By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The federal government has said that the country is presently witnessing daily reduction in the number of COVID-19 infections as well as fatalities.
It also said that following the distribution of oxygen concentrators and ventilators to various health institutions, the ministry of health has commenced the training of about 176 intensive care specialists, and biomedical engineers, who will use or maintain them in the hospitals.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire who stated this in Abuja yesterday at the press briefing by the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19, explained that both the supply of the oxygen ventilators and training are being provided by the United States Government.
While giving update on the efforts to control the infection, Ehanire said that recent test results showed downward trend in the numbers of positive cases as well as fatalities in the country.
He said: “The daily figures of the past few days seem to show a downward trend in numbers of COVID-19 cases as well as fatalities, but we unfortunately cannot afford to rejoice or speak of success, for many reasons”.
The minister however cautioned that the country cannot afford to be complacent as international news media reports have shown scenes of upsurge in cases, called the second wave in several high-income countries, many of which had been thought to have defeated the virus.
“This is a situation we must endeavor to avoid, and for that, all steps must be taken.
“It is important for us to generate national and international confidence in our data by conducting more targetted testing before we draw conclusions.
“It means that all states and local government areas must cooperate with NCDC by raising sample collection rate, using criteria listed, to increase testing to a desired rate and to report promptly; as we are still far from the target of 2 million tests. In this regard we can support states with community volunteers for contact tracing, case finding and investigation,” he said.
The minister further urged caution and adherence to the COVID-19 protocols and advisories for reopening schools, in order to prevent surge in infection.
The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu who also gave an overview on the current state of infections, said that the number of reported cases has declined significantly in the last few weeks.
He however said that the situation in the country may be that of a downward trend in positive cases caused by an equally lowering number of testing by citizens.
“We have almost 36 per cent decline in August as compared to July, from national figures but there is more to this, one critical issue is the reduction in tests being done across the country. The number of tests across the country has actually declined.
Another important indicator is the test positivity ratio issue, now if you look at the highest number we have done in June-July of 20 percent we are now down to 7 percent nationally. So it might as if there is something to celebrate but we cannot celebrate until certain specific number of testing is achieved in every state” he said.
He said that only states like Lagos, FCT and Kano where number of tests are high can confidently claim that their positivity rates are coming down.
He said that states like Adamawa, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Niger, Zamfara, Jigawa and Yobe just have to work harder to improve on testing.