- To give states, FCT N3.7bn to combat pandemic
- Appeals to govs to shelve Sallah celebrations
- 604 new COVID-19 cases raise tally to 38,948
Olawale Ajimotokan, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Martins Ifijeh in Lagos
The federal government thursday described the THISDAY Dome Isolation Centre, located in Abuja, as Nigeria’s most comprehensive facility for COVID-19 treatment.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, at the media briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, in Abuja, said the facility had started admitting people infected with COVID-19 for treatment.
He also spoke on plans by the federal government to give each of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) N100 million, totalling N3.7 billion, to enhance high impact priority response activities to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The THISDAY Dome Isolation Centre, which was inaugurated in May, is designed to accommodate 300 beds and is scalable to 500.
It is equipped to provide care for persons living with disabilities who might get infected with coronavirus in addition to an intensive care unit for the treatment of the most severe cases of COVID-19, particularly levels 1 and 2 categories.
Speaking on the facility yesterday, Ehanire said: “It is the most comprehensive of our treatment centres, fully equipped to treat mild, severe and even critical COVID-19 cases.
“It has ventilators, oxygen concentrators and even dialysis machines. On behalf of His Excellency, the President, I again express appreciation to the CACOVID group who set up the centre and the CBN, who is providing hospitality to staff and patients. Personnel will be deployed from the FCT to join the expert team from Irrua, who have been assigned to ensure smooth take-off and mentor a critical mass of health workers to operate the centre.”
On financial assistance to states and the FCT, the minister said they would receive the support to combat COVID-19 response through the Regional Diseases Surveillance Enhancement (REDISSE) Project.
“I am pleased to mention that all states of the federation, including the FCT, are receiving support from the COVID-19 response through the Regional Diseases Surveillance Enhancement (REDISSE) Project. “With this support, all states of the federation will receive N100 million each to enhance high impact priority response activities. The soon to be reactivated BHCPF will join the funding pool,” he said.
Ehanire also spoke on the assistance Nigeria received from India to support the crusade against COVID-19.
He said the High Commissioner of India to Nigeria, Mr. Abhay Thakur, led a delegation of the High Commission to the Federal Ministry of Health a week ago to donate seven tonnes of essential medicines and commodities to support the Nigerian government’s efforts in combating the pandemic.
The minister also said the final result of investigations into the efficacy of the Madagascar herbal drug did not show any evidence that it could cure COVID-19.
“The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) has shared its final report on the evaluation of the COVID-19 organics from Madagascar. The initial report had showed that its main ingredient is the same as Artemisia anua. While the preparation at high dose showed activity in reducing the frequency of cough, it did not show any evidence that it has real curative properties against COVID-19,” he stated.
Ehanire, however, added that the federal government will continue to support all genuine efforts towards finding local COVID-19 cures.
On the issue of access to testing facilities, the minister said the country was only able to utilise 40 per cent of the capacity of the its COVID-19 laboratories.
Ehanire also said President Muhamnadu Buhari had started an initiative by which African countries would work towards having access to COVID-19 vaccines, whenever they are discovered.
The minister expressed fresh concern that the threat of further escalation of infections is real.
He also advised Muslims to avoid mass gatherings during the forthcoming Sallah celebrations and not to forget the health precautions that have been prescribed, so as to reduce the risks of COVID-19 infection.
He urged citizens to get the right nutrients to ensure best chances to build immunity and strengthen capacity to resist infections.
NCDC Implementing Five-pronged Strategy to Increase Testing
On his part, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the centre had adopted a five-pronged approach to enable it to scale up testing nationwide.
He explained that the strategy included increasing the number of laboratories across the states, improving on sample collation mechanism, collaboration with private sector concerns in improving laboratory capacity, deployment of the Genexpert machines and speeding up of validation process for innovative test kits.
“We have adopted a five- pronged approach to achieving the national strategy on improving testing. We now have 59 molecular laboratories and 13 Gebexpert machines around the country,” he said.
In his remarks, The PTF Chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said Nigeria was responsible for five per cent of Africa’s coronavirus death count of 16,444 fatalities.
According to him, the PTF, other relevant institutions of government and the private sector are working with partners to conduct research that could lead to the discovery of vaccines and drugs to cure COVID-19.
He stated that the PTF will rigorously evaluate the developments on the basis of emerging data.
He said the approach would help the PTF in forming an opinion upon which the next set of recommendations to President Muhammadu Buhari would be based.
Mustapha also called on state governors to emulate their counterpart in Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, who has banned public gatherings in the state during Eid-el-Kabir celebration.
FG Considers November GCE External Exams for Students
Minister of State for Education, Mr. Emeka Nwajiuba, said the federal government was considering the option of having the secondary school students sit for the GCE external examinations in November since it was not certain when schools would reopen to allow students sit for the West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations.
Nwajiuba insisted the federal government will not reopen schools if it is not safe to do so.
He said talks were ongoing between the federal government and WAEC to conduct the language subjects peculiar to Nigeria, including Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa in the first part of the time-table while working out a domestication table to take care of other subjects after the general papers.
He said the federal government would from July 29 to 30, engage stakeholders, including all state commissioners, chairmen of SUBEB, association of private school owners and Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) members on the readiness for the reopening of schools.
604 New COVID-19 Cases Raise Tally to 38,948
Nigeria’s COVID-19 cases rose to 38, 948 yesterday with the discovery of 604 new infections.
According to the NCDC, 20 fresh deaths have brought the fatalities to 833 while16,061 patients have been discharged.
In a breakdown yesterday, NCDC said of the 604 new COVID-19 cases, Lagos recorded 203; Oyo, 87; Federal Capital Territory (FCT), 79; Edo, 41; Osun, 35; Ogun, 24; Rivers and Kaduna, 22 each; Akwa Ibom, 20; Plateau, 18; Delta and Ebonyi, nine each; Imo, eight; Enugu, Kano and Cross River, five each; Nasarawa, three; Borno and Ekiti, two each and Bauchi one.