Nigeria

COVID-19: Buhari gives NCDC two weeks to locate 5,000 contacts

President Muhammadu Buhari has given the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) two weeks to effectively locate about 5,000 contacts of COVID-19 across the country.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 also revealed on Tuesday that Nigeria is very short of ventilators required for the treatment and handling of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Tribune Online reports that members of the Presidential Task Force, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the Director-General, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, made these respective known while speaking during a press briefing led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha in Abuja on Tuesday.

The NCDC DG while speaking on the COVID-19 update said President Buhari, had asked them to fish out about 5,000 contacts of COVID-19 across the country and bring in those who required treatment.

He, however, pointed out that the challenge was from the top, with the involvement of the SGF.

He said: “From the pronouncement made by Mr President from the workings of Presidential Task Force led by the SGF, you can see that this challenge is being taken very seriously from the very top.

The leadership of our country has taken this as a challenge and is enjoying all citizens to work together. Together with all of us so that we can get ahead of the clock.

“The strategy that we are still implementing is the one of containment, it means that we are still at the point where we think we have a wind of an opportunity to identify all the cases, confirm if they have the disease, bring them into care, confirm all their contacts, follow up each of them, make sure they don’t have the disease, for those that do have the disease bring them into care.”

Dr Ihekweazu added: “This is a very tedious process; we are following up about 5,000 contacts across the country. This is one of the reasons Mr President asked us what we needed and gave us two weeks to free off the road and enable us to have the space to do this effectively.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Onyeama said Nigeria was very short of ventilators and therefore, the government was already engaging some foreign countries to provide such equipment the country is lacking.

According to the Foreign Affairs Minister: “A lot of other countries have been suffering from this long before ourselves. So it is an opportunity also for us to learn from best practices, from what other countries have done and maybe not also should have done. That is something we are aggressively doing, keeping in touch with foreign countries and learning from them.

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“Also, the Diplomatic Core in Nigeria is a very important constituency. Of course, some of them want to leave so we are cooperating with them to facilitate this possibility for those who want to leave. But they have being an important community also because they want to help us at this very difficult time in our country. We are engaging also with them because there is a lot of assistance that they are also very keen to provide and that is one of the reasons why we have also provided them waiver; so that they can keep in touch with their various countries and can facilitate technical assistance and other assistance for us during this period. And I will really want to thank them because they have been extremely supportive during this period and doing everything possible to help us get through it.

“We are also engaging foreign countries in providing equipment that we don’t have. As you know we are very short of ventilators. So we engage a number of countries and we are hoping that we might be able to source some. But of course, a lot of countries that we are looking to for assistance are also facing huge challenges themselves but nevertheless, they are cooperating with us.

“There are also other countries that have made it clear that whatever assistance we need we should let them know and they were also trying to help. Some other countries are also offering medical support (doctors) available, especially some of the countries that have also gone through this experience.”

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire also said more testing laboratories have been opened in Ibadan and Abakaliki, adding that more other would be opened in other parts of the country.

He also pointed out that the government had prepared 1,000 beds in Abuja to be used immediately if the need arises.

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