By Abujah Racheal
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says 75 healthcare workers tested positive for COVID-19 in the last one week across the country.
Its Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known at the national briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja.
Ihekweazu said that the number of healthcare workers getting infected was becoming worrisome.
He said efforts were ongoing to ensure that health workers were actively protected against the virus.
“First, I’ll like to address the increasing number of COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers themselves.
“In the last one week, 75 healthcare workers were infected, but we can reduce this risk.
“For healthcare workers, please maintain a high index of suspicion at all times. We need you alive and well.
“This means that you should suspect COVID-19 in every case you meet, until ruled out. Even, when ruled out, there is still the small risk of infection.
“We are rolling out the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits (RDTs) in more health facilities over the next one month, as an additional tool to protect healthcare workers.
“We remain deeply grateful for the efforts and commitment of healthcare workers across the country,” he said.
The NCDC director-general said that sadly last week, the country recorded 27 deaths in a single day.
“Every death recorded is a tragic occurrence and our health workers are working extremely hard to prevent these.
“Everything we think and do in terms of the response, is focussed on trying to save lives,” he said.
Ihekweazu said the agency had started training health workers in five health facilities in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on the use of RDTs in healthcare settings and would soon be in all Federal Hospitals.
“All five health facilities in the FCT have begun using these RDTs to test healthcare workers who are exposed, and patients who require surgery or specialised care.
“With this, we can reduce the risk of infection in healthcare facilities, which is a challenge.
“Any state government, hospital, corporate that wants to discuss the use of RDTs, how, which ones, when, please the guidance is on website ncdc.gov.ng.
“If you need support, drop us an email an email@example.com and we will get back to you,” he said.
The NCDC boss said there was need for doctors and nurses to be on the alert on suspicion of COVID-19 cases.
“Over the past weeks, we have had several reports from patients that have been managed for days, sometimes weeks without thought of being given a COVID test.
“Colleagues, we need to significantly raise our alert levels to symptoms that patients present with.
“COVID-19 should be ruled out first for patients with pneumonia symptoms, congested chest, fever, body pains, even vague symptoms.
“Please stay safe. A case with fever and fatigue could be COVID-19. It is important to ensure patients are tested for COVID-19 and appropriate personal protective equipment are used by healthcare workers,” he explained.
The director-general urged health workers to model the behaviours they would like to see in others.
“We must all work together to achieve a common goal. Be a leader and champion setting the example in your social circles. It not just by saying, it is also by doing.
“Show people you wear a mask when visiting, reinforce the public health measures (in your homes and other settings). Model the behaviour you want to see in others,” he advised.
Ihekweazu said the country was seeing the emergence of some stigma attached to COVID-19, and literally, people were avoiding testing, in case they test positive to the virus.
“Folk honestly, we do not do this with malaria, or Typhoid where there is no risk transmission, why with COVID ? Lets do this together.
“Most people who tested positive for COVID-19 recover. No one should face shame or stigma; this will only deter people from going for testing and inevitably prolong the pandemic.
“If feeling unwell, stay at home, avoid immediate self-medication and get tested for COVID-19 to rule it out. Isolate while you await the test results.
“If you test positive for COVID-19, notify others you have come in contact with. This enables them to take the necessary precautionary steps.
“If you are notified that someone you came in contact with tested positive for COVID-19, be responsible and get tested for COVID-19 and isolate, while you await your results,” he said. (NAN)