About 40 health workers in Nigeria have, so far, tested positive for COVID-19, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has said.
Mr Ehanire made this known at the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Thursday.
He cautioned health workers to ensure safety precautions are taken when treating any patient.
”This warning has become necessary due of the number of health workers who have tested positive for COVID-19, They are over forty now.
He said apart from the over 40 health workers, there are others “who have been quarantined in the last 2 weeks due to exposure and have not been able to contribute to efforts of the health sector.”
The federal government had earlier barred private hospitals from treating COVID-19 cases, saying many of the health workers there are not trained to handle such a disease.
At least 17 private hospitals in Lagos have admitted that their staff have been exposed to COVID-19 through patients.
The hospitals were subsequently bared from admitting any patients while their buildings are disinfected.
The federal government has now asked private hospitals willing to treat COVID-19 patients to register with their state’s health ministry and ensure proper training of staff.
Nigeria currently has 873 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of these, 197 infected people have recovered and have been discharged while the death toll is 28.
Healthcare workers at risk
Healthcare workers are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 virus as they are the first responders to patients.
On April 4, Aliyu Yakubu, a medical doctor aged 60, died at the Nigeria Air Force Reference Hospital, Daura, Katsina State, after contracting the deadly virus. A week later, his wife and children tested positive for COVID-19.
Due to their vulnerability to this disease, health workers have been advised to take extra precautions in handling suspected cases.
Earlier, some health workers working at isolation centres across affected states expressed their dissatisfaction over the lack of necessary insurance and other welfare policies despite the risk involved in their profession.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, Blessing Israel, who works at the Lagos isolation centre, said:
”While we care for the patients, nobody cares for us. Despite being the backbone of the health sector in this period, there is nothing like a welfare package or insurance for us.”
Following the complaint by the health workers and their unions, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha said life insurance for health workers is being planned considering the danger they are exposed to during this COVID-19 pandemic.
”In recognition of the danger to which our frontline health workers are exposed to, the government is working with other stakeholders to structure medical and life insurance cover for their protection.
“I, therefore, wish to assure them of our commitment and urge them to put in their utmost best as they battle to save us from this ravaging disease,” Mr Mustapha had said.
While the federal government is yet to conclude on the incentives for its health workers, the Lagos State Government has increased the hazard allowance of all its health workers from N5,000 to N25,000.
Meanwhile, Mr Ehanire said the government will continue to provide health workers with necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).
He advised that no patient should be treated without adequate PPE.
He urged health workers to take all necessary precautions for their own safety.
”The government will continue to provide you with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).
”I urge you to take all the necessary precautions for your own safety,” he said.
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