SPEECH BY HON. MINISTER OF HEALTH, DR. OSAGIE EHANIRE AT THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 PRESS BRIEFING ON MONDAY 22ND JUNE, 2020

PRESS BRIEFING BY HON. MINISTER OF HEALTH, DR. OSAGIE EHANIRE AT THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 PRESS BRIEFING ON MONDAY 22ND JUNE, 2020 PROTOCOL

Confirmed Covid-19 cases in Nigeria surpassed the 20,000 mark over the weekend, reaching 20,244 between yesterday and today. We also saw the highest number of daily diagnosed new cases last Thursday of 745, but with 436 over the past 24 hours. While the overall trajectory was predicted as the a course of events, explained both by increased community transmission and rising testing capacity, it is a reminder that we must not only, not let down our guards, but begin to restrategize on additional measures of keeping control of the situation. This will not be the sole responsibility of government, but of all citizens, individually and collectively. It is also the prime feature of the National COVID-19 Response Action Plan of the Federal Ministry of Health, which tries to map a near, medium and long term health sector response strategy to the challenge, across all areas of health, over the next 3-year period. The Plan is to be presented at the National Council of Health and applied by States, for the development of State specific Action Plans, to address State peculiarities.

2.As at yesterday, 6,879 persons in total had been treated for covid19 and discharged, while 518 have sadly been lost, with 96 persons in just the past week. Total samples tested are 113,575, active cases are 12,847 and case fatality rate, at 2.55%.

  1. The experience we are getting suggests that some of the fatalities recorded in our country may possibly have been saved if they had arrived designated treatment centers early enough. It is also emerging that the clinical condition of COVID-19 patients, especially the elderly and those with underlying illnesses, can change from mild to critical within such a short time that patients hardly have time to seek hospital care. I again advise all hospitals to have the right index of suspicion and recognize and promptly refer suspected cases to designated hospitals. Attempting to treat COVID-19 positive patients, when not so accredited, puts all involved at risk, including the innocent. I also advise persons with symptoms and those with underlying diseases or over 60 years of age, to check into an isolation or treatment centre, for observation. This could save your life.

  2. Though up to 80% of cases can be asymptomatic it helps to also bear the known common symptoms in mind: these being fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and difficulty in breathing. Additional signs can be headache, diarrhea, nausea and fatigue. While symptomatic treatment can be vital in preventing complications, close clinical observation, early enough, can be decisive.

  3. The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) who embarked on strike a week ago, have happily suspended their industrial action, following continuous dialogue, constructive engagement, and response to grievances that were tabled, like payment of hazard and inducement allowances and provision of PPEs.

  4. In connection with this, Nigeria received a large consignment of medical supplies on Saturday, the first of a series of deliveries from the UN Group and the European Union, which several ministers were on hand to receive at the airport on behalf of the Federal government. The donation is made up of a large number of various categories of PPEs and 547 oxygen concentrators, courtesy of WHO, which our experience in Nigeria shows, are much more in use than ventilators. The Federal Ministry of Health particularly appreciates this addition to our case management assests and we thank all the donors, through the Resident Coordinator of the UN family in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon.

  5. I was invited to visit 063 Nigeria Air Force Hospital last Friday, to inspect the COVID-19 Observation and Treatment Centre there, a 25 bed centre with modern facilities for managing mild and severe cases. An additional 200 bed student hostel has been prepared as a backup isolation centre, in case of overspill. This centre will complement the treatment centres in FCT, able to handle Isolation 2 and 3 cases. I must commend Defence Headquarters and the leadership of the Nigeria Air force for the offer of support in the fight against COVID-19. The Air Force already supports the FMoH with mission flights to various parts of Nigeria.

  6. On Thursday, 18th June, 2020 the World Health Organizations Africa Regional Certification Commission for poliomyelitis eradication announced the certification of Nigeria as a Polio free state, an achievement worth celebrating, considering that up to 2012, we accounted for more than half the polio cases worldwide. The credit is to all tiers of government, our international partners, community leaders, and above all, the thousands of NPHCDA front-line health workers and resource groups. I particularly wish to commend and thank His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment and unalloyed support for the program.

9.The certificate will be delivered in August, but it does not mean we can rest on our guards. Our energy is already being directed to supporting the fight against COVID-19, especially in this community transmission phase, with the Community Support Program of NPHCDA, using the PHC network and experienced human resource for Health to drive surveillance and community case management at grassroots level. I am mindful in that regard, that other healthcare services, like routine immunization, shall be maintained, to ensure Nigeria stays polio free.

  1. We must daily be reminded of challenges covid-19 poses to Nigeria and the world, and further reinforce our resolve to tackle the pandemic. We can reduce case fatality in Nigeria, if non-pharmaceutical interventions are scaled up and we become more proactive in dealing with positive cases. We can scale up testing, tracing, treatment and Isolation, with priority on offering more protection to elderly citizens and those with co-morbidities, from the threat of infection.

11.Thank you for your attention.