COVID-19: 812 healthcare workers infected nationwide ― PTF

A total of 812 healthcare workers have been infected with the COVID-19 across the country, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) declared on Tuesday.

Tribune Online reports that of the 812 healthcare workers, 29 of them work at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and are being treated at the Idu Isolation and Treatment Centre in Abuja.

Speaking at the daily brief of the PTF in Abuja, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said 299 persons have also died of the pandemic in the country, saying that the numbers being given by the PTF and especially the NCDC were not just figures.

Describing it as irresponsible journalism, for a media house to describe the numbers from the NCDC fraud, Dr Ihekweazu said it was very important to reflect on some numbers because crossing the 10,000 mark was quite significant.

The NCDC DG said: “We have had 812 healthcare workers infected, they are not just numbers, 29 of these work for NCDC, they are people I know, they have families, wives and children. About eight of them are in Idu treatment centre, so they are not just number, they are people and mothers, we must remember.”

He said: “The easing of the restriction doesn’t mean the easing of the response, in fact, the response is being strengthened.

“I want to spend today to reflect on some numbers because crossing that 10,000 mark was quite significant. It is very important for us to remember that these are people, behind the numbers. At NCDC, we engage with these people every day.

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“Right now, cumulatively, 2% of the cases have a travel history. In the beginning, it used to be 80-90%. At some time it was 100% when everybody came back from some country or the other. 23% of new cases are contacts of existing patients, so these contacts are people that have been found through the public health response.

“At the moment, 75% of people have unknown source of their illnesses. But what does this really means? It means that community transmission is happening, it means that you cannot link your exposure to one particular person or one event, and this is normal of respiratory viral infections.”

He emphasized that for a newspaper to present these figures as a fraud was irresponsible journalism, adding, “we have had 299 deaths so far, representing a fatality ratio of about 3%. We now have the third-highest number of confirmed cases in the continent, just after South Africa and Egypt. It means there is added responsibility for us to work harder every day. We have increased our testing capacity, we now tested over 65,000 samples and increased lab network to 30.”

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, while also speaking gave the reasons behind continue increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases across the country.

The minister pointed out that increase community transmission of COVID-19 and expansion of testing capacity, which resulted in more people being tested were the reasons behind the surge in the number of confirmed cases.

He said: “The expanding laboratory and testing capacity all over Nigeria and growing community transmission rate both contribute to the increase in the number of COVID-19 positives we are observing in recent days.

“We have nevertheless not reached our testing targets as yet and therefore ask all persons who fit the case definition of fever, cough sore throat, loss of sense of smell or taste to first use a mask or face covering and find the nearest testing centre.

“Those testing positive should report to the nearest treatment facility in the interest of self-preservation. We shall include it in our social mobilisation and community engagement messaging.”

Giving the update about the figure as at Tuesday, the minister said: “Nigeria currently has a total of 10,578 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 35 states and FCT, of which 3,122 have been treated successfully and released, while we have sadly recorded 299 deaths. The COVID-19 burden is, as we know not evenly distributed within the country, with Kano and Lagos bearing the highest-burden.”

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