From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has expressed concern over the increasing rate of positive cases of COVID-19 pandemic noting that the nation the highest number of infections in a single week (week 52), to date.
It has therefore stressed the need for oxygen availability as critical to the success of case management in the country.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at the media briefing.
He also lamented the difficulty in national response, noting that “Our National Response is passing through a challenging phase due to the seriousness of the second wave of infections in Nigeria. Week 52 has so far given us the highest number of infections, in a single week, to date.
“Our analysis shows that 16 out of every 100 tests carried out are positive. We are also seeing increasing transmission among younger people and this is not considered good and safe. We must therefore exercise utmost restraint by taking responsibility.
“The PTF, this afternoon, discussed two very critical issues namely: Oxygen supply and Case Management. With the increasing number of infections and hospitalization, our objectives are to: ensure that infection, prevention and control (IPC) is properly instituted to minimize spread and exposure of health care workers to the virus; ensure that those who require hospitalization are well managed; those requiring medical attention for other ailments gain access to Treatment at medical facilities; and
critical care is available and deployed especially where oxygen is needed.
“The situation in Abuja and its environs has been of concern to the PTF.
During our conversation with health authorities (including the CMDs of Federal Tertiary Institutions in Abuja: – National Hospital; Jabi and Gwagwalada) this afternoon, the PTF directed that the level of Infections, Prevention and Control as well as case management should be prioritized immediately.”
The PTF chairman regretted that despite the resources made available to the states across the country, testing is very low across states in varying degrees.
According to him, this is not helping the National Response and that some states have not reported any infections in several weeks.
“Reports received also point to the fact that laboratories recently established in the states are not working optimally. You will recall that we moved from two laboratories to about 90 (Public and Private) located in all states of the Federation.
“Their inability to function optimally has resulted in unacceptable levels of delay in receiving results and pressure on the National Reference Labs. We wish to urge all states to reopen all laboratories and ensure that testing is expanded and turnaround time for results is substantially reduced,” Mustapha said.
He therefore urged the states to keep their Isolation/Treatment Centres open because of the rising cases of infection nationwide.
The SGF also said that the PTF has worked out additional quarantine protocols to be observed by travelers arriving from the UK and South Africa.
According to him, this is in keeping with government determination to minimize any possibility of importation of the virus.
He said, “The new policy started from Monday, 28th December, 2020. Key changes include requirement for passengers for two additional documents, permit to travel/QR code obtained from the travel portal after payment for the day seven post-arrival test; and COVID-19 PCR negative test with a validity now shortened to 96 hours or 4 days.
“The PTF shall remain vigilant on this matter and our relevant agencies are also working on the sequencing to determine the strain found.”