Emeka Nwajiuba
Emeka Nwajiuba

Minister of State Education, Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba who dismissed social media reports regarding when schools would be reopened said the government would only do that when medical experts give the nod to so do.

Nwajiuba disclosed this on Monday in Abuja during the daily briefing of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on Covid-19.

He said; “You had about neighbouring countries that reopened and shut down again. You have heard about numbers spiking as a result of reopening the schools. Of all the things I would like to do, I wouldn’t want to experiment with your children.

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“What we are planning is to actually bring in those exit years first as soon as those who are in charge of the blockade lift it because there is no way we can open our schools if teachers cannot come. So, we are looking at somewhere after when this interstate lockdown is lifted because we need to have that kind of openness for even the children to move”, he said.

Kano deaths

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire who gave details of the Kano report, said about 50 to 60 percent of case fatalities were Covid-19 related.

He said; “This morning, the Federal Ministry of Health received the report of the Ministerial Task Team that went to Kano, to support the COVID-19 response with commodities, training, technical and confidence-building measures. The visit was extended to fact-finding excursions to offer support to five other states. With the observations and recommendations from the three-week assignment, the committee developed a Strategic Incident Action Plan to strengthen the coordination capacity of the health workers and improve community engagement in line with our response plan.

“While over 150 health workers had been infected at the time of their arrival, there was no report of infection among health workers who had received training on infection prevention and control, thus restoring confidence. The intervention of the ministerial task force has been a game-changer for Kano and some northern States.

“With regard to unexplained deaths in Kano which occurred in April, the team confirmed from graveyard records, that a total of 979 deaths were recorded in 8 municipal LGA in the state at a rate of 43 deaths per day, with a peak in the second week of April. By the beginning of May, the death rate had reduced to 11 deaths per day it used to be.  The verbal autopsy revealed that about 56% of deaths had occurred at home while 38% were in a hospital. With circumstantial evidence as all to go by, investigation suggests that between 50-60% of the deaths may have been triggered by or due to COVID-19, in the face of preexisting ailments. Most fatalities were over 65 years of age”.

He said in the last 100 days since Covid-19 berthed in the country, Nigeria has tested over 76,800 persons, recorded 12,486 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 35 States and FCT, successfully treated and discharged 3,959 persons, but sadly lost 354 Nigerians, most of whom had underlying illnesses.

Precision actions

Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha said the government is pursuing precision actions in 20 local government areas but did not exactly say whether the government would impose a full lockdown on the affected areas.

According to him, based on the current trend, science, and data as guiding beacons, it has become obvious that Nigeria has entered the community transmission phase.

“This has significantly helped in identifying 20 high burden LGAs that accounts for over 60% of infections in Nigeria. The PTF is already pursuing precision actions on these high burden LGAs. It is therefore important for Nigerians to recognize the need to take responsibility and the significant role community ownership and risk communication will play in the future of our National Response”.

He said a great majority of Nigerians are still susceptible to COVIDー19, and that “if we allow it to transmit easily between us, it may be even more deadly. If everyone diligently observes the guidelines, we can collectively control the spread of the virus, and help to protect our health facilities as well as save lives”.

Mustapha also spoke on the visit of the PTF to the National Reference Laboratory in Gaduwa, Abuja, explaining that the shortage of reagents and supply chain issues are global issues because the entire world is seeking to purchase the same commodities. “To the PTF, the motivation for action is to look inward, plan ahead, and develop our domestic capacities. This is because COVID-19 is neither the first nor will it be the last pandemic. What is certain is that we must not allow the next pandemic to catch us unprepared”, he said.

According to him, in the medium to long term, the federal government hopes to build a network of state public health laboratories that will bring about sustainability in public health response in Nigeria.

Psychological support

“Since the commencement of our National Response, a lot of priority has been given to physical health management of people who are affected. I am pleased to inform you that PTF has commenced the process of integrating a comprehensive psychological services programme into its activities. This will be for the benefit of people who are in isolation, the wellbeing of their families, and communities. In this regard, we wish to recognize the Federal Medical Center, Jabi, FCT for spearheading this drive, which shall inevitably assume a national dimension because of the importance of mental health”, the SGF said.

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