Health Minister Issues Fresh Advisory To Nigerians On COVID-19

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Facilities inspected for CoronaVirus test centre at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria by NCDC.

By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has impressed it upon Nigerians that vaccine for Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will not be available until year 2021.

He, therefore, cautioned Nigerians against the dangers of non-adherence to COVID-19 recommended safety measures.

He said neglecting to maintain the preventive actions against the pandemic could lead to a spike of the disease as being experienced in some parts of the world.

According to a report by Blessing Egbo of the ministry’s Information, Media and Public Relations, the minister said: “It is important to remind ourselves that COVID-19 is real and spreading wildly in some parts of the world as we speak.  

“Some countries are experiencing the so-called second wave, with all the complications that go along with this easily spreading disease; another country is to go under lockdown again. This is something Nigeria must endeavour to avoid.”

Dr. Ehanire gave this caution during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, 17th September, 2020, where he appealed to Nigerians to comply with the recommended protocols for reducing the spread of the virus in the country.

Ehanire said COVID-19 vaccine will not be available until next year.

“Compliance with all recommended measures, like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding gatherings etc. will go a long way to help.  Vaccines will not be available till next year at best, and no new reliable therapeutic has been confirmed, but we must restart businesses, including travel, to allow citizens to earn their livelihoods”, he said.

The minister reported that, as of 17th September, 2020, the country had recorded a total of 56,604 covid-19 positive cases out of which  a total of 482,321 samples were tested, and 47,872 persons treated and discharged, while 1,091 persons were sadly lost to the disease.

Speaking further, Dr. Ehanire appealed to people who tested positive to COVID-19 especially the elderly and those with underlying health conditions to immediately report to a treatment facility.

He observed that most fatalities are among those reporting late for treatment, when their clinical condition has worsened.  

He added that there are enough facilities across the country to cater for them.  “There is no shortage of beds reported from any of the States”, he explained.

The minister also informed of Federal Government of Nigeria’s (FRN) plan to distribute oxygen concentrators and ventilators to various health institutions across the country, to enable them provide oxygen therapy to persons presenting with respiratory distress, till they are referred to treatment centres; thus improving their chances of survival.  

He pointed out that the federal government is working with State gvernment officials to sustain sample collections and response activities, with emphasis on surveillance and treatment, in order to drive containment.

Further, Ehanire reported that Nigeria on Thursday, 17th September, 2020 joined the rest of the world to commemorate the World “Patient Safety Day”, a day set aside by the World Health Assembly, to recognise and highlight the safety of patients under treatment, as a global health priority. 

The theme for this year, he said was, “Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety”, with the slogan of “Safe health workers, safe patients.”

The minister pointed out that although the country is confronted with the global pandemic, “The heroic role of frontline healthcare workers to keep the rest of us safe must be recognized. They work odd hours, endure stigma, risk infection and even their lives.”

While commending the efforts of the health care workers, Dr. Ehanire again appealed to the striking members of Joint Health Sector Union to put the plight, safety and well-being of their patients into consideration and to call off their industrial actions, while differences are being addressed by negotiation.

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