The Federal Government has warned that the apparently fewer COVID-19 positive cases of the past few days should not be a reason to rejoice or to lower the guard.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this on Monday in Abuja at the 58th joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
This is as he said that, as of Monday, 17 August 2020, Nigeria has recorded 49,068 COVID-19 cases from 352,625 samples tested so far, with 36,497 persons successfully treated and discharged.
He equally said the nation sadly recorded 975 deaths and a case fatality rate still about two percent.
“We continue to strive to lower the case fatality rate to less than one percent, because we believe more lives can be saved from COVID-19, with the knowledge and system strengthening we have achieved over the past six months, even though I hasten to add that we do not yet know enough about COVID-19,” Ehanire said.
He said that what is sure of so far, is that a strong response to COVID-19 is a collaborative effort between citizenry and government for the benefit of all Nigerians and that while the government provides direction, guidance, and resources, citizens are to take ownership of the response.
“The apparently fewer COVID-19 positive cases of the past few days give us no reason to rejoice or to lower our guard.
“As we expand and include small towns and rural areas in our testing scope, a more accurate picture of our COVID-19 status will emerge.
“There is good reason to prepare for COVID-19 invasion of rural areas with testing, first aid, ambulance service, and commensurate Isolation and treatment centers,” the minister said.
He, however, expressed concern with the development in many overseas countries, of a sharp upsurge in COVID-19 cases, after they lifted or relaxed restrictions in air travel, commerce, and especially in social activities.
He said, “We know that some countries had to quickly restore lockdown or limit movement of citizens and even to postpone elections, in order to deal with the COVID-19 spike.
“In one country thousands of members of the congregation of a religious group had to be put in quarantine, having tested positive.
“These are significant lessons for us, as we prepare to reopen our economy and as we consider options for resuming flights and travel operations, or opening schools and land borders.
“Unless we utilize lessons learned to define and set measured precautionary steps to mitigate the risks, the danger of falling into the same negative balance in our own COVID-19 strategy and losing the gains made so far, is real.”
The minister said that the continuity of health routine services, capacity building of health workers, and their protection are paramount, to the Federal Ministry of Health and it is therefore a good opportunity to now urge the nation’s health workers to continue to focus on their assignments, from traveller screening, surveillance, sample collection, laboratory analysis to hospital and other forms of care.
He said, “It is critical to maintain strict Infection Prevention and Control measures at all times, help to educate the citizenry, support uptake of testing and reporting early for treatment when the test is positive.”
He said that the National Health System is responding well enough so far to the COVID-19 challenge and that collaboration with states and local governments remains a cornerstone of a successful strategy.