Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, yesterday, confirmed the country’s second case of coronavirus in Benin City, Edo State.
At a press conference at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), the minister said the new case was that of a person who had physical contact with the Italian man who was Nigeria’s first confirmed coronavirus patient.
“On March 8, scientists confirmed the presence of Coronavirus in one of the contacts. It is my duty to announce a new case of the Coronavirus disease in Nigeria and the newly confirmed case is an Ogun State contact of the index case but he has no significant clinical symptoms.It brings the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria to two.
“Since the beginning of the outbreak in China and its subsequent spread to other countries, one of the important response strategies at the containment stage, has been to identify all contacts, ensure their strict isolation, and follow up the way you check for every symptom of the disease,”Ehanire said.
He said all contacts of the index case in Ogun and Lagos would remain in isolation even as he assured that testing would be carried out on those not yet tested but who had contacts with the Italian.
He also assured of the commitment of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Lagos and Ogun states ministries of health to do all that was required to control the outbreak and spread of coronavirus in Nigeria.
The minister said the Federal Government has invested about N1billion in fighting the scourge and also got promises of cash donations from private individuals and organisations to assist in the fight.
“The government of Nigeria has committed about N1billion to this response and every amount that was requested by NCDC has been granted by the President with no delay at all. The money is available and is being used and utilised. We also have promises of donations from several organisations, private sectors and we got a letter the other day that we can apply for the global funds that has been allocated to Nigeria for this response,” Dr. Ehanire said.
Ehanire said since the first case was confirmed in Nigeria on February 27, the National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Abuja, has continued to work closely with Lagos and Ogun State to coordinate response activities.
He warned against spreading misinformation to cause fear and panic, adding that the federal ministry of health and NCDC will continue to provide prompt and reliable updates and initiate all measures required to protect citizens.
…Buhari sets up 12-man committee as Global Fund issues new guidance
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Following the confirmation of the second coronavirus case in Ogun State, President Muhammadu Buhari has set up a 12-man committee to work for the next six months.
The committee named, Presidential Task Force for the Control of the Coronavirus-19 Disease (COVID-19), is headed by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the committee came on the heels of the current global outbreak of the Coronavirus and its potential of causing significant disruption to health services in the country as well as impacting negatively on the economy.
The statement read: “This action is in preparation for the unlikely but probable major outbreak of the disease in the country which will require a multi-sectoral inter-governmental approach as advised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) similar to that adopted for the HIV epidemic in the last two decades.
“The start and finish task group which would be expected to deliver within a maximum period of six months, comprises the following: Mr. Boss Mustapha (SGF) – Chair; Dr. Sani Aliyu – National Coordinator; Hon. Minister of Health; Hon. Minister of Interior; Hon. Minister of Aviation and Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Services.
Others are Minister of Education, Minister of Information and Culture, Minister of Environment, Director-General, State Services, Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and WHO Country Representative.
Meanwhile, the Global Fund has announced new guidance to enable countries strengthen individual response activities to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) by using existing grants in a swift, nimble and pragmatic way.
The Fund, in a statement posted on its website, expressed fear that COVID-19 could derail progress on HIV, Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, through disruption to treatment or other interventions, or even supply chains of critical medicines and medical supplies.
It encouraged countries to re-programme savings from existing grants and also redeploy underutilised resources to mitigate the potential negative consequences of COVID-19 on health systems.
The Fund’s Executive Director, Peter Sand, in the statement said: “As was the case with Ebola, the Global Fund is committed to a pragmatic and flexible approach in supporting countries in the fight against COVID-19.
“Our priority is to ensure continuity of lifesaving programs to end HIV, TB and malaria. However, COVID-19 could knock us off track. People infected with HIV, TB and malaria could prove more vulnerable to the new virus given that their immune systems are already under strain.
“Experiences from the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa suggests that unless mitigating action is taken, additional deaths from existing diseases such as malaria can be, at least, as high as those from the outbreak itself.”
To give countries further flexibility in responding to COVID-19, the Global Fund said it would consider, subject to prior approval of a time-bound reprogramming of savings under existing grants up to a limit of five percent of total grant value and/or redeployment of resources procured through existing grants, particularly infrastructure and capacities that become under-utilised because of COVID-19.
It also said that eligible activities include, but are not limited to epidemic preparedness assessment, laboratory testing, sample transportation use of surveillance infrastructure, infection control in health facilities and information campaigns.
The Fund said that where there are no savings possible in existing grants or in other exceptional circumstances, an existing grant may be re-programmed up to an additional limit of another five percent of its total value, and all response activities must follow World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance on COVID-19 preparedness and response.
“Speed is of the essence in confronting COVID-19 and in managing its potential impact on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria. The Global Fund will therefore deploy a fast-track decision making process with a response time of maximum of five working days for COVID-19 related requests for support,” said the Fund.
It has also encouraged countries to consider and take prompt action under WHO guidance and urged that particular attention should be given to health worker protection, communication to affected communities, maintenance of essential services, supply chain coordination, early replenishment of stocks, disinfection of assets, and waste management.