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DISASTER LOOMS!!! Abuja Runs Out Of Covid19 Test Kits, Lagos Battles Shortage Of Reagents

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 at the House of Representatives on Tuesday said Kano State had become the epicentre of coronavirus in the North.

The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; who led other members of the task force, including the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed this while briefing the House on the war against the virus in the country.

He said Kano State lacked adequate manpower for surveillance and contact tracing.

Also on Tuesday, the Lagos State Government said it was battling with a shortage of reagents. The Federal Capital Territory on its part said it was facing a shortage of test kits.

In March, there was no COVID-19 case in Kano State, but since April 11 when it recorded its index case, there has been a surge in the number of persons infected with the virus.

Currently, the state with 365 cases is second only to Lagos State with 1,183 cases as of 5pm on Tuesday.

Mustapha expressed concern over the spread of the disease in Kano State. "Kano is fast emerging as the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in the North, which necessitated Mr President's specific directives in his broadcast of Monday, 27th April, 2020," he said.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in the broadcast, imposed a total lockdown on the state and also dispatched a team of experts to help curb COVID-19 spread.

Kano lacks adequate manpower for surveillance, contact tracing – PTF

The SGF on Tuesday, said, "A key weakness of the Kano COVID-19 response is the lack of adequate manpower for surveillance and contact tracing. The PTF has mobilised resources from across the health sector, including multilaterals, bilaterals, the MDAs and the private sector, to push through an accelerated expansion of the rapid response team from 21 to 50."

"Working with partners, we are establishing at least one sample collection centre and two facilitators per local government area. In addition to a seven-day motorised campaign across major urban areas in Kano. We have mobilised about 3300 informants through the WHO (World Health Organisation)/polio programme for house-to-house search and reporting of suspected cases.

"The Federal government will in due course announce significant additional material and technical resources to complement the state government's efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in Kano."

PTF seeks updating of Quarantine Act

He also called for updating of Quarantine Act.

"The current Quarantine Act needs to be updated due to the unique nature of emerging infections such as COVID-19, the dramatic impact this has on sectors beyond just health and the urgency required to deal with such pandemic," he stated.

Social distancing abuse due to indiscipline – SGF

Mustapha urged Nigerians to 'own'the fight against COVID-19, saying countries where the citizens were disciplined obey rules on social distancing and the face mask use.

He said, "Truly, we have got to the level or stage of personal responsibility. This is where we have got to now. We must take personal responsibility for our safety, our lives and those of our loved ones. This is not the time to expect government or the National Assembly to take responsibility for us. At individual level, this is the time that we must own up.

"What happens subsequently will be dependent on what we do as a people and as a nation. The issue of social distancing should not be imposed by police, there are other countries disciplined enough. Taiwan didn't lock down for even one day. But gradually they flattened the curve as a result of social distancing and the wearing of mask.

Gbajabiamila tackles NCDC boss over criticism of Reps bill

The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, tackled the NCDC boss, Chikwe Ihekweazu, asking him to explain his criticism of the the controversial Quarantine Act (Repeal and Enactment) Bill 2020, popularly referred to as 'NCDC Bill.'

The speaker, who urged the lawmakers to allow him to pose the first "burning questions" to the NCDC boss.

He said, "You also purportedly said that no one consulted you. I will like a clarification on those two statements."

Gbajabiamila made reference to the points made by Mustapha in his earlier speech that the parliament was needed to review the Quarantine Act and create legal frameworks for disease control and management.

Present a new infectious disease bill, NCDC boss tells lawmakers

Responding, Ihekweazu admitted that he said he was not consulted on the bill, adding that he was looking forward for a new infectious disease bill

"I think that I speak for the PTF, my honourable minister and every member of our team – that we look forward to a new infectious disease bill, in fact a new public health bill that brings together the functions of all the agencies."

Not satisfied with the response, Gbajabiamila asked if the amendments should be done after the pandemic. The NCDC boss said, "It is not a question that I can answer right now."

The Minister of Health, Ehanire, while responding to a question on clinical trial of drugs and vaccines, said the government had already begun application of drugs in the treatment of patients in Lagos and Abuja.

He said, "Yes, we are participating in clinical trials and these trials involve pharmaceuticals. In Lagos and Abuja, we are using things, which the WHO set up, a system called solidaity, to study the efficacy of certain drugs in treating COVID-19. Among them are hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, which were said to have been successful in some countries, though we didn't see the impact. Chloroquine and artemether, I'm sure, will be among them.

"We are not doing vaccine tests. We are not enrolled in any vaccine trials because the processes have not been developed enough for them to be safe. Once they are developed well enough, we may consider taking part."

The health minister also noted that some of the patients kept in isolation centres did not require medications.

Ehanire also said the government had not ruled out the possibility of using local herbs to fight the disease. He, however, stated that the Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development must first certify the efficacy of such local drugs.

He said while government was not ruling out the possibility of using local herbs for the disease, those who claim to have found cures should subject their drugs to test by the NIPRD.

Nigeria uses Remdesivir in Lagos

Ehanire, while responding to a question on whether Kano now had enough testing centres, said, "For now, three of them, yes. The testing capacity is probably less than 50 per cent but as the need arises, it will increase everywhere else in Nigeria because we are getting more access to testing kits and machines."

He disclosed that the government has already used an anti retroviral drug (Remdesivir) recommended by the United States Government for the fight against the pandemic, but was silent on the outcome of such trial in Lagos.

The minister said, "The other new trial is an anti-retroviral drug, which the United States just wanted to start using. We have tried that in Lagos too. So, we are trying the anti-retroviral drug to see what effects it has."

