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COVID-19: Nigeria tracing 5,000 ‘suspected’ cases – NCDC

Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, DG, NCDC.
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, DG, NCDC.

The Nigerian government on Tuesday said it is currently following about 5,000 suspected cases of the coronavirus (COVID- 19) in the country.

The Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja at the second joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

He said that the strategy that NCDC were still applying nationally is one of containment.

“It means that we’re still at a point where we think we have a window of opportunity to identify all the cases, confirm them, and bring them into care.

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“Confirm all their contacts, follow up each of them, make sure they don’t have the disease and if they do have the disease, bring them into care,” he said.

He noted that this was a tedious process, because NCDC is following about 5,000 cases all over the country.

“Do we have to really meet? We will be destroying the efforts we’re making collectively. It is only by doing this and bearing this pain for a few weeks that we have a small chance of containing this outbreak,” he said while commenting on the government’s “stay at home” directive.

He said that an updated case definition was taken into account for the epidemiology of the virus and the transmission pattern seen in the country.

“The major update to the current case definition, is that any patient with acute respiratory illness within the last 10 days, fever and either cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; and in absence of an alternative diagnosis that explains the clinical presentation and residing or working in the last 14 days in an area identified by NCDC as a moderate or high prevalence region will be treated as a suspect case.

“This is in addition to the already existing case definition where the focus was on symptomatic patients, fever and either cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, who are recent international travellers within 14 days of arrival or contacts of confirmed cases,” he added.

Also speaking, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the government will covert 300 GeneXperts to test for the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

He recalled that the GeneXpert was widely deployed about a decade ago to rapidly detect tuberculosis and other related illnesses across the country.

Ehanire said the recent inclusion of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan into the network laboratories for COVID-19, and ongoing assessment to include seven other laboratories in the next three weeks would enable increased testing capacity and improved turn-around time.

He said that it is critical to reduce turnaround time between identifying a suspected case and confirmation.

Daily Trust had earlier on Tuesday reported that as at 11:15am March 31, there are 135 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Nigeria with two deaths, while five have been discharged, according to the NCDC.

The recorded cases are Lagos, 81; Abuja, 25; Ogun, 4; Oyo, 8; Osun, 5; Enugu, 2, Edo, 2; Bauchi, 2; Kaduna, 3; while Ekiti, Benue and Rivers states have one case respectively.

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