Covid-19: Nigeria Tracing 5,000 ‘Suspected’ Cases
Over three hundred GeneXpert machines used for tuberculosis diagnosis are to be converted for the detection of Corona Virus.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire stated this at the news briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID19 in Abuja.
The Minister said the move had become necessary due to the increasing number of cases in the country.
“Additional strategies are being developed to intensify contact tracing to support prompt case detection, isolation, and treatment in order to reduce the spread of this infection.
“The incidence of new cases into Nigeria as a result of the closure of the airport and land borders will reduce the number of implications so that we will be dealing largely with those which have already been brought into the country and are being transmitted from person to person.
Dr. Ehanire said a One thousand capacity bed isolation center was also been prepared in the FCT in case the number of infected persons increase.
He also called for a collective approach by all Nigerians to fight the deadely Corona virus.
“As of today the 31st of March 2020, we have recorded 135 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Nigeria, of which 81 are in Lagos, 25 in the FCT, 8 in Oyo, 4 in Ogun, 3 in Kaduna, 2 in Bauchi, 2 in Edo, 2 in Osun, 2 in Enugu, and one each in Benue, Ekiti and Rivers.
“The majority of persons from overseas and others were traced, as well as their close contacts. The high number of cases in Lagos and Abuja is because of their functions as a gateway for international air travel.
“The presidential task force later today will review activities and update measures to protect the health and well-being of Nigerians.
“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has engaged hundreds of ad-hoc staff to support call centres, contact tracing and laboratory work. Happily, many retired staff of the NCDC and also of the Ministry of Health, have reported for duty.
“Training is ongoing for medical personnel to support overall preparedness and treatment. We are preparing about 1,000 beds in Abuja, to be used immediately as isolation centres if the need arises.
The capacity to increase bed space is present. Resources for the procurement of required commodities have been provided.
“More testing sites have been opened in Ibadan and Abakaliki, while existing laboratories are being optimized in their performance. With new additions to the case definition, persons with fever and either cough or difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath in the areas of high COVID-19 prevalence can be tested for the disease.
“More laboratories will join the network of molecular diagnostic laboratories for COVID-19 in Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt and Sokoto.
“Within the next 2 or 3 weeks, the over 300 Gene Xpert machines that are used for tuberculosis diagnosis will be converted to be used for COVID-19 detection.
“I want to emphasize that testing is at no cost to anyone in the public and only results from any of the accredited molecular laboratories are valid and recognized. If you think you fit the case of a suspected case, please call NCDC or your state hotline for advice.
“Preventive measures such as social distancing have proven to be highly effective in many parts of the world and must be adopted as a matter of priority. The same applies to reducing the size of congregations to a minimum.
“We shall be deploying specialists from the Federal Government Viral Disease Research and Treatment Centre in Irrua, to Abuja to assist with training and case management.
The fight against COVID-19 is not for the government alone but for all citizens. With a few simple steps, we can all take responsibility and join the collective efforts against this disease.
“In addition to the well-known advisory, I am recommending that all families be aware that the Elderly among them are particularly vulnerable and should be specially protected from needless contacts with children and persons who could be positive for coronavirus infections.
The same should be said for all persons with known underlying diseases such as Tuberculosis, HIV, cancer etc”.
The Director General of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said government was following up about 5,000 contacts across the country.
“This is one of the reason the President asked us what we needed and gave us two weeks to free up the road and enable us to have the space to do this effectively.”