COVID – 19 : HEWAN Advocates For Attractive Welfare Package, Health Insurance Cover For Health Workers

Health Writers Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) has advocated for attractive welfare package and health insurance cover for health workers combating COVID-19 in the country.
The association also urged the government to ensure that health workers are properly equipped  with personal protective equipment (PPE)  and other medically critical supplies to ensure they can safely and appropriately care for patients with Covid-19.
 
HEWAN in a statement jointly signed by its National President, Mrs Chioma Obinna and the National General Secretary, Mrs Lucy Osuizigbo-Okechukwu ,also demanded  that all  funds raised for the  Coronavirus fight should be judiciously  used and also accounted for.
“The Presidency said it’s  also releasing a N5 billion special intervention fund to NCDC to equip, expand and provide personnel to its facilities and laboratories across the country. We also appeal that the fund be adequately utilised to respond to suspected cases of the virus.”
However, it commended the effort of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the private sector, led by Aliko Dangote Foundation and Access Bank, which have  set up a coalition aimed at raising N 120 bn as well as well-meaning individuals, who have contributed towards the fight against COVID – 19 in Nigeria.
“We also commend the Lagos State  government for implementing various strategies to ensure containment of the virus and preserve the health of citizens, we urge other state governments to emulate same.”
Expressing concern with the rate at which the cases are rising in Nigeria, it observed that there could be more cases of individuals infected with the virus if appropriate measures are  not taken to limit the spread of infection in the states and within the healthcare delivery system.
Therefore, it called on  the federal government to increase the number of testing centres across the country which are currently inadequate  and mobilise human and material resources at its disposal to immediately stop the spread of the virus before it becomes too late as WHO had warned.
“Our healthcare system is further threatened by the call by the United States government asking medical professionals seeking to work in America to apply for work visa at the nearest US embassies as part of measures to strengthen the health system to contain the coronavirus pandemic in America.’
“In the statement published on www.travel.state.gov on Friday, the US government also directed foreign medical professionals already in America to consult with their sponsors to extend their programmes.”
“Considering how Nigerian trained health workers leave the country in droves owing to poor welfare and working conditions, the country cannot afford to lose  any of its health personnel to foreign nations at this critical time when they are needed most.”
“Healthcare workers are desperately needed to respond to the outbreak, which prompted the recalling of retired doctors and nurses by the Federal Government.  “
” But these healthcare workers represent one of the most vulnerable populations in terms of contracting the highly virulent disease due to the nature of their jobs and therefore, must be adequately taken care of .”
“Research effort is vital if Nigeria wants to end this pandemic and prevent future tragedies. The pace and impact of the spread of this virus is unprecedented. Therefore, we urge  government at all levels to fund continued research efforts for vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. “
” We call on Nigerians to follow the guidelines provided by the government, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on preventive and protective measures against the pandemic.”
“HEWAN will continue to work with stakeholders  and agencies in the healthcare sector and continue to pass on the right information  to deepen the public understanding of COVID-19 “
The Health Writers Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) is an umbrella body of all health/science reporters and editors (TV, RADIO, PRINT and Online), in Nigeria, registered first as members of The Nigeria Union of Journalists( NUJ).
COVID-19: LASHMA, PharmAccess Train Health Providers

 

The Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), in conjunction with PharmAccess Foundation, has organised a Webinar training on effective management of Coronavirus, COVID-19, for the Lagos State Health Scheme (LSHS) Providers.

Speaking during the Webinar training, themed: “Preparing The Lagos State Health Scheme Providers for COVID-19: Practicalising Case Identification and Management”, the General Manager, Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), Dr. Emmanuella Zamba, said the training became imperative in order to support the Lagos State Government’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus and prepare the Health Providers for any eventuality.

The General Manager added that the training updated Clinicians on COVID-19 case definition, management guidelines and prevention of facility spread.

Dr. Zamba advised LSHS Health Providers to take cognisance of the online training and adhere strictly with its directives, so that in no time COVID-19 would be a thing of the past in Lagos State and by extension Nigeria.

