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COVID-19: Prepare for the worst, FG tells Nigerians

Nigerians have been told to prepare for the worst in the Coronavirus crisis confronting the country and the world in general.

Speaking, in Abuja, on Tuesday, at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire,  called on health workers and citizens to learn more about the disease.

In his words, “It’s of great importance that we, members of the health sector and citizens, endeavour to use this period to dedicate efforts to strive for the best, but also prepare for the worst.

“As we learn more about Coronavirus every day, we must be ready to adjust our strategy, based on knowledge and evidence.

“To continue strengthening response in states, the Federal Ministry of Health and Nigeria Center for Disease Control are assessing isolation centres all over the country, recently, in Yenagoa and Osogbo.

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“We also continue providing diagnostic commodities and facilities in collaboration with partners,” he said.

The minister said though cases and fatalities of COVID-19 in Nigeria seemed low compared to other countries, “a disturbing picture emerging from statistics is that not only are most fatalities observed to be linked with pre-existing diseases, many are educated, well-to-do people, who chose home-based care where they develop sudden complication and have to be rushed to hospital.

“Experience is showing that breathing complications in COVID-19 patients can arise with little or no notice.

“This is an added reason why all persons should seek medical attention when they test positive”.

He said the ministerial task team to Kano reported improvements in the processes and indices of Kano, “and also of strategies to control increasing cases of COVID-19 infection in the entire region, by ramping up testing, isolation and case management capabilities”.

Director-General of the NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, on his part said, “We’re not doing community testing everywhere. In certain states like Lagos, Kano, and even in the FCT, we’re taking the test a lot closer to the community because of the intensity of transmission in those states.

“In those states, the states are identifying hotspot areas and based on these identifications, intensifying testing in those communities.

“We haven’t gotten to the stage of drawing community testing across the country. We’re doing targeted hotspot areas identified by states.”

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, also appealed to all Nigerians to diligently comply with measures put in place to contain the pandemic.

In the words of Boss Mustapha, “However, our future remains in our hands and compliance is one of the keys to opening that future. Of particular importance is the need to obey the curfew, obey the ban on interstate travels, observe physical distancing, avoid large gatherings, observe personal and respiratory hygiene and align with the policy on use of masks/covering.”

The SGF also urged Nigerians to delicately balance between safety and economic considerations before we reopen the economy fully.

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He said the president’s directive on extending the eased lockdown for another two weeks was in the bid to further contain and control the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Mr. Mustapha said the decision was not punitive as government shared the citizens’ pains and concerns.

“For those struggling with the disease, help is available. Do not go underground. It’s important to talk about it and to seek help. Every effort spares humanity the agony of the spread of the virus,” the SGF said.

He urged all Nigerians to remain their brothers’ keeper, saying that their response so far has been tremendous and urged them to do more.

He said, “We should do more for the elderly, the sick, persons living with disabilities, the pregnant women, the vulnerable and the poor. We must avoid stigmatisation and must consider the mental health of those infected.”