The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has briefed President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the expiration of the 14-day lockdown imposed by the Nigerian government on Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
Two members of the task, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; and the Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, met President Buhari on Sunday at the Presidential Villa Abuja as Nigerians await for further directives on the lockdown.
The Nigerian leader had, on April 13, extended by two weeks an earlier lockdown of the two states and the FCT as the country intensified efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
Speaking to the media after the meeting with the president, Ehanire said that recommendations and summary of the work of the Task Force were given to the president.
“We have given a technical recommendation, first of all, from the medical point of view; and we have brought the overall summary and submission of the Presidential Task Force, which as you know, comprises not only the health ministry but other ministries.
“We have aggregated the opinion that we have, weighing the health, social and economic factors and everything to present our own opinion to His Excellency, The President.”
According to Ehanire, Nigeria has developed “a strong strategy, working with our expert groups here like the NCDC and all other important health services” as well as sub-national governments in the country.
He said all countries of the world have continued the fight against the corona virus, using strategies that have been developed for their own countries, adding that the fight against the virus “is going on very well.”
On the situationin Kano State, where increased number of deaths has been reported, Ehanire said that the health authorities in the state were “still investigating and looking into it.”
He said that the Federal Ministry of Health was waiting for report for the state government.
“In the meantime, support is going to be sent to assist the Kano State government from NCDC and other sources to help quicken and scale up the response they have there,” he said.
Also speaking, Ihekweazu said 14 COVID-19 centres have been activated across Nigeria to test patients.
He said Nigeria has continued to build up its testing strategy, but pointed out that the situation is complex.
“We are solving both for proximity; we want to bring the test closer to every state, but also solving for scale.
“We want to increase the number of test in few centres in states with a lot of cases. So, we are solving for many things at the same time.
“Everybody is working very hard to solve this problem because we know that testing really is the bottleneck at the moment into increasing the number of people we can afford care.
“But it is a complex process. There are no easy solutions. I can see that some people are procuring rapid diagnostic test kits. They don’t work as far as we know.
“So, I really recommend that we stick to the national strategy, build on it, support its expansion and together we get on top of this,” Ihekweazu said.