Isolation centres running out of bed space, says SGF
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said on Friday at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja that the Federal Government would dispatch its technical teams to validate the claims by Kogi and Cross River states that they did not have COVID-19 cases.
He said the initial team dispatched to Kogi had a failed mission because of “some differences” with the state authorities but that a fresh engagement would be carried out.
Ehanire said, “Kogi State is one of the two states that have said that they do not have COVID-19 patients. They seem to be sure of this. So, the agreement we have had with them after discussion with the governor is that we shall send a team in just to validate that fact and engage the authorities.
“Of course, we do that for national records and to be able to report to the world the situation in our country. We tried to send a team into Kogi on Thursday but there were some differences there. So, we need to engage the state governor again and state some conditions within which the ministry and NCDC can complete their jobs. We are going to send a team to Cross River next week also.”
The minister in his address also noted that a technical team deployed to Kano State by the ministry had trained 100 ambulance drivers and patient handlers as part of efforts in tackling the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister said the government was also making efforts to build the “expertise of critical care doctors and nurses to utilise ventilators and other appliances being allocated to intensive care hospitals nationwide.”
He added, “A ministerial technical team comprising of various specialists was set up and deployed to Katsina State to assess the situation and report on needed support. Also, calm has been restored in the Gombe State isolation centres.”
The minister also said government’s team was in Jigawa State on a fact-finding mission as the state battled with repatriated Almajirai, “of whom many have tested positive for COVID-19.”
Ehanire said, “On Friday morning, we deployed a multi-sectoral technical team on a fact-finding mission to Jigawa State at the request of the state governor. The challenges in Jigawa revolve around repatriated Almajiris, of whom many have tested positive for COVID-19.
“The team includes doctors and nurses, who will support the state Ministry of Health in setting up and accrediting their isolation and treatment centres.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, lamented that the isolation centres in states were fast running out of bed space due to the upsurge in the number of confirmed cases.
“We have also received reports from the states, which suggest that the treatment centres are running out of bed spaces,” he added.
Speaking at the daily briefing on Friday, he said the task force was also considering viable alternative treatment.
“At the appropriate time, the guidelines and protocols shall be unfolded,” he added.
Mustapha said the PTF after a meeting with security agencies on Friday arrived at new measures to aid the strict enforcement of the guidelines earlier announced for the interstate lockdown.
He said all persons on essential duties, including journalists and medical personnel, should always carry authentic means of identification, while noting that security agents should always respect the fundamental rights of citizens during enforcement.
He added, “Security agencies should improve monitoring of their personnel and interaction with the citizenry; citizens should respect the sacrificial role of security agencies and desist from assaulting security personnel and damaging security infrastructure.”
He said it was agreed that appropriate personal protective equipment and related protective gears would be provided for security personnel, noting that enlightenment and awareness would be intensified.
The SGF said the increasing number of cases was due to the increased testing capacity.
He added, “However, this increased testing does not translate to higher fatality rates as in the last few days, we have witnessed a good number of discharges and a continually reducing daily fatality rate.”
He also said the PTF was liaising with the Task Force on movement of agricultural produce under the leadership of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, in order to ensure that food scarcity was not experienced in any part of the country.
The SGF debunked insinuations that states were not operating a uniformed policy on the COVID-19. He said, “The national response is one but we are mindful that we are a federation; there can be differences in implementation which states can modify. The basis of application can vary from state to state like time to go to the market and business hours.”
He said there was no known single cure for COVID-19 as the world was still battling to evolve a vaccine and drug.
Also at the briefing, the PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, expressed concerns about states disregarding new measures introduced to relax the lockdown.
He said places of worship and schools remained closed and that there should be no mass gathering of persons above 20. “It seems we are going to the exponential stage of the disease,” he added.
He added that the taskforce would continue to work with state governments on the implementation of the relaxed guidelines.
Aliyu called on philanthropists to support the government with accommodation for those placed under observation in order to address the shortage of bed space at isolation centres.