He said most of the infection in some states of the north was a result of people travelling to such states from Kano.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Onyeama said about 4000 Nigerians had indicated interest in returning home from different parts of the world. He, however, said the government lacked capacity to isolate them for the required period of 14 days.

While saying the government could only isolate 400 of them at a time, the minister said the first batch of returnees from the United Arab Emirate would arrive in country on Wednesday (today).

He disclosed that the returnees had been asked to pay to for their ticket back home and also take care of their upkeep while in isolation.

Lagos battles shortage of reagents, FCT needs more test kits

The Lagos State Government on Tuesday said it was facing a shortage of reagents for COVID-19 tests.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Gbenga Omotosho, disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH, as the Federal Capital Territory disclosed that it was battling a shortage of test kits.

Omotosho in an interview with one of our correspondents said the state only received personal protective equipment and other materials donated by a Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma

He said, "The state got things from Jack Ma, but not test kits. The PPE and some other materials, not test kits.

"The governor said that the shortage of reagents is a global problem, it is not a Lagos problem. The kind of tests we are conducting in Lagos and in Nigeria is called molecular testing, which experts say is 99.9 per cent correct. The people selling the reagents are now doing as if it is gold. Lagos is looking for ways of working directly with suppliers outside the country.

"The truth is that Lagos is battling with shortage of reagents, but we will keep on collecting samples."

The governors had on Monday said 3,000 samples were waiting to be tested in Lagos.

FCT faces shortage of test kits

The FCT Administration also said that it was facing a shortage of test kits for COVID-19.

According to the NCDC, Abuja has 254 persons on admission, 40 discharged and three deaths.

The Special Assistant (Media) to the FCT minister, Abubakar Sani, explained on Tuesday that "The FCT is facing the global challenge of a shortage of test kits."

He added," The more kits we get, the more FCTA will perform tests to identify those infected and isolate them."

Jigawa records 32 fresh cases

The Jigawa State Governor, Badaru Abubakar, has set up a five-man committee to investigate alleged death of 100 people in the last 10 days.

The state Chairman, COVID 19 Taskforce, Dr Abba Zakari, who is also the Commissioner of Health, told journalists in Dutse, the state capital, that this followed a community report over the increasing number of deaths in the area.

Also, 32 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Jigawa, bringing the total number of infected persons in the state to 72.

While giving an update on the COVID-19 cases in the state on Tuesday, the state governor said 57 samples were taken from contacts of infected persons in five local government areas out of which 32 tested positive.

Gombe COVID-19 patients leave isolation, protest inadequate food, medical attention

Coronavirus patients at the isolation centre in Kwadon, Gombe State on Tuesday protested what they referred to as their abandonment by the state government.

One of our correspondents observed that the protesters who blocked the federal road leading to the Dadinkowa-Biu Expressway, demanded the transfer of a female patient in the centre because of the odour from her wound.

The patients protested against government's negligence, inadequate food and medical attention in the isolation centre.

Confirming the incident the Commissioner for Information and spokesperson of the state task force, Alhassan Ibrahim, said the task force would make life bearable for the patients.

He said, "It is really unfortunate that there was disquiet at the Kwadon isolation centre. It was caused by the patients there. They predicated their grievances on three premises, one that they were not given drugs, or medication. It will interest all of us to know that all of them there are asymptomatic, meaning they don't have symptoms.

"The second is that they were isolated at the centre and their families are not taken care of and I think they are going too far and thirdly that there is an inmate with an ailment that they are not comfortable sharing a bathroom with. The premises that their protest is predicated on are not really too reasonable."

We're being starved, Bauchi COVID-19 patients cry out

There was a similar protest in Bauchi State, where patients in some isolation centres complained that they were being starved.

The state government, which confirmed the development, said it was not deliberate. It said appropriate actions had been taken.

Relations of some of the patients, who spoke in confidence The PUNCH, decried the situation which showed that their loved ones were being stigmatised.

A COVID-19 patient at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital Isolation centre in Bauchi, on his twitter handle on Monday, said that he had yet to get any food from the government.

The user with the account @Suhailbuhari said that was his first day at the isolation centre wondering if he was supposed to be taking care of his meals.

The Special Assistant to the Governor on New Media, Lawal Muazu, in a statement on Tuesday, "The attention of Bauchi State Government has been drawn to delay in providing meals for coronavirus patients at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital Bauchi. The government has since taken actions and addressed the issue immediately."

Lagos discharges 60 COVID-19 patients

The Lagos State Government on Tuesday announced the discharge of 60 more COVID-19 patients who had recovered from the virus.

The state Ministry of Health, via its twitter handle, @LSMOH, said the number of discharged COVID-19 patients in the state was now 3261.

It tweeted, "60 more COVID-19 Lagos patients; 20 females and 40 males, all Nigerians were today discharged from our isolation facilities at Yaba, Ibeju-Lekki and Eti-Osa (Landmark) to reunite with the society.

"The patients; 31 from IDH, Yaba, 19 from Ibeju-Lekki and 10 from the Eti-Osa (LandMark)isolation centres have fully recovered and tested negative twice consecutively to COVID-19.

Kano doctor dies of COVID-19, 33 others infected – Chairman

The Kano State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association says it has so far lost one of its members to the coronavirus pandemic while 33 others have also been infected with the virus in the state.

The state Chairman of the NMA, Dr Sanusi Bala, who disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday in Kano, said that all the 33 other doctors were receiving treatment and would soon be discharged. 

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