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.”
Lagos to Begin Hydro-chloroquine Trial
Lagos State government has made arrangements to begin a hydro-chloroquine trial on COVID-19 patients.
The state’s health commissioner, Prof Akin Abayomi, disclosed this yesterday while speaking at a press conference.
He also predicted that the total number of confirmed Coronavirus cases in Lagos State may increase to 120,000 between July and August.
Abayomi said the virus was expected to reach its peak in Lagos at that time, adding “Just a month ago, on April 7, we saw 10 cases per day, two weeks later it was 32, then 70 cases. We are now seeing above 100 cases per day. This shows our graph is moving in a gentle incline upwards.
“We definitely have not reached the peak of our outbreak, we suspect that the peak will happen sometime in July or August and so we are preparing for the oncoming of about 90,000 to 120,000 cases during that period. We are increasing our capacity and strategies to deal with this situation.”
The commissioner urged residents not to panic over the increasing cases witnessed in the state, saying it was caused by the presence of sample collection centres in 20 Local Governments.
Prof. Abayomi also disclosed yesterday that he was not infected with Coronavirus. The commissioner had earlier on Thursday announced that 10 persons associated with the Lagos State Government House, Marina, tested positive for the virus.
But he stated yesterday via Twitter that he did not test positive for the disease, urging the public to disregard false reports claiming otherwise.
FG Repatriates 253 Nigerians from UK
The federal government repatriated about 253 Nigerians from the United Kingdom yesterday, just as the British High Commission evacuated another batch of its citizens from Nigeria.
The Nigerians were brought back into the country by British Airways.
The flight landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos at 2:45 pm local time.
This was the second evacuation of Nigerians by the federal government, as Emirates on Wednesday started the evacuation of Nigerians from different parts of the world.
The Emirates flight brought in 256 Nigerians from the United Arab Emirates and it was slated that tomorrow, Sunday, Ethiopian Airlines would bring in about 300 Nigerians from the United States.
THISDAY learnt that on arrival the passengers were subjected to thorough checks by the Port Health with temperature screening by officials of the Port Health Services, as the passengers were led into luxurious buses onward to the isolation centers.
Officials of the Lagos State government and that of the NCDC and other partners in the evacuation process were on ground to ensure seamless facilitation of the evacuees.
The British Airways that brought in Nigerians evacuated about 215 Britons from Nigeria, thus repatriating about over 1800 of British citizens from Nigeria since the second week of the lockdown occasioned by Coronavirus pandemic, which started on March 23, 2020.
The British High Commissioner Catriona Laing said: “I’m so pleased we were able help Nigerians get back home whilst also helping more British nationals return home to the UK. We work around the clock to support British nationals who remain in the country.
“I want offer a huge thank you to the Nigerian government for their support and assistance in arranging these flights. The strong cooperation we have had from our Nigerian partners demonstrates the enduring bonds between our two countries”.
Buhari Commends THISDAY, Dangote, Others
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja commended THISDAY Media Group, Aliko Dangote, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Guaranty Trust Bank, among other individuals and organisations for their support for the fight against COVID-19.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said the President appreciated public-spirited Nigerians and organisations for what he described as their financial and material support for the fight against COVID-19.
Shehu said the President acknowledged the provision of isolation, treatment and laboratory centres and facilities by THISDAY, Dangote, Rabiu, Guaranty Trust Bank, among others, in several states and the Federal Capital Territory.
According to the statement, the president appealed to other privileged Nigerians and organisations to emulate these laudable gestures.
“We are facing a national challenge and all hands must be on deck to navigate this difficult course. In this respect, all types of assistance are welcome, big or small. The spirit behind the contributions is salutary,” the president was quoted as saying.
The statement also said records obtained from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation showed that 111 individuals and organisations had lodged N697, 538, 108 into the federal government’s Covid-19 eradication support accounts in the five designated banks between April 1-30, 2020.
190,000 May Die in Africa
Up to 190,000 people in Africa could die of coronavirus in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail, the World Health Organisation warned on Thursday.
The UN health agency cited a new study by its regional office in Brazzaville which found that between 83,000 and 190,000 could die and 29 to 44 million be infected during the period.
The research is based on prediction modelling and covers 47 countries with a total population of one billion, the WHO said in a statement.
Experts have consistently warned that Africa is particularly vulnerable to an outbreak, due to weak health infrastructure, high rates of poverty, numerous roiling conflicts and a proven susceptibility to previous epidemics.
But the virus has been slow to spread across the continent, which has yet not recorded the soaring number of infections or deaths seen in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.
WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti said “while COVID-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smolder in transmission hotspots”.
Lagos Discharges 42
The Lagos State Ministry of Health has announced the recovery and discharge of 42 COVID-19 patients.
The Ministry made the announcement via its twitter handle, yesterday, stating that 20 females and 22 males – all ”42 more #COVID19Lagos patients; 20 females & 22 males; all Nigerians have been discharged from our Isolation facilities at Onikan, Eti-Osa (LandMark) and Lekki to reunite with the society.
The patients; 2 from Onikan, 32 from Eti-Osa (LandMark) and 8 from Lekki Isolation Centres have fully recovered & tested negative twice consecutively to #COVID19. With this, the number of patients successfully managed & discharged in Lagos has risen to 448, ”the tweet read
Drama as NCDC Officials Flee Kogi
There was a mild drama in Kogi State when NCDC officials sent to ascertain the COVID-19 status of the state fled to avoid being subjected to COVID-19 test.
The official, who reported at the Government House in Lokoja on Wednesday night mistakenly shook hands with the Protocol officer
Kogi is one of the two states yet to record a single COVID-19 case in the federation.
When the team met Governor Yahaya Bello the following day, he told them that the state had resolved to comply with the protocols of the NCDC by putting the officials in quarantine for 14 days and to also collect their samples to ensure they are COVID-19 free.
He predicated his decision on the fact that they came from an infested area.
The Officials said they were not ready to be tested for COVID-19 and went back to Abuja.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo told newsmen that NCDC should come hard on its Officials for violating its rules.
“Today, the Governor showed the statesmanship in him once again by appreciating the support of the NCDC and defending the health interests of his people.
“NCDC quarantined the Chinese professionals that came to give them technical support and also took their samples for test. It is a normal practice and protocol set by NCDC.
“So NCDC will have a lot to explain as to why its officials refused to be tested for COVID-19. How can we be sure of their status? What are their fears? Why did NCDC send people who are afraid of test to our State? What was their intention?
“The officials that came have done an integrity blow to the works of the NCDC. Is there something they are hiding? It is time NCDC opened up and apologise to the good people of Kogi State.
“How will they encourage people to come forward for testing when its own officials are afraid of test? This is sad