She implored the Health Providers to protect themselves since they are at the frontline of the treatment of the virus, adding that health workers in their facilities must be properly trained to handle identified cases and patients.

The Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Monitor Health Services, Dr. Femi Ogunremi tutored the online participants on the Epidemiological History of COVID-19, as well as Clinical Diagnosis and Classification among others.

In the same vein, the Programme Manager, PharmAccess Foundation, Dr. Anire Asumah,  also spoke on Preparation and Checklist for LSHS Health Systems and Health Facilities.

LASG Announces Free Medical Services For Pregnant Women, People With Health Emergencies

 

The Lagos State Government has announced that it would be offering free medical services to pregnant women and other persons with health emergencies in the state.

The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced this during a briefing on Saturday, as part of palliative measures to cushion the effect of the lockdown imposed to fight the spread of COVID-19.

According to the governor, the development is an additional measure to complement the welfare food stimulus package already in place in the state.

“The Lagos State Government will for the duration of this lockdown, in the first instance throughout the month of April, take full responsibility for the medical bills of all patients who fall under the following categories and present themselves at all our secondary health facilities, meaning our 27 general hospitals and the maternal and child health facilities that we have round the state.

“Emergencies, casualties, cases including registration, laboratory tests and surgeries will be treated free of charge,” Sanwo-Olu said.

UN Chief Hails Nigeria’s Response To COVID – 19

Nigeria’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)pandemic has caught the attention of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who described it as remarkable.

Speaking during a virtual news briefing in New York on Friday, Mr Guterres singled out Nigeria as one of few developing countries that have shown a remarkable capacity to respond.

“I have to say that some of these developing countries have shown remarkable capacity to respond.

“I was quite impressed to see, for instance, Nigeria putting in place immediately in a stadium and a hospital.

“And I saw difficulties in countries that are much more developed to do quickly the same.

“So, there are efforts done by countries in the developing world that we should point to because they represent a very strong determination.

“But the resources available are, of course, insufficient, and the health services are usually extremely out of proportion with the needs of a pandemic like this,” Mr Guterres said.

The UN Chief spoke in response to a question that sought his opinion on early confinement measures by some countries with fragile health systems to check the spread of the virus.

He was referring to the conversion of the Mobolaji Olufunsho Johnson Stadium in Onikan, Lagos, by the state government to a 101-bed isolation centre for patients.

As of 11 a.m. on Thursday, there were 190 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria, with Lagos accounting for 98 cases, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The state has discharged 23 patients as of Thursday morning, the Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, said, bringing the total recoveries to 24 nationwide.

There had also been a massive response at the national level, including the setting up of a Presidential Task Force to control the virus in the country, with the first case announced on February 28.

COVID-19: Nigerian Government To Verify Claims Of Alleged Cure

The Nigerian Government is to setup a committee to verify scientists’ claims of having the cure of COVID-19 and Lassa fever in the country.

Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu disclosed this at the Youths summit organised by the Middle Belt Youths Council in Jos the Plateau State Capital north-central Nigeria.

It would be recalled the Minister recently announced a prize of N36million for any scientist that discovers the cure for Covid-19 and Lassa fever.

According to Dr. Onu, the Nigerian Academy of Sciences is also fully involved in the work of the Committee on the verification of claims for the cure of the viruses.

He further urged Nigerians to strive to surmount any future epidemic challenge and not depend on other nations for solution.

The Minister also called on Nigerian youths to take advantage of the forthcoming Science and Technology Expo, delve into new technologies and start up businesses that would improve their lives, adding that the Ministry will support them to be employers of labour and creators of wealth.

Dr. Onu implored youths of the Middle-Belt and Nigeria at large, to take advantage of Science and Technology to improve their livelihood and fortunes. He appealed to them to believe that Nigeria can be better and be prepared to contribute their quota to ensure that Nigeria surmounts her challenges.

