The federal government has advised medical facilities in the country to stop rejecting patients, especially emergency cases.
Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, said this on Monday in Abuja, at the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) briefing on COVID-19 in the country.
Mr Ehanire, however, noted that it is unethical not to attend to persons in distress, adding that any infected health worker puts a strain on the system.
The minister said the ministry was strengthening its support for Kano State Ministry of Health with service delivery and training in consultation with the state governor.
“The setbacks reported in routine hospital service delivery in Kano state are being addressed by line experts from the ministry, whether from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, or the Department of Family Health.
“A Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) pathologist is also participating in the investigation of the unexplained deaths in Kano.
“The team shall be reinforced according to needs expressed by the state government to strengthen its healthcare structure,” he said.
He said the ministry had also mobilised additional 20 Rapid Response Teams (RRT) across Kano state to reach people who need to be tested for the virus.
“41 Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) staff and 17 World Health Organisation (WHO) staff are deployed at the moment to support the Kano response.
“With support of partners, 2 facilities are funded per Kano LGA; and will be setting up one sample collection centre per LGA,” he said.
He advised Nigerians that as they began a new week and the prospects of gradual easing of the lockdown, that the phase came with added responsibility to be extra vigilant and compliant with the accompanying measures and guidelines that were meant to assure that we did not lose the health gains we had made so far, while cautiously opening options for citizens to rebuild their livelihoods.
“Since our COVID-19 statistics are of considerable concern, attention has also been drawn to the observation that countries who eased or lifted restrictions, suffered an increase in new cases.
“Although our projection already features increasing number of cases, even with the lockdown, I believe that redoubling our efforts to adhere to government directives, can keep figures within control range of the COVID-19,” he said.
The minister said that there was now a community transmission mode and the ministry’s strategy was to take all persons who tested positive to isolation, even if they had no symptoms, so that they did not risk infecting others, who might be more vulnerable, due to other diseases.
Mr Ehanire noted that Nigerians needed to protect, not only themselves, but each other and their loved ones and make sacrifices today for a better tomorrow.
The minister said that National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) was working with the state primary health/community health workforce to sensitise the population to COVID-19, at the grassroots level and expand on testing capacity.
“I again call on all citizens to cooperate with health workers and for those testing positive, to comply with invitations to enter isolation care.
“I also call on all health care facilities, not to reject persons seeking medical help, especially in emergencies. It is unethical not to attend to persons in distress.
“I also urge citizens to go to the hospital when not feeling well, and to cooperate by giving accurate information, especially with regard to their travel history,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said that Nigeria had indicated interests to WHO, to be part of the global solidarity trial of medicines being tried to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and that efforts were on to also conduct research here in the country.
“Other drugs can be added to the trials based on emerging evidence. In all this, we shall ensure the maintenance of ethical standards and safety of our people,” he explained.
Mr Ehanire recognised health care workers who were at the frontline for their commitment, reiterating the importance of maintaining high personal safety standards and Infection Prevention and Control protocols at their workplaces.
“This will not only protect you but your family. We shall provide more personal protective equipment for you and urge you to ensure its judicious use,” he said.
He, however, thanked Nigerians for their resilience and endurance over the past weeks of lockdown; saying it was sacrifice for the greater good of all.
In his speech, Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of NCDC, disclosed that a new testing facility was opened in Kano on Sunday, in collaboration between Dangote Foundation, Weare54gene and NCDC.
Mr Ihekweazu said that the turn-key project, entire conceptualisation and delivery happened in seven days.
The DG said the agency targeted the capacity of 400 tests per day, by next week.
He said that as a result of the poor compliance to the use of face masks and physical distancing directive on Monday, especially in banking houses, the country would record a few more infections.