The Federal Government on Thursday said it had succeeded in tracing 3,550 people who came in contact with patients infected with COVID-19 in the country.
The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at a press conference organised in Abuja by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the 3,550 people were being monitored for symptoms of coronavirus.
The NCDC said this as there were concerns in the country over the rising COVID-19 cases, which increased to 190 on Thursday.
In Osun State, residents of Ejigbo, where six Cote d’Ivoire returnees tested positive, stayed indoor for fear of contracting the virus.
But in Abuja, the NCDC assured Nigerians that the Federal Government was fighting the virus.
Ihekweazu had, at a press conference on Tuesday, said government was searching for 5,000 people who came in contact with COVID-19 positive patients
The director general, who said there was an urgent need to get such people and prevent community transmission of the virus, said many of the contacts came from abroad and gave wrong phone numbers and addresses on the flights they boarded.
On Thursday, Ihekweazu was asked the extent government had gone in tracing the contacts following the two-week lockdown the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) ordered in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states.
He responded, “We have traced and monitoring 71 per cent of all of them. By the end of today, that figure will increase. This is what this period of two weeks is for. Lagos has been transformational in the last few days. The teams have been able to move incredibly across the state to monitor all these contacts.
“The early cases had large number of contacts. Many of them were on planes and we have to basically contact everyone. But everyone we identify now has a maximum of 30 or 40 contacts. So the number of contacts in confirmed cases is reducing because we no longer have people that were exposed to a plane.”
On the kits donated to the country by a Chinese billionaire, he said every state government was asked to come to Abuja to collect its share of the kits
No preferential treatment for those in isolation –NCDC boss
He also said there was no preferential treatment for anyone in all the coronavirus isolation centres across the country.
He said, “There is no preferential care at treatment centres. Everybody is getting the same level of care in Abuja and Lagos and health care workers are really working hard to make sure everybody is supported through the period of care.”
FG asks NMA to open register for volunteers, retired doctors
At the press conference, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said registers would be opened, particularly in Abuja and Lagos for retired health workers who would be recalled to strengthen the workforce for COVID-19.
Ehanire disclosed that he had met with the Nigerian Medical Association, adding that the association had promised to assist government in the fight against coronavirus.
He said, “Yesterday, I had a meeting with the Nigerian Medical Association leaders. We have urged them to invite retired members particularly in Lagos and Abuja to register and volunteer their services.”
Lockdown: FG exempts fertiliser transport
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said the movement of vehicles transporting fertilizer across Lagos, Ogun and the FCT had been included in the list of services exempted from the lockdown.
Govt recommends 300-bed limit for COVID-19 isolation centres
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said, “We are requesting that the sub-national governments should provide at least a 300-bed facility; either a hotel or other facilities.”
According to him, such facilities should contain basic nursing and other required procedures before patients are moved in.
He added, “Those facilities starting from 300 beds should be expanded as the need arises.”
Satellite markets, others also join exemption list
The National Coordinator for the fight against COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, at the press conference, said businesses exempted from the lockdown also included markets, food stores and supermarkets.
He explained that the neighbourhood markets were essential services that could open for four hours every other day.
Aliyu, however, explained that operators of such facilities were expected to provide equipment for measuring body temperature and sanitising hands.
He said, “The decision of the PTF is that satellite markets will operate every other day from 10 am to 2 pm. This does not refer to the main markets that are already closed and neither does it refer to markets that had been closed by local authorities. We do not expect them to open.
“But for markets that supply neighbourhood, we will allow them to operate for just four hours every other day.
“I need to re-emphasise to shop owners, particularly those operating supermarkets and food stores, that they are allowed to operate only if they are dealing with food and perishable items, including pharmaceuticals.”
In Oyo, 248 in self-isolation
The head of the Oyo State contact tracing team , who identified himself simply as Dr Sola, in an interview with The PUNCH said, “All of the 248 ‘people of interest’ are under close surveillance and they are being monitored twice a day. They are all in self-isolation.
“Of these 248 people, 44 have already completed the 14-day self-isolation period and have been cleared of coronavirus. We are actively containing the virus in Oyo State.
“We even want to announce now that anyone who feels he or she had contact with any of the known cases should call us. The names are in public domain. We would do risk assessment for you and let you know what you need to do.”
Ekiti centre has one ventilator – Commissioner
The Ekiti State Commissioner for Health, Dr Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, on her part, said the state had only one ventilator in its isolation centre.
Yaya-Kolade, who disclosed this at a press conference in Ado Ekiti, said the state was awaiting the result of a test conducted on a 23-year-old male patient, who manifested some symptoms of the virus.
She said the second COVID-19 case in the state, a 42-year-old male patient who tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, had been admitted into the isolation centre while the environment team would be going to disinfect his premises as soon as possible.
The commissioner also stated, “We have only one ventilator at the isolation centre at Oba Adejugbe Hospital. However, we are making efforts to source for other to make it two.”
A’Ibom’s five cases came in contact with foreign medical outreach – Commissioner
The Akwa Ibom State Government said it had commenced tracing contacts with persons suspected to have come in contact with a foreign mission from where the five index cases might have contracted the virus.
The state Commissioner of Health, Dr Dominic Ukpong, who briefed journalists on Thursday after a meeting with the state incident management committee, said the five cases were those who came in contact with a foreign mission that conducted a medical outreach in the state.
He said, “We have started tracing the contacts of those who assisted the foreign mission that conducted a medical outreach here in Akwa Ibom State. We started doing that yesterday (Wednesday) when the results were announced.”
