Health Minister says increasing number of COVID-19 cases, warning signal

From Our Correspondent

The Federal Ministry of Health says the increasing number of coronavirus infections in the country should be a warning that the fatality rate could rise.

Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, gave the warning at the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) briefing on COVID-19 in the country on Thursday in Abuja.

Nigeria had announced 587 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, increasing the total tally to 17,735.

The country has treated and discharged 5,967 persons and 469 persons have sadly been lost to the disease.

Ehanire, however, said that there were measures Nigerians could take to limit the fatality rate.

“Since the majority of fatalities are over 50 years of age, or have pre-existing ailments like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, HIV, this group of citizens has to be specially protected.

“This protection begins with limiting their exposure to risks of COVID-19 infection by urging stay at home, except there is urgent and dire need to go out.

“To wear a face mask or a covering at any time, once outside the house, or when inside the house with persons who may have been exposed,’’ he said.

The minister urged observance of other non-pharmaceutical advisories, including frequent hand washing, social distancing, respiratory hygiene and using sanitiser use amongst others.

He added that going to places where there could be a crowd, like market or places of worship, carries the risk of increased exposure.

“Also, being in a closed room increases the risk of exposure to infection in proportion to the number of people and the length of time spent with them.

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“This is because the likelihood of the presence of a positive person increases with the number and infection with the time of exposure.’’

He advised that all persons in the vulnerable group, who test positive, should go to a treatment centre immediately.

According to him, a vulnerable person is not among those who should risk staying at home, because complications could arise easily, suddenly or at an odd hour and when there would be no immediate help available.

“Any person, who tested positive and opted to stay home, or elsewhere, should move to a treatment centre at the first sign of fever or shortness or of breath.

“A delay can be fatal because the disease progression can be unpredictable and faster than imagined,’’ the minister said.

Ehanire said that the engagement of states and support for them in management of COVID-19 would continue to increase with increased capacity building.

He noted that the ministry would also prioritise the procurement of oxygen generators alongside ventilators as the experience so far shows that oxygen supplementation was in high demand in treatment.

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