The federal government yesterday raised the alarm that many states in the country may soon run out of bed spaces for COVID-19 patients at their isolation centres due to the increasing number of Nigerians testing positive to Coronavirus.
The desperate situation with COVID-19 patients’ accommodation came just as the Federal Ministry of Health said it had weighed in to resolve the disagreement between the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Kogi State government over the deployment of rapid response team in the state.
On the same day, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 3,912, up from the 3,526 recorded on Thursday. In all, 386 new cases were recorded nationwide yesterday. Deaths recorded also rose to 117 from 107 recorded on Thursday.
Speaking at media briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on the Control of COVID-19 in Abuja, the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said some states were already experiencing difficulties accommodating patients in their over-burdened isolation facilities.
When asked to assess the bed space situation, Ihekweazu said:
“We are still plus or minus where we are. We have a big challenge on our hands in the country right now, especially in Lagos, Kano and Zamfara and in a few other states where the number of cases currently outweighs the capacity to continue implementing our policy of institutional isolation of all the patients, whether they are asymptotic, mildly symptomatic or severe. Right now, the reality that we are facing is that the implementation of that policy is very difficult.”
Also, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the ministry and other organs of government were seeking measures to check or break transmission of the virus and so control its spread.
He said the ministry had employed tried, tested approaches and is applying innovative measures and guidelines in dealing with COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our ideal is still to identify all positive cases and isolate both the symptomatic and asymptomatic, to safeguard the health of the rest of the population, as well as provide care to the symptomatic,” he said.
With regards to the distribution of personal protective kits, Ehanire said that the federal government was making sure that every state got supplies according to the cases they have.
On drugs for treatment of COVID-19, Ehanire said that Nigerian clinicians are participating in World Health Organization’s (WHO) sponsored study to find out the efficacy of certain drugs, including Chloroquine and anti-ritroviral drugs.
As for those who claim to have developed herbal remedies for COVID-19, Ehanire said they can approach the Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development which would assess such claims before referring them to NAFDAC for certification.
On the controversy trailing the deployment of response team from the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC to Kogi state, Ehanire said: it had to do with disagreement over processes.
He said the ministry was going to reengage the governor with a view to securing a working agreement to enable the NCDC officials to reenter Kogi State and complete their assignment.
“Kogi State is one of the two states that have said that they do not have COVID-19 patients and they seem to be sure about that so the agreement we had with them after discussion with the governors of the two states is that we will send a team of experts to validate that fact and to be able to engage the commissioners and the state governors and also the other public health authorities just for validation
“It is also for us to update our national records and to be able to report to the world what the situation is in our country because the whole world might not know that we don’t have any actual records from these two states.
We agreed to send the team from the Ministry of Health and NCDC to Kogi State yesterday but there were some differences as to processes which we need to explain to the state governor again and to work with his team to create atmosphere in which the NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health can complete their job,” he said.
The minister said the federal government deployed a multi-sectoral technical team on a fact finding mission to Jigawa State yesterday morning at the request of the governor.
According the minister, the challenge in Jigawa revolves around repatriated Almajiris, many of whom have tested positive for COVID-19.
On his part, the NCDC boss said the mandate of the centre in the states was merely supportive, adding that NCDC would usually intervene where its services were needed.
Ihekweazu gave update of new COVID-19 laboratories, saying that NCDC had activated two new laboratories in Rivers State.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation/Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha said the PTF had intensified the monitoring of the level of compliance with the advisories and guidelines already issued.
He said PTF had asked the security agencies to ensure strict enforcement.
“Nigeria is presently at the community transmission phase and yesterday – Thursday 7th May, 2020, we witnessed the highest single-day number of 381 confirmed cases. This could be considered worrisome but for the fact that this rise is associated with our increased testing capacity, which has provided an opportunity to detect hitherto hidden cases.
“However, this increased testing does not translate to higher fatality rates, as in the last few days, we have witnessed a good number of discharges and a continually reducing daily fatality rate.”