COVID-19 Has Over 90% Cure Rate—Health Minister
By Dipo Olowookere
Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Mr Osagie Ehanire, has advised citizens to come out for testing for the coronavirus disease as it is not a death sentence.
At the Presidential Task Force briefing on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in Abuja, the Minister said COVID-19, another name the virus is called, has a cure rate of over 90 percent especially for those with typical symptoms, who came out early for testing and treatment or quarantine.
“It can save you from the severe complications of the infection, or also help to reduce spread and save your loved ones from getting infected by you,” he said.
He stated also that those with existing medical conditions like diabetics, hypertension, kidney disease, TB, HIV, and cancer, should obey the injunctions for preventing infection.
The Minister disclosed that to ensure best treatment options for Nigerians, a protocol for a Patient Transport System had been developed for FCT and to be set up in all states of the federation.
This, he said, is meant to smoothly convey patients to specialised treatment centres or between centres, hinting also that, the Nigeria Airforce and NEMA have standby aircrafts.
Mr Ehanire further said the Federal Ministry of Health convened an Emergency National Council of Health (NCH) meeting, via teleconference, with Commissioners for Health of the 36 states.
According to him, it was resolved that all persons diagnosed with covid-19 be henceforth treated in the state where the diagnosis was made, rather than be referred to their states of origin except there is a medical indication to the contrary. This is to avoid the high risk of exposure of other persons in the course of transfer.
He further said it was agreed that Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) and Pharmacists be forthwith prohibited from attempting to treat persons diagnosed as, or suspected to be COVID-19 patients, or else have their operating licenses cancelled.
In addition, private hospitals desiring to manage COVID-19 patients should apply to their state Ministries of Health for permit, meet standard IPC standards and be accredited by a FMoH certified state team after compliance with protocols, before being granted.
Lastly, it was agreed that states should notify FMoH of their isolation and treatment centres for inclusion on the COVID-19 HMIS Platform to ensure a well-coordinated national response.
The Health Minister informed that 27 Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) had been deployed to states by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to support the COVID-19 response, recently to Abia, Gombe and Sokoto States.
He said active case finding is ongoing in communities with evidence of person-to-person transmission, stating also that the strategy required more testing and diagnostics.
“We are working to increase the capacity and activate additional laboratories, both public and private for COVID-19 testing, with the final purpose of having one or more public health laboratories, with PCR capability in every state,” he stated.
Mr Ehanire commended health worker on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and urged them to take all necessary precautions for their own safety.
He made aware that estimates suggested that several healthcare workers had already lost their lives in less than two months since COVID-19 first appeared and many dozens, including doctors are idling away in quarantine.
He stressed the need for sound Knowledge of Infection Prevention and Control protocol to be eligible for consideration to manage the infection.
The Minister reminded health workers to be vigilant and protect themselves in the line of duty, asking citizens to call NCDC toll-free number or one’s state emergency number, if they suspect themselves or anyone around who may have symptoms of COVID-19.
He emphasised that the use of tissue covers over one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing had been long advocated to control the spread of COVID-19 infection.
He further urged Nigerians to avoid mass gathering, practice hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing, cancel all non –essential travel out of where one resides, wash and sun-dry or iron once reusable cloth masks or face covering daily. Most especially stay home, stay safe.