Press Briefing By Hon Ministe of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire at the Presdiential Task Force on COVID-19 Press Briefing on Thursday 21st May, 2020

Dr Osagie Ehanire


As you are all aware, His Excellency, the President on Monday 18th May, 2020 authorized extending easing of restrictions in Lagos, Ogun and FCT by another two weeks. The lockdown in Kano was also extended by two weeks, to address remaining challenges to containing the increasing number of confirmed covid19 cases. As we are gradually getting used to the ease of the lockdown phase before we get back to our routine activities, I have decided to focus on the strategic response activities.

2.We now have 26 laboratories spread in 17 states. This has increased our testing capacity. However, while our daily testing capacity is presently at 2,500, unfortunately, we are presently able to test less than 1,500. This is due largely to inadequate surveillance and contact tracing in the states. As more laboratories come on board, I would like to use this opportunity to call on state governments to increase the number of surveillance teams so that more testing can be done in the laboratories.  We have developed new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track surveillance strategic directions and programmes.

3.  We are careful about our numbers to ensure that the figures we announce are accurate. Sometimes, there are errors, but we correct them as soon as they are noticed. As at this morning, we have recorded a total of 6,677 confirmed cases in 34 states and the FCT out of which I,840 have been successfully treated and discharged. Unfortunately we have recorded 200 deaths in 25 state and the FCT.

4.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 symptom. This underscores my earlier emphasis on the need for those who test positive to report for treatment. I would also advice those who have taken the test and are awaiting result to heed the advisory to self-isolate from friends, wear face masks and observe hand and respiratory hygiene until your result is releases. By so doing, you will be protecting your family, your friends and your community.

5.As we scale up training of health workers on infection prevention and control, infection among our health workers has reduced significantly. We have trained the 4th batch of Health Care Workers and Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors in Kano State. Training and retraining is a continuous process and we shall sustain the initiative. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Health through Nigeria Center for Disease Control had high level engagement with Hospital Services and Secondary health facilities to improve patients’ management and data qualities. State level Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) trainings working with partners to step down trainings at community level is currently ongoing.

6.The fact finding team to Calabar has concluded is back and a report has been submitted. I would like to commend his Excellency, Governor Ben Ayadi for his proactive approach. We shall work with the state teams to ensure that we scale up surveillance and contact tracing in the state.  We shall explore the possibility of upgrading laboratories in the state to ensure ease of testing when suspected cases are identified.

7.The development in Lagos where doctors are restricting their services to between the hours of 8am and 6pm because of the enforcement of the dusk to dawn curfew by security operatives has been resolved. I have been in touch with the NMA chairman in Lagos State and the State Commissioner of Health. I wish to thank our doctors and other health workers for their understanding. Our health workers are our foot soldiers and we would ensure that they are able to discharge their duties unhindered.  

8.As I take my seat, I shall remind Nigerians again, on the need to adhere to the advisories which I would like to reemphasize again. Masks must be worn and washed daily, ironed, where possible and should cover mouth and nose and should not be left under the chin during close quarter conversation. Tissues must be used when coughing, sneezing and then disposed of.

9.The stay-at-home advisory needs to be more strictly adhered to and citizens need not undercut the ban on interstate travel by hiding in goods trucks. This is not a battle to be left to government alone but should be a collective responsibility.

10.Thank you.