The Federal Government said that it wanted to learn from the Chinese experts on how they solved the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in their country.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this on Friday in Abuja, at the Presidential Taskforce (PTF), briefing on COVID-19 in the country.
Ehanire disclosed that the Nigerian medical teams would begin scientific engagement with the experts in a few days via video conferencing, while they were quarantined.
The minister said that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had earlier inspected the quarters where the experts were being quarantined and the NCDC also had access to inspect whenever they wanted to do so.
“As earlier mentioned, a 16-ton consignment of medical commodities and equipment worth USD 1.5 million arrived Abuja on Wednesday from Beijing, China, in a Nigeria registered charter flight.
“It was courtesy of Chinese Companies working in Nigeria, along with a 15-member team of medical and technical advisers.
“The equipment includes 50 ventilators and an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, which can be used in worst-case scenarios of COVID-19 treatment when a ventilator is no longer effective.
“This ECMO machine, the export of which is restricted by many countries, may be the first and only one in Nigeria.
“The personnel from China were screened and tested for COVID-19 before departing their country, but nevertheless have been quarantined for 14 days,” he said.
He said that government now had about 10 laboratories across the country able to test for COVID-19.
“NCDC is continually increasing testing capacity; as of today, we have nine laboratories capable of testing for COVID-19.
“There are two in Abuja: the National Reference Laboratory (NRL), Gaduwa, and the Defense Reference Laboratory, Mogadishu Barack, Abuja, and three in Lagos.
“The NCDC Virology Laboratory in LUTH, the Lagos State Biosafety Level-3 Laboratory, and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).
“Others are Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo state; Virology Laboratory of UCH, Ibadan, Oyo state.
“The Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA), Ebonyi state; and the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), Osun state.
“Additional laboratories in Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Jos and Sokoto states are set to come online imminently,” he said.
The minister said that NCDC had continued to support response activities and preparation in all states, through timely deployment of the Rapid Response Team to every outbreak state.
He said that the centre had contributed significantly to improve contact tracing, case management, risk communication, as well as infection, prevention, and control (IPC) measures.
“By providing training, guidelines and personal protective equipment (PPE), we continue to enhance capacity and understanding of frontline workers for this novel disease.
“We don’t have shortage of Personal Protective Equipment for health workers now and in the short term,” he said.
He disclosed that FMoH had engaged the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMGMAN) to scale-up local capacity and seek innovative solutions.
He added that the ministry had also met with the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN) and the Guild of Medical Directors to discuss collaboration between private medical practitioners and government in the COVID-19 national response.
“Private practitioners have a role in educating the public and protecting other patients and frontline health workers by having a high index of suspicion to identify, advice and swiftly refer suspected cases to designated COVID-19 management facilities for testing, according to NCDC guidelines.
“Private facilities must apply to the Federal Ministry of Health for accreditation, before engaging in treatment of COVID-19 patients.
“They also share in the responsibility to maintain essential and emergency services and ensure safe transfer of suspected cases by dialing the toll-free national emergency number 112, or the NCDC toll-free number 0800 9700 0010,” he advised.
Ehanire said that notwithstanding commendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and United Nation (UN), the government would not relax.
“We need to further develop our strategies and sharpen our processes,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that
it was so sad that intelligent people believe fake news.
Mohammed said that government was investigating the proponents of fake news and were tracing their websites, as purveyors of fake news want to bring down the government.