The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Thursday, revealed that 113 health workers had been infected with COVID-19.
Ehanire, who disclosed this at the press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, said they included workers in the public and private health facilities.
He, therefore, reiterated his advice to health workers that it was dangerous to treat coronavirus patients without using personal protective equipment.
The minister had, at the task force media briefing in Abuja on April 23, said about 40 health workers in the country had tested positive for coronavirus.
Ehanaire, who lauded health workers for their commitment to the war against COVID-19, warned them against treating patients without the PPE.
He said, “Please, do not treat any patient without using the PPE. Frontline health workers must undertake refresher training at intervals. This warning has become necessary due to the number of health workers, who have tested positive for COVID-19. They are over 40 now and they have been quarantined.”
But the Nigerian Medical Association, through its National President, Dr Francis Faduyile, in its reaction, said most of those who contracted COVID-19 were not health workers treating COVID-19 patients, but personnel in other hospitals.
On Thursday, the health minister said the risk of being infected with COVID-19 was the reason why the task force warned health workers against treating patients without using the PPE.
He said, “The latest figure we have is that 113 health workers have been infected. They are not all public health workers. There are some from private hospitals.
“If you hear us speak frequently against treating coronavirus in private clinics, we are actually referring to people who do so without precaution and training. They risk infecting themselves and their families. Health care workers with no training have no business handling coronavirus.
“As for those who do not have equipment, we have said that we will provide the protective equipment. Let me remind you that there is a global shortage. They (the pieces of equipment) are really scarce but we are doing what we can to make sure our frontline workers have the requirement. We also have a stockpile that we can send quickly. For example, we sent a stockpile to Kano.”
COVID-19 patients seeking alternative treatment, FG raises the alarm
The minister also stated that the country would be in a difficult position if infected persons continued to hide or seek alternative treatment instead of approaching government.
He added, “People should come out and seek treatment, not to hide. The ones that we worry most about are the people who hide and look for alternative treatment. They are lost to our counting.”
The minister noted that health care workers went through a lot of pressure during a crisis period. He called on those who could not handle the pressure to quit.
He, however, said that government would continue to provide mental health and counselling support for those feeling the impact of the pressure.
He said, “It is very important for health care workers to realise that nobody is forced. Everybody is a volunteer. Those who cannot handle it have the option of being asked to be excused and someone else will come in.”
The minister allayed the fear of survival for those infected with COVID-19, saying that enough evidence had shown that the majority of infected persons would survive the virus.
“The recovery rate is 95 per cent or more. Out of 100 people that are infected, about 80 of them will have mild or no symptoms. Fifteen will have fairly severe symptoms, but not critical, while less than five per cent will have critical symptoms.
“What this means is that nobody really needs to be afraid. It is a dangerous disease that can affect a large number of people and bring health system to its knees. The five per cent can be so many, but there is no need to have a stigma.”
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