COVID-19: Over 40 Health Workers Infected – Minister

Over 40 health workers have so far tested positive for COVID-19, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the minister of health says.

The minister also urged workers in the sector to exercise more caution in the line of duty,

Ehanire mentioned this while addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday during the press briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

“I applaud all our health workers in the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the government will continue to provide you with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).

“I urge you all to take the necessary precautions for your own safety.

“Please do not try to treat patients without adequate PPE, and frontline workers must undertake refresher courses training in IPC [Infection Prevention and Control] at intervals.

“This advice is necessary due to the number of health workers who have tested positive,” Ehanire said.

“They are over 40 now,” he added. This means about one in every 20 people who have contracted the virus is a health worker.

He said some health workers have had to be quarantined due to exposure and are, as a result, not able to contribute to the fight against the pandemic.

He urged the workers to remain vigilant and advised citizens to wear face masks when going outdoors, avoid mass gathering as well as non-essential travelling.

Ehanire revealed that as of Thursday, April 23, 873 Nigerians from 25 states and the FCT have been confirmed to have the new coronavirus based on 9,522 tests conducted.

“The high number of new cases is a manifestation of more efficient testing but also of ongoing community transmission. Rapid response teams are working closely with state Emergency Operation Centres to strengthen operation activities,” he said.

He added that while the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) currently has capacity to test 1,500 samples each day at its 13 laboratories, it is actually testing an average of 600 samples daily as a result of challenges in surveillance, sample collection, and mode of transportation.

While responding to questions from reporters, the health minister emphasised that all attempts to provide solutions to the disease are welcome.

He added that the ministry has been paying attention to traditional medicines as well.

He said, “We have departments in the Ministry of Health for traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine, which will look at all suggestions and all things that are put out there as possibilities for handling coronavirus. We don’t throw away any idea.

“Right now, we do not have any traditional medicine that I know of that actually works. Some may help to boost your immunity but that is not something we can prove.”

He explained that the Nigerian government’s strategy is to limit how it tests people for the virus based on travel history and contact tracing.

“Now we are worrying about community transmission. We are looking at persons who have symptoms and those in a cluster of persons who have had it. That is trying to use your resources as wisely as possible.

“Remember we also have a country of nearly 200 million and we have to be ready to cater to all of them, so we are having different approaches which will not allow us to actually compete in the testing.

“We have also been extremely stringent in the way we pursue the cases that we find,” he said.

Speaking on calls for the review of hazard allowances for doctors and health workers, Ehanire said there is a conversation around it but proposals have to be validated by other government establishments including the ministry of finance.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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