From: Moses Emorinken, Abuja
The Federal Government has said the test results for COVID-19 carried out on the 15-member Chinese medical team that came into the country a little over two weeks ago are not ready.
The Chinese medics, who came to offer technical support to Nigeria in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, completed their mandatory 14-day quarantine on Wednesday after which their samples were taken for testing by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora, made this known in Abuja at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
According to him: “For one reason or the other, we do not have the test results of the Chinese yet. I want to assure you that once we have the result of the tests, we will inform the country about the development.
“I will advise all Nigerians to be patient because the government is also anticipating the result of the tests in order to ensure that we protect the health and wellbeing of every citizen of the country.”
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, urged health workers to judiciously make us of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on the line of duty as more frontline workers are testing positive for the coronavirus and others are in quarantine.
“I wish to use this opportunity to applaud our frontline health workers in the COVID-19 pandemic. We salute your courage and patriotism, but I urge you to protect yourselves as prescribed and use the PPE judiciously. Do not attempt to treat COVID-19 patients without using adequate PPE, or if your institution is not accredited to do so.
“This is important because we need to keep health workers safe at such at time and cannot afford the numbers testing positive to COVID-19. Remain vigilant in the line of duty and maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19.
“We have now deployed COVID-19 starter packs to all tertiary institutions and Federal Medical Centers, to complement what was earlier sent to each State. The starter packs consist of medical consumables and disposables, to ensure that our frontline healthcare workers are protected.
“I wish to restate the advisory given yesterday, to reduce risk of community transmission by reducing all non-essential travel, especially long distance travels. This will help to reduce carrying the virus from State to State,” he said.
NDCD Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said door-to-door collection of samples for testing is not the federal government’s strategy as it focuses more on targeted testing.
He explained that only those who meet the case definition for COVID-19 will be contacted for testing.
The cases definition, he said, include: Those returning from a country with high burden of the disease; persons that have made contact with a confirmed case; persons living in communities with high cases of the disease; and persons having symptoms of COVID-19 like coughing and high fever.
According to him: “It is not really our strategy to go door-to-door to over 200 million Nigerians to collect samples. We have the strategy of going to people that meet the case definition. Even in communities where we are testing, we are not testing everybody. We only collect samples from people who meet our case definition.
“Our challenge at the moment is not really in identifying contacts, our challenge is for people to accept the importance of what we are doing. We are not the Police trying to find criminals, so Nigerians need people to cooperate with us.
“In terms of isolation centres at the local government level, I think we are not quite there yet. Some states have set up these centres at the sub-national level. States like Ogun, Delta, have isolation centres at the sub-national levels.”