COVID-19 Cases Near 40,000 as NARD Loses 14 Doctors


Segun Awofadeji in Gombe

With 438 new confirmed cases nationwide, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday put the total cases of COVID-19 in the country at 39,977, just 23 cases away from 40,000.

As the NCDC released the new figure, the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) disclosed that 14 of its members on the frontline had lost their lives to the pandemic.

NCDC gave the update on its official website last night, putting death cases at 856, discharged cases at 16948, active cases at 22,173, and total samples tested at 259,516.

It said that on July 25, 438 new confirmed cases and 11 deaths were recorded across the federation.

Till date, the update said 39977 cases “have been confirmed, 16948 cases have been discharged and 856 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.”

Of the new cases, according to the update, Lagos accounted for 123, Kaduna 50, Rivers 40, Edo 37, Adamawa 25, Oyo 20, Nasarawa 16, Osun and Enugu 15 each, FCT 14, Ekiti and Ondo 13 each, Ebonyi has 11, Katsina 10, Abia nine, Delta eight, Kwara four, Ogun, Cross River, Kano and Bauchi three each. Yobe has two new cases each while Sokoto and Niger recorded one case each.

The update added that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at Level 3, continued to coordinate the national response activities.

At the 2020 Executive Council Meeting and Scientific Conference, the resident doctors said it would consider another industrial action if the governments did not fulfil its obligations to improve the poor working conditions of the doctors.

NARD’s President, Dr. Aliyu Sokomba, who spoke at at the association’s 2020 scientific conference held at Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe yesterday, said 14 of its members had died on the line of duty due to Covid-19

Sokomba, who was represented by NARD’s first Vice President, Dr. Julian Ojebo, said resident doctors might soon resume strike if nothing was done to address their demands.

He, however, noted that the NEC meeting in Gombe “is expected to review the situation and make a pronouncement on the next line of action.

“The future is bleak. The constitution enshrines that the National Executive Council is the one to give us the go-ahead and say let’s give the government some time or not.

“So the decision is in the hands of members of the council and that’s why the NEC has been called at this time and Gombe is hosting the entire country,” the president said.

He noted that top among their demands were the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), life insurance for members, as well as payments owed members by state governments among many others.

He said there had been “paucity of personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and other health workers to use. We have also seen a very high scourge in the rise in the number of Doctors that have been exposed to covid-19.

“We have over a thousand of our members currently exposed to covid-19. When you send someone to war, you must equip such an individual.

“One of the armoury that will embolden Doctors to fight is life insurance and as it stands right now, we lost over fourteen of our members across the country and they did not have life insurance as it were”, he warned.

On whether the timing was right, he said, “We’ve always said this categorically, there is never a good or bad time to go on an industrial action. These Doctors we are talking about also have families. Now, you’ve not paid someone for 14 to 48 months, how do you expect him to be psychologically stable to treat the patient you want him to treat?”, he queried.

He said the government has pushed them to the wall and that, “once you push someone to the wall, there is always an equal and opposite reaction.

“We are hoping that the government will not just make a mere promise, because these promises started coming way back over thirty years. There is no single achievement made by any medical doctor in this country without an industrial action.”

In Bauchi yesterday, the state government commenced distribution of 700,000 free face masks to the most vulnerable members of the society.

The state governor, Senator Bala Mohammed launched the distribution exercise at Multipurpose Indoor Sports Hall Bauchi.

The governor noted that the distribution of the locally produced face masks “is to assist in tackling the spread of COVID-19 at community level. It is incumbent on the part of the government to take every measure to contain further spread of the novel coronavirus in the state.”

He mentioned some of the measures taken by the government to include prompt isolation of confirmed cases, active surveillance, contact tracing, risk communications strategy and provision of 3 square meals to all isolated patients.

Mohammed said the administration had concluded arrangements to commence active community testing of coronavirus in the three Local Government Areas of Bauchi, Kirfi and Bogoro.

He said based on the strategy, a minimum of 100 people would be tested every day to stop the spread of the virus.

He said the step “is in line with the NCDC guidelines on testing people to ensure that the virus is totally eradicated in the community thereby assisting the state to be certified COVID-19 free.

“I am pleased to welcome you all to this very important occasion to herald the distribution of 700,000 face masks to beneficiaries in our effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 in the state.

“Let me say from the onset, the programme today was planned for the initial distribution of one million face masks. The challenges of space and logistics can only permit 700,000.

“The more we use these face masks, the less likely we will be contracting the disease, let me remind us that we are still under the grave threat of this disease.”