The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has attributed increased testing to the reduction in COVID-19 infection rates across the country.
Speaking with Channels TV during Monday’s COVID-19 update, the DG said that the increased testing at state levels, especially within Lagos State, has led to a fewer number of people turning positive with those tested.
Nigeria is currently on its way to recording 50,000 cases with 49,068 cases so far. There have been 36,447 recoveries and 975 deaths. This gives Nigeria a survival rate of 7 out of 10.
The DG urged that Nigerians need to understand that the figures are real and not manipulated, adding that the world is in a new era of information where every bit of information is analyzed. This, he said, has enabled a global response as the world has never experienced a virus with this scale of economic impact.
Speaking further, the DG said that labs are not the reason for the initial low testing capacity. Instead, the low testing environment is way beyond NCDC’s capacity, as testing challenges include organizing and transporting samples for test, and sending the results back to Nigerians.
He acknowledged that people have trust issues with the system, but stressed that Nigerians need confidence in the public health sector. He then called for a bottom-up approach in fixing state healthcare with stakeholders from the public and private health industry.
The DG said the reduced deaths is down to the hard work of the Presidential Covid-19 response team and highlighted 2 strategic goals for the response team which includes controlling the pandemic and upgrading health infrastructure.
The DG says Nigeria is working with the African Union on a vaccine strategy to ensure global vaccine access, and says Nigeria has delivered life savings vaccines with the eradication of polio and has the necessary experience in delivering vaccines to rural and urban areas.
The United States of America, on Tuesday, August 11th, handed over some 200 ventilators to the Federal Government of Nigeria. This was disclosed by the Federal Ministry of Health via its Twitter handle, following the handover ceremony in Abuja.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, at the handover event, explained that the ventilators are compact & portable & can be easily mobilized to reach those patients with the most severe symptoms of COVID-19.
Speaking during the handover ceremony, the Ambassador said, “Their arrival fulfills the commitment discussed between US and President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this year. Our support includes; training on the use & maintenance of this equipment, ensuring that the ventilators can address other respiratory illnesses in the years beyond.”
According to her, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Nigeria will work very closely and energetically over the next couple of weeks, with the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, to bring these ventilators across each of Nigeria’s states & the Federal Capital Territory.
“The United States has been pivotal in supporting Nigeria’s membership in the ‘Every Breath Counts’ Coalition. Nigeria is now one of 2 countries in Africa to have an “oxygen roadmap” that seeks to fight against pneumonia, hypoxemia, & now COVID-19,” she stated. She then added that as the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, she remains proud of the strong friendship between the two countries.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, has tested negative for the deadly coronavirus.
The Minister in a tweet announced that he tested positive for the deadly coronavirus disease.
However, in a tweet via his Twitter account on Wednesday morning, he confirmed that his latest COVID-19 test came back negative.
He said “By the very special grace of God, my latest COVID-19 test result came back negative after three weeks isolation.
“I am eternally grateful to my family, the C-in-C and VP, the medical team, relations, friends, colleagues, religious leaders, and numerous well-wishers, who through their care, prayers, fasting, messages of support and encouragement never let me walk alone.
Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, gave the assurance during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) briefing on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja.
Mr Ihekweazu said that the centre was working with the global community to ensure this access.
He said that data on research and development of a vaccine against COVID-19 by the global scientific community showed that results on a possible vaccine were expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The DG, while noting that a vaccine was the best weapon in taming the virus, however, stressed that equitable access was key.
He added that the health agency was working together with other colleagues around the continent, through the Africa CDC, to start advocating for some of the trials to be done with African institutions in the short term.
“To do this, we have to build capacity, gather sufficient data and include African institutions in these efforts.
“We have to start preparing Nigerian population for vaccine delivery when it becomes available.
“Access is a very key issue when it comes to vaccines; that a vaccine is developed do not necessarily translate to being available to those that need it the most.
“So, through the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is working with GAVI to ensure that vaccines are available to countries regardless of their ability to pay.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that GAVI is an international organisation – a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.
