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NCDC needs N1.6B emergency fund for Coronavirus response

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja and Gbenga Salau, Lagos
07 March 2020   |   4:32 am
About N1.6billion emergency funding is needed by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to strengthen Coronavirus (COVID19) response activities.The Deputy Director in charge of Special Duties, Dr. Pricilla Ibekwe...

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About N1.6billion emergency funding is needed by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to strengthen Coronavirus (COVID19) response activities.The Deputy Director in charge of Special Duties, Dr. Pricilla Ibekwe, who revealed this yesterday at a press conference presided over by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the emergency fund, if provided, would be used to contain the spread of the virus in the country.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government said out of the 148 passengers on the manifest of the index case flight, 55 are actively being followed up, adding that the NCDC and Port Health Services were in touch with them to monitor their temperatures and possible appearance of COVID- 9 symptoms.

Government said it was reaching out to others and urged any passenger of the said Turkish Airlines flight to Lagos on February 24 to contact it on 08009700001-10.

In Lagos, the state government, yesterday, disclosed that the three persons quarantined over suspected cases of corona virus have tested negative.In a tweet, the state government announced that all three suspected cases, travellers from France, England and China, whose samples were collected on Thursday for analysis, have tested negative and had been discharged.

A Nigerian man returning from France was quarantined in Lagos over suspicion that he could be carrying the virus after he developed headache and respiratory symptom, which became at a private hospital and was referred to the government for advice.

The state government decided to isolate him because he had a history of travelling to France, one of the affected countries.Also, a Chinese who came in through Ethiopia was isolated after he exhibited symptoms of the virus. 

The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, however, appealed to residents to stop coming up or sharing fake news and misinformation about suspected cases of the virus, as it was draining resources and energy that should be deployed in checking the spread of real cases. 

Abayomi said such acts were also distracting the ministry and the state government, adding that the medical team was wasting a lot of energy on fake news, as it usually would investigate suspected cases mentioned on social media.He said the state government was forging ahead to make the state and Nigeria safe by putting contingency plans in place to prevent the spread of the virus, decrying the medical practice of treating everybody that present the symptom of fever with antibiotic drugs.

At the press conference in Abuja, Ehanire told journalists that government was also following up with 61 contacts of the index case, 21 contacts in Lagos and 40 in Ogun State, who were under supervised self-isolation, while the states have provided them with temperature monitoring tools.

He observed that between January 7 and yesterday, a total of 21 suspected cases had been identified across in Lagos, Ogun, FCT and Kano, adding that there was still only one confirmed case of COVID-9 in Nigeria, which is the index case and no death, stressing: “Let me assure you that there is no other confirmed case in Nigeria today. If there is a new case in Nigeria, this will be announced immediately. Please disregard all rumours of new cases in Nigeria. Verified news will come from the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC.”

Ehanire stated that government has improved surveillance at the points of entry by strengthening the capacity of port health services to identify suspected cases, while the isolation centre at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital was being upgraded to handle cases, once identified.

He noted that the NCDC had released new guidance for schools in the country, stressing the need to focus on ensuring personal and respiratory hygiene in schools and that there was no reason to shut down schools at the moment.

The minister observed that multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), led by NCDC, continues to coordinate national response activities, while NCDC National Rapid Response team continues to support both Lagos and Ogun states with contact tracing and other response activities.

NCDC, he stated, has also escalated risk communications activities and there are five laboratories with the capacity to test for COVlD-19- NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja; NIMR-Lagos; LUTH-Lagos; ISTH Edo and African Culture of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Disease (ACEGID) in Osun.

He disclosed that health workers are regularly sensitised to have high index of suspicion for CONVID-19 and working in collaboration with the Guild of Medical Directors (GMD), NCDC conducted training on infection and control for representatives of private heath facilities.

He advised Nigerians to discourage the spread of misinformation that causes fear and panic, adding that the ministry would continue to monitor closely, the global| situation, with cases spreading quickly in other countries.

Speaking further, Ibekwe explained that the fund being sought by NCDC would specifically be spent on infection prevention and control, surveillance and epidemiology, case management, laboratory diagnosis, logistics, supply and risk communication activities to ensure national health security in the country.

Director General of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Peter Adigwe, who presented the alcohol-based hand sanitiser produced by the institute, which was awaiting approval by the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), noted that the global fallout of the coronavirus outbreak is the supply chain disruptions of various commodities that are relevant to controlling the pandemic, due to panic buying or genuine scarcity, adding that the sanitiser is of the highest quality.