Umahi, Benue SSG, Head of Service, Others Test Positive for Covid-19

  • NCDC records 603 new cases, tally now 28,167, discharges 11462 and deaths 634


Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu in Abuja and Martins Ifijeh in Lagos

Ebony State Governor, David Umahi; Secretary to the Benue State Government, Prof. Tony Ijohor; Chief of Staff to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Mr. Terwase Ortunde; Head of Service for Benue State, Mrs. Veronica Onyeke and the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Benue State University, Markurdi, Prof. Godwin Achinge have all tested positive for the coronavirus disease.

This is as the World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday discontinued for the second time, Hydroxychloroquine clinical trial for the treatment of COVID-19, saying it has no positive effect on patient recovery.
This is just as NCDC reported 603 new confirmed cases, raising total tally to 28,167, discharges 11,462, while death toll so far stands at 634.

Lagos recorded 135, followed by Edo 87, FCT 73, Rivers 67, Delta 62, Ogun 47, Kaduna 20, Plateau 19, Ondo 16, Enugu 15, Oyo 15, Borno 13, Niger 6, Nasarawa 4, Kebbi 3, Kano 2, Sokoto 1 and Abia 1.

However, confirming Umahi’s test result on Saturday, the governor’s Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Francis Nwaze, said some close aides of the governor had also tested positive for the virus.

Nwaze said though the governor was not showing any symptom of the disease at the moment, he has elected to go into self-isolation in keeping with the health protocol established by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“The governor has directed his deputy, Mr. Kelechi to coordinate the state’s fight against the disease and appealed to the citizens to take the NCDC protocol serious. He will currently be working from home and will be conducting all meetings virtually,” the statement said.

Umahi had earlier said he was expecting the result of his second covid-19 test, which he promised to make public.
In Benue, Governor Samuel Ortom confirmed the result of his SSG, Ijohor and Ortunde at a news conference held in the state capital, Markurdi.

While confirming those of Onyeke and Achinge, the governor said results from the tests carried out in the last one week showed that 35 persons in the state tested positive for the virus.

“My test result came out negative but medical officers said another test will be carried out on me after three days. So, after this interaction, I will isolate myself. I will be in isolation until I have clearance from the medical Officers.

“Covid-19 is real and I enjoin my people to take preventive measures seriously. I want my people to be alive and free from the disease. We have to stop the spread of the disease by maintaining all the covid-19 protocols,” he said.


WHO Discontinues Hydroxychloroquine for the Second Time

For the second time running, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has discontinued the clinical trial of Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19, saying it has no positive effect on patient recovery.

Announcing this Saturday, the UN body said the decision to discontinue the research was due to recommendation from its International Steering Committee on Solidarity Trial, adding that it has also discontinued trial for lopinavir and ritonavir.

It said: “The International Steering Committee formulated the recommendation in light of the evidence for hydroxychloroquine vs standard-of-care and for lopinavir/ritonavir vs standard-of-care from the solidarity trial interim results, and from a review of the evidence from all trials presented at the July 1 and 2 WHO Summit on COVID-19 Research and Innovation.

“These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalised COVID-19 patients, when compared to standard of care. Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect.”

It said for each of the drugs, the interim results do not provide solid evidence of increased mortality, adding that there were however some associated safety signals in the clinical laboratory findings of the add-on discovery trial, a participant in the solidarity trial. These, it said would also be reported in the peer-reviewed publication.

”This decision applies only to the conduct of the solidarity trial in hospitalised patients and does not affect the possible evaluation in other studies of hydroxychloroquine or lopinavir/ritonavir in non-hospitalised patients or as pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19. The interim solidarity results are now being readied for peer-reviewed publication,” it said.


COVID-19: National Health Research Committee Proposes N200m for Research

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has revealed that the National Health Research Committee has developed a work plan of N200 million for 2020.

Ehanire disclosed this at the weekend in a presentation before the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on COVID-19 during investigative hearing on “Need to Investigate the Status of Medical Research in the Fight Against Covid-19 and Other Diseases in Nigeria”.

The Minister, who called for adequate funding for research into COVID-19 in Nigeria, said no fund had been released for COVID-19 research activities since the advent of the pandemic.

He told the lawmakers that the major challenge in finding solution to the coronavirus disease is lack of funds for research and development in the country.