“It’s a work in progress and we are all working with Africa CDC and GAVI to ensure that when a vaccine becomes available, Nigeria’s can have access to it,’’ NCDC boss said.
He also said that it was important to involve the private sector and academia in vaccination manufacturing.
Mr Ihekweazu hinted that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) would lead the distribution and planning.
The DG pointed out that campaign to enlighten Nigerians on the benefit of the vaccine was important.
This, according to him, is because a small part of the population resisted vaccines for different reasons.
“So, the time to start the risk communication about the benefits of the vaccine is now.
“As soon as a vaccine becomes available, it’s our collective responsibility to prepare Nigerians for the implementation of the vaccination campaign for whatever form they take.
“So, it’s important that we start thinking about this,’’ the DG said.
Mr Ihekweazu stressed that a vaccine was the biggest weapon to get the virus under control and by far the most important medical tool known in history.
“Vaccine development normally takes 10-20 years, but we’ve made incredible development in the last six months,’’ he said.
The Guild of Medical Directors in Nigeria has declared that there is no scientific proof to back Stella Immanuel’s position on COVID-19 treatment.
The Nigerian-trained U.S based doctor is trending globally for her insistence that Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), Zinc and Zithromax, are effective.
She claimed that over 350 patients were treated with the combination in her clinic in Houston, Texas.
Video of her speech, viewed by millions across the world, was shared by United States President Donald Trump.
At a White House briefing on Tuesday, the American leader said Immanuel’s voice was “important”.
The Guild President, Prof. Olufemi Babalola, noted that Immanuel made the comment at a news conference organised by the America’s Frontline Doctors founded by Dr Simone Gold, a board-certified physician and attorney.
He told the public that there is currently no scientific evidence, “but just her own personal unsubstantiated claims. The important point of course, is to note that medical research has subjected HCQ to intense research. While some studies suggest that it is effective, others have come to the opposite conclusion.”
Babalola agreed that Senegal, where HCQ is routinely used, has one of the lowest COVID-19 case fatality rates in the world at 0.64% compared to 3.4% in the U.S.
“A study is underway in Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH),Idi-Araba, Lagos, on its efficacy and safety. Subsequently, a meta-analysis of all these studies should be undertaken to pool all the results together, and come up with a summative analysis, which will guide clinicians,” he noted.
Balalola said until then, all anecdotal claims such as the one from Immanuel must be taken with a pinch of salt.
“It should also be noted that HCQ may be a cause of serious complications and even death in some people. Other anecdotal claims such as the herbal mixture from Madagascar have subsequently been proven ineffective,” he added.
The medical expert noted that “a lot of the burden in explaining the problem as related to the video naturally falls on us, therefore, we feel it is pertinent to explain or clarify the issue for Nigerians. We must reiterate that Coronavirus is real and the disease is an indiscriminate killer.”
He regretted that coronavirus has killed many doctors and nurses all in Nigeria, “including our very own Prof. Lovett Lawson”.
Continuing, Babalola warned that the COVID-19 is not a joke.
“We strongly condemn the politicisation of the disease and the treatments currently being used to fight the pandemic,” the Professor added.
The NCDC, in a tweet, said the number was the highest in one day since the index case was reported on February 27.
Nigeria, it said, has successfully treated 18,203 cases of COVID-19.
The NCDC data showed that 648 new COVID-19 infections were recorded in 21 states across the country, which brought the total number of confirmed cases to 41,180.
It stated that regrettably two deaths were recorded in the country.
According to it, till date, 41,180 cases have been confirmed, 18,203 cases, discharged and 860 deaths recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
It noted that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at Level 3, would continue to coordinate the national response activities across the country.
The federal government underscored the need for Nigerians to protect the older population and the most vulnerable from infection by giving special attention to risk communication and priority for admission for observation and treatment.
The government said that of utmost concern were still the asymptomatic cases with the potential to spread the disease, of whom the young and able-bodied could be difficult to manage.