The Minister of state, Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora has expressed fear of possible surge in Coronavirus infections following the resumption of schools and business activities in the country.
Mamora, who expressed this fear at the 67th joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Tuesday in Abuja, urged Nigerians to adhere strictly to prevention protocols to avoid surge in cases.
The minister said that there was need for the country to scale up surveillance and review its response plan in order to integrate new ways of dealing with the disease.
He said that the number of active cases had continued to drop, and promised that the Federal Government would continue to provide quality care for all infected persons irrespective of their location.
According to him, the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), has developed a molecular test technique capable of producing results for COVID-19 in less than 40 minutes.
“It is the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA), which can be performed by low skilled personnel with minimum training.
“It is cheaper, and can be deployed for point of care detection and surveillance,” he said.
Mamora said that the technique, which was developed by Dr Chika Onwuamah, would be deployed for use as soon as it is validated for specificity and sensitivity by the relevant agencies.
He commended the NIMR for the breakthrough, and expressed the Federal Government’s appreciation to the FATE Philanthropy Coalition for COVID-19 (FPCC), for its support towards the realisation of the project.
“As a government, we shall continue to support every genuine initiative towards strengthening our response plan,” he said.
The minister announced that the Infectious Disease Centre at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital had been inaugurated as part of government’s efforts to strengthen infectious disease management in the country.
“This facility will help to improve our response capacity towards infectious diseases, it is also a fall back facility, which we do not have to put to use if we observe all necessary preventive measures.
“So, measures such as wearing of face masks, observing respiratory hygiene, and physical distancing are to be strictly adhered to, we also need to test and isolate people with symptoms of COVID-19, ” he said.
Mamora further said that the Victims Support Funds (VSF) recently presented IT equipment to the ministry as part of its efforts to boost the technical capacity of personnel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stressed the need for action to be intensified on case finding, sample collection and testing, saying, “ it is through testing that we can identify infected people for isolation and treatment.
“This is the only way we can truly halt the spread of the disease and confirm that we have actually contained the pandemic.
“Our goal is to have at least one standard Infectious Disease centre in every state. We shall therefore work with states to establish purpose-built treatment centres,” he said.
A total of 58,460 confirmed cases have been recorded as at Sept. 29, 2020 with 49,895 cases treated and discharged.
This result is from a total of 509,555 persons tested for COVID-19. Sadly, the number of deaths as a result of the disease has since crossed the 1,100 mark with 1,111 deaths recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The country currently has 7,599 active cases, which are being managed at home and in treatment centres with about half of them in Lagos State.(NAN)
Also speaking at the press briefing the Director General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) defended Federal Government’s insistence on Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), test for international passengers.
According to his, the insistence was to prevent COVID-19 FRN3 overwhelming the nation’s health infrastructure.
The Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said this on Tuesday in Abuja at the joint news briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF).
“Please bear with us, it’s a small price to pay for the future and the health of the country and its people. We encourage you to keep carrying out departure test, ” Ihekweazu urged.
He acknowledged that many Nigerians were complaining and sometimes they have to go on adjoining flights and this becomes a little bit tricky.
“Many other countries have limited it. I just saw an announcement by the United Arab Emirates announcing that they will require a pre-departure test 96 hours before departure.
“So, we allow five days, we are completely generous. That means there is an opportunity for infection both before travel and during travel.
“And we have actually seen that is a fair number, I think about five per cent of travellers in Abuja were actually infected on the point of arrival. So, this justifies our work,” Ihekweazu said.
The DG added that a couple of studies published in Veitnam and one in Hong Kong both demonstrated transmission during flights, with the study from Vietnam showing that of 217 passengers, 16 people were infected during the flight.
“It is very important that we test on arrival and we are trying to make this easier for people to do,” the NCDC boss said.
Ihekweazu said that while there was clamour from Nigerians to shut the airport as quickly as possible during the initial outbreak of the virus, it was a very difficult decision for the country, for Mr President and the aviation industry.