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Nigeria to begin community testing, advises suspension of close contact between grandchildren, grandparents

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Health Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehimare

The Federal government is to embark on community testing for the coronavirus disease and social mobilisation at the grassroots to ensure physical distancing and advisories on the use of masks or improvised face coverings like handkerchiefs or scarves over the mouth and nose, to reduce risk of transmission.
The decision followed available evidence of community transmission presently in the country.
Meanwhile, government has recommended the suspension of close contact between grandchildren and grandparents, at this time.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire who disclosed this yesterday at the press conference by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 in Abuja warned that any private Practitioners engaging in unauthorised treatment of COVID-19, run the risk of being shut down for decontamination.
Ehanire who insisted that private facilities must obtain accreditation to treat this highly infectious diseases said, “I want to use this opportunity to again strongly advise health professionals against private or secret management of people who have COVID-19 outside of accredited health facilities. We cannot afford avoidable morbidity and mortality.” .
The minister, who expressed sadness over the death of a medical doctor involved in the treatment of a COVID-19 patient, observed that the development highlights the risk to health workers in the COVID-19 response adding that patients with mild symptoms are still very highly infectious, and mild symptoms in one person could be deadly infection in another.
He appealed to health workers to adhere to all government instructions and regulations; always utilise personal protective equipment (PPE); maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19; and protect themselves, their loved ones and colleagues.
Ehanire lamented that COVID-19 outbreak has provoked social stigma and discrimination against anyone thought to have been in contact with the virus as well as people of certain backgrounds.
He said, “This negative association means those with the disease, their caregivers, family, friends and communities, are labelled, stereotyped, discriminated against, and treated poorly because of a disease” .
He pointed out that stigma can prompt social isolation of persons or groups and drives people to hide the illness, prevents them from seeking health care immediately, and discourages them from adopting healthy behaviours.
According to him, “This could cause a situation where the virus is more likely to spread and increase the difficulty of controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. We must not stigmatise persons who have recovered from COVID-19”.
The minister stated that government has developed various isolation and treatment facilities to meet all expectations of security, privacy and comfort, and urged citizens to cooperate with case managers.
“This fight against COVID-19 is like climbing a steep where we cannot see the top: it is hard work, it is precarious and we must work together to succeed. The whole of Nigeria is in this together, along with the global community” .
Ehanire said the national testing capacity has been increased to 3,000 per day in 13 molecular laboratories nationwide activated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) adding that the target this week is to significantly increase the national testing capacity further while two more laboratories are scheduled to come online in Borno and Sokoto States.
He stressed that the states have been supplied sample collection kits and are encouraged to develop innovative methods to improve testing capacity such as engaging the private sector to outsource and diversify sample collection sites and improve logistic support.
The minister confirmed that as at Thursday , 16th April, 2020, a total of 407 people have been confirmed to have COVID-19, 99 patients have been discharged and 12 deaths have been recorded in Nigeria, all with comorbidities. He noted that the 34 new cases confirmed are distributed as follows: 18 in Lagos, 12 in Kano, 2 in Katsina, and 1 each in Delta and Niger States.

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