Challenges of home treatment, by NCDC

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has advised Nigerians to brace for tough and challenging times ahead as the Federal Government is reviewing its policy on institutional isolation, especially of asymptomatic persons without symptoms.

The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, spoke on Thursday on a TV programme.

He said: “We have already started thinking about reviewing our protocol so that our isolation and treatment centres are not overwhelmed. This is why with this virus there is no easy solution.

“Some schools of thought believe that home isolation in some states like Lagos, Kano is not possible because of the living condition of people. On the other hand, our treatment centres are full and we don’t want to keep filling them up with people that are asymptomatic.

“In the case when you now have patients that are ill and require hospitalisation, you can’t find the bed space because they are occupied by people that are asymptomatic, who you are admitting for public health purposes.

“In an ideal world, we are to admit everyone, which is what China did. But, we don’t live in an ideal world by every stretch of our imagination in Nigeria. So, these are the decisions that we have to make at the Presidential Task Force every single day.

“So, if we are forced to do home isolation and you come to a home where there are two bedroom or one bedroom, how do you do that home isolation? It means everyone else has to sacrifice by leaving the home for some time to live somewhere else.

“We cannot force that to happen; the family will have to make that sacrifice and they will have to do it on their own because we cannot go around evicting people from their homes.”

He implored Nigerians to be their brothers’ keeper by accommodating those who may have to vacate their houses because their loved ones were being isolated and treated at home.

Also speaking during the Presidential Task Force daily briefing on COVID-19, in Abuja, the NCDC boss added: “In other countries like Germany and the United States of America, they have made a decision to treat all asymptomatic people at home. That is the decision that they have made in that context.

“We have struggled with this decision in Nigeria because we are struggling with the realities of where we live and the context that we live in.

“We have held back on advocating for home treatment and isolation because we recognise that the circumstances in which many Nigerians live makes home isolation very difficult and sometimes an impossible option for many people who live in tight accommodation in family groups and communities.

“Lagos State, this morning had to come up with 199 isolation space for new cases. This is not possible in our reality. It is a simple fact and you can look at the numbers and as the number increases we will struggle with this.”

The Federal Government on Thursday urged citizens to hold state governments responsible for the number of tests being carried out daily across the country.

It said the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is poised to test 2,000 samples daily, however, the major challenge lies in states’ capacity to collect and send in the right samples for testing in time.

The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known during a television programme.

According to him, “Right now we are testing 2,000 samples a day in all the laboratories in our network. In the national reference lab for example, no samples stay till the next day; every single sample comes out the same day or very early the next morning.”