Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has hinted that the trend in the reduction of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria compares with the decline in global cases, signifying that the second wave may be receding.
He added that they were not drawing conclusions yet and certainly not declaring victory yet, but rather watching developments as they unfold nationally and internationally, ready to make use of comparative advantages that may emerge.
Ehanire gave this hint on Monday at the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja.
He stated that they were intensifying the monitoring of COVID-19 positive cases, especially those that could self-isolate, by strengthening and improving the capacity of personnel to manage home-based care.
He said: “However, I emphasize that those on home-based care should report to their hospital or case manager immediately they begin to experience symptoms or feel their symptoms are getting worse.”
He added: “Experience has shown that the COVID-19 disease can deteriorate suddenly and rapidly, resulting in life-threatening severity that could be managed if presenting early enough.
“Late presentation is a leading cause of increase in mortality.
“Findings from Supportive Supervision of treatment centres also indicate that vulnerable and ‘at risk’ persons are among those reluctant to accept hospital admission, especially if they have no severe symptoms.
“It is important to follow medical advice and comply with directives.
“The bed occupancy at our isolation and treatment centres is about 36%, so there is sufficient bed space to comfortably accommodate patients, and we stand ready to redistribute from heavy burden to lower burden hospitals, if the need arises.
“Increased oxygen requirement in some treatment centres in the last weeks is being addressed by the Federal Ministry of Health.
“A working visit to Lagos University Teaching Hospital over the weekend, which is one of the most affected, allowed us to assess their treatment capacity and needs first hand, including availability and supply of medical oxygen, bed space in COVID-19 treatment centres, and human resource capacity.”
He further stated that, so far, Nigeria had recorded 152,074 COVID-19 cases out of 1,489,103 tests and sadly lost 1,839 persons to the disease.
On February 21, 2021, 521 new infections and 8 deaths occurred in 20 states.
The sustained testing in states has decreased positive rate.
He said the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) would make the case for LUTH to be a first-line beneficiary of an enlarged oxygen generating plant, to assure production capacity of up to 200 cylinders/day.
“I wish to here commend Airtel on their support to upgrade the Infectious Disease Centre at LUTH.
“I also used the opportunity to visit the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Yaba and observe the comparatively high standard of COVID-19 compliance in the hospital.
“Government will do its best to support updating staff strength, which was a common concern in both hospitals,” he said.
With regard to vaccines, the minister said NAFDAC had issued Emergency Use Authorization for Astrazeneca vaccine by Serum Institute of India, which has been forwarded to the COVAX facility secretariat.
“The NPHCDA has made detailed preparation to hit the ground running and commence immunisation as soon as the vaccines are delivered by COVAX.
“Storage, NAFDAC sampling of vaccines and distribution and operation have been prepared.
“We are finalising training of health workers for vaccine administration, while an elaborate process of access by registration has been developed for frontline health care workers, including laboratory staff. The NPHCDA will elaborate further.
“There are reports of an offer of 300 million doses of Sputnik V vaccines to the AVATT portfolio, which boosts availability to 557 million.
“This would be a great relief to the African region and also increases the variety of vaccines to four.”