The Federal Government says it will continue to expand the number of isolation centres and Intensive Care Units (ICU) for Nigerians with severe complications from the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, made this known on Thursday in Abuja, at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) briefing on COVID19 in the country.
Ehanire said that those in this category include the elderly people above 70 years or those with critical underlying health conditions such as cancer, tuberculosis and HIV.
He said that in the last 24 hours, Nigeria had also expanded the bedding spaces in the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, and other parts of the country.
The minister, however, called on the 36 state governors to urgently prioritise identification of those in their states, particularly the tertiary hospitals.
“All facilities, including private facilities where isolation and treatment of COVID19 are to be conducted, will be inspected for accreditation by a team comprising experts from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Federal Teaching Hospital, Irrua and headed by Lagos State Commissioner for Health.
“The Office of the National Security Adviser shall be invited to join since Coronavirus has national security implications. The facilities in Abuja are currently being inspected,” he added.
The minister said that with the expansion of national case definition and addition of two laboratories to the NCDC network of molecular laboratories for COVID-19, Virology Laboratory of University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State and Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA) in Ebonyi, the national testing capacity was now 1,500 per day.
“This means that more samples can be tested and done quickly too with a turnaround time of 12 to 48 hours from when the sample is received at the laboratories.
“As of today, April, 2, Nigeria has recorded 174 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 91 in Lagos; 35 in FCT, 14 in Osun; eight in Oyo; five in Akwa-Ibom; four each in Ogun, Edo and Kaduna; three in Bauchi; two each in Enugu and Ekiti, and one each in Rivers and Benue,” he said.
The minister said that those discharged from the hospital still stood at nine, while others were pending once their final tests are done.
“The number of people discharged till date is nine. Two deaths have been recorded from COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“These were cases with severe underlying illnesses aggravated by their COVID-19 infection.
“Yesterday, we had the highest number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases, and we are speedily ramping up testing capacity for the disease in Nigeria,” he said.
The minister expressed worries over Nigerians returning to the country through land borders, saying they “run a higher risk of infection, if they are with an infected person in a confined place for a long time.
“It is advisable that all travellers postpone non-essential travel whether by air or by land, national or international,” he added.
Earlier, Chairman of the task force, Mr Boss Mustapha, said that COVID-19 was a potential danger to all humanity and threatens the Nigerian’s economy and national security.
Mustapha said it was important that states intensify preparation of facilities that would help in the event of the pandemic.
“Training of personnel in the management of these facilities is also a critical factor in the success of our strategy,” he said.
Mustapha, also the Secretary to the Federal Government, said that PTF would intensify consultations with the state governors and other state agencies to achieve the much-needed collaboration.
Also, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director-General of NCDC, said that Nigerians across the country had generally shown their supports for the team in different ways they could.
Ihekweazu thanked Nigerians for their understanding for the small inadequacies that they have had in certain aspects of the response, promising to keep improving on them.