Sunday, 29 March 2020

Revealed:States Without Testing Centre For Covid-19 As Confirmed Cases Rise To 89

The Federal Government’s planned testing centres for coronavirus in Kano, Maiduguri and Abakaliki are yet to take off, even as more cases of the disease continue to spread across the country. Yesterday, eight persons tested positive to the virus, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), raising the cases in the country to 89.

This shows that the number of infected persons doubled within four days. Most of the cases are in Lagos, which recorded 52, while the Federal Capital Territory, the second highest, has 14 cases. Already, the virus has spread into five out of the six geo-political zones of the country, with only the North-West not registering any case.

Findings  on Sunday yesterday revealed that there were still no facilities to conduct test for the virus in the entire South-East, North-West and the North-East geo-political regions. On Thursday, the Federal Government disclosed that it was searching for 4,370 contacts across the country, a development experts said required effective and timely testing capabilities so as to quickly isolate new cases and curtail spread.

The Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire had announced last week that government was working towards establishing COVID-19 testing centres in Abakaliki, Kano and Maiduguri to augment the already five, which are inadequate for the country. The Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire had announced last week that government was working towards establishing COVID-19 testing centres in Abakaliki, Kano and Maiduguri to augment the already five, which are inadequate for the country.

The testing centres at the moment are: The NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja; Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo; Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos; African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Disease, Ede, Osun State; the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research, Lagos, and the Lagos Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Yaba. These centres are expected to test the rising number of suspected cases by the day. It was gathered that samples from Kano State are still being taken to the NCDC laboratory in Abuja for tests.

 Ebonyi would also commence testing for COVID-19 through the state government’s efforts on April 1, our reporter gathered. Also, the Director of Infectious Diseases Control at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, Professor Isa Abubakar Sadiq, who is also a member of the Kano State task force for COVID-19, said efforts were being made to acquire testing machines in the state. He said the state was not able to conduct the test because of lack of primer, template and reagents. He appealed to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to urgently come to the aid of the Kano State Government by providing real time PCR machine to enable it carry out tests for the virus in the state. “As of now, all samples from Kano are taken to the NCDC laboratory in Abuja for test, and that usually takes longer time because of the samples from other parts of the country,” he said. Daily Trust on Sunday observed that at the moment, what the state has for management of coronavirus were just two isolation centres at ‘Yar Gaya and Kwanar Dawaki Diagnosis centres. The planned testing centre in Borno is also yet to be established.

“I am not aware of any COVID-19 testing centre designated for Borno. I only heard there would be a well equipped laboratory to be sited in Bauchi, and the building would start in the next 10 days. Even this information is not authoritative,” chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Borno State chapter, Prof. Aliyu Mohammed Kodiya said. Checks also showed that the testing centre to be established in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, is yet to take off. But the governor of the state, David Umahi, said the virology centre, situated at the Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, would, on April 1, 2020, commence blood sample testing for suspected cases of COVID-19. The centre was built by his administration and handed over to the Federal Government for treatment of Lassa fever.

The governor said that when in operation, the centre would serve the whole of the South-East region. At press time, officials of the Federal Ministry of Health could not be reached for comments on the reason for the delay in establishing COVID-19 testing centres across the country. COVID-19: Health workers at risks over inadequate protective equipment

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the country, there are concerns that health workers who are at the frontline of containing the disease are at grave risks due to inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) across health facilities in the country. Some of the health personnel, who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday yesterday, said the personal protective equipment available across health facilities including those handling cases of COVID-19 are not enough.

 A Consultant with a government hospital in Abuja, who spoke on the situation, said health workers are worried over the development and urged government to ensure health workers are fully protected against the virus while trying to save lives in the face of the raging pandemic. He said it was not enough for health workers to be provided only digital temperature scanners to check suspected cases of COVID-19, adding that such was not adequate to detect those who might be having the virus. Another doctor in a public hospital in the FCT who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity said medical practitioners have continued to attend to patients including those brought to emergency wards with fever without PPEs. Also speaking, a Lokoja-based medical doctor also expressed concerns over inadequate PPEs across hospitals in the state, adding that such development pose risks to the wellbeing of health workers who are in the frontline of handling the pandemic.

“We want to encourage the government to provide the necessary medical gadgets to protect health workers that are in the frontline of handling the suspected as well as confirmed cases of COVID-19. “We advise them to provide items such as the N-95 or N-99 masks which are important in the management of viral infections because the current masks which are being circulated everywhere could give little or no protection.

 “These are the ones that are good in managing viral infections. It is not the surgical masks that are currently available. There are other items like face shield, head cover, gowns and complete equipment for personal protection”, he said. Speaking on the situation, President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Francis Adedayo Faduyile said that a lot of doctors have complained of unavailability of personal protection equipment to protect them as they attend to patients in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. He said while the association could not exactly state the number of protective equipment available at the moment, because it was still collating such data from the states.

 He said quite a number of the protective equipment were concentrated at COVID-19 isolation centres leaving other hospitals bare. “It is not supposed to be at only the isolation centres because people keep going to hospitals and doctors attend to them, and some of these cases may be COVID-19 cases”, he said. In the same vein, the FCT NMA chapter said that there was paucity of protection equipment for response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak . Briefing newsmen yesterday in Abuja, Chairman of the association, Dr Philip Ekpe , and the Secretary Dr Godday Akor said such equipment include facemasks, hand sanitizers and other PPEs. The doctors called for free and subsidized facemasks, hand sanitizers and PPEs for health workers and the public. They also called for regular and steady water and electricity supply to all hospitals and health facilities for effective infection prevention and control.

The association said that there were also inadequate designated isolation centres for probable explosion of the Covid-19 infection in FCT, and that it also observed poor adherence to social distancing in the FCT especially the suburbs and rural communities. The association called on the Federal Ministry of Health to approve COVID-19 testing by facilities with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine to ease the work on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and to decentralize testing in order not to lose probable cases to the community and reduce waiting time for confirmation. While calling for provision of life insurance for all volunteers, the doctors called for a lockdown of at least two to four weeks which must be enforced in the FCT including the suburbs and rural areas.

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