NIGERIA’S health minister Dr Osagie Ehanire has revealed shocking details showing that about 10% of all positive Covid-19 cases treated in the country are below the age of 19 in what poses a greater-than-anticipated threat.
Although in the main, Nigeria has been spared the worst excesses of the virus with just 57,437 cases of which there have been 1,100 fatalities, the public has been accused of irresponsible complacency. According to Dr Ehanire, even though adults, especially those 60 years and above are more vulnerable, complications do occur in all age groups.
He said: “Records show that 10% of all positive cases we have treated are below the age of 19 years. They are also the same mobile group that can be without symptoms but can easily spread the disease.
“Therefore, as schools begin to reopen in some areas, I urge caution and adherence to the protocols and advisories for reopening schools, to prevent Covid-19 surge. It means that all states and local government areas must cooperate with the National Centre for Disease Control by raising sample collection rates, use listed criteria to increase testing to a desired rate and to report any cases promptly as we are still far from the target of 2m tests.”
According to the minister, it was important for the country to generate national and international confidence in the nation’s data by conducting more targeted testing before conclusions were drawn. He added that while stepping up surveillance and case finding, states can also ensure that suspected symptomatic Covid cases are sent for treatment in time or supported before then with medical oxygen, to save lives and reduce fatalities.
Dr Ehanire said: “The recommended criteria for testing are persons who have been in contact with a Covid positive patient or are associated with a cluster of persons of interest, those who have any of the four classical symptoms of fever, persistent cough, loss of sense of taste or smell and breathlessness, anyone facing surgery, as well as for any other compelling reason. Testing for travel is assigned to private laboratories.”
He also stated that the distribution of oxygen concentrators and ventilators to various health institutions commenced with training of about 176 intensive care specialists, and biomedical engineers, who would use or maintain them in the hospitals. Dr Ehanire disclosed that the ventilators and training were courtesy of the US government.
According to Dr Ehanire the US ventilators shall complement what are currently available in Nigerian intensive care units. He also commended health workers in the Joint Health Sector Union, for putting an end to their industrial action, adding that it was his desire to work with them to resolve issues of concern.