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States urged to prepare for further spike in COVID-19 cases

States in Nigeria have been asked to prepare for further spike in positive cases of coronavirus disease as the rising trend shows exponential spread of the virus.

Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, made this call on Thursday during the daily press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.

Nigeria has tested a total of 138,462 samples as of Thursday, out of which 26,484 are positive cases. The country has successfully treated and discharged 10,152 persons and recorded 603 fatalities, most of them with underlying illnesses and belonging to those classified as vulnerable, he said.

Hee said the COVID-19 statistics are expected to rise further with improved testing, adding that it is also a sign that COVID-19 is actually expanding faster than the country’s systems are handling it.

“This rising trend requires that each state of the federation continues to prepare more bed spaces and increase sample collection sites, as well as improve logistics to deliver to designated laboratories promptly,” Ehanire said.

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“It is also important to protect the vulnerable by putting in place measures which take care of their social needs and reduce their exposure to risks of infection,” he said.

He said the Federal Ministry of Health’s plan would be to focus more on minimising fatalities by prioritising preemptive admission to hospital for medical observation all persons who test positive for COVID-19 and meet the definition of vulnerability, even if they do not yet have classical symptoms.

“These include the elderly, diabetics, asthmatics and persons in treatment for chronic infections and conditions. This population group will also be targeted for risk communication and engagement to avoid nonessential travel,” he said.

Ehanire said the government has directed the deployment and activation of GeneXpert machines to treatment centres at National Hospital Abuja and Abuja Teaching Hospital to facilitate conduction of tests on site, while ensuring prompt results on tests conducted on the coronavirus pandemic.

This development, he said, would help in getting quick results and having an easier contact tracing on associated patients as the government had severally noted for every identified one case, there are three to five cases linked up with it.

He said the GeneXpert machine produces results within one hour.

“The Ministry of Health will also address complaints, by both citizens and hospital managers, of long delays in receiving COVID-19 test results at treatment centres in Abuja especially, which disrupt smooth running and delay the commencement of treatment,” Ehanire said.

“The ratio of male to female among the infected has remained quite stable at 70 percent to 30 percent. While majority of the infected cases are below 50 years, the majority of the fatalities are over 50 years old,” he said.

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