Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, yesterday told the House of Representatives that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government was open to the possibility of using local herbs to fight COVID-19 pandemic, but insisted that the Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development must first certify any such remedy.
Ehanire, who disclosed when the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefed members of the House of Representatives, also said it was wrong for hospitals to turn back patients as a result of fear of the virus.
He said the government was not ruling out the possibility of using local herbs for the treatment of the disease, adding that what the government was saying was that those who claimed to have found cure should subject it to test by the Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development.
He said local herbs could be categorised into drugs that could cure the virus or those that could reduce the symptoms, and noted that the body must be able to build the required antibodies to neutralise the virus.
Ehanire said: “Before now, it was said that Chloroquine can destroy the virus but tests are still going on in that regard.
‘’We have to test the efficacy of local drugs to see if it can kill the virus and also to find out that if in the profess of killing the virus, it can affect the body. So, the Institute will carry out the required test on the local drugs.”
He warned that doing so may result in another round of national health emergency.
The Minister also said many people infested with the virus might not display any symptom and innocently be infesting others with it, noting this explained the need for self-isolation and staying at home.
He said those without symptom werecapable of transferring the virus to others with less immunity and that this was dangerous.
According to him, the solution is to keep everybody in isolation.
While describing the situation in Kano as sad, the minister said the Federal Government was currently participating in various research to find a solution to the pandemic.
He, however, dismissed claims that the mysterious deaths in Kano was caused by COVID-19, adding that the PTF was still waiting for the result of tests carried out in the state and was, therefore, not in a position to attribute the cause of death in the state to the pandemic.
He said the statement attributed to the PTF team leader in Kano was completely false, adding that the PTF would be able to make a comprehensive statement on the Kano situation once the test results were out.
He also dismissed fears that relaxing the lockdown might lead to increase cases of the pandemic as experienced in other country, stressing that the only way to have reduced figure of COVID-19 was for people to strictly observe all measures put in place.
He said the PTF was in talks with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and some state governments on the possibility of producing protective gear locally, adding that as a result of global demand, protective equipment were currently scarce in the global market.
The Minister lamented that some Nigerians were running away from isolation centres, while others have refused to report themselves for isolation.