Coronavirus: FG tracing 12,000 contacts, says NCDC DG

Olufemi Atoyebi, Abuja

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, on Friday said about 12,000 contacts were being traced across the country for COVID-19 sample and testing.

Speaking at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, Ihekweazu said Nigerians must learn to refrain from stigmatising persons infected because everybody was vulnerable.

He said, “We are at the beginning of a journey and until we have a vaccine, we will need to learn to live with COVID-19 in our country. If we start stigmatising each other, I don’t know where to stop because the same group stigmatising one group will end up being infected tomorrow.

“In terms of the number of contact tracing, every day there are new cases and new contacts but cumulatively, there are 12,000 contacts across the country.”

The DG of the NCDC ruled out setting up sample collection centres in markets across Nigeria, saying however that if there were evidence of rise in cases in any market, the NCDC would take the appropriate action.

He noted, “We are driven by evidence and if we see increasing transmission in the market, we will go to that market but we are not going to set up a stand in every market across Nigeria to collect samples. We look at the date to make decision but if we have to go to the market, we will do that exactly.”

NCDC records highest single-day testing of 2,000

Ihekweazu said the centre achieved the highest number of samples tested across the country with 2,000 samples tested in all the 16 laboratories across the country.

“We tested 2,000 samples on Thursday; that is the highest number of samples we have tested in a single day across the country. Despite the challenges, the truth is that samples are coming into our laboratory network. There are a lot of efforts being made by health workers in spite of the challenges,” he said.

At the briefing, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Oloruninbe Mamora, kicked against the demand for Personal Protective Equipment from patients, describing it as illegal and condemnable.

He said, “It is illegal, unacceptable and condemnable for the PPE to be demanded before treatment. I do not expect any treatment centre, hospital or clinic to be making such demand from patient.”

In his speech, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said, “With regard to Kano, a multi-sectoral team of specialists will leave for Kano in the morning (today) to support the state in all areas.

“The main focus of the intervention is on training and capacity building of the state health-care workforce along various specialties on a massive scale.

On the call to suspend Value Added Tax to ease the suffering occasioned by the pandemic, the Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, said there was the need to allow trade and taxation for government to earn income to pay for its overhead.

(PUNCH)

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