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#EndSARS protest: Nigeria should prepare for an increase in COVID-19 cases — FG warns

Federal Government, yesterday, warned that with the on-going #ENDSARS protests across the country, cases of COVID-19 will definitely increase in the coming weeks.

Issuing the warning in Abuja, the Chairman, Presidential Taskforce, PTF, on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said despite the appreciable success recorded so far in the fight against COVID-19, the ongoing protests might spark up a second wave of the virus.

He said:  “I can say it authoritatively that with the ongoing protests across the country, in the next two weeks the cases of COVID-19 would have increased. Each and everyone that attended the protests and did not put up any form of protection is likely going to spread the virus. When people contract the virus during the protest gathering, they will go back home and spread it.

“This is one of the reasons we must be extremely careful when we congregate because when you gather together in such an atmosphere where people don’t wear face masks or maintain the social distance you are creating potential opportunities for carriers to spread the virus.

“So far we have done pretty well as a country but this protest is like a setback and we must avoid a situation where we will have a resurgence. Countries that thought they have overcome are dealing with the second wave. We are extremely lucky as a nation and we should be careful of any situation that can warrant the second wave.”

Corroborating his views, National Coordinator of PTF on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said FCT and Lagos State have successfully tested one percent of their populations, while states such as Rivers, Plateau, Gombe were halfway in achieving the one percent target.

“We urge other states to work hard in achieving this target of 1 percent testing because the testing rate is still low in the country.  Through our various member MDAs,

‘’We have trained at least 17,000 health works in infection prevention and control, laboratory operation, and case management.

“In partnership with Federal Ministry of Health we have added over 7,000 beds in more than 130 treatment centers, 250 intensive care unit beds through support from donors and the private sector,’’ he said.

On his part, the Minister of State for Health, Adeleke Mamora, said the ministry has distributed a ventilator and oxygen to all federal and state hospitals.

He disclosed that one of the challenges federal hospitals were facing was irregular power supply which often leads to the breakdown of equipment and disruption of services,

“We receive the management of power holding to discuss the way of having regular power supply to our teaching hospital and medical centers, this partnership will reduce the overhead cost of the hospital,’’ he said.

He said their experience with the management of the pandemic revealed that many of the victims died could have been saved if they had access to services on time, adding that, during their fs6hurqgtfbxza\intervention in Kano, ambulances were deployed to evacuate people in critical condition to the hospital.

Meanwhile, President of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Prof Innocent Ujah, disclosed yesterday that no fewer than 1,031 doctors in Nigeria have been exposed to coronavirus in the country, while 16 mortality cases were recorded as of October 8, 2020.

According to him, this puts the mortality rate at 4.98 percent.

Speaking at a press conference in Lagos to announce the NMA 2020 Physicians’ Week, with the theme ‘’Strategy for health system recovery during the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria” and sub-theme: “Dental caries: The four-pronged fork.” Ujah said of the 1,031 cases, 321 were confirmed, while 16 doctors were lost in the battle against the virus.

Ujah, who expressed sadness over the deaths of members, described their death as the prize they had to pay in obedience to the Hippocratic Oath of their profession.

Stating that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inadequacies of health systems around the world,  the NMA president said many health systems across the world were overwhelmed by the pandemic due to inadequate emergency preparedness and response, largely due to inadequate human resources, infrastructural deficit, and medical consumables, including personal protective equipment and other protective equipment.

He pointed out that most countries, such as Nigeria, were suffering due to gross underfunding of the health sector.

He said:   “No disease has ever before laid bare the state of the country’s health sector like COVID-19. COVID-19 has revealed acute shortages of critical and lifesaving equipment such as ventilators and intensive care beds in our hospitals.”

Ujah added that the dire shortages of medical capacity have further put a spotlight on the poor state of health in Nigeria and the distance to travel to ensure that health care was affordable and accessible to all citizens for Universal Health Coverage, UHC, to be achieved.

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