President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 to intensify efforts in contact tracing of those infected with the virus, to curb community transmission.
The president said this via a teleconference with members of the PTF on Covid-19 in Abuja.
He also asked the task force to flatten the curve of the virus as quick as possible in order to break the chain of the expected community transmission.
The chairman of the PTF on Covid-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, told State House correspondents at the end of the teleconference that the president also challenged the PTF to flatten the curve of the virus as soon as possible.
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to Government of the Federation, said: “In the last two weeks, we have reached where we are now and the President is conscious of the fact that we need to flatten the curve as quickly as possible.
“Be able to trace, find the people, conduct as numerous tests as we can and try as much as possible to break the chain of any community transmission.
“I can’t assure you that there won’t be transmission, there will definitely be transmission but if we are able to get ahead of it, then we can deal with it decisively.
“Some of the new measures that the President has introduced, he has asked a committee to look at how the economy will operate within the context of Covid-19.
“The other one is for the Presidential Task Force to work hand in hand with the Minister of Agriculture and the committees on food security and fertilizer to ensure that the adverse effect of Covid-19 on farming is reduced to the barest minimum.
“This is because the truth about it is that our people need to go back to their farms, so that we are able to raise sufficient food for the people. The strength of the nation is in its ability to feed itself.”
Mustapha appealed to Nigerians to be more patient as government had adopted measures that would help contain the virus and ensure their safety.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has warned that it would henceforth take steps to close any hospital that goes into treatment of Covid-19 patient without proper accreditation.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who gave the warning during the media briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 on Thursday, said the focus now is to carry out more community testing and social mobilisation at the grassroots to ensure physical distancing.
He said that government will push out more messages and advisories on the use of masks or improvised face coverings like handkerchiefs or scarves for the mouth and nose, to reduce risk of transmission.
“I shall use this opportunity to again strongly advise health professionals against private or secret management of people who have COVID-19 outside of accredited health facilities. We cannot afford avoidable morbidity and mortality.
“Private facilities must obtain accreditation to treat this highly infectious disease. Practitioners engaging in unauthorised treatment of COVID-19, run the risk of being shut down for decontamination,” he said.
The minister described the latest Covid-19 fatality that occured in Lagos which claimed the life of a medical professional, as very unfortunate.
He said that this was why government had been consistent in cautioning health workers to adhere to all instructions and regulations and to always utilise personal protective equipment (PPE); while maintaining a high index of suspicion for COVID-19.
“I want to express my condolences to the family. This highlights the risk to health workers in this COVID-19 response. Patients with mild symptoms are still very highly infectious, and mild symptoms in one person could be deadly infection in another. “That is why we recommend the suspension of close contact between grandchildren and grandparents, at this time. Our valuable health workers are urged to adhere to all government instructions and regulations; always utilise personal protective equipment (PPE); maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19; and protect yourselves, your loved ones and your colleagues,” he said.
Ehanire gave an update on the rate of spread of the Coronavirus as at noon on Thursday as 407 confirmed cases with 99 persons discharged from treatment centres after testing negative twice.
“As of today, 16th of April, 2020, a total of 407 people have been confirmed to have COVID-19, 99 patients have been discharged and 12 deaths have been recorded in Nigeria, all with comorbidities. The 34 new cases confirmed are distributed as follows: 18 in Lagos, 12 in Kano, 2 in Katsina, and 1 each in Delta and Niger States,” he said.
The minister said the national testing capacity had been increased to 3,000 per day in 13 molecular laboratories nationwide activated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
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