Health Minister calls for caution on declining cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria

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By Joy Odor

The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has called for caution amid declining cases of COVID-19 in the country as he said this could be attributed to the fact that we are yet to perfect our act in the containment of the virus.

Dr. Ehanire gave this caution during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Press Briefing in Abuja on Monday, 30th August, 2020.

In his words, “We are beginning to see a situation where the number of those treated and discharged exceeds the number of positive cases detected. While these figures may seem reassuring, they may be deceptive, and we cannot assume that the curve is flattening, since we are yet to perfect due diligence on our side.”

Explaining, the Honourable Minister said, “Testing has, for example, dropped quite significantly due to reduced sample collection across many States, for reasons that are not clear in all cases.

“One State, for example, tested over 35 thousand in July and just under 20 thousand in August, while another State dropped from 23 thousand in July to just under 4 thousand in August. “

Dr. Ehanire added that, “these are just examples that show that there is more work to do and many more challenges ahead.

“There is reason to worry that in States facing election, campaign activities can cause caution to be thrown to the wind and covid-19 infection increases dramatically, while testing may decline due to frustration.”

Arising from this, he urged authorities in these States to ensure effective crowd control measures are in place and that government workers are allowed to do their work unhindered.

He also intimated of his decision to commission a study group of the Ministerial Experts Advisory Committee to begin processes to examine this development and bring up new knowledge which can guide response or may have an implication on government decision making.

Similarly, Dr. Ehanire also called for more vigilance as international flights are set to commence in the country.

“As plans for Lagos and Abuja airports to reopen for commercial international flights become reality, we must raise our vigilance level, he said.”

He noted that this development is in our collective interest and therefore called for collective responsibility to guard against new cases entering our country undetected.

Updating on the number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, the Honourable Minister reported that 138 COVID-19 positive cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours, one of the lowest numbers in many months, giving a total of 53,865 positive cases out of 403,347 tests conducted as of August 31, 2020.

In the same 24 hour period, 199 persons were discharged from hospital, giving us total successful treatment of 41,513 patients.

He added that a total of 1,013 deaths has been recorded so far, saying that the case fatality rate has also dropped slightly to 1.88%.

This he said, could be as a result of improvement in response and treatment strategies to contain covid-19 and also a common global trend which should not be taken for granted.

Dr. Ehanire stated that even though containment of COVID-19 is currently being prioritised, Government has not lost sight of other diseases that contribute to mortality, especially of women and children in Nigeria, particularly Malaria.

He assured of continued efforts to strengthen routine services in our primary health care facilities.

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