At least 75 Nigerian healthcare workers tested positive for COVID-19 last week, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said.
Mr Ihekweazu, while speaking at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Monday, said the number of healthcare workers getting infected is becoming worrisome.
He noted that efforts are ongoing to ensure health workers are actively protected against the virus.
“In the last one week, we have 75 healthcare workers infected in Nigeria,” he said.
“So we are very worried about this and we can reduce this risk.”
Health workers at risk
Barely a month ago, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), announced the deaths of 20 doctors within a week from complications arising from coronavirus, news President Muhammadu Buhari described as ‘sad’.
Healthcare workers are often at risk of exposure to infections, including COVID-19 as they are the first responders to patients.
Although health workers have been advised to use full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before attending to patients, many do not have access to this equipment and as a result, many health workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in Nigeria.
As of June 2020, at least 812 health workers had tested positive for COVID-19, according to Nigerian health minister, Osagie Ehanire.
As of September 2020, over 41,000 health workers in Africa have been infected with COVID-19 virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.
The exact number of health workers that have been infected in Nigeria so far could not be ascertained as of the time of reporting.
Nigeria has recorded over 130,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 1,600 deaths since February 2020 when the country diagnosed its first case of the virus.
Rapid test kits
Mr Ihekweazu said the Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits (RDTs) will be used in more facilities over the next month as part of efforts to protect health workers.
“We are rolling out the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits (RDTs), in more health facilities over the next one month, as an additional tool to protect healthcare workers,” he said.
“We remain deeply grateful for the efforts and commitment of healthcare workers across the country.”
Mr Ihekweazu noted that the agency has started training health workers in five health facilities in FCT, on the use of RDTs in health care settings.
He said this would soon be replicated across federal hospitals in the country.
The NCDC chief said this can help reduce the risk of infection in health facilities which is a major challenge in the fight against the pandemic.
He explained the need for doctors and nurses to be on the alert on suspicion of any COVID-19 case.
He said COVID-19 should be ruled out first for patients with pneumonia symptoms, congested chest, fever, body pains and even vague symptoms.
He appealed to health workers to model the behaviours they would like to see in others.
“Show people you wear a mask when visiting, reinforce the public health measures (in your homes and other settings). Model the behaviour you want to see in others,” the official said.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...