In this interview by ‘YOMI AYELESO , the Ekiti state commissioner for Health, Dr Mojisola Yaya-Kolade explains the various efforts of the government in containing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.
At present, there are nine active cases of covid-19 in the state. What is the government doing to stop the further spread of the virus?
The containment efforts have started from the get go when we had our first case. You remember our governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi was one of the few governors to first close the borders and put curfew. Until the pregnant woman came into the state through illegal means, I say illegal because she came in the Night, she got to Ekiti around 6am. If she did not came, these cases would not have been here now. After she came in, the government started tightening the borders and I can say all our 14 borders are being tightened now and community leaders are already involved, that anybody that comes in, they should let the ministry officials be aware. I think this is working because we have so many people that have been turned back from entering the state.
Another important aspect of efforts in containing the virus is contact tracing. How far have you gone on this aspect especially as regards the five active cases?
We are doing that and for this current cases, we have 58 persons. 56 have been seen and we have taken samples from these 56 people. You know contact tracing is ongoing and we are expecting their results.
What is the capacity of the Isolation centre in the state and does the government has the intention of having more isolation centres ?
Don’t forget we have a standard isolation centre at Oba Adejuyigbe Hospital that we are using at the moment. But the government has plan to increase and as I speak with you now, we have extra 30 bed space in our isolation centre. In total, Ekiti has a capacity of admitting 40 patients as of today.
Stakeholders are been clamoring for establishment of more testing centres which will further help the situation at hand in terms of testing more people. Is the government looking at the possibility of having a testing centre in Ekiti?
I can answer you in affirmative that, the government is planning to have one. We are looking forward to the federal government through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) We are not just waiting , the state on its own is working towards increasing the testing capability of the state. That is what I can say on that for now.
No doubt, our health officials must be provided with the necessary Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) and also monetary motivation at this crucial period. What is the state government doing in this regard?
We have been providing the necessary equipment but the confusion people are having and I want to explain that to you. It is not every health workers that need to put on the whole gown. You don’t need the whole gown to see every patient but there is something called universal precaution ; you put on your face mask, your glove and if you are going to do more, you use your goggles. Not every health worker must use the whole gown because there is limited time you put on the full PPE for your own safety. So everything that is required, we have it. I cannot talk about hazard allowance but for the health care officials at the isolation centre, they are being compensated.
There is compulsory use of face masks now in the state but there is this confusion about the acceptable and healthy ones. Can you talk more on this?
I want to say people must comply with the directive but people must keep their face masks clean. They should have at least two so that people can watch and use again. You don’t use detergents that are harsh so that you don’t cause another damage to yourself. Ensure you watch thoroughly and dry it.
How is the treatment of the patients look like at the Isolation center knowing full there is no globally acceptable vaccine for coronavirus at the moment?
You know there is no definitive treatment right now. But there are investigational drugs and these drugs, there are some papers that say it is well working, it is effective and good. I will rather treat my patients with investigational drugs for them to be better than watch my patients deteriorate and get sicker, as a doctor, that is my prerogative. As the Health commissioner in Ekiti state, that is what I propose and that is what we have doing and fortunately for us, people are getting better. Don’t forget we have discharged two persons and even people in admission now are being treated and they are getting better. We are waiting for them to turn negative. I will rather treat them and get them better than watch the people rushing to keep them on respirator. I don’t believe that is good in my own opinion but some other people might disagree with me. We are using chloroquine, we are also supporting their immunity with zinc to boost their immunity. We are also treating them symptomatically, that is if you have headache, we treat, if you have temperature issue, we treat as well. We are using the standard investigational drugs and they are not killing anybody. That is what a good physician will look at.
What is your message to the people of the state as the battle against the pandemic continues?
I want to tell people that prevention is better than cure. There should be no need in panicking, no need for anxiety, even with the new cases, we don’t have the community spread in the state. People must continue to watch their hands under running water for 20 to 30 seconds , sneezing into tissue and disposing properly, watching hands after touching dirty objects. Maintaining social distancing and anybody that is sick , should not come to the hospital because we have the emergency numbers, people should call it to alert the health officials. People should also give accurate information about their history, truth is better than deceit this period.
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