The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Covid 19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on Tuesday unfolded plans by government to build, at least, one state-of-the-art intensive care units and isolation/treatment centres in each of the 36 States and the FCT as part of measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in the country.
The SGF also disclosed that government has mobilised about 3300 informants through the WHO/polio programme for house-to-house search and reporting of suspected COVID-19 cases as part of measures to tackle to rising case in Kano state.
Addressing members of the House of Representatives during their plenary, Muatapha said the Federal Government will soon announce significant additional material and technical resources to complement state government’s efforts in combating the pandemic in Kano.
Urging the legislators to support the activities of the task force, he said the PTF was working towards strengthening the country’s public health emergency preparedness through system building and infrastructure development,
Mustapha disclosed that out of the about 12, 504 persons earmarked for contact tracing, about 11,840, representing 95 per cent, have been traced, adding that about 9,828 health workers have been trained beef up case management.
He said government has also secured insurance cover for 5,000 frontline health workers while government and health professionals have signed an MoU on the hazard allowance and other incentives.
He lamented that Kano was fast emerging as the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in the North, thereby necessitating President Muhammadu Buhari specific directives in his broadcast of Monday, April 27.
Mustapha said the PTF has been working closely with the Kano State Government and key stakeholders to identify the issues and seek immediate solutions, adding that a technical team of 41 staff from NCDC, supported by 17 staff from WHO have been deployed to provide technical assistance to Kano State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC).
He added; “A team of clinicians and public health experts under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Health is also in Kano to provide training on case management and strengthen the capacity of the State to handle emergencies”.
Mustapha said the key weakness of the Kano COVID-19 response is lack of adequate manpower for surveillance and contact tracing, stressing that the PTF has mobilised resources from across the health sector, including multilaterals, bilaterals, MDAs and the private sector, to facilitate accelerated expansion of the rapid response teams (RRTs) from 21 to 50.
He said as part of the its mandate, the PTF was working towards strengthening the country’s public health emergency preparedness through system building and infrastructure development.
Mustapha stressed: “COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragile status of our health system and the near absence of the structures or building blocks necessary for the public health protection of our communities.
“In this regard, we plan to establish state-of-the-art intensive care units and isolation/treatment centres in each of the 36 States plus FCT. We will also upgrade molecular laboratory facilities across the country and ensure that a COVID-19 testing centre is available in every State through the utilization of existing GeneXpert machines.
“This scale-up of infrastructure will also require additional staff training and a review of existing manpower needs for the country. There’s no doubt that a strengthened and well-resourced health system will not only place the country in a better position to deal with future emerging infections such as Lassa fever but will also provide a solid foundation for medical research and development.
‘“The post-COVID-19 era is going to be a challenging one. As a country, we need to prepare for what will be major changes to our long-term social interactions, events, personal contacts and economic prospects.
“Just as important is the need to provide a strengthened legislative framework for dealing with future public health emergencies in a changing world. The current Quarantine Act needs to be updated due to the unique nature of emerging infections such as COVID-19, the dramatic impact this has on sectors beyond just health and the urgency required to deal with such pandemic.”