NIGERIA Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) officials are considering introducing new regulations that would compel everyone who visits markets to wear facemasks as part of a renewed fight against the growing menace of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the fact that the pandemic has been relatively mild in Nigeria. over the last week, the number of incidences have grown. Nigeria now has 407 cases and 12 unfortunate deaths, as the virus has spread to 22 of the country’s 36 states but incidences are growing on a daily basis.
To make matters worse, the government lockdown has led to a chronic food scarcity, which has forced thousands of people to scramble for supplies at public distribution centres. When people gather at such centres there is an almighty scramble for essential su7plies like rice, gari, yam, cooking oil, noodles, etc, making a mockery of the government’s social distancing programme.
NCDC director-general Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said: “The use of masks is usually important if you want to attend large gatherings which are few now like markets and malls. If you are a member of the public and you want to wear a mask, we don’t recommend a surgical mask but an improvised mask to protect you if you insist.
“This is a virus and we have to respond to people that get infected. None of us is immune to it.”
He advised state governors to ensure that masks and other essential materials were procured for health workers, particularly those at the isolation centres. Dr Ihekweazu said the Presidential Task Force had ensured provision of personal protective equipment for all hospitals in need of it across the country.
Health minister Dr Osagie Ehanire, added: “There are now 12 functional Covid-19 testing laboratories. To ensure maximum utilisation of our increased testing capacity, the case definition and testing criteria have been expanded to include not only contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases with fever and respiratory tract symptoms but also all persons with fever and respiratory tract symptoms of unknown cause.”
According to the minister, it is important to step up testing because of the increase in community transmission of the virus. He added that the ministry has also expanded the definition of people who are coronavirus positive.
Dr Ehanire said: “There are three levels of isolation. Isolation one is for suspected cases of Covid-19, while awaiting results. This is also used to designate the mandatory quarantine facilities for those returning from abroad with negative results, or those unable to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
“Isolation two is for confirmed Covid-19 cases with mild or moderate symptoms who need little to no clinical management. Isolation three is for confirmed Covid-19 cases with severe or critical symptoms who need enhanced clinical management or intensive care.”
Dr Ihekweazu added that with a shortage of personal protective equipment around the world, Nigeria would give priority to health workers at isolation centres and laboratories, as well as senior citizens when it comes to the use of face masks. He said countries that produced medical materials, including masks, had banned their exportation because they too needed them.