Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire says records show that persons, below the age of 19 years, account for 10 per cent of all positive COVID-19 cases treated in the country.
The minister made this disclosure at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja.
“Records show that 10 per cent of all positive cases we have treated are below the age of 19 years.
“They are also the same mobile group that can be without symptoms, but they can easily spread the disease.
“Therefore, as schools begin to reopen in some areas, I urge caution and adherence to the protocols and advisories for reopening schools, to prevent COVID-19 surge,” he said.
Ehanire stressed that although adults, especially those aged 60 years and above, were more vulnerable to contracting the disease, complications could occur in all age groups.
Underscoring the need for sustained testing, the minister said that it was important for Nigeria to generate national and international confidence in the nation’s data on COVID-19 by conducting more targeted testing before conclusions were drawn.
“It means that all states and local government areas must cooperate with NCDC by raising sample collection rate, using the criteria listed, to increase testing to a desired rate and to report promptly; as we are still far from the target of two million tests.
“In this regard, we can support states with community volunteers for contact tracing, case finding and investigation.
“While stepping up surveillance and case finding, states can also ensure that suspected symptomatic COVID-19 cases are sent for treatment in time or supported before then with medical oxygen, to save lives and reduce fatalities.
“The recommended criteria for testing are: persons who have been in contact with a COVID-19 positive patient or are associated with a cluster of persons of interest, those who have any of the four classical symptoms of fever, persistent cough, loss of sense of taste or smell and breathlessness; anyone facing surgery, as well as for any other compelling reason.
Testing for travel is assigned to private laboratories.”
Ehanire also said that the distribution of oxygen concentrates and ventilators to various health institutions commenced with training of about 176 intensive care specialists and biomedical engineers, who would use or maintain them in the hospitals.
He said that the ventilators and training were provided by the U.S. government, adding that the ventilators would complement those that were already in use at the Intensive Care Units (ICUs).
He also commended the health workers in the Joint Health Workers Union of Nigeria (JOHESU) for putting an end to their industrial action, adding that it was his desire to work with them to resolve issues of concern.