The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, said there was an increase in the demand for oxygen by COVID-19 patients.
As a result of this, he said the state government had intensified efforts to make oxygen available across the local government areas in the state.
Abayomi stated this on Friday at a Zoom webinar by the Lagos Civil Society against COVID-19. The webinar was themed, ‘COVID-19 Home/Community Based Care in Lagos: Issues and Opportunities.’ It was moderated by the Chairman, International Institute of Risk and Society Management Nigeria, Dr Eugene Itua.
Speaking during the session, Abayomi stated, “We noticed that there is a slight increase in the demand for oxygen. Patients are coming in with breathlessness and sometimes they present (themselves) to other hospitals in need of oxygen.
“So, we are trying to make oxygen available across the local government areas so patients can get oxygen treatment to be stabilised. Once they are stable, they can now be moved into isolation centres and get more medical treatment and hopefully, we can rescue them from getting into a more critical stage where we may now need to consider ventilating.
“We’d rather not ventilate. There are about five levels of oxygen therapy before we get to the ventilation stage and if we can use those levels and avoid ventilating patients, we’ll rather go down that route. But that depends on getting the patient early enough.”
Abayomi said it was important for people in communities to go for testing early if they noticed COVID-19 symptoms so their conditions wouldn’t escalate to the critical stage.
“If they are feeling unwell, they should not automatically think it is malaria or typhoid or anything else. If they are feeling unwell and there is a fever, body pains, cough and signs of breathlessness or exhaustion, then it’s important to get tested for COVID-19 and assess their respiratory function so they can be admitted to an isolation centre early enough to prevent getting into a severe or critical state,” he said.
Furthermore, Abayomi said the state was now testing about 1,000 people a day and hoped to attain 4,000 tests per day.
Due to the increasing number of patients (10,823 cases as of Thursday, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control), the health commissioner said the state would soon exceed its isolation capacity, hence the adoption of home-based care.
He said, “This (home care) is not new. It is recommended by the World Health Organisation. Home isolation is a normal progression of an outbreak and we have reached that stage in Lagos.
“For the patients receiving home care, we will send them a package which contains the basic items we give patients at the isolation centres. The kit includes a mask, hand sanitiser, thermometer and some drugs. So, we are evolving into home-based care and we’ll be reserving our centres for more complicated cases.”
Meanwhile, the webinar’s moderator and IIRSMN Chairman, Itua, said civil society organisations had a major role to play regarding home-based care for COVID-19 patients. He said they must support the various stakeholders and communities on how to manage the pandemic.
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