The Presidential Task Force on the novel Coronavirus pandemic otherwise referred to as COVID-19 has revealed that in the event of overflow of hospitals, hotels and schools will be used for isolating COVID-19 patients. The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who was speaking during the daily briefing of the PTF on Thursday, therefore urged hotel owners and schools to get prepared.
While expressing optimism that the situation in the country would not be as horrific as it is in Europe, Ehanire said that government is doing its best to ensure that there are enough bed -spaces should the cases continue to rise.
“Nigeria presently has over 112 treatment and isolation centres in the 35 states and FCT with over 5,000 beds, but not all states have made it up to at least 300 beds prescribed for isolation and treatment. “I had the privilege of commissioning one such centre yesterday, a re-purposed hospital in Benin City, Edo State, with 300 beds, including ICU and an Edo State owned PCR testing laboratory.
“We need to continue increasing bed capacity to match the probable number of patients, so that we do not experience horrific scenes of bed space shortages seen in some European hospitals.
“In event of overflow, we can require hotels and school dormitories to be prepared for level 1 (Quarantine) and level 2 Isolation (of COVID-19 positive with zero or mild symptoms), to free hospital beds to be dedicated to level 3, (moderate to severe cases) and level 4, (high dependency and Intensive care unit).
“I therefore call on activists and philanthropists to work with State governments in concerted steps to scale up non-pharmaceutical measures and beef up infrastrucural assets for isolation and treatment in their states.
“Though we are in the community transmission phase of response, easing social restrictions is desirable, but only if we can meet up with expectations that will not allow a spike in infection rates. This is what has led certain countries to reintroduce lockdowns. We are reviewing health sector specific advisories on re-opening the economy”.
Earlier, Secretary to the government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, lamented that Nigeria is recording more deaths from non-attendance to other diseases than even COVID 19. He therefore directed all the Chief Medical Directors and private health service providers to attend to other health challenges, which continue to confront Nigerians on a daily basis.
He said: “The PTF has received rather sadly, reports of continued refusal by medical institutions to receive and treat patients for fear COVID-19.
“This has resulted in several unfortunate and avoidable fatalities and statistics has shown that there is a drastic drop in the percentage of attention being paid to other ailments not related to COVID-19. “This situation is made worse by the fact that federal tertiary institutions have been mentioned among those rejecting patients for fear of COVID.
“This not acceptable. We are saddened by this development. “The Minister of Health has reached out to all Medical Directors directing them to continue providing regular medical services so that we do not end up with avoidable deaths.
“Truth be told, we are having more deaths from non-attendance to other diseases than even COVID 19. The reason for the greater emphasis on COVID 19 is because it is a pandemic and if not curtailed has a capacity of wiping out large segments of our population.
“The PTF also urge all the Chief Medical Directors and private health service providers to attend to other health challenges, which continue to confront our people on a daily basis. Of course, the guidelines for dealing with patients presenting COVID 19 like symptoms are available and if these are applied by our medical service providers, there would be lesser risks of exposure to the virus”.
He added that the PTF in the next 72 hours will conclude its assessment on the impact of the measures put in place and further recommendations would be submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari. “Within the next seventy hours, the PTF will conclude its assessment on the impact of the measures put in place and further recommendations would be submitted to the President for a decision,” he added.
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