FG plans isolation centres at borders, 4,000 tests daily

Read Time:11 Minute, 40 Second

DG, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control,  Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu

The Federal Government, as part of efforts to take advantage of two-week lockdown extension ordered by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), aims to conduct 4,000 COVID-19 tests every day.

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this on Tuesday during a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, said 2,000 tests would be conducted in Lagos, 1,000 in Abuja and 1,000 in other parts of the country.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said isolation centres would be established at the country’s land borders.

Buhari had on Monday extended the 14 days lockdown he ordered in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states on March 29 by another two weeks.

The NCDC director general on Tuesday recalled that the President, in his speech on Monday, said the public health response to COVID-19 was dependent on ability to detect, test and admit cases as well as trace all contacts.

Ihekweazu said Nigeria had increased its laboratories for testing COVID-19 to 12, adding that the government would ensure every state had a lab.

Sample collection, now our challenge – NCDC DG

He stated, “We have achieved this largely by leveraging on the existing molecular laboratory capacity within our network across the country. We now have the capacity to test 1,500 people per day.

“The challenge right now is not  laboratories’ testing capacity, but how active our public health workforce is in collecting samples from identified suspected cases and sending them to the laboratories for testing.”

“We have sufficient testing capacity of 1,500 per day,  but we are not close to exhausting it every day. From today, we have to push harder. Our target following the President speech is to get to testing 2,000 per day in Lagos, 1,000 in Abuja and 1,000 for the rest of the country. This is the target we have agreed.”

Test kits to be tracked

Ihekweazu said part of the innovation being developed by the PTF was to track all test kits sent to states to ensure they were effectively utilised.

According to him, he visited Lagos during the Easter period where a new strategy was developed, stressing that the new strategy must be replicated across the country.

Sample collection centres to be established

While highlighting processes involved in testing of samples, the NCDC boss stated that it took at least 12 hours for a sample test to be completed. He added that a positive sample could take longer period.

He stated, “We are establishing clinics in Lagos where people can go and have their swabs collected through a special arrangement. They (the swabs) have to be distributed to three laboratories in Lagos and in the following morning, have to be sorted. It is a complex process, but we have managed to improve on it.

“Outside Lagos and Abuja, there are places where we have laboratories and where we have extra-complications of transportation to the laboratories. There is a courier that does that on our behalf. You cannot just collect a sample,  you have to save it in a medium that saves its viability until it gets to the laboratories.”According to him, ambulances will be sent to individuals, who test positive for the virus, to convey them to treatment centres.

Lockdown not to stop outbreak

Ihekweazu said the lockdown extension announced was meant to ensure that the country was ready for reopening of its economic activities without fear of further spread of the virus.

He said, “The goal of the lockdown is not to stop the outbreak but what we are trying to achieve is to work efficiently within the context of reopening economy. Our challenge is to show that we can reopen (the economy) slowly and maintain public health response within a slowly calibrated reopening economy and we have two weeks to demonstrate this across the country.”

FG to build isolation centres in all land borders

Also at the briefing, the minister of health, stated that the primary health centres were not meant to treat coronavirus patients.

He added that treatment centres would be sited at border areas to cater for Nigerians returning from neighbouring countries.

The minister also said government was concerned about the prevalence of COVID-19 in the neighbouring counties

He stated, “Prevalence of COVID-19 in neigbouring states is a new concern. There is a plan to build treatment centres near the legal entry borders. The borders are closed, but when Nigerian citizens turn up, they are allowed in.

“What we do is to take them to a facility where they can be isolated, screened and go through the protocol of 14-day observation before they are released. Those who are positive are taken to the isolation centres.”

9,029 contacts traced – Health minister

The minister said that Nigeria had made significant progress in contact tracing and that till date 9,029 persons of interest had been followed with 99 per cent of them already exceeding their 14-day observation period.

Speaking about a woman who claimed that she was given a fake result that confined her to an isolation centre in Benue State, the minister noted that all necessary steps were taken to ascertain the status of the woman, when she returned from abroad.

He said, “This is a person who came from abroad and headed for Benue but felt unwell, taken to a hospital and tested positive and placed in isolation. People who are infected can have no symptoms, mild or severe symptoms. Even without symptoms, they can be infectious. This person soon recovered and decided to doubt the test she had undergone.

“Apparently, there was an altercation that made the people there to call me and I intervened and spoke with the person. She was disputing the result because she felt very well and showed no symptom.

“The first complaint was that she was not comfortable with the place where she was kept so we arranged for a transfer to a more comfortable facility and requested a second test which came out positive. We are planning a third test.”

Task force meets today to review exemptions

The presidential task force will meet today (Wednesday) to review exemptions to the lockdown.

The National Coordinator in the fight against COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, while responding to questions during the media briefing of the PTF, stated that the main purpose of the lockdown was to disrupt transmission of the deadly infection.

Aliyu said, “We will be having a meeting of the task force tomorrow (Wednesday) and we will be reviewing all the exemptions as well as the protocol that we released. So, there might be some changes that will come up.

“The main purpose is to enable us to be able to interrupt transmission, to reduce social interaction, to make sure that we are able to reach those contacts of cases that we have and isolate them on time.”

