As concerns mount among health authorities over a possible spike in COVID-19 through a second wave of infections, over 60 per cent of isolation centres meant to cater for coronavirus patients in the country have been shut down by state governments, LEADERSHIP Sunday findings have revealed.
The director-general, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, had last week hinted that a second wave of COVID-19 outbreak in the country was inevitable, urging Nigerians not to lower their guards despite hopes of having a vaccine soon.
Checks by our correspondents across the country showed that churches, schools and public facilities are flouting guidelines put in place by the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 to curtail the spread of the virus.
Many worship centres and schools visited by our correspondents did not observe social distancing rules, wearing of face masks and hand washing rules, as should have been the case to check the spread.
In Lagos and Abuja, it was gathered that active isolation centres had less than 20 per cent of capacity while other centres were shut down.
Though Nigerians are still grappling with the adverse effects of the COVID-19 lockdown and #EndSARS protests with the attendant economic downturn, inflation, job losses, rise in domestic violence and health emergencies, things appear to be gradually returning to normal, as many Nigerians are of the view that the nation has moved past the worst phase of the pandemic.
Till date, some Nigerians still argue that the virus is not real, or potent enough to kill a Nigerian while a greater percentage of Nigerians now feel it is safe to let their guards down as there is high disregard for COVID-19 protocols in mass gatherings such as parties, weddings among others.
But the federal government has warned against non-challant attitude towards the protocols, as a fresh wave of the pandemic has hit Europe and the United States ahead of the yuletide.
The minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, had also called for increased vigilance, especially by health workers and airport officials.
In Lagos and some other states, fresh cases of infections are being recorded. This has compelled the Lagos State government to keep some of its isolation centres running.
According to the state commissioner for health, Prof Akin Abayomi, the state initially had about eight isolation centres before it closed the Eti-Osa centre.
As more successes were recorded in the fight against COVID-19, the Agidingbi isolation centre was also closed and patients were relocated to a higher capacity centre at Indo- Centre in Anthony area of the city.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday, the commissioner said the state built an excess capacity centre to tackle the pandemic.
Abayomi however lamented that the idea of admitting patients in Isolation centres was no longer being embraced by COVID-19 patients as about 1,455 active cases in communities refused to turn up for admission in the centres.
The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said, “We have got to a stage where we need to balance the economics of this and which of these facilities do we need to keep running.
“Some of them are now having less than 20 per cent of occupancy. This is why we reached a conclusion to shut the Eti-Osa facility and another one in Lekki.’’
He said the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba was also gradually being reverted to its former status as a hospital to cater to all forms of infectious diseases.
On the usage of IDH grounds, he stated that the Ca-COVID dedicated tents on the IDH grounds would, however, remain strictly for COVID-19 cases.
“The patients need to cooperate with the relevant officials in fighting this pandemic. We need to join hands to fight this and ensure that the beds are reserved for those who are seriously sick.
“When some people avoid being admitted into the care centres, they are putting others at risk and we are handicapped,” he said.
In the Federal Capital Territory, two isolation centres, the Asokoro and Karu general hospitals which were earlier converted to isolation centres have now been returned to their original use.
However, the Idu COVID-19 treatment and isolation centre is still active, said the acting secretary for Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS), Dr Mohammed Kawu.
Kawu said while it was true that the FCTA had closed down some isolation centres following a reduction in the number of hospitalised patients recently, the Idu centre was still functional and receiving patients.
He said, “We only closed down two isolation centres, the Asokoro and Karu General Hospitals which were earlier converted to isolation centres but have now been returned to their original use.
“The Idu Isolation centre which is a 500-bed facility is still open and managing COVID-19 patients.”
He said the FCT Administration had no intention to close down the Idu centre for now until all necessary parameters have been put in place, adding that COVID-19 is still prevalent.
Kawu noted that there had been a significant drop in the number of people getting down with the disease in the FCT.
