PRESS BRIEFING BY HON. MINISTER OF HEALTH, DR. OSAGIE EHANIRE AT THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 PRESS BRIEFING ON MONDAY 27th JULY, 2020 PROTOCOL

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The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria crossed the 40,000 mark to 40,534 over the weekend, with 555 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours, of which 17,374 have been successfully treated and discharged. We have regrettably lost 858 persons, most of them with co-morbidities. With 262,579 persons tested, we have crossed the quarter million mark. When the epidemic curve will begin to flatten is still a matter of conjecture, given the relatively small fraction of our population that has been tested so far.

2.​60 PCR Public Health laboratories are now active in Nigeria, which together should be in a position to address testing capacity challenges and ramp up utilization if only the logistics could be improved. This would, along with sheer community spread, be responsible for the rising trajectory of the epidemic curve in the population tested so far.

3.​The 70 to 30 male to female gender ratio and the case fatality rate of 2.1% have not changed significantly. Two thirds of all fatalities remain in the over 50 year age group, while comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, etc, are common among all fatalities. They underscore the need to protect senior citizens and the vulnerable from infection, by giving special attention to risk communication and priority for admission for observation and treatment. Of utmost concern are still the asymptomatic cases, with the potential to spread the disease, of whom the young and able bodied can be difficult to manage.
4.​We continue to strive to improve the quality of services in our hospitals as more persons are admitted to treatment, not only for covid-19 infection, but also for routine and essential care. It is also our desire to reduce the fatality rates, and expand our treatment capacity such that our Health System is not overwhelmed. In this regard, the FMoH expects to take delivery of the newly completed Isolation Center at UATH Gwagwalada, as other centers are under construction nationwide.
5.​ The UN System in Nigeria informed us of the arrival of another consignment of essential COVID-19 related commodities yesterday, to be officially handed over to us. We remain appreciative of the UN System for this gesture and their consistent support, which greatly increases our reserves and recognizes our needs, especially of oxygen concentrators and PPEs, but also reassures our frontline health workers that we are well stocked and can ensure availability of essential items and consumables at point of use. I use this opportunity to formally introduce the Country Representative of the World Health Organization Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, who assumed duty here with us in Abuja some days ago, and wish him successful tenure, despite the challenging times.

  1. ​I also use the opportunity to salute our frontline health workers, whose service helps reduce fatality. I urge them to continue their work in line with global best practices in case management and to keep themselves safe and take no risks. Coronavirus does not respect doctors or nurses.
    7.​As Salah approaches, I again wish all our Muslim brethren a happy celebration and enjoin all persons not to forget prescribed precautions and to reduce risk of transmission even as we celebrate. Wear your face mask at all times, especially when out of your homes; wash hands regularly; use sanitizers, practice distancing, I again remind everyone that controlling the spread of covid19 is not the responsibility of government alone, but of us all, individually and collectively.
    8.​Thank you for your attention.

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