COVID-19: Lagos creates 20 centres, FCT combs residents’ houses for samples

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on Wednesday said 20 centres would be created in Lagos State for collection of samples from people suspected to have contracted COVID-19.

The NCDC Director General, Chikwe Ihekweazu, who made this known at a press conference of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, revealed that samples would be taken to the molecular laboratories in Lagos for testing.

The NCDC boss also said door-to-door collection of samples would soon begin in Abuja, adding that Nigeria had increased her testing capacity to 3,000

Similarly, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on the occasion, disclosed that the ministry had expanded its case definition for COVID-19.

It would be recalled that the NCDC had, on Tuesday, said the problem the country was facing was not the inadequacy of molecular laboratories, but how adequate samples would get to the labs for testing.

According to the NCDC, the 12 molecular laboratories in the country, which it put their capacity at 1,500 on Tuesday, were not conducting enough tests.

Ihekweazu also at the PTF press conference, said part of the measures to contain the spread of the virus was adoption of a change in strategy after more testing laboratories had been established.

Samples of people with acute respiratory infection, high fever to be taken

He said, “We are trying to change our strategy now and test more people. The testing laboratories have increased, but the bottleneck now is getting samples from the right people.

“We are setting up 20 health care facilities in Lagos to collect samples from people that think they have acute respiratory infections and high fever. We are intensifying our surveillance in health, so hospitals around Lagos and the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) can collect samples from people with high respiratory infections.

“In certain Abuja communities, we are going from door to door to collect samples from people that have acute respiratory infections. We are doing the same in Lagos. In these two places, Lagos and the FCT, where there is high incidence of the infection, we are now going to the patients to collect samples.

“Core centres have improved dramatically and we are urging the people that think they have acute respiratory infections to call us. Go to one of these 20 centres (in Lagos). Don’t go to any other centre. Lagos State will announce them as they are set up and make them accessible to everyone.

“We have the capacity right now to test 3,000 per day, but that capacity is not being fully utilised. That is why we focus on Lagos and the FCT.”

Health workers, senior citizens to be prioritised

The NCDC boss added that with a shortage of personal protective equipment around the world, Nigeria would give priority to health workers at isolation centres and laboratories, as well as senior citizens on the use of face masks.

He said, “It (use of masks) has been a controversial topic, but it does not have to be. The number of cases from over the world has risen to over two million with over 100,000 deaths of a disease that none of us knows about. The scale of the disease outbreak and response has to radically increase and the aspect of mask is one of them.

“On the other hand, there is a reality that we face. There is a chronic global shortage of personal protective equipment, including masks, around the world. The world was not prepared for a pandemic of this scale. We have to prioritise certain part of our population.

“Fifty per cent of the world masks are produced by China that has been locked down for months. They are now restarting their production and thankfully, some of those things are coming out.”

He said countries that produced medical materials, including masks, had banned their exportation because they too needed them.

NCDC unveils guidelines for face mask wearing

The NCDC boss also unfolded guidelines for wearing of masks, adding that it should be combined with social distancing and hand washing.

He stated, “Wearing of a mask is not a protection against COVID-19 unless it is combined with other measures such as physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene. We particularly recommend these (masks) for senior citizens over the age of 60, especially those that have hypertension, diabetes. Many of us live with comfortably with these (diabetes and hypertension), but because we are in an additional risk of having severe incidence of this disease (COVID-19) so we will like to offer that additional level of protection.

“It is critical that we learn how to properly put them (masks) on and off by hands. We don’t need to touch the inside of the masks.”

FG recommends mask for people in markets, malls, food sellers

He also said face masks were recommended for people in markets, malls and food sellers.

The NCDC boss stated, “The use of masks is usually important if you want to attend large gatherings which are few now like markets and malls.

“If you are a member of the public and you want to wear a mask, we don’t recommend a surgical mask but an improvised mask to protect you if you insist. This is a virus and we have to respond to people that get infected. None of us is immune to it.”

Governors advised on prudent spending

He advised governor to ensure that masks and other essential materials were procured for health workers, particularly those at the isolation centres.

Ihekweazu said the PTF had ensured provision of PPE for all hospitals in need of it across the country. He said the equipment included the ones donated by Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma. He said the present situation also provided economic boost for companies that could produce PPE.

People with fever, respiratory tract symptoms of unknown cause included in case definition

At the press conference, the minister of health said more people would be accommodated for testing after the review of the case definition for COVID-19.

Ehanire said, “There are now 12 functional COVID-19 testing laboratories. To ensure maximum utilisation of our increased testing capacity, the case definition and testing criteria have been expanded to include not only contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases with fever and respiratory tract symptoms, but also all persons with fever and respiratory tract symptoms of unknown cause.”

According to him, it is important to step up testing because of the increase in community transmission of the virus.

He also said, “All persons fitting into the case definition are advised to first wear a mask of any type, isolate themselves from friends and family as they call the national emergency number 112, or the NCDC toll free number 0800 9700 0010, or report to the nearest health facility for referral.”

Isolation centres categorised

The minister said that the case review also meant that isolation centres across the country would be grouped into categories.

He added, “There are three levels of isolation: Isolation one is for suspected cases of COVID-19, while awaiting results. This is also used to designate the mandatory quarantine facilities for those returning from abroad with negative results, or those unable to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

“Isolation two is for confirmed COVID-19 cases with mild or moderate symptoms who need little to no clinical management.

“Isolation three is for confirmed COVID-19 cases with severe or critical symptoms who need enhanced clinical management or intensive care.”

Use of private clinics

The minister said private facilities (willing to treat coronavirus patients) had to be inspected and accredited before they could be allowed to function.

He stated, “They must have doctors and the protocols to handle the virus because the likelihood is that the spread of infection from one person who has COVID-19 to another patient and to members of personnel will be very easy.”

~Courtesy, The Punch

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