The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has said the low number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded on Sunday does not mean that new cases in the country are dwindling.
Mr Ehanire, while responding to questions from a journalist at the Presidential Task Force briefing on Monday said the number of confirmed cases could fluctuate as time goes on.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announces the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 on a daily basis.
On Sunday, the health agency announced on its twitter page that the country had five new confirmed cases which brought the total tally of infections to 323.
That was the lowest daily increase of COVID-19 cases the country has recorded in one week. This development has left many Nigerians confused about the extent of the disease in the country.
Mr Ehanire, however, said the figures for new infections will fluctuate over time.
“The way we are right now, the figures you see for new infections will fluctuate. It is not going to be constantly the same.
“You can see it rise sharply and you can see it come down by a bit. We are making the testing more efficient, we are increasing the volume of testing. So we are expected to find more cases,” he said.
As of Sunday, 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have confirmed at least a case of the virus in Nigeria.
Lagos State has now reported 176 cases, followed by FCT – 56, Osun – 20, Edo – 12, Oyo – 11, Ogun – 7, Bauchi and Kaduna – 6, Akwa Ibom and Katsina – 5, Enugu, Ekiti, Rivers and Kwara – 4, and Delta, 3 cases. Ondo has two cases, while Niger, Benue, Kano and Anambra have recorded one each.
Meanwhile, Mr Ehanire said the country is focusing on ‘smart testing’ which aims to target locations where new cases are most likely to be found.
“We are doing more of smart testing that targets where you are most likely to find cases.
“This is why we have the criteria that if you returned from abroad in the last 14 days or if you have been in contact with someone who just returned from abroad then you are eligible for a test.
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“Or if you have symptoms that are suggestive of that then you will be eligible for testing,” he said.
He also said NCDC is preparing to liaise with the private sector to make sample collections easier.
“NCDC is preparing to have agreements with certain private sector on collection points in various areas of the town.
“So you can go to a sample collection sites and your sample will be taken. A vehicle will go round, collect all the samples and do a central testing.
“That reduces the work for NCDC and bring in more efficiency and get more people to be tested,” he said.
Speaking on the use of home remedies as a cure for COVID-19, the minister said this will only boost the human immune system but not cure the virus.
“There are theories and postulation about certain things that boost your immune response. It is said that if you take vitamin C or ginger, it boosts your immunity.
“But we know that response to viral diseases as a whole is connected to your immune response because eventually, it’s your antibodies that will tackle the virus and people now speculate that if you take something that boosts your immunity, it will help to tackle the virus.
“That is hypothetical, it is a theory that is propounded and if it helps, very fine, but nobody will tell you that is a cure. It can only help to build antibodies,” he said.
The national coordinator of the PTF, Sani Aliyu, also said making claims based on assumptions is unhelpful to the pandemic.
”Making claims that cannot be defended is really very unhelpful to the pandemic,” he said. “As we all know, how we get medications into the system, we have to do rigorous study going into different phases and you finally agree based on the studies that have been published whether or not it works.”
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