70 per cent of infected persons are men, says minister

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No fewer than 2,000 persons have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19), Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said on Wednesday.

He said the country’s diagnostic capacity was being expanded. Ehanire who spoke during the Presidential Task Force briefing in Abuja, said 70 per cent of those who tested positive for COVID-19 were males.

“Over 2000 persons have been tested. We are expanding our diagnostic capacity to test across the country. This is expected to improve turnaround time and enhance timely access to testing.

“About 70 per cent of those who have tested positive are males. The age range is between 30 and 60 years. However, we must note that both men and women of all ages can be affected.”

Enahire said nine persons have been discharged and two deaths recorded from COVID-19 in Nigeria.

The dead had severe underlying illnesses aggravated by their COVID-19 infection, he said.

He said: “Between last week and this, two new laboratories have been added to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) network of molecular laboratories for COVID-19.

“These are Virology Laboratory of University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State and Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA), Ebonyi State.

“With this addition, we have increased our daily testing capacity from 500 to 1,000. Hopefully, by next week, it is expected that this will be significantly increased.

“From what we know, the incubation period for COVID-19 is generally two-14 days, that is, the time it takes for an infected person to show symptoms.

“Therefore, we are using the window of opportunity presented by the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States to promptly detect, isolate and effectively treat cases.”

The minister said there were no available Rapid Diagnostic Tests have been validated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Unless you have been tested in one of the seven molecular laboratories for COVID-19 in Nigeria, your results are most likely useless.

“In the absence of a vaccine, interventions such as social distancing and self-isolation have become even more important to curbing the spread of the disease.”

Enahire said with nearly 1,000 bed spaces in the FCT, the number of isolation centres and intensive care units (ICUs) across the country were being expanded.

He said they were mainly for those who may have severe complications from the disease due to being immunocompromised, such as those above 70 or those with critical underlying health conditions such as cancer, tuberculosis and HIV.

“Several states have also identified and established isolation centres for the treatment of mild and moderate cases.

“Lagos State has expanded its isolation wards and surge capacity. Yesterday, the Ogun State Governor commissioned isolation centres of over 200 bed capacity in the state.

“I urge states to urgently prioritise identification of these within their states, particularly tertiary hospitals.”

According to the minister, hundreds of ad-hoc staff have been engaged, while Port Health Authority staff previously stationed at the airports have been redeployed to key roads that serve at key entry and exit points.

The minister said the national case definition for COVID-19 has been expanded to include persons with acute respiratory illness in an area with a medium or high prevalence of the disease.

NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the burial of someone who died from COVID-19 is not as risky as that of Lassa fever or Ebola.

“We have released an advisory on burials for COVID-19, but it doesn’t have the same level of infectivity of Lassa or Ebola because it is not transmitted through body fluids, but it is a viral infection and transmitted through the respiratory tract.

“It doesn’t die with the person. The virus survives a while. We still advise on a fairly safe burial but the risks are not as high as Lassa and Ebola,” he said.

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