The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said on Thursday that Nigerians should brace for a rise in COVID-19 cases as consequences of the ease of lockdown.
Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who flashed the yellow card at a briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control in Abuja, said more cases of the virus should be expected, following the lifting of the ban on interstate travels.
He cautioned Nigerians not to assume it has become safe to move about yet.
According to him, stakeholders should take advantage of the four-week extension of the second phase of easing the lockdown as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari to review the strategy and assess the effectiveness of measures in place.
The minister said: “The number of COVID-19 positive cases is increasing dramatically in Nigeria, but also globally, as news reports show. Our strategy uses the statistics to calibrate response, but also address the concerns of citizens.
“The ratio of male to female among the infected has remained quite stable at 70 per cent to 30 per cent. While majority of the infected cases are below 50 years, majority of the fatalities are over 50 years old.
“This rising trend requires that each state of the federation continues to prepare more bed spaces and increase sample collection sites, as well as improve logistics to deliver to designated laboratories promptly. It is also important to protect the vulnerable by putting in place measures which take care of their social needs and reduce their exposure to risks of infection.”
Warning that no emergency should be denied attention in hospitals even if it means admitting on a stretcher or examination couch to give life-saving oxygen, Ehanire hinted that all government-run hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory will henceforth serve as COVID-19 sample collection centres.
The measure became necessary to reduce the bottlenecks to testing and improve efficiency in response, he said.
Ehanire said: “The COVID-19 statistics are expected to rise further with improved testing, but also as a sign that COVID-19 is actually expanding faster than our systems are handing it.
“The Federal Ministry of Health’s plan will be to focus more on minimising fatalities by prioritising preemptive admission to hospital for medical observation, all persons who test positive for COVID-19 and meet our definition of vulnerability, even if they do not yet have classical symptoms.
“These include the elderly, diabetics, asthmatics and persons in treatment for chronic infections and conditions. This population group will also be targeted for risk communication and engagement to avoid nonessential travel and exposure to risk factors outside the home.