Chloroquine not yet confirmed as treatment for coronavirus

China's Doctors, Fighting the Coronavirus [PHOTO CREDIT: The New York Times]
File photo: Doctors, Fighting the Coronavirus [PHOTO CREDIT: The New York Times]

Chloroquine is yet to be confirmed as one of the sure drugs in the treatment of coronavirus, formally known as Covid-19, the minister of state for health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, has said.

Mr Mamora made the explanation on Friday in Abuja during a parley with journalists on the status of the ongoing Covid-19 and Lassa fever.

The world, since January, has been battling Covid-19, which was first detected in China but has since spread to 26 countries.

While the disease is yet to be imported into the country, Nigeria has been battling the scourge of the Lassa fever outbreak which has been reported in some states in the country, with 103 deaths.

There have been news in the media during the week that chloroquine has been effective in the treatment of the new coronavirus.

However, Mr Mamora said there is yet to be a certain acceptable drug in the treatment of the new disease as lots of clinical trials are still ongoing.

Although it was in the literature that chloroquine has been effective in the treatment of Covid-19, he said it is yet to be ascertained because lots of clinical trials are still on-going.

The World Health Organisation is yet to make a statement about place of chloroquine or its effectiveness in the treatment of the disease.

The UN health agency on Thursday said they were looking forward to results from two clinical trials of therapeutics prioritized by the WHO R&D Blueprint.

One combines two drugs for HIV, lopinavir and ritonavir, and the other is testing an antiviral called remdisivir and the preliminary results are expected in three weeks. Chloroquine is the third drug being tried in China.

Preparedness

Mr Mamora cautioned against fake news and assured Nigeria that there is no case of Covid-19 in the country as of Friday. He said five suspected cases at the point of entry, which fitted the disease’ description, were tested and results were negative.

He said Nigeria has also improved its surveillance at point of entries, especially the ports.

“The Port Health Services had intensified screening of passengers coming from China and other countries of high risk. Screening forms have been provided to all airlines,” he said.

He said in preparedness, clinicians are being trained on management of cases at the moment and the country is developing a stockpile of medical supplies to be used in the event of any outbreak.

“Our capacity for testing has been enhanced because we have three laboratories- Edo and Lagos states as well as in Abuja.

“Nigeria is receiving technical support from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Africa Centre for Disease Control and West African Health Organisation,” he said.

Mr Mamora added that the ministry has inaugurated an inter-ministerial committee to provide oversight leadership.

He said the committee is being coordinated by the NCDC and it meets twice a week.

Funding

Meanwhile, the permanent secretary, ministry of health, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, said that the government, in preparation for surveillance and response to an eventual outbreak of Covid-19 in the country, has released N386 million to two health agencies.

The fund, released to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Port Health Services, is to strengthen Nigeria’s preparedness to combat Covid-19.

Mr Abdullahi said the fund was part of the N620 million budgeted by the government to curtail Covid-19 from entering into the country.

The fund was first mentioned by the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Health to discuss the ministry’s preparedness to prevent the importation of the new coronavirus into the country.

Mr Abdullahi said the first batch, N71 million, was released at the end of January to facilitate the activities of the Port Health Services department of the ministry, and batch, N315 million was released to NCDC.

“Because of the level of the emergency, I can confirm to you that N71 million was released to the Port Health Services division of the (health) ministry and N315 million was released to NCDC directly.

“Other requests are in the pipeline and yet to be released,” he said.

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