Earlier the President of the Middle Belt Youth Association, Mr. Emmanuel Zopmal said Nigerian youths should embrace Science, Technology and Innovation to improve development.

VON

Scientists Nudge Closer To Creating A Vaccine For The New Coronavirus

Researchers show that antibodies that can neutralize the virus that causes SARS can reduce how well the new coronavirus infects cells in laboratory studies. 

They also use an approved drug to reduce virus entry into cells.

With global cases of COVID-19 surpassing 100,000, researchers are looking for ways to prevent new viral infections.

The new coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, has strong similarities to other viruses in the coronavirus family, particularly those that cause SARS and MERS.

As was published in Medical News Today, two new papers appeared recently in the journal Cell, investigating how SARS-CoV-2 infects cells.

So, how exactly does the virus gain entry to cells, and why is it important to know this?

Understanding the target molecules that facilitate viral entry into cells is paramount to identifying how to stop this process from happening.

Both papers report that SARS-CoV-2 makes use of the same mechanism for viral entry that the SARS virus (SARS-CoV) uses.

More importantly, both research teams looked at ways of disrupting this process, using an enzyme inhibitor and antibodies against the SARS virus.

Coronavirus infection route
The new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is a type of virus called an enveloped RNA virus.

This means that its genetic material is encoded in single-stranded RNA molecules surrounded by a cell membrane taken from the cell that it last infected.

When enveloped viruses infect a cell, they do this using a two-stage process.

The first step involves making a connection with a receptor on the surface of the target cell. The second is fusion with a cell membrane, either on the surface of the cell or at an internal location.

In the case of coronaviruses, the first step requires that specific proteins in the viral envelope, called spike (S) proteins, undergo a biochemical modification. This step is called S protein priming.

The enzymes responsible for S protein priming are potential therapeutic targets as inhibiting their mechanism may prevent a virus from being able to enter a cell.

“Unravelling which cellular factors are used by SARS-CoV-2 for entry might provide insights into viral transmission and reveal therapeutic targets,” write the authors one of the new papers in Cell.

The senior study author is Stefan Pöhlmann, a professor for Infection Biology at Georg-August-University and Head of the Infection Biology Unit of the German Primate Center, both in Göttingen in Germany.

Pöhlmann and his colleagues show evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 S protein binds to the same receptor as the SARS virus S protein. The receptor is called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 or ACE2.

In fact, an earlier paper in the journal Nature had already implicated ACE2 as the receptor that allows SARS-CoV-2 to infect cells.

In addition to providing further evidence of ACE2’s role, Pöhlmann and the team also saw that, like SARS-CoV, the new coronavirus S protein uses an enzyme called TMPRSS2 for S protein priming.

Importantly, they showed that “camostat mesylate, an inhibitor of TMPRSS2, blocks SARS-CoV-2 infection of lung cells.”

Camostat mesylate is a drug approved in Japan for the treatment of pancreatitis. The authors explain in the paper:

“This compound or related ones with potentially increased antiviral activity could thus be considered for off-label treatment of SARS-CoV-2-infected patients.”

Towards a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine

Pöhlmann and his colleagues also studied whether antibodies made by people who had a previous diagnosis of SARS would prevent SARS-CoV-2 virus entry into cells.

They found that antibodies against the SARS-CoV S protein reduced how well a laboratory model virus with the SARS-CoV-2 S protein could infect cells. They also saw similar results with antibodies against S proteins made in rabbits.

“Although confirmation with infectious virus is pending, our results indicate that neutralizing antibody responses raised against SARS-S could offer some protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection, which may have implications for outbreak control,” the team writes in the paper.

Yet, Pöhlmann and his colleagues are not the only ones studying the potential to use antibodies to SARS as a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.

David Veesler, an assistant professor in Biochemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle, provides more evidence that the virus enters target cells via ACE2 in a paper published in Cell.

Along with his colleagues, he also studied antibodies against SARS S protein fragments to identify potential vaccines.

