AS the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria continues to rise, the Federal Government has warned that the nation is at a very dangerous stage of community transmission, even as it expressed concern that the pandemic may spread to all the 774 Local Government Areas, LGAs, of the Federation.
Currently, only 85 LGAs, spread across 20 states, in which tests have not been conducted are yet to record a positive case of the disease.
Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce, PTF on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha who disclosed this at Monday’s briefing of the Taskforce, said the number of LGAs with 50 percent of the COVID-19 burden has now extended to 20 from 11 previously, adding that for technical reasons it has not been feasible isolating those areas for precision lockdowns.
He said: “Nigeria, with 46, 577 confirmed cases and 945 cumulative deaths, remains respectively the third and fourth highest in these parameters. As we emphasised at the last briefing, Nigeria is yet to reach the peak of the pandemic. Therefore, the low test/ case confirmation numbers coming out daily should not be misinterpreted to mean that we have overcome. We have over time ramped up testing but more needs to be done to raise the quantum of test per million population.
“Our analysis has however shown that five States still account for 60 percent of cumulative cases; 689 out of 774 LGAs have reported a case; 85 LGAs in 20 States still remain with no testing done and no case reported; and 50 percent of all cases are in 20 percent LGAs”.
Further, the PTF Chairman said even though the country has capacity to test 10, 000 people daily, only about 2,000 tests are currently being conducted, urging state governments to ramp up testing in their areas of responsibility.
1,000 fatality mark a wakeup call —Ehanire
Also speaking, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire who expressed worry that the country was approaching the 1,000 mark in COVID-19 fatality, said it was a wakeup call to the reality of the pandemic.
Stating that the strategy of the government was to reduce fatality rate to less than 1 percent, Ehanire announced that the Federal government has reactivated the Basic HealthCare Fund, BHCPF.
He said National Council of Health, has reversed the guidelines for monitoring and disbursement of BHCPF funds, adding that the suspended funds were resumed to support the much needed efforts to COVID response.
“The new system has better structure and transparency and accountability. Development partners are urged to support the new system and the ministry of health is available to attend to concerns of donors. COVID will surely give us the opportunity to strengthen our health system.
Ehanire said government is turning its preferences therefore to gadgets that provide oxygen, like oxygen generators to be in many facilities, including General hospitals and larger Primary Healthcare Centres PHCs.
“Solar-powered aggregates, where available, will be prioritized. Federal Health Institutions with oxygen plants should activate them as a matter of priority and ensure they can deliver to their A & E Dept. The other measure is the activation of the Ambulance service to move patients to treatment centres.”
‘’This strategy worked well in Kano and all States should prepare to set up the system. The Federal Ministry of Health will provide guidance”, he said.
All WAEC centres decontaminated nationwide – Abubakar
The Minister of Environment, Mr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, disclosed that over 40,000 environment officers have been recruited to man all the West African Examination Council, WAEC, centres that have been decontaminated across the 36 states of the Federation.
According to him, the ministry last Thursday concluded while there will be daily decontamination of the centres throughout the examination period.
“The environment officers are to provide assistance at the centres. We have given them PPEs just in case somebody presents with symptoms. They will be there to evacuate, isolate the patients. There will be daily decontamination of the centres.
“ Mr. President is doing everything possible to contain the virus. Next exercise will come up when the schools are opened nationwide. “
The National Coordinator, PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu said the activities of the PTF was based on a scientific approach which is data driven.
“There is no doubt that COVID continues to live with us. For those who continue to deny it, close to 20 million people cannot be wrong. We have about 730 deaths worldwide and it continues to be a threat to our lives. COVID is a silent enemy and an enemy. We encourage persons above the age of 60 to stay at home and wear a mask.
“COVID is a silent enemy and the fact we cannot see it with naked eyes makes it more difficult. We can only get on top of COVID pandemic by enhancing self-awareness.
He said they could not carry out the procession lock-down because most of the centres are by the middle of the state and locking them down will mean locking down the entire state.