TOYIN ADEBAYO, ABUJA
Patients with no COVID-19 symptons may no longer be infectious after 14 days, even if PCR tests identify RNA evidence of virus in them, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has revealed.
He added that, global experience is that up to 45% of infected people may have no symptoms at all.
The Minister gave the revelation at the presidential Taskforce briefing on Covid-19 on Thursday in Abuja, saying, they are constantly reviewing Covid-19 activities and developments at home and abroad, to learn as much as we can about the novel coronavirus disease. We have learned, for example, that patients are most infectious during the asymptomatic stage, and spread the virus even if they do not look or feel ill, or before their symptoms appear.
According to him, “In Nigeria, the proportion of confirmed cases that are symptomatic compared to asymptomatic is 39% and 61% respectively, which means that if 10 persons are able to infect you with COVID-19, four of them will look very well indeed. Another three or four will have mild symptoms that can be trivialized, even by healthcare workers, which may explanin the initial relatively high rate of infection among them. The cheapest and easiest way to protect oneself is with a mask; in this case, a cloth mask will do. This is why the Federal Ministry of Health constantly urges citizens to adhere strictly to wearing a mask when outside their homes and observe other non-pharmaceutical measures, especially now that confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria continues to rise, which gradually raises the risk.
“Yesterday, we had 409 new confirmed cases of COVID19 which increased the total number of cases to 13,873. We have successfully treated and discharged 4,351 persons and unfortunately lost 382 Nigerians to the disease. Although numbers are only creeping up compared to other countries and case fatality rate hovers around 3%, we are concerned and at high alert. We have no room for complacency or over-confidence, and need to be ready for any sudden shift in fortune.
He continued;”The Federal Ministry of Health through NCDC has activated additional laboratories in Akwa Ibom, Jigawa and Oyo States bringing the total number of laboratories in the network to 33. More are being prepared as we work towards a target of at least one molecular laboratory per state. Optimization of laboratories is ongoing in other States”.
The minister added that, they have commenced planning for targeted community sensitization activities in 20 high burden Local Government Areas and workshop in Infection Prevention and Control on COVID-19 for healthcare workers of Public and Private Hospitals in the FCT.
Similarly, the Federal Ministry of Labour & Employment, Federal Ministry of Health and the Speaker of the House of Representatives have been engaging the National Association of Resident Doctors NARD to address issues raised by the young doctors. We also had conversation with Ministry of Finance Agencies and health related associations, which addressed issues of welfare and allowances to frontline health workers. Complaints on availability of PPE’s have been addressed with the supply of materials to States, and separately to Federal Medical Centers. The disengaged resident doctors at University of Jos Teaching hospital were recalled by the Board of Governors. I am confident that resident doctors will show understanding and reciprocate government’s efforts on the assurance that grievances shall be addressed. I wish to thank the Rt. Hon. Speaker for his intervention and the Hon. Minister of Labour for his committment to ensuring industrial harmony in the Health Sector.
He hinted, that the much awaited reforms to guidelines to oprationalize the BHCPF is about ready and will be revealed after presentation to stakeholders. However, I can say that errors have been addressed and the new document vastly improves on the earlier version.
He, however, urged everyone to be their brother’s keeper and always wear their face mask in the public and observe hand and respiratory hygiene. Stay home unless you absolutely have to go out; this appeal is particularly directed at the vulnerable population and persons over 60 years of age.