He, however, appealed to residents to continue with the observation of the non- pharmacological preventive measures of washing of hands with soap and water or using hand sanitisers, wearing of face masks, observing physical/social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.
In Imo State, the COVID-19
isolation centre looks deserted as no patient was seen when our correspondent visited the premises. The only noticeable person within the complex was the security guard at the gate.
When contacted, the chairman of Imo COVID-19 task force, Prof. Maurice Iwu, said the complex was functioning and patients were treated and discharged when they recovered.
He, however, stressed that the prevalence of the pandemic was not as pronounced for in the state now, unlike in the beginning of the pandemic.
Iwu charged the people to always maintain the COVID-19 protocols as prescribed by the NCDC and the Presidential Task Force.
He urged residents to always wear their face masks, maintain social distancing, and wash their hands regularly with soap and running water.
He also urged those who have no business going out to remain indoors to avoid contracting the virus.
In Niger State, there are no patients in the five COVID-19 centres. The Isolation centres are the General Hospital Minna, IBB Specialist Hospital, Minna, Poss Event Centre, Minna and Bida General Hospital.
The commissioner for health and hospital services, Dr Mohammed Makusidi, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that there were no patients in the centres because of the new protocols introduced by the state government to keep people in their homes.
It was also gathered that despite
the new protocols, the government still maintains the isolation centres in case of another wave of mass infections as predicted by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
In Rivers State, the two isolation centres at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt and Ogale General Hospital, Ogale in Eleme local government area of the state, are still operational.
There are also treatment centres at Ogale General Hospital, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) and the University of Port Harcourt.
A senior official of the Ministry of Health who pleaded anonymity told our correspondent that though the centres were still functioning, they were no longer full of activities like when the pandemic was at its peak.
He said: “All the isolation and treatment centres are still functional. The one at the University of Port Harcourt was opened a month ago.
“However, the number of persons being attended to at the centres have drastically reduced since the number of infections seems to be reducing. The centres are no longer beehive of activities as they used to be.”
Although there is a decline in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Plateau State, the state government has said it would maintain the treatment and isolation centres.
The commissioner for health, Dr Nenkong Lar, told our correspondent in Jos that all the treatment and isolation centres were in perfect condition and were working, stressing that since COVID-19 persists it was also necessary to maintain the centres and keep them functioning.
He noted that the state has two isolation centres in Shendam and Riyom local government councils, while the three treatment centres are in the Jos University Teaching Hospital, Plateau Specialist Hospital and the Bingham University Teaching Hospital popularly called Jankwano, all in Jos.
Meanwhile, in Kwara State, the Ilorin isolation centre is still fully operational.
At the time of filing this report, the state had 28 COVID-19 active cases and 105 pending tests.
The active cases were being attended to at the centre situated within the Sobi Specialist Hospital complex, Alagbado area, Ilorin.
A visit to the centre showed that the frontline health workers deployed there to take care of patients were at their duty posts.
In Osun State, the only functioning isolation centre is at the state Hospital, Asubiaro, Osogbo. It was closed because there were no patients, our correspondent gathered.
It would be recalled that in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the state government set up three isolation centers across the state.
The first was located at the State Hospital, Asubiaro, Osogbo, another was in Ejigbo in Ejigbo local government area while the third was at Mercy Land in Osogbo.
The Ejigbo centre was set after the inflow of immigrants from Cote D’Ivorie to Ejigbo land and the consequent discovery that some of them tested positive for the virus.
The government subsequently put in place another standard 200-bed space isolation centre in Mercy Land, Osogbo.
However, when those who tested positive for were treated, the government announced the closure of Mercy Land on September 15.
In Bauchi State, most of the isolation centres have been converted to treatment wards for other ailments.
Since the outbreak of the disease, the state government has established various isolation centres in different parts of the state.
