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Nigeria was never prepared for COVID-19, health minister admits

 Health Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on Thursday, admitted that neither Nigeria nor the rest of the world, including developed countries were prepared for the coronavirus outbreak.

The Minister confirmed that the virus is new to the world and even developed countries with stronger and sophisticated medical systems were taken unaware, just like Nigeria.

Dr. Osagie, who addressed Journalists in Abuja, on Thursday, said, “countries of the world have learnt great lessons as far as Covid-19 is concerned. There’s no country in the world that will tell you it was ready for this kind of health crisis.

“If they were ready, you will not see such alarming number of deaths, you also not see countries getting nervous and changing tactics at every minute of day. Simply put, no country was ready and has the answer to this deadly virus. Every country is learning, including Nigeria. Luckily, experience of Ebola outbreak in 2014 taught us great lessons and also built our capacity which is helpful to us now.”

Regarding the case of a top presidential aide that was tested positive to the virus some days ago, the Minister confirmed the development and disclosed that the top presidential aide is in a secured facility somewhere in Nigeria receiving treatment.

He explained further: “We have four categories as regards coronavirus response and treatment. It has been established that, in most cases, 80 percent of people who tested positive to the virus don’t display symptoms. However, four categories are; no symptom category, mild symptoms category, moderate symptom category and severe symptoms category, which most times, require oxygen or ventilator for treatment of such patient. But so far, we have not had any such case in Nigeria.

“It’s patients that are on severe symptoms category that are referred to isolation centre at University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada, Abuja or elsewhere in the country. We have graded the cases and that was why UATH or other isolation centres are not crowded. Other categories are kept at facilities where they are given adequate treatment. In the case of President’s aide who tested positive to coronavirus, he is receiving treatment at a secured government facility somewhere in Nigeria. He is not in any of the known isolation centres because he is not on the fourth category.”

The Minister confirmed that contact tracing has been efficiently done, particularly of the top president’s aide who tested positive to coronavirus. “Test have been carried out on the contacts but we can’t disclose the outcome of the tests because it’s professionally unethical to do so. It’s left for people that did the test to disclose the result if they choose to. Meanwhile, myself and Permanent Secretary, Abdullaziz Mashi, as well as the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, did ours few days ago and it returned negative.”

Meanwhile, the Minister confirmed that Federal Ministry of Health has taken delivery of medical supplies donated by philanthropist, Jack Ma, through his Foundation, the Jack Ma Foundation, for response to the coronavirus.

He said: “Jack Ma donated medical kits to African countries and it landed in Ethiopia, being the headquarters of African Union. The one meant for Nigeria was delivered to Federal Ministry of Health headquarters in Abuja, as directed by the donor. I was supposed to receive it personally but I couldn’t because of my busy schedule. Permanent Secretary was assigned to do that on my behalf.

“Inventory of the items has been taken. I can confirm that I received 100, 000 pieces of face mask; 20, 000 piece of test kits; 9,999 pieces of face shield; and 1,100 of pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The distribution has commenced and Lagos will take lion shares. I have written to a thank you letter to Jack Ma for the donation.”

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