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COVID-19: Benue index case gives new conditions for test

COVID-19: Benue index case gives new conditions for test

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on Tuesday disclosed that Susan Idoko-Okpe, alleged to be Benue State’s COVID-19 index case, has refused officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) permission to collect her sample for COVID-19 test, and gives new conditions.

Susan, who is currently at the National Hospital, Abuja, said that before her samples can be taken, it must be carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) and sent to the United Kingdom for testing. She has been in quarantine since March 24, 2020 – 50 days now.

Speaking during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, Ehanire said: “She came in from the United Kingdom. She’s due for another test which she has refused to take and we strongly believe that by now she may be negative but we need to document it because we also work with the guidelines by the WHO.

“In order to document it I called her on phone and persuaded her to just let them take the test and she gave me the condition that first they must give her all her results from the past before she will agree for just her specimen to be taken.

“I gave instructions and they took all the photocopies of her results and gave it to her. But on the day of the test when the NCDC got there, she told them that she wanted the test to be taken by the World Health Organization and that the test should not be done in Nigeria but that it should be sent to the United Kingdom. That seems to be a very difficult order. It is becoming a very odd drama.”

He added: “It was reported to me, so I called her again and asked her why she changed the condition. She wrote a text to me saying I should consult her lawyer.

“This was just yesterday, so we will continue with the lawyer business. However, she is quite well and in good health and the hospital authorities have also done their very best.”

Concerning updates on health workers who have tested positive for COVID-19, the Minister explained that there have been no new infections of health workers in recent times.

He said: “No new infections of health workers have been reported in recent times, as those who have recovered are tested and retested and are awaiting certification to resume work.

“The Ministry of Health has been closely monitoring and reviewing the unfolding situation in some States, where COVID-19 appears to have gained ground. We had responded to the situation in Kano by dispatching a team of medical experts to provide technical support to the State Ministry of Health.

“A delegation of experts from the Ministry of Health is presently in Bauchi State on a fact finding mission to work with Bauchi State government and look into reports of unexplained deaths in Azare, Bauchi State. The similar missions to Katsina and Jigawa identified needs in those States, which include the need for a molecular laboratory in Katsina to reduce the backlog of pending tests and the turn-around time for results.

“We continue to ramp up COVID19 testing capacity by adding 3 new molecular laboratories to our network: one at Benin City and 2 in Port Harcourt, which brings the present total to 25. An Expert Advisory Committee will assist with an audit of our laboratory processes with a view to offering suggestions on strategies to reduce testing turn-around time and other user interest matters.”

The Minister also revealed that the numbers of isolation beds for COVID-19 in the country have increased with the addition of the Thisday Dome.

According to him, “The number of isolation centres and beds nationwide is increasing with the This-Day Dome, commissioned in Abuja today, and providing the most comprehensive panel of medical services for COVID-19, including lab testing ICU, and dialysis. It handed over to Federal Ministry of Health and the FCTA and signals a landmark in collaborations between public and private sectors to fight a common enemy.

“The Centre has wards and ICU Centre with Ventilators, X- Ray and Dialysis; a 54gene Testing Mobile Lab complete with reagents – with scalable 200 – 1,000 tests per day;

“It has a hotel and conference centre next door for use by medical staff for 6 months and a CBN Medical Grant in direct support to the Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) for day to day management of the isolation centre. There is also an industrial grade medical incinerator.

“We shall make this facility operational in the coming days. I use this opportunity to again enjoin State Governors to continue to ensure they reach the isolation capacity target of 300 beds in every state of the Federation while calling on philanthropists to support their efforts, including expanding the capacity for tracing, testing isolation and treatment.”
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