The special task force on COVID-19 headed by the deputy governor of the State, Senator Baba Tela, has led the inauguration of the Bayara Isolation Centre with 80-bed capacity, Specialist Hospital 110, and the Abubkar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital with 120-bed capacity.
Others were Toro Isolation Centre with 60- bed capacity as well as Federal Medical Centre, Azare with a 100-bed capacity, LEADERSHIP Sunday findings revealed that some of the isolation centres have already been converted to wards for other ailments.
For instance, the Bayara isolation centre located at Bayara General Hospital in Bauchi LGA has since returned its isolation centre to hospital wards.
The same applies to the Toro centre, until recently where the resurgence of Lassa fever was mildly reported in the LGA.
“If not because of the recent resurgence of Lassa fever, the isolation centre was almost forgotten and patients have already started occupying the centre to get treated for other diseases,” a member of staff of the Primary Health Care Development Agency who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday on the condition of anonymity said.
He added; “The situation is the same in other LGAs except for the teaching hospital where the isolation centre is still reserved and I don’t think we have patients at the centre.”
In Jigawa, two out of the three isolation centres established in the state were shut down in July. The biggest was at the NYSC orientation camp. At the moment, the Danmasa isolation centre is the only remaining functional centre in the state. The last patient in the isolation centre was discharged in July.
The permanent secretary, Jigawa State Ministry of Health who is also the secretary of the state taskforce committee on coronavirus, Malam Salisu Muaz, said all hands were on deck to flatten the curve in the state, and this has led to the closure of two of the three Isolation centres in the state. He added that the last person discharged from the state’s isolation centres was in the first week of July.
According to him, the strategy adopted by the state government and the support of all stakeholders and the general public contributed to the control of the spread of the virus in the state.
He said the functional isolation centre was well equipped while the state’s testing capacity was expanded and improved from time to time for quick action on any suspected case.
He added that despite the reduction in cases, the state did not relent in its effort to strengthen its mechanism for disease surveillance, enforcing compliance with public safety measures and public enlightenment on infection, prevention and control of COVID-19.
VSF earmarks N3.3bn for COVID-19 intervention
The Victims Support Fund (VSF) says it has budgeted about N3.3 billion for COVID-19 interventions targeting about one million indigent and vulnerable households in the country.
The chairperson, VSF Task Force on COVID-19, Mrs Tosoyi Akerele-Ogunsuji, said this while presenting a donation of food items and medical kits to the Kano State government in Kano yesterday.
Akerele-Ogunsuji said the fund spent N1.8 billion in the first phase of its COVID-19 intervention through the provision of food and other relief materials, adding that N832 million was spent under the second phase of the programme.
She said about N1.3 billion was expected to be spent in the third phase of the intervention which will end in December.
“The total amount will be around N3.3 billion. It includes the money spent on the provision of 54 solar powered boreholes installed in schools across 18 states in the six geo-political zones of the county.
“The VSF is also donating 60, 000 pieces of COVID-19 rapid test kits to support opening of the orientation camps of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the coming weeks.
“We are targeting indigent and vulnerable households in the country, that is very important to us, and by the time we have done this intervention we will have over one million individuals who have been touched by the VSF interventions,” she said.
According to her, the VSF COVID-19 task force has a mandate of providing food and medical items and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to medical workers as well as indigent andvulnerablehouseholds.
Akerele-Ogunsoji said the fund had so far provided support in 16 of the 30 states captured in the programme, adding that the states were selected from across the six geo-political zones of the country.
She said Kano was the 16th state to benefit from the VSF intervention, adding that food items, medical supplies and PPEs worth N110.5 million were handed over to the state government for onward distribution to deserving households.
She listed the items to include rice, beans, vegetable oil, salt, face masks, gloves, hand sanitisers, goggles, boots and safety clothes for health workers to be able to reach thousands of households in the state.
“Kano State is important because it is the hub of the economy, hugely populated, we are also aware of the unfortunate incident following the massive outbreak of COVID-19. We are here to show solidarity,” she said.