By Abuja Racheal
Federal Government says it has so far crossed the quarter million mark with the testing of 262,579 Nigerians for COVID-19 in the last five months.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said this on Monday in Abuja at the 53rd national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
“With 262,579 persons tested, we have crossed the quarter million mark. When the epidemic curve will begin to flatten is still a matter of conjecture, given the relatively small fraction of our population that has been tested so far,” Ehanire said.
Ehanire said that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country crossed the 40,000 mark to 40,534 over the weekend, with 555 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours.
He, however, said that 17,374 had been successfully treated and discharged, while the nation regrettably recorded 858 deaths, most of them with comorbidities.
The minister said 60 PCR Public Health laboratories were now active in the country, which together should be in a position to address testing capacity challenges and ramp up utilization if only the logistics could be improved.
According to him, this will, along with sheer community spread, be responsible for the rising trajectory of the epidemic curve in the population tested so far.
The minister said that the 70 to 30 male to female gender ratio and the case fatality rate of 2.1 per cent had not changed significantly, as two thirds of all fatalities remained in the over 50-year age group.
Ehanire said that comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, among others, were common among all fatalities.
He said: “They underscore the need to protect senior citizens and the vulnerable from infection, by giving special attention to risk communication and priority for admission for observation and treatment.
“Of utmost concern are still the asymptomatic cases, with the potential to spread the disease, of whom the young and able-bodied can be difficult to manage.”
Ehanire assured that the government would continue to improve the quality of services in the hospitals as more persons admitted for treatment, not only for COVID-19 infection, but also for routine and essential care.
According to him, it is also our desire to reduce the fatality rate, and expand our treatment capacity such that our health system is not overwhelmed.
“In this regard, the FMoH expects to take delivery of the newly completed Isolation Centre at UATH, Gwagwalada, as other centres are under construction nationwide.”
He also said that the UN System in Nigeria informed of the arrival of another consignment of essential COVID-19 related commodities on Sunday, to be officially handed over to Nigeria.
He said the Federal Government remained appreciative of the UN System for this gesture and its consistent support, which had greatly increased reserves and recognized the country’s needs, especially of oxygen concentrators and PPEs.
According to him, the gesture also reassures our frontline health workers that we are well stocked and can ensure availability of essential items and consumables at the point of need.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister also formally introduce the new Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, who assumed duty in Abuja recently.
On the coming Sallah celebration, Ehanire urged Muslims and all Nigerians to continue to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocols and to reduce risk of transmission amidst celebration, especially on wearing of facemask, hand-washing and use of sanitizers, among others.