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COVID-19: Lack of oxygen, bed space hampers treatment


Shortage of oxygen and bed spaces at isolation centres, due to increasing cases is hindering the treatment of Coronavirus patients, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) said on Tuesday.

Cases shot up astronomically since the second wave of the virus hit the country.

The PTF lamented that despite the grim outlook, many state governments failed to enforce safety protocols, especially on social gatherings, which the people failed to obey.

Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, told reporters during the PTF briefing in Abuja on Tuesday: “Our colleagues, the Chief Medical Directors (CMDs), are here because of the cases that we face across the country.

“Treatment centres are filling up, and we are struggling to keep up. We are struggling to find oxygen to manage cases.

“Every night, we are faced with phone calls of patients desperate for care. So, unfortunately, January will be a tough month for all of us. It will be tough, but we still have an opportunity to do what we need to do.

“We have been liaising with governors to be more purposeful in implementing the measures that we have agreed on collectively.

“We have seen some of them doing that, but many of the states have not; they pretend as if there will be no consequence.

“This is the reality we are faced with and we have got to brace ourselves for January.”

The Lagos State government hinted on Monday of its plan to iinaugurate 10 Oxegen centres to cater for Coronavirus and treatment of other diseses as may be required.

Dr. Ihekweazu urged Nigerians to brace for the consequences of their actions as seen in the filling up of event centres and social facilities.

He said: “We have just faced the worst week since we started responding to this outbreak. We had more cases in Nigeria last week than in any other previous week since the beginning of the outbreak.

“Just looking at pictures, images and videos from across the country is a very disheartening situation because it appears that our messaging and our appeals to Nigerians over the last few months have not been heeded, and we have gone ahead with business as usual.

“Event centres, social facilities are full; so it is no surprise that cases are rising.

“January will be a tough month no doubt about it. So we have to brace ourselves for the consequences of the activities that we have decided to carry out in December.”

Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, said the 52nd week of the national response witnessed the highest recorded cases of confirmed infection in the country.

He, however, said the PTF is working on critical issues including oxygen supply and case management, taking into consideration the increasing number of infections and hospitalization.

“Our National Response is passing through a challenging phase due to the seriousness of the second wave of infections in Nigeria.

“Week 52 has so far given us the highest number of infections, in a single week, to date. Our TPR analysis shows that 16 out of every 100 tests carried out are positive.

“We are also seeing increasing transmission among younger people and this is not considered good and safe. We must, therefore, exercise utmost restraint by taking responsibility.

“The situation in Abuja and its environs has been of concern to the PTF,” he said.

He also noted that despite the resources made available to the states across the country, testing had remained very low, adding that this is not helping the national response even as some states had not reported any infections in several weeks.

Minister for State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, added: “The fatality rate at 1.49 per cent despite an increasing number of active cases as well as morbidity is evidence of scaled up activity and quality of care at the isolation centres.

“All Federal Tertiary Hospitals who run levels 2 and 3 isolation centres have been directed to improve/scale-up Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures to improve on treatment outcomes and enhance the safety of the frontline health personnel.

“This is coming at the backdrop of the recent upsurge in the affected health workers and the unfortunate demise of some.

“The case management team has continued to advocate for the presence of psychosocial support for both patients and health workers.

“This is necessary because of the fatigue and consequential apathy associated with the pandemic.”

Representing the Chief Medical Directors (CMDs), the CMD of University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Prof Bisala Ekele, said: “In the first wave there was no need for ventilators, now we are in the second wave but we do not know yet if we will need more ventilators.

“What is certain is that all the Teaching Hospitals and treatment centres have ventilators and when it is indicated they will be put to use.”

The Nation

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