The team showed that antibody serum from four different mice could reduce infection with a laboratory model virus containing the SARS-CoV-2 S by 90%.

But before a much-needed SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is available, more testing is required.

Clinical trials to show the safety and efficacy will form the basis of developing these vaccine candidates into safe products to use.

In Europe, the European Medicines Agency announced last month that it was taking “concrete actions to accelerate the development and availability of medicinal products for the treatment and prevention of the new coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services is collaborating with Janssen Research and Development, part of pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. A clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases using a novel type of RNA-based vaccine, is also underway.

Shortage Of Personal Protective Equipment Endangering Health Workers Worldwide

The World Health Organization has warned that severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) – caused by rising demand, panic buying, hoarding and misuse – is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

Healthcare workers rely on personal protective equipment to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others.

But shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients, due to limited access to supplies such as gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns, and aprons.

“Without secure supply chains, the risk to healthcare workers around the world is real. Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply, ease export restrictions and put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding. We can’t stop COVID-19 without protecting health workers first,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, prices have surged. Surgical masks have seen a sixfold increase, N95 respirators have trebled and gowns have doubled.

Supplies can take months to deliver and market manipulation is widespread, with stocks frequently sold to the highest bidder.

WHO has so far shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 47 countries,* but supplies are rapidly depleting.

Based on WHO modelling, an estimated 89 million medical masks are required for the COVID-19 response each month. For examination gloves, that figure goes up to 76 million, while international demand for goggles stands at 1.6 million per month.

Recent WHO guidance calls for the rational and appropriate use of PPE in healthcare settings, and the effective management of supply chains.

WHO is working with governments, industry and the Pandemic Supply Chain Network to boost production and secure allocations for critically affected and at-risk countries.

To meet rising global demand, WHO estimates that industry must increase manufacturing by 40 per cent.

Governments should develop incentives for industry to ramp up production. This includes easing restrictions on the export and distribution of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

Every day, WHO is providing guidance, supporting secure supply chains, and delivering critical equipment to countries in need.

Coronavirus Lingers In Rooms And Toilets But Disinfectants Kill It

New research from Singapore published Wednesday showed that patients with the novel coronavirus extensively contaminate their bedrooms and bathrooms, underscoring the need to routinely clean high-touch surfaces, basins and toilet bowls.

The virus was however killed by twice-a-day cleaning of surfaces and daily cleaning of floors with a commonly used disinfectant — suggesting that current decontamination measures are sufficient as long as people adhere to them.

The research letter was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and comes after cases in China where the pathogen spread extensively through hospitals, infecting dozens of health care workers and other patients.

This led scientists to believe that, beyond catching the infection through coughing, environmental contamination was an important factor in the disease’s transmission, but its extent was unclear.

Researchers at Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases and DSO National Laboratories looked at the cases of three patients who were held in isolation rooms between late January and early February.

They collected samples from their rooms on five days over a two-week period.

The room of one patient was sampled before routine cleaning, while the rooms of the other two patients were sampled after disinfection measures.

The patient whose room was sampled before cleaning had the mildest symptoms of the three, only experiencing a cough. The other two had moderate symptoms: both had coughing and fever, one experienced shortness of breath and the other was coughing up mucus.

Despite this disparity, the patient whose room was sampled before cleaning contaminated 13 of 15 room sites tested, including a chair, the bed rail, a glass window, the floor, and light switches.

Three of the five toilet sites were also contaminated, including the sink, door handle and toilet bowl — more evidence that stool can be a route of transmission.

Air samples tested negative, but swabs taken from air exhaust outlets were positive — which suggests that virus-laden droplets may be carried by air flows and deposited on vents.

The two rooms that were tested after cleaning had no positive results.

“Significant environmental contamination by patients with SARS-CoV-2 through respiratory droplets and fecal shedding suggests the environment as a potential medium of transmission and supports the need for strict adherence to environmental and hand hygiene,” the authors wrote.

