Journalism of Courage

COVID-19: Nigeria’s 812 health workers infected, now occupies 3rd position in Africa






…40,000 pieces of PPEs distributed to health facilities


More than 812 health workers across the country have been infected by COVID-19 just as Nigeria now has the third highest number of confirmed cases in Africa trailing South Africa and Egypt.


Of the figure, 29 of them are officials of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).



The NCDC DG, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, told a media briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja on Tuesday that over 40,000 pieces of complete Personal Protective Equipment have been distributed to the various health facilities for the protection of the workers.


He said: “We have had 812 healthcare workers infected. They are not just numbers, 29 of these work for the Nigeria Center for Disease Control; they are people I know they have families, wives, children and about eight of them right now are in the Idu Treatment Centre, Abuja.



“We have distributed over 40,000 pieces of complete PPEs and we will continue to do this. By this weekend a new consignment will be going out to every state, every FMC in the country. So they are not numbers, these are life-saving commodities.’’


Ihekweazu assured that as the easing of the lockdown continues, NCDC would further strengthen the public health response.


“So as we go further in the easing of the restrictions, I just want to remind all of us that the easing of the restrictions doesn’t mean the easing of the response. In fact, the response is being strengthened. The public health response is being strengthened as the measures restricting certain movements are being used.


“I really wanted to just spend today to reflect on some numbers with you because crossing that 10,000 mark was quite a significant event, I will not call it milestone and every night when we work very hard to bring out those numbers, sometimes numbers begin to feel like what they are. You forget that there are people behind each number.


“So, it is very important for us to remember that these are people and at the NCDC we engage with these people almost every day same as the state governments across the country.  And when you engage with these people it means a lot more to you than just the numbers.  So really as we report on this every day, let us remember that these are people, each single number there represents an individual with a brother, sister family, village, community,’’ the NCDC boss said.


He also described as irresponsible journalism, a national daily’s report quoting the NCDC as saying that the sources of 7,276 COVID-19 cases are unknown.


The paper said the revelation was contained in the COVID-19 Situation Report 92 of the NCDC made public.


According to him, at the moment 75 percent of people have an unknown source of their illness, a pointer to community transmission.


“What does this really mean? It means that Community transmission is happening. It means that you cannot link your exposure to one particular person or one event. And this is normal, of a respiratory virus for which 80% of people are asymptomatic.


“But what it does not constitute is fraud. So for a newspaper to present this figures as fraud is irresponsible journalism at the very least. We have been very proactive in making sure every Nigerian is informed, the team works very hard every day.


“We expect responsible reporting of what these numbers mean and at least check with other countries what proportion in the US, in Japan, in China during committee transmission, Can you identify a known source for?  Our percentages are no different than reported anywhere else in the world. So how does this represent fraud? So we need to really understand what these numbers mean?


“We have had 299 deaths, so far representing a case fatality ratio of about three percent, now each of those days that are very painful and we report them because it is important to count these things.


On Nigeria’s coronavirus status in Africa, Ihekweazu said: “We now have the second highest number of confirmed cases on the continent just after South Africa and Egypt. It means that there is an added responsibility for us to work harder every day.


“We have increased our testing capacity, we have now tested over 65,000 samples and increase our lab network 30 having those activated a lab in Bauchi and one new one in Abuja and each of these are not numbers.


“There is a lot of work behind every new lab activated means equipment have been procured, people have been trained, people have travelled to make sure this things happen, state governments have invested. So when you just hear a new lab activated, it is not just a number. It represents the collective efforts of a country trying to respond to public health emergency.


“Another number that is important: sixty percent of our cases are in 20 local governments and we published these local governments with the new regulations and easing of restrictions. So this will now define our response even further, out of 774 local government If we have 60 per cent of cases in 20 local governments in these are we will focus a lot of our efforts on those 20 while not forgetting that we need to prevent spread to others.


“We have deployed 37 rapid response teams with over 450 people that have left their homes  for weeks on end, supporting the response across the country. They have left their own families and are working hard to support the response and make sure things get better,’’ he explained.


On public enlightenment and information, Ihekweazu disclosed that about 150 Jingles have been developed and aired in different languages and sent out a 100 million text messages through the support of MTN, Glo,  9 mobile and others.


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