the lockdown imposed by the federal government. People stormed banks without exercising caution despite the ravaging effects of the pandemic. The enhanced public enlightenment campaign, which will involve LED and mobile billboards, is expected to strengthen the advocacy of physical distancing and other preventive measures.
“Information about the symptoms, prevention and sample collection centres for individuals who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 will dominate the campaign. It has become imperative to penetrate communities with details that will attract the attention of residents to engender compliance with Health experts’ directives on COVID-19.”
UN Warns of Global Mental Health Crisis
The United Nations health experts have warned that
mental illness crisis is looming as millions of people worldwide are surrounded by death and disease and forced into isolation, poverty and anxiety by the ravaging pandemic.
Presenting a UN report and policy guidance on COVID-19 and mental health yesterday, the Director of Mental Health Department, World Health Organisation (WHO), Ms. Devora Kestel, said: “The isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil – they all cause, or could cause psychological distress.”
According to Reuters, Kestel while briefing reporters at the report presentation added that an upsurge in the number and the severity of mental illnesses were likely, advising that governments should put the issue in “front and centre of their responses.”
“The mental health and wellbeing of whole societies have been severely impacted by this crisis and are a priority to be addressed urgently,” she said.