Obey Judgment Of Stopping Compulsory Blood Donation, SERAP tells LASG

Advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP,  has called on Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to immediately obey Monday’s court judgment ordering all hospitals in the state to stop the practice of mandating husbands to donate blood as a condition for their pregnant wives to access ante-natal care.

The judgment was delivered by Justice Raliat Adebiyi of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, who described the practice as “unconscionable, arbitrary, unfair and a violation of Section 38(1) of the 1999 Constitution,” which guarantees citizens’ right to life”.

In a statement by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, SERAP hailed the judgment, saying if obeyed, it would inch Nigeria closer to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

It, therefore, urged Sanwo-Olu to use his leadership position to “instruct the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, to immediately, fully and effectively enforce the judgment stopping all Lagos hospitals and health facilities from demanding compulsory blood donations from any patients or their relatives as a precondition for medical attention either in antenatal and maternal or any other health services.

“The enforcement of the judgment will also show Lagos State as a champion of the SDGs and be entirely consistent with international standards and best practices, including those developed by the World Health Organisation, which recognise that the safest blood donors are voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors. The WHO has, in fact, recommended that no coercion should be brought to bear upon the donor to donate.

“The effective enforcement of the judgment will also improve maternal health, comply with WHO’s policy to improve the availability and use of safe blood to save the lives of women during and after childbirth, as well as ensure universal access to safe blood transfusion, particularly for patients that are vulnerable to blood shortages and to HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C infections, in support of the SDGs.

“We look forward to working with you, Professor Abayomi and the Lagos State Ministry of Health, in the efforts to enforce and implement the judgment. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”

First Case Of Coronavirus Confirmed In Lagos Through Italian Citizen

An Italian citizen who entered Lagos  on the 25th of February from Milan, Italy for a brief business visit has been confirmed of having Coronavirus disease.
The case, which was confirmed on the 27th of February 2020, is the first case to be reported in Nigeria since the outbreak in China in January 2020.
According to press release signed by Prof Akin Abayomi, commissioner for Health Lagos State,  he fell ill on the 26th February and was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing.
COVID-19 infection was confirmed by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, part of the Laboratory Network of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.
“The Government of Lagos State under the Governor as the COVID-19 Incident Commander, through the Lagos State Ministry of Health, has been strengthening measures to ensure that any outbreak in Lagos is controlled and contained quickly in collaboration with the multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group, led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). We have immediately activated the State Emergency Operations Centre to respond to this case and implement firm control measures.”
“I wish to assure all Lagosians and Nigerians that we have been strengthening our preparedness since the first confirmation of cases in China. We will use all the resources made available by the State and the Federal Government to respond to this case.”
“We are working to identify all the contacts of the patient, since he arrived in Nigeria. Please, be reminded that most people who become infected may experience only a mild illness and recover easily, but it can be more severe in others, particularly the elderly and persons with other underlying chronic illnesses.”
 All Lagosians should take care of their health and maintain hand and respiratory hygiene to protect themselves and others, including their own families, following the precautions below:
1.    Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
2.    Maintain at least 1 & half metres (5 feet) distance between you apnd anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
3. People coughing persistently or sneezing should stay indoors or keep a social distance, but not mix with a crowd.
4. Ensure that you and people around you follow good respiratory hygiene by   covering mouths and noses with a handkerchief or tissue while sneezing or coughing. You can also sneeze  or cough into your sleeve at the bent elbow.Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
5. Stay indoors if you feel unwell with symptoms, such as fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. Please call Lagos State Emergency hotlines 08023169485 or 08033565529 or 08052817243 which are available day and night.
6. Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19 through official channels on TV and Radio, the Social Media, including the Lagos State Ministry of Health, NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health.
“Citizens must not abuse social media and indulge in spreading misinformation that causes fear and panic. The Lagos State Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, will continue to provide updates and will initiate all measures required to prevent the spread of any outbreak in Lagos.”