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To further limit the spread of COVID-19, the federal government has directed that all confirmed cases of the virus in a state must be treated in such state.

This was one of the resolutions adopted at the end of a virtual Emergency National Council of Health (NCH) meeting convened by the Federal Ministry of Health with state commissioners of health and the acting FCT secretary for health in attendance.

With 117 new cases, the highest recorded since the first COVID-19 case in February, Nigeria as of April 22 has recorded 25 deaths and 782 confirmed cases of the infection.

Speaking at the daily Presidential Task Force briefing on Wednesday, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the ban on movement of infected persons was necessary to contain exposure to the virus.

“All persons diagnosed with COVID-19 be henceforth treated in the state where the diagnosis was made, rather than be referred to their states of origin except there is a medical indication to the contrary.

”This is to avoid the high risk of exposure of other persons in the course of transfer,” he said.

There has been a number of cases where infected persons travelled to or where transferred to other states for treatment. One of such cases occurred when the Kano government transferred a positive patient to Jigawa, his state of origin. Also, the late chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari travelled to Lagos for treatment after he tested positive for the virus in Abuja. Mr Kyari later died at the Lagos private hospital.

Mr Ehanire noted that a Patient Transport System has been developed for Abuja and will be set up in all states of the federation.

This, he said, will ensure best treatment options for Nigerians.

“To ensure best treatment options for Nigerians, a protocol for a Patient Transport System has been developed for FCT and to be set up in all states of the Federation, meant to smoothly convey patients to specialized treatment centers or between treatment centers,” he said.

He noted that the Nigeria Air Force and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) have aircraft on standby to convey patients with critical conditions to locations with more advanced treatment centres.

Treating COVID-19

Mr Ehanire also said private hospitals desiring to manage COVID-19 patients should apply to their state ministries of health for a permit.

He said any pharmacist caught treating persons diagnosed with COVID-19 would have their licenses withdrawn.

“Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) and Pharmacists be forthwith prohibited from attempting to treat persons diagnosed as, or suspected to be COVID-19 patients, or else have their operating licenses cancelled.

“Private hospitals desiring to manage COVID-19 patients apply to their State Ministries of Health for permit, meet standard IPC standards and be accredited by a FMoH certified State team after compliance with Protocols, before being granted,” he said.

Increasing cases

Mr Ehanire also explained that the increase in the number of confirmed cases is an indication of more efficient testing and increased community transmission.

He said more tests were being conducted for residents of selected communities with a view to curb the spread of the virus.

“Active case finding is ongoing in communities with evidence of person-to-person transmission.

“This strategy requires more testing and diagnostics, and we are working to increase the capacity and activate additional laboratories, both public and private for COVID-19 testing, with the final purpose of having one or more public health laboratory with PCR capability in every state,” he said.

He urged Nigerians to report early for testing and treatment if they show symptoms of the virus.

“Citizens are reminded that COVID-19 has a cure rate of over 90 per cent of those with the typical symptoms report early for testing and treatment or quarantine.

“It can save you from the severe complications of the infection, or also help to reduce spread and save your loved ones from getting infected by you,” he said.

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