According to Ehanire, “The Research Division of FMOH is actively involved in Nigeria COVID-19 Research Consortium (NCRC), which is a conglomerate of research entities from the government, NCDC, the academia and private sector. Several research protocols are being reviewed by the NCRC for possible sponsorship.

“The NCRC had developed a research agenda for conducting the WHO COVID-19 research roadmap, with TO thematic areas. This agenda has been adopted by the NHRC.

“The WHO Solidarity Trial is currently ongoing and the National Health Research Ethics Committee (NHREC) and The National Agency for Food and Drugs (NAFDAC) carrying out an expedited review of the protocol with the secretariat provided by the DHPRS at FMOH.
“There are nine states in the country currently registered to participate in the trial with a total of 19 clinical trial sites. More states could still register to participate. Virtual training for all Principal investigators in the trial is billed for the next two weeks.

“The Research Technical Working Group of the Presidential Taskforce on COVlD-19 has recently been formed and the of Department of Planning Research and Statistics (DHPRS) will serve as its Secretariat. The inauguration of this Committee is scheduled for next week”.

He added: “NHREC and NAFDAC had also developed an MOU for expedited review of COVlD-19 research protocol for clinical trial in Nigeria NHREC and NAFDAC are currently reviewing the WHO solidarity trial protocol on COVID-19”.

In his presentation, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCD) Chikwe Ihekweazu said the Centre had rounded off a pilot study on COVID-19 in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the research work would be extended to other parts of country, adding that NCDC is conducting a few studies on clinical management on healthcare workers infection.

“In the absence of funds allocated to research at the beginning of response, NCDC, NIAMET, NUC, TEFFUND came together and formed a collaboration called Nigeria COVID-19 Research Consortium. This is the collaboration of the willing that wanted to do research rather than Consortium established by government. We came together pulled our resources to drive research on COVID-19,” he said.

Responding to questions by lawmakers, the Director General of NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye said the Agency had received 20 traditional medicinal applications for COVID-19 treatment, which are being given an extradited review approach.

On efforts by the Agency to tackle COVID-19, Adeyeye said, “NAFDAC is also liaising between the pharmaceutical industry and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure that pharmaceutical industries are strengthened. I am glad to report that about six pharmaceutical companies have gotten funding.

“I am also liaising with TETFUND and for the first time, TETFUND is giving grants to non Academic institutions and NAFDAC is the first to get that. With that we have fund clinical projects that have been funded and that is going to start very soon.

“To focus on COVID-19, we had to do emergency authorisation of drugs product, medical devices, diagnostics and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We jumped into this COVID-19 with little or no resources, because six months ago we never thought of wearing PPE and now we have to develop guidance”.

Earlier, Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, Hon. Haruna Mshelia called for a multi-sectoral stakeholders engagement by the Federal Ministry Health in the COVID-19 response.

”There’s need for concrete research proposals on COVID-19 that would attract sponsorship. There are certain bodies that are prepared to key in if proper proposals are brought up. Such organisations include but not limited to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), World Health Organization (WHO), Bill Gate Foundation, Otedola Foundation, BUA Foundation. If we are able to come up with concrete proposals, these people can come in,” he said.


NDDC donates ventilators, X-ray machines, Other Medical Supplies to Edo Govt

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has donated medical supplies to the Edo State Government to strengthen the state’s response to the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking during the handover of the medical supplies to the government in Benin City, Acting Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, noted that the donation was to complement the efforts of the nine NDDC state governments in checking the spread of COVID-19.

He noted that the NDDC, in addition to supporting states in containing the spread of COVID-19, has provided funds to women and youth groups as palliatives.

Pondei said the sums for respective states were utilised for the procurement of array of medical equipment such as special diagnostic equipment, critical care equipment including ventilators and consumables as well as Testing and Isolation/Treatment Centres.
Responding, representative of the Edo State Government and Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, expressed appreciation to the NDDC.

“This is not the first time NDDC and Edo State are doing things together. We are partners in progress on a lot of issues relating to the welfare of Edo people. We also appreciate the fact that since the outbreak of COVID-19, this is the second time they are sending intervention to Edo State,” he said.
According to him, the support by NDDC would go a long way to assist the state’s response in checking the spread of the virus across the state.

“We have received medical supplies like ventilators, digital mobile X-ray, sanitisers, and hospital beds. They also supplied us with truckloads of palliatives. We pray this partnership continues,” he added.