CORONAVIRUS:WE DON’T KNOW HOW LONG THIS WILL LAST SAYS FG AS THEY JUSTIFY TESTING ONLY PEOPLE WITH SYMPTOMS

The Federal Government on Monday said it did not know how long COVID-19 would last in the country.

The Secretary to the Government of Federation, Boss Mustapha, said this at a  press conference he jointly addressed with the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, in Abuja where the government revealed that the country had recorded its second COVID-19 death.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as part of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, on Sunday, ordered lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos, and Ogun states.

However, on Monday, the Ogun State Government said it had got the presidential permission to shift the lockdown to Friday.

Buhari, had during a nationwide broadcast on Sunday,  said the 14-day lockdown would enable the government to trace and treat those who must have contracted the virus.

On Monday, the SGF, Mustapha,  said, “We don’t know how long this thing will last.  That’s the truth about it. I believe with sheer determination of all Nigerians, we will overcome these challenges.

“We are doing everything to ensure conformity of policies with state governments.  We will do everything within our power to stop the case.”

He added, “Let me use this medium to appeal to all Nigerians, through you, for full understanding, unity of purpose and in the interest of humanity, to observe all measures put in place, remain vigilant and cooperate with security and other agencies who are toiling day and night to keep us safe and alive.”

Ehanire said no country could boast of having enough ventilators, which he said were not required for all cases.

He said, “The question of ventilators;  yes we are addressing it. There is no country in this world that has enough ventilators. Of all the cases we have had so far only one requires a ventilator. Some require just Oxygen. Probably less than four per cent of the cases we are dealing with require ventilators.

“Government is also taking inventory of what each state requires. The number of ventilators you have in the country does not decide your rate of survival.”

Ehanire said the President had approved that all retired but essential and able staff be recalled to service.

He said the President had also issued directives for all Federal Government stadia, pilgrims camps and other facilities to be converted to isolation centres and makeshift hospitals.

To increase access to testing, the minister said the Federal Government was working hard to open up as many testing sites as possible.

He said, “We project that in three weeks, seven more laboratories in Abakiliki, Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt and Sokoto will be added to this network to further expand testing capacity nationwide.”

We will only test people with symptoms —Minister

Ehanire said only those with symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath in an area of medium or high prevalence of COVID-19, could test for the disease.

He added that only results of test from one of the six molecular laboratories for COVID-19 in Nigeria were reliable because the rapid diagnostic tests gave unreliable results.

Also on Monday, the Director of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said government was tracing 6,000 people who came in contact with 111 COVID-19 patients.

Ihekweazu, who disclosed this in an interview on Channels Television, said   2,000 people that had been tested for the virus.

The NCDC director-general said the best way to prevent further spread of COVID-19 was for people to limit movements and contacts.

He stated, “We are following over 6,000 contacts of these 111 confirmed cases across these two cities. Every time we have a new case, we add about 50 to 60 contacts that we then have to follow every single day for 14 days.

“We hope that we can really use this time to buy some time to get ahead of the cases and ultimately see that curve start going down but in the next few days, we still do expect an increase in cases.

“We have currently tested well over 2000 people, we will update those figures today or tomorrow. We have increased the number of labs in our network to six. We are activating Abakaliki today. There will be  seventh lab in our network.

Ihekweazu said it would take between 24 to 48 hours to conduct a test, adding that the centre was working to reduce it to 12 hours.

He further explained that some tests are delayed because it is carried out twice to ensure that the results are accurate.

The Oyo State incident manager, Dr Olabode Ladiipo,  in the interview with The PUNCH on Monday, said although the state had been able to trace 50 people, who had contact with persons infected with COVID-19, it had been able to take samples of 28 of them for test.

A former Chief  Medical Director,  University College Hospital, Ibadan, Prof. Temitope Alonge,  at the Oyo State Infectious Disease Isolation Centre, Olodo disclosed that he had the mandate of the state government to set up an infectious disease isolation centre.