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COVID-19: FG shift focus on Kano

COVID-19: FG shift focus on Kano

The Federal Government has disclosed that its focus right now is on Kano State because of the emerging issues of increased infections of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.

It will now be channelling a lot of its energy and resources to beefing up the response apparatuses – testing and treatment of infected persons in the state, even as it monitors the response activities in other states of the federation.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known on Monday at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.

According to him, “Earlier when we started this work we gave a lot of briefings on what we were doing in Lagos because that was really where the burden of infection was at that time. Now we are focusing a lot of our energy on Kano.

“This is not because Lagos State is no longer important; we still have the largest number of cases reported from Lagos every day, and it has about 50 per cent of all the cases in Nigeria. So they need constant support and we will continue to give Lagos State that constant support.

“However, we have an emerging issue in Kano, and therefore some of our thinking and resources have to focus on Kano.

“We have now reactivated the two laboratories in Kano State – Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital Lab and the Bayero University Lab located literally a few meters from each other.

“The other thing we did was that we haven’t just activated the labs and left. Because of what happened the last time, we have actually left a number of our colleagues to stay there and mentor their colleagues to make sure that things are working well and that they are able to do the tests. This will ensure that we do not end up with the situation we ended up the last time.

“Therefore, the speed of testing is a little bit slower than you would expect but that is the price that we will have to pay in order to get this up and running and I am very confident that we will leave that lab not only better for now but also better for the future.”

The NCDC boss added: “We have a long-term plan for the Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital Lab to become the Centre of Excellence for molecular laboratory testing in the country.

“The other thing we did was support the delivery of a new lab altogether; a new lab that was funded by the Aliko Dangote Foundation and delivered by a Nigerian company called 54gene. The entire conceptualization and delivery happened in 7 days. We will cover the weeks to build up its capacity to 400 tests per day and plan to expand more.

“We are not only mobilising the Federal Government funds but also from the private sector; all channelled through one response to support the government of Kano State and the Emergency Operations Center set up there.

“The focus right now is getting Kano State up and running but our eyes are on every other state. We have Rapid Response teams right now deployed in 34 of the 36+1 States in Nigeria, supporting every state to build up their own response, department of public health, and the state epidemiologist.”

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his address said: “The Federal Ministry of Health is strengthening its support for Kano with service delivery and training, in consultation with His Excellency, the Governor.

“The setbacks in routine hospital service delivery in Kano are being addressed by line experts from the Ministry; whether it is an omission from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) or the Department of Family Health, we have sent line officers to go and start rebuilding those service line. A pathologist is participating in the investigation of the unexplained deaths in Kano.

“NPHCDA is working with the State primary health/community health workforce to sensitize the population on COVID-19, at the grassroots level and expand our testing capacity. I again call on all citizens to cooperate with health workers and for those testing positive, to comply with invitations to enter Isolation care.

“I also call on all health care facilities, both private and public not to reject persons seeking medical help, especially in emergencies. It is unethical not to attend to persons in distress. I also urge citizens to go to the hospital when not feeling well and to cooperate by giving accurate information especially with regard to travel history.”

He added: “We have indicated interest to the World Health Organization (WHO) to be part of the global solidarity trial of medicines being tried to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, and efforts are ongoing to also conduct research here in Nigeria. Other drugs can be added based on emerging evidence. In all this, we shall ensure the maintenance of ethical standards and safety of our people.”
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