PTF to meet govs’ forum

“We are encouraging synergy between the different arms of government. We will be meeting with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in the coming days and we have already established very close links with the state commissioners of health.”

Aliyu reiterated the recommendation of at least 300 beds for treating persons with COVID  infections in each  state

Oyo begins testing of 2,000 residents

In Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde on Tuesday began rapid testing for COVID-19 in the state.

He stated that the outcome of the exercise would determine the next course of action by his administration.

The governor stated this at the commencement of the ‘COVID-19 Drive-Through-Walk-through Testing’ initiative for 2,000 residents within two weeks at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan.

Makinde disclosed that the rapid testing initiative was sponsored by the Citizen for Citizen, a non-governmental organisation headed by the Chairman of First Bank Nigeria, Mrs Ibukun Awosika.

He said the initiative tallied with his administration’s plan to test 10,000 residents of the state.

The governor said the state was scaling up testing in alignment with experts’ opinions that the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19, was through mass testing.

He also defended the state government’s decision not to impose lockdown on the state.

The governor stated, “We have seen the results of more extensive lockdowns in neighbouring states. Yet, we are not celebrating a win, because this is not a competition.

Nigeria tested 7,000 persons – Mamora

The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, has said between 7,000 and 10,000 persons have been tested for coronavirus in the country.

Mamora, who appeared on Sunrise Daily, a live programme on Channels Television, on Tuesday, stated that the number of cases was made available by the NCDC.

While responding to a question on the number of people tested, the minister said, “It is dynamic and the figures continue to change. We get this feedback from the NCDC. We are opening the molecular laboratories.

“We have 11 right now, starting from five. It’s not just opening up these. We also need to provide the personnel to man these labs. So, at the end of the day, the target is to be able to do no less than 10,000 cases per day, in terms of testing.

“The figure we are getting from the NCDC is between 7,000 and 10,000 as the number of cases tested.”

Lagos records sixth COVID-19 death

The Lagos State Government has recorded another COVID-19 death, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the state to six.

The Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, disclosed this on Tuesday via his verified Twitter handle @ProfAkinAbayomi.

He tweeted, “A 56-year-old Nigerian, male who recently returned from the United States of America had died of COVID19 related complication. This brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Lagos to six.

“I urge Lagos residents to remain alert across communities and obey instructions aimed at containing the spread of #COVID19 infection. Remember to call 08000CORONA for any #COVID19 related issues. Let’s #StaySafe and #StayHome #ForAGreaterLagos!”

Nine patients recover in Lagos, discharged

The state Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu,  said the state had discharged nine more patients who have been receiving treatment at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba.

Sanwo-Olu at a briefing on Tuesday said the nine patients having tested negative twice have been released to reunite with their family members and members of the community.

He said, “Today(Tuesday), we are discharging nine patients – three females and six males, who have tested negative in two consecutive test readings.  They are now free to be reunited with their families. This will now bring the total number of discharged cases to 70.”

Ogun may discharge three patients today

The Ogun State Government said three out of nine positive cases in its isolation centre would be discharged on  Wednesday.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, who disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday, said the new cases in the state were recorded in the Odogbolu Local Government Area.

Coker, in the interview with The PUNCH, said,   “The two new cases came in from the UK on the 17th and 19th of March. They are a couple with no symptoms now.

“Over a week ago, we discharged somebody and three are likely to be going home today or tomorrow because they are negative.”

Daura residents cry of hunger amidst lockdown

Residents of Daura in Katsina State on Tuesday said the lockdown of the town had worsened hunger among them.

The residents, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said they could not raise money to buy food.

A lawyer, Ado Lalu said “Many of us were unprepared for the lockdown. There is no money to stockpile food at home. So, some of us who are daily paid workers now have to rely on friends and neighbours to survive.

“While we acknowledge the fact that the lockdown is for the sake of our health, I  wish to appeal to authorities concerned to consider the plight of the poor and that of the old.”

Another resident, Mallam Lawan Usman also appealed to the government to come up with palliative measures that would alleviate the sufferings of the poor and the old in the town.

The state Governor, Aminu Masari, had last Friday ordered total lockdown of the Daura Local Government Area after two people, who came in contact with the index case in the state tested positive.

The index case, Dr Aliyu Yakub, who was a medical practitioner in Daura,  had died of COVID-19 two weeks ago.

Edo tracing 299 contacts

The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia,  on his part said the state was tracing 299 persons, who came in contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

Okundia, in an interview with journalists on Tuesday,  also disclosed that the Stella Obasanjo Hospital Isolation Centre had commenced treatment for the first coronavirus (COVID-19) patient at the facility.

The NCDC on Tuesday confirmed 19 new infections, bringing the total number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in the country to 362.

The NCDC via its twitter handle, @NCDCgov, said 14 new cases were recorded in Lagos, two in FCT, one in Kano and one in Akwa Ibom.

“As of 09:20pm April 14, there are 362 confirmed cases of COVID19 reported in Nigeria. 99 have been discharged with 11 deaths,” the NCDC said.

At  11pm, the NCDC tweeted, “Eleven new cases of #COVID19 have been reported in Lagos State. As at 11pm 14th April there were 373 confirmed cases of #COVID19 reported in Nigeria. 99 have been discharged with 11 deaths.”

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