Unaccredited health facilities in Nigeria that are handling coronavirus cases now run the risk of a shutdown.
The Federal Government says such health facilities will also face some serious sanctions in addition to being shutdown.
Health Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who gave the warning says government will from now on take ‘’appropriate steps’’ to close health facilities handling COVID-19 cases without proper accreditation.
This is coming as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced 35 new cases of the troubling disease late on Thursday night that now brings the tally to 442 confirmed cases across the country.
NCDC says as, at 10:20 pm on April 16, the figures showed that the 35 new cases are reported from four states of the federation.
Going by the development, 19 of the new cases are in Lagos, nine in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), five in Kano State; and two in Oyo State.
According to NCDC, 152 cases have been treated and discharged from the isolation centres with the numbers of deaths now 13 in Nigeria.
Ehanire was, however, speaking at a media briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, on Thursday.
The minister said, “practitioners engaging in unauthorised treatment of COVID-19, run the risk of being shut down for decontamination.”
According to him, “I shall use this opportunity to again strongly advise health professionals against private or secret management of people who have COVID-19 outside of accredited health facilities.
“We cannot afford avoidable morbidity and mortality. Private facilities must obtain accreditation to treat this highly infectious disease. Practitioners engaging in unauthorised treatment of COVID-19, run the risk of being shut down for decontamination.”
He then described the latest COVID-19 fatality in Lagos that claimed the life of a medical professional, as very unfortunate, saying the sad occurrence explains government’s consistency in cautioning health workers to strictly adhere to all instructions and regulations while always utilising Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); and maintaining a high index of suspicion for COVID-19.
“I want to express my condolences to the family. This highlights the risk to health workers in this COVID-19 response. Patients with mild symptoms are still very highly infectious, and mild symptoms in one person could be a deadly infection in another.
“That is why we recommend the suspension of close contact between grandchildren and grandparents, at this time. Our valuable health workers are urged to adhere to all government instructions and regulations; always utilise PPE; maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19, and protect yourselves, your loved ones and your colleagues”, Ehanire says.
Continuing, he said the ministry and all relevant health institutions are currently focused on carrying out more community testing and social mobilisation at the grassroots to ensure physical distancing is fully observed in the war against coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Consequently, government, he went on, ‘’is determined to continuously push out appropriate messages and advisories on the use of face masks or improvised face coverings like handkerchiefs or scarves for the mouth and nose, to reduce risk of transmitting the virus.’’
He points out that the national testing capacity has increased to 3,000 per day in 13 molecular laboratories activated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) nationwide.
‘’NCDC’s target for the week was to significantly increase the national testing capacity. Two more laboratories will soon come on stream in Borno and Sokoto states’’, he adds.
The revised case definition for testing in the country, according to Ehanire, now includes all patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome; contacts of people confirmed to have COVID-19, with fever and respiratory tract symptoms; and persons with fever and respiratory tract symptoms of unknown cause.
The minister said it was unfortunate that those with the disease, their caregivers, family, friends and communities, are being labelled, stereotyped, discriminated against, and treated poorly by other Nigerians despite government’s passionate appeal to the contrary.