The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Tuesday, said the Federal Government was disturbed that COVID-19 deaths came from many educated, well-to-do Nigerians who chose home-based care and were only rushed to hospitals after sudden complications.
The minister, who stated this during the daily briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, advised everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 to seek medical attention, and not use drugs without a doctor’s prescription.
Ehanire said five centres in the country were researching into possible COVID-19 drugs. He said chloroquine was one of such drugs.
The health minister said, “As we learn more about coronavirus every day, we must be ready to adjust our strategy, based on knowledge and evidence. As of Monday, we had sadly recorded 191 deaths in 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“Even though this figure seems low compared to other countries, a disturbing picture emerging from the statistics is that not only are most fatalities linked with pre-existing diseases, many are educated, well-to-do people, who chose home-based care, where they develop sudden complications and have to be rushed to hospital.
“Experience is showing that complications in COVID-19 patients can arise with little or no notice. This is an added reason why all persons should seek medical attention when they test positive.”
The minister said the ministry of health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control were assessing isolation centres across the country.
He added, “We have recently been in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, and Osogbo, Osun State. We will continue providing diagnostic commodities and facilities in collaboration with partners.”
Ehanire added, “On chloroquine, first, we do not at any time or in any way support self-medication. If you hear that anyone is taking medication of any type, it has to be something prescribed by his doctor. There are medicines that should not be in your hands unless they are prescribed by your doctor.
“There are medicines over-the-counter that you can buy. But there are prescription medicines, which you should not have unless your doctor prescribes them.”
Ehanire noted that a ministerial task team was already in Calabar, Cross River State – one of the two states with no COVID-19 cases – and had useful meetings with state government officials.
The health minister added that the Federal Government had embarked on missions to states to ensure that normal medical services were restored in hospitals.
He said, “The Federal Ministry of Health places special priority on the maintenance of essential services in both private and public hospitals throughout the country, because of the serious harm that arises from neglecting routine healthcare services like immunisation, chronic disease management, and others due to fear of COVID-19 or sole focus on COVID-19.”
The health minister warned Nigerians to desist from buying sanitisers, unless they were at least 60 per cent alcohol-based and had been certified by the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control.