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FG plans community testing, urges Nigerians to take responsibility

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The Federal government yesterday disclosed that it will embark on community testing for coronavirus and social mobilisation at the grassroots level to ensure physical distancing and advise on use of masks to reduce the risk of transmission. 

Insisting that it would ensure the use of improvised face coverings like handkerchiefs or scarves on the mouth and nose, it said the decision followed available evidences of community transmission presently in the country. 

It also recommended the suspension of close contacts between grandchildren and grandparents for as long at the pandemic lasted. 

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who disclosed this at the daily media briefing of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, cautioned that any private practitioners engaging in unauthorised treatment of COVID-19 run the risk of being shut down for decontamination.

Ehanire, who insisted that private facilities must obtain accreditation to treat highly infectious diseases said, “I want to again strongly advise health professionals against private or secret management of COVID-19 cases outside accredited health facilities. We cannot afford avoidable morbidity and mortality.” 

The minister, who expressed sadness over the death of a medical doctor involved in the treatment of a COVID-19 patient, said the development highlights the risk of the response to health workers, adding that patients with mild symptoms were still highly infectious and mild symptoms in one person could be deadly infectious in another.

He appealed to health workers to adhere to all government instructions and regulations, always use personal protective equipment (PPE), maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19 and protect themselves, their loved ones and colleagues.

Ehanire lamented that COVID-19 outbreak has provoked social stigma and discrimination against anyone thought to have been in contact with the virus as well as people of certain backgrounds. 

He explained that as at Thursday, April 16, 2020, 407 persons have been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, 99 cases discharged and 12 deaths recorded in the country all with comorbidities, noting that the 34 new confirmed cases were Lagos (18), Kano (12), Katsina (two), while Delta and Niger states recorded one each.

Besides, the Federal Government has appealed to Nigerians to take responsibility and play their part properly to ensure that the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of PTF), Boss Mustapha, said, “As you all know, we are in a state of war against an invisible enemy.”

Mustapha advised that whenever any one was outside the confines of their homes, they should ensure that it was for very legitimate reasons covered by the exemption or within the hours relaxed for the purchase of basic items and should always carry their valid means of identification.

He urged people to exercise patience in communicating with the law enforcement agents assigned to ensure compliance with the presidential orders.


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