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COVID-19 :FG plans to use schools,hostels as patients isolation centres

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Faced with dearth of facilities for COVID-19 patients, the Federal Government says it will resort to the use of hotels and schools as  isolating centres.

It said currently COVID-19 patients have occupied virtually  all the hospitals across the country.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, gave the indication on Thursday in Abuja at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

According to him, there have been complaints of inadequate bed spaces especially in Lagos which has about 4,012 patients, the highest in the country just as he confirmed a total of 8,733 COVID-19 patients across the nation.

“We are, not surprisingly, worried about the increasing number of covid-19 confirmed cases; first because every life matters, but also because of the capacity of our health system to cope.

“Nigeria presently has over 112 treatment and isolation centres in the 35 states and FCT with over 5,000 beds, but not all States have made it up to at least 300 beds prescribed for isolation and treatment.

“I had the privilege of commissioning one such center yesterday, a re-purposed hospital in Benin City, Edo State, with 300 beds, including ICU and an Edo State owned PCR testing laboratory. We need to continue increasing bed capacity to match the probable number of patients, so that we do not experience horrific scenes of bed space shortages seen in some European hospitals.

“In event of overflow, we can require hotels and school dormitories to be prepared for level 1 (Quarantine) and level 2 Isolation (of COVID-19 positive with zero or mild symptoms), to free hospital beds to be dedicated to level 3, (moderate to severe cases) and level 4, (high dependency and Intensive care unit).

“I therefore call on activists and philanthropists to work with State governments in concerted steps to scale up non-pharmaceutical measures and beef up infrastructural assets for isolation and treatment in their states.

“Though we are in the community transmission phase of response, easing social restrictions is desirable, but only if we can meet up with expectations that will not allow a spike in infection rates. This is what has led certain countries to reintroduce lockdowns. We are reviewing health sector specific advisories on re-opening the economy.

“In event of overflow, we can require hotels and school dormitories to be prepared for level 1 (Quarantine) and level 2 Isolation (of COVID-19 positive with zero or mild symptoms), to free hospital beds to be dedicated to level 3, (moderate to severe cases) and level 4, (high dependency and Intensive care unit),” he said.

Ehanire also stressed the importance of using masks outside the  homes and observe social distancing.

On mortality rate, he said: “It is too early for us to generalise about mortality rates. But people with preexisting conditions are more vulnerable and need to better protect themselves.

“We shall continue to engage our traditional, business, religious, and community leaders.’’

Meanwhile, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has said there are currently no valid rapid test kits for COVID-19.

It said some of the rapid test kits are only right 50 percent of the time.

The NCDC DG, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who said this, however, assured that the centre was working very hard to increase the country’s Polymerase Chain Reaction(PCR) capacity for tests across the country.

Ihekweazu also advised that as organizations and businesses reopen they focus should be on prevention not testing their staff.

Also speaking, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed that his ministry had produced about 25 radio and TV jingles to create awareness on COVID-19.

PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, said the federal government would continue to provide an enabling environment to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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