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FG to hand over COVID-19 battle to governors

Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 says while it will continue to work with the state governors, it is pushing towards a different approach on the next phase of the pandemic.

It says will insist on state governors starting to take ownership of the response.

PTF National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, disclosed these during the briefing of the team in Abuja on Thursday.

READ: Covid-19 infections rise with 339 new cases

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He said the PTF would support the governors in making decisions and provide them with the best guidance based on the data available, “but we’ll not continue to drive this response centrally from the federal side.

“We expect state governments to have their capacity to be able to implement those measures required to safeguard the lives of the people.

“So, in this regard, as far as we’re concerned, state governments will continue to have their responsibility as we go forward.

“But we hope that we’ll be able to work very closely and make use of science and also consider the different social cultural and religious aspects of those communities when we enforce the guidelines.”

READ: Governors defy experts’ warning, lift ban on worship centres

He added: “We’ll continue to work with the state governments to ensure that whatever is put in place is in the best interest of their citizens. We’re in the business of saving lives.”

Nigerians stockpiling chloroquine

PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said through the surveillance system the team set up, it had received reports that Nigerians had been purchasing Hydrxoychloroquine in large quantities.

He reiterated that the drug had not been certified for treating COVID-19 in Nigeria, warning that “self-medication of any kind is fraught with the danger of increasing risks of avoidable casualties.”

The SGF assured essential workers, who had complained about harassment by security agents, of the support of the PTF.

He said: “The PTF COVID-19 urges all essential workers to go about their legitimate businesses carrying with them valid means of identification and to exercise courtesy in approaching security personnel.

“I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience.”

‘Hypertension, diabetes, HIV, cancer, others account for 70% coronavirus deaths’

Health Minister Osagie Ehanire says those with hypertension, cancer, HIV, diabetes, kidney disease, and tuberculosis accounted for 70 percent of coronavirus deaths in Nigeria, 50 percent of whom died using home treatment without exhibiting any symptom of coronavirus.

He said: “The core morbidity of the fatalities we have had to COVID-19, 70% of them have hypertension, or diabetes, and the rest were kidney disease, HIV, cancer, tuberculosis and other sundry challenges.

“A finding from the analysis of the death patterns shows 70% to 30% for male and female around that ratio and about 70% fatalities were persons who are 60 years old while majority of positives were between the ages of 29 and 49; those are the most active ages in life.

“A curious finding from the analysis of the deaths shows that nearly half of them died at home. Of those who died at home, about 50% did not show any symptoms. This underscores my earlier emphasis on the need for those who test positive to report for treatment.”

He disclosed that the fact-finding team to Calabar had concluded its assignment and submitted a report.

He said the government would explore the possibility of upgrading laboratories in the state to ensure ease of testing when suspected cases were identified.

New evidence shows it’s safe to discharge COVID-19 patients —NCDC

Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, says the Presidential Task Force may review existing policies on the isolation of patients discharging them earlier than their required treatment and isolation period of at least 14 days even when they are still positive.

He said the centre had begun testing people for COVID-19 only once as against its earlier stance on second testing before discharge after testing negative.

According to him, this is also done to decongest isolation centres in lieu of the reality that the country’s isolation and treatment centres had become overwhelmed by the number of persons requiring institutional isolation and treatment.

“Up till now, we’ve kept patients in care or advised that patients be kept in care until they turn out to be negative on the test that we are using the PCR tests.

“New evidence is emerging that even when the test is still positive, in certain circumstances, after that patient has been in care for a certain amount of time, it’s possible and safe to discharge that patient to home isolation.

“So, we’re looking at the evidence and we might change our guidelines over time.

“I’m sharing this so that we start preparing ourselves for some changes and the directions of how we’re planning to go,” Ihekweazu said.

He said the discharge criteria had changed from two tests, 24 to 48 hours apart, to a single negative test because most of the cases that tested negative also tested negative for the second time.

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