The Minster of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has said that till date, over 2,000 persons have been tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Ehanire, who made this known on Wednesday at the Presidential Task Force Briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja, said that of the total number of people who tested positive for COVID-19, 70 percent of them are males.
According to him, “As of now, over 2000 persons have been tested. We are expanding our diagnostic capacity to test across the country. This is expected to improve turnaround time and enhance timely access to testing.
“About 70 percent of those who have tested positive are males. The age range is between 30 and 60 years. However, we must note that both men and women of all ages can be affected
“As of today, the 1st of April 2020, we have recorded 151 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria. 82 are in Lagos, 28 in FCT, 8 in Oyo, 14 in Osun, 4 each in Ogun and Edo, 3 in Kaduna, 2 each in Bauchi, Ekiti and Enugu and 1 each in Benue, and Rivers States.
“Some vehicles were intercepted trying to enter Nigeria from Benin Republic, with over 100 Nigerians onboard, heading for Osun State. It is said that they were coming from Ivory Coast or Ghana, I am not quite sure.
“It is among this group that we have 12 immediate new entrants, that is, imported cases which added to the 139 we have. Therefore, we have 151 cases of coronavirus in Nigeria.
“It shows the importance of importation and also border closure. In this case, they are our citizens and they are knocking at the door of our borders and they have to be let in. But if they were not our citizens, definitely, we will have a problem having to handle infected persons of other nationalities.
“Till date, nine (9) persons have been discharged and two deaths recorded from COVID-19 in Nigeria. These were cases with severe underlying illnesses aggravated by their COVID-19 infection.
“Between last week and this week, two new laboratories have been added to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) network of molecular laboratories for COVID-19. These are Virology Laboratory of University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State and Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA), Ebonyi State.
“With this addition, we have increased our daily testing capacity from five hundred to one thousand. Hopefully, by next week, it is expected that this will be significantly increased.
“From what we know, the incubation period for COVID-19 is generally 2-14 days, that is, the time it takes for an infected person to show symptoms. Therefore, we are using the window of opportunity presented by the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States to promptly detect, isolate and effectively treat cases.
“It is important to emphasize that there are no Rapid Diagnostic Tests available that have been validated by the World Health Organization, (WHO), because they often give unreliable results.
“Unless you have been tested in one of the seven molecular laboratories for COVID-19 in Nigeria, your results are most likely useless. In the absence of a vaccine, interventions such as social distancing and self-isolation have become even more important to curbing the spread of the disease”.
He added: “With nearly 1,000 bed spaces identified in the FCT, we continue to expand the number of isolation centres and ICU units across the country for those who may have severe complications from the disease due to being immunocompromised. This includes elderly people above the age of 70 or those with critical underlying health conditions such as cancer, tuberculosis and HIV.
“Several States have also identified and established isolation centres for treatment of mild and moderate cases. Lagos State has expanded its isolation wards and surge capacity. Yesterday, the Ogun State Governor commissioned isolation centres of over 200 bed capacity in the State.
“I urge states to urgently prioritize identification of these within their states particularly tertiary hospitals.
“We have also engaged hundreds of ad-hoc staff to support various areas of response and Port Health Authority staff previously stationed at the airports have been redeployed to key roads that serve at key entry and exit points”.
The Minister explained that the national case definition for COVID-19 has been expanded to include persons with acute respiratory illness in an area of medium or high prevalence of the disease without any other explanation.
Concerning burials of people who have died from the COVID-19, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said: “The burial of a case of COVID-19 is not as risky as the one of Lassa and Ebola. The one of Lassa and Ebola we know that when they pass away, their body fluids are very infectious, and so we advise on an elaborate process that is culturally very difficult for any part of our country to avoid any contact with body fluids.
“We have released advisory on burials for COVID-19, but it doesn’t have the same level of infectivity of Lassa or Ebola because it is not transmitted through body fluids, but it is a viral infection and transmitted through respiratory tract. It doesn’t die with the person. The virus survives a while. We still advise on a fairly safe burial but the risks are not as high as Lassa and Ebola”.