…Laments increase in infant and maternal mortality
…New case management guidelines
…FCT reopens worship centres
…PTF decries citizens’ refusal to help with contact tracing, isolation
…IMF disburses $10bn to Africa countries
…WHO resumes study on Hydroxychloroquine
By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief, Omeiza Ajayi, Chioma Obinna
The Federal Government has warned against the diversion of Antiretroviral Drugs, ARVs, currently being used for the treatment of COVID-19 even as it lamented the steady rise in infant and maternal mortality as a result of too much concentration on the pandemic.
The warning came as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, issued new case management guidelines for quick discharge of COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, administration has adopted the guidelines issued by the PTF on the reopening of worship centres.
Giving these warnings, yesterday, at the daily briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, the Federal Government cautioned hospitals against turning patients back.
Speaking on the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s health services, the National Coordinator of PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu said the focus on the pandemic had led to a rise in mortality caused by other factors.
He said, “As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing a situation where health services are not concentrating on other health conditions. If anything, the emergence of COVID-19 has led to the detriment, in terms of care, for other essential health services and these negative impacts include reduction in health services that could arise from disruptions in medical supply chain or the availability of human and financial resources and also in a decline in people accessing healthcare simply because of fear of getting infected by Covid-19.
“We have also seen reduced access to healthcare for diagnosis of other conditions and for the most vulnerable population like children, the elderly and those with underlying illnesses such as diabetes.
“We have been observing a steady rise in maternal and child mortality as a result of disrupted essential services. We have also seen life saving maternal, newborn and child health services, routine vaccinations, access for chronic conditions such as HIV and other treatments not being delivered in our hospitals.”
NCDC announces new management guideline
On his part, Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu announced a new case management guidelines for COVID-19.
“The key thing is that the management of COVID -19 remains primarily supportive. In practical terms, one of the major changes is the discharge criteria. The two critical groups of patients and symptomatic patients any asymptomatic patients. For symptomatic patients, they may now be discharged at least 10 days after symptoms onset and at least three days without symptoms. If you are symptomatic, you can be discharged if you have had three days without symptoms in addition to at least 10 days of symptoms.
“Of course, if your symptoms last for longer, we will wait for a while, managing and supporting you. If you are asymptomatic, you can be discharged 14 days after your first positive test. So, we no longer have to wait for a negative test to discharge. You can be discharged 14 days after your first positive with confidence that you can go home, and are no longer infective and you are not at risk or putting anyone else at risk.
“We have also removed antivirals from our treatment guidelines. The trials for Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine will go on. We have no problem with that but we are asking that we restrict the use of these medicines to those trial settings and not use them casually around the country.”
Chairman of the Taskforce and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha said, “State oversight of this phase of the response is very critical. The response needs to be decentralized to the LGA level, identifying high burden LGAs and ensuring mapping of adequate support to rapidly trace, test and treat cases.
“States need to drive aggressive campaigns to engage communities to address behaviour change and debunk misconceptions and stigma. Traditional and religious institutions have a role to play in sensitizing communities about COVID-19.”
PTF decries refusal by citizens to help with contact tracing, isolation
He said, “We have received reports about citizens refusing to help with contact tracing as well as going into isolation after testing positive.”
He said it was in the interest of everybody that contacts were traced to slow down the spread, insisting that it was also in their interests to go into isolation facilities for close monitoring.
Noting that a number of fatalities had been recorded he said: “Our appeal is that if agents of the state get in touch with you regarding testing, contact tracing activities, please cooperate.”
Moves to slow down infection of health workers
In his contribution, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire disclosed that the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency was discussing options and guidelines of supervised out-of-hospital isolation and care with some states, which is either home-based care or based in communal space, such as school dormitories, since schools are presently closed down.
On test kits, he said, “Only four of the kits have been evaluated by the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria and all four failed the validation tests.
“No antigen test kits have yet been evaluated. This means that results obtained from these tests are not tenable for diagnostics, being deficient in sensitivity and specificity and are likely to give false results and mislead people.”
FCT reopens worship centres
TheFCT, administration has adopted the guidelines issued by the PTF on the reopening of worship centres.
Consequently, worship centres are to resume service henceforth but must follow all protocols as announced by the PTF.
FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello in a statement said woshippers must ensure social distancing of two metres and also adopt all non-pharmaceutical measures against Covid-19.
He advised those above 55 years and others with underlying health challenges to worship at home.
IMF disburses $10 b to Africa countries
The International Monetary Fund, IMF, has disbursed $10 billion to 27 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to enable them effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IMF spokesman, Mr Gerry Rice, disclosed this at a briefing in Washington DC, USA, yesterday.
According to him, the multilateral organisation’s disbursement in the last 10 weeks equaled what it usually disbursed to the region in 10 years, at an average of $1 billion annually.
According to Mr Rice, between 34 and 40 African nations had made request for the IMF assistance, to enable them effectively tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO resumes study on Hydroxychloroquine
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has resumed trial on the controversial hydroxychloroquine’drug for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
The Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus in a tweet on the official twitter account of the UN health agency, explained that the body would resume study looking into whether the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine could be effective in treating COVID-19.
Ghebreyesus, said the body’s board reviewed the data concerning heart risks and found “no reasons to modify the trial.”
According to him, “Last week, the Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial decided to implement a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial, because of concerns raised about the safety of the drug.
“This decision was taken as a precaution while the safety data were reviewed. The Data Safety and Monitoring Committee of the Solidarity Trial have been reviewing the data.
“On the basis of available mortality data, the members of the committee recommended that there are no reasons to modify the trial protocol.”