Speech by Hon. Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire at the Ministerial Press Briefing on COVID-19 for 3rd April 2020 in Abuja

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Dr. Ehanire Osagie, Hon. Minister of Health

Updates

1. The global number of COVID-19 cases has crossed the one million mark, just 3 months after the outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China. It is an indication that it is a public health challenge we must not take lightly.

2. Here in Nigeria, we have recorded 10 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, so that cumulatively, as of the 3rd of April, we have 190 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria across 12 states and the FCT, 2 fatalities and 20 cases discharged from treatment. Lagos has 98 patients, FCT 48, Osun 20, Oyo 8, Akwa Ibom 5, Edo, Kaduna and Ogun, 4 each, Bauchi 3, Enugu and Ekiti 2 each, while Rivers and Benue have 1 each.

3. We are already seeing what may be indications of sustained community transmission in the sense that 30% of the cases have incomplete epidemiological information, while 51% are imported cases and 19% are contacts of known cases. We are using the small window of opportunity remaining to intensify investigations to identify cases and their sources.

4. This is one of the purposes for which the lockdown of 2 States and the FCT was proclaimed by the President. These areas, especially Lagos as primary epicenter, but also other parts of the Federation, need to speed up their activities to detect and isolate COVID-19 patients I shall do everything to support this process. During and following the lockdown, we expect to see an increase in cases, as a measure of improvement in case finding. If social distancing and other measures are adhered to, the incidence of positives cases can be better controlled.

5. We have tested nearly 3,000 samples so far in Nigeria, and are working to scale up our capacity in a targeted approach.

6. The Coronavirus Treatment Center Accreditation Committee was inaugurated yesterday by the Hon. Minister of State for Health and has begun developing an accreditation checklist, as well as a protocol for management of isolation centres. We are compiling a list of trained health workers to man Centres as they become operational.

7. Directors of the Fed. Ministry of Health had discussions with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments and with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, to explore potentials for local production of medical consumables such as face masks, gloves, sanitizers, and even equipment like ventilators. This is in view of looming global shortages of medical supplies for response, due to high demand by all countries. Clinical trials and other processes are ongoing to validate therapeutics for COVID-19 treatment.

8. I have been notified of gifts of medical supplies from China, courtesy of the group of Chinese Companies working here in Nigeria. A special cargo aircraft shall leave Nigeria in a few days to collect the items, which include commodities, PPE and ventilators. Of great interest is an 18 man team of Chinese medical experts, including doctors, nurses and public health advisers, who shall come along with the flight to support us and share their experience with us.

9. I must at this juncture commend our frontline health workers who are doing a great job in case identification and management. As we prepare strategies to contain COVID-19 outbreak, we must not lose sight of other health challenges in our country. Routine healthcare service must continue in all hospitals. Only a wing of Tertiary centers need to be put to use for infected patients control.

10. It is important that we do not drop the ball and lose gains made in many areas of healthcare, including maternal and child health and immunization.

11. I shall communicate this to commissioners for health in the States and also instruct all Federal Health Institutions to this effect and indeed for them to work together with State officials. Those who have to deal with coronavirus case load are to dedicate a wing of their hospitals. For this purpose, they have each been supplied with PPE Starter Packs and commodities.

12. I wish to reiterate that these efforts will only be effective if citizens fully cooperate with the Federal Government. While I recognize that a lockdown is difficult and inconvenient, it is necessary for the good of us all.

Thank you.