UPDATE: 812 healthcare workers infected with COVID-19 — PTF

June 3, 2020
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A total of 812 healthcare workers have been infected with COVID-19 across the country, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) announced on Tuesday.

Of the infected personnel, 29 of them work at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and are being treated at the Idu isolation and treatment centre in Abuja.

Speaking at the daily briefing of the PTF in Abuja, the director-general of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said 299 persons had died of the pandemic in the country, adding that the numbers being reeled out by the NCDC are not just mere figures.

He berated a media house for describing the figures being declared by the NCDC as fraud, adding that as an agency, it engages with those infected every day.

The NCDC boss said: “We have had 812 healthcare workers infected. They are not just numbers; 29 of these work for NCDC. They are people I know. They have families, wives and children.

“About eight of them are in Idu treatment centre, so they are not just numbers; they are people and mothers, we must remember.”

Ihekweazu added that: “The easing of the restriction doesn’t mean the easing of the response,” adding that, “in fact, the response is being strengthened.

“I want to spend today to reflect on some numbers, because crossing that 10,000 mark was quite significant. It is very important for us to remember that these are people behind the numbers. At NCDC, we engage with these people every day.

“Right now, cumulatively, two per cent of the cases has a travel history. In the beginning, it used to be 80-90 per cent. At some time, it was 100 per cent when everybody came back from some countries or the other. About 23 per cent of new cases are contacts of existing patients, so these contacts are people that have been found through the public health response.

“At the moment, 75 per cent of people have unknown source of their illness. But what does this really means? It means that community transmission is happening. It means that you cannot link your exposure to one particular person or one event, and this is normal of respiratory viral infections.”

The NCDC boss said: “We have had 299 deaths so far, representing a fatality ratio of about three per cent%. We now have the third highest number of confirmed cases in the continent, just after South Africa and Egypt. It means there is added responsibility for us to work harder everyday. We have increased our testing capacity, we have now tested over 65,000 samples and increased lab network to 30.”

In another statement released by the NCDC, the agency said the article published by a newspaper, with the title: “COVID-19 fraud: NCDC says sources of 7,276 COVID-19 cases unknown” was misleading.

It read: “This is a false and sensational headline with clear intentions to misinform members of the public and undermine the Federal Government’s response to COVID-19 in Nigeria.

“The daily COVID-19 situation reports published by the NCDC are based on surveillance data collated from state epidemiologists and can be accessed on its website.

“As of 30 May, of the 9,855 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported, 222 cases (2 per cent) had travel history2,357 cases (24 per cent) were contacts of confirmed cases while 7,276 cases (74 per cent) had unknown exposure.

“For cases with unknown exposure, this means that there isn’t enough information to determine how they contracted the virus. This is a strong indication of ongoing community transmission of the virus in Nigeria.

“NCDC works closely with states to maintain transparency on data and response activities for COVID-19 in Nigeria.”

Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, gave the reasons behind continued increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases across the country.

He said increased community transmission and expansion of testing capacity, which resulted in more people being tested, were the reasons behind the surge.

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