Health ministry fails to provide sanitiser, thermometers for workers
The Federal Ministry of Health has failed to provide sanitiser and forehead thermometers to check the temperature of workers and visitors to its office in Abuja.
Findings on Thursday showed that workers and visitors to the ministry were not screened or given sanitiser despite the leading roles of the health ministry in the campaign against the coronavirus disease in the country.
One of our correspondents, who visited the ministry’s office located at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja on Thursday, was not screened with the thermometer or given sanitiser as was being done in other public places, including shopping malls and private offices.
An assistant director in the ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that everyone was baffled by the failure of the authorities to provide the safety kits for the staff of the ministry.
He said that the workers had resorted to buying sanitiser, face masks and other safety kits that should have been supplied by the government.
He noted, “We have been demanding the reason for the refusal of the health minister and the permanent secretary to provide safety kits such as sanitiser, forehead thermometers and face masks for workers, but no one is saying anything.
“When you (our correspondent) were coming into the office, did anyone check your temperature or give you sanitiser? The same thing happened during the outbreak of Ebola. We were not given any safety or protection kit until one month after the crisis had ended.”
But the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Mrs Enefaa Bob-Manuel, claimed the authorities had provided bottles of sanitiser for the workers.
We are testing samples from Enugu, Abia – Abakaliki centre
The Chief Medical Director of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Dr. Emeka Onwe-Ogah, on Thursday, said the laboratory in the hospital was testing samples from Abia and Enugu states.
The CMD, in an interview with The PUNCH, noted that the centre just commenced work on Wednesday.
On the number of testing kits that had been deployed in the laboratory, he said, “We were given testing kits and they (the NCDC) said more would be given to us soon.”
Ogah said, “We don’t have those you can call suspected patients in the Lab currently. The people we have there now are not for test; they are for observation.
“These people, who are currently in the Laboratory, do not meet the criteria for which they could be described as, “suspected Coronaviris” patients. We don’t just test people anyhow. For one to be tested, one must have NCDC criteria.
“The samples being tested at the Testing Lab, currently, are from other states namely, Abia and Enugu states.
Why we allowed Côte d’Ivoire returnees who tested positive — FG
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, defended the decision of the Federal Government to allow 127 Nigerians, who returned from Côte d’Ivoire through the Ogun State land border, to enter Nigeria
He said, “Depending on the characteristics of such a returnee, he could be picked up based on his record and detained and, in this instance, the arrangement made by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and other agencies involved is to isolate such returnees.
“We have even signed an international treaty that says no human being is stateless. We are not even talking about those who are accredited nationals of Nigeria. We are saying, by our own admission and commitment, we do not believe any human being is stateless.”
Edo doctor treating Covid-19 patient contracts disease
A doctor treating COVID-19 patients at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State, has contracted the disease, the President of the National Association of Resident Doctors has said.
The NARD President, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme monitored by our correspondent on Thursday.
He stated, “Just yesterday again, one of our doctors in the ISTH, Iruaa, tested positive for the COVID-19 disease. What that means is that these doctors that are testing positive for various diseases are being left alone to take care of themselves.
“There is no form of life insurance for them. There is no form of compensation. To say the least, what these doctors benefit at the end of every month as hazard allowance is N5,000. So, we are worried that if victory against COVID-19 and Lassa fever outbreak in the country is to be achieved, the welfare and wellbeing of doctors and other health workers who are on the frontline must be secured.”
Six more Cote d’Ivoire returnees test positive
The Osun State Government on Thursday confirmed that six more Cote d’Ivoire returnees tested positive for coronavirus. With the latest cases, the state now has 20 COVID-19 cases.
The Osun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Rafiu Isamotu, told The PUNCH that all the 127 returnees had been tested and 18 of them had returned positive.
All the 18 coronavirus cases were said to have been moved out of the isolation centre to another facility. Before 18 cases were recorded, the state had two COVID-19 patients.
The 127 travellers from the West African nation had arrived in the state last Saturday and were kept in isolation at the Unity High School, Ejigbo, where many of the returnees hailed from.
Following reports that at least one of the returnee left the centre and visited pub, many residents of Ejigbo stayed indoor.
Sources in the town told one of our correspondents that the decision to stay indoor was not only as a result of the stay-at-home directive of the state government, but largely due to the fear that the man that reportedly left the isolation centre might have spread the virus.
A resident of Ejigbo, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Some of them don’t believe they are threats with their status, but we have been explaining to them the need to remain in isolation to prevent community spread of the disease.
At the isolation centre, sources who confided in one of our correspondent, said agitation by those in the centre continued, even though operatives of Department of State Servives had also been drafted into the premises to join anti riot police in providing security.
Osun State deputy governor, Benedict Alabi, it was learnt also visited the centre on Thursday to ensure that the situation was put under control.
COVID-19 cases rise to 190
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases in the country increased to 190 on Thursday. On Wednesday the NCDC said the cases were 174.
On Thursday, it said seven cases were recorded in Lagos and three in the FCT. The agency was, however, silent on the six Cote d’Ivoire that Osun State Government earlier on Thursday said tested positive.
With the latest cases, Lagos now has 98 cases; the FCT, 38, Osun, 20, Kaduna, four; Oyo, eight, Enugu, two, Edo, four, Bauchi, three, Ekiti, two, Akwa Ibom, five and Ogun, four.
Rivers and Benue have one case each.
20 patients have been discharged with two deaths recorded.