The Federal Government has urged hotels and schools to get ready to be used as isolation centres for COVID-19 patients, in the event of an overflow of the hospitals.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this on Thursday in Abuja, at the 37th joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
“In event of overflow, we can require hotels and school dormitories to be prepared for level 1 (Quarantine) and level 2 Isolation (of COVID-19 positive with zero or mild symptoms), to free hospital beds to be dedicated to level 3, (moderate to severe cases) and level 4, (high dependency and Intensive care unit),” Ehanire said.
According to him, there have been complaints of inadequate bed spaces, especially in Lagos which has 4,012 patients, the highest in Nigeria.
Even as Nigeria has confirmed a total of 8,733 COVID-19 patients, the minister assured that the situation in the country would not enter into horrific scenes of bed space shortages seen in some European hospitals.
He said: “We are, not surprisingly, worried about the increasing number of COVID-19 confirmed cases; first because every life matters, but also because of the capacity of our health system to cope.
“Nigeria presently has over 112 treatment and isolation centres in the 36 states and FCT with over 5,000 beds, but not all states have made it up to at least 300 beds prescribed for isolation and treatment.
“I had the privilege of commissioning one of such center yesterday (Wednesday), a re-purposed hospital in Benin City, Edo State, with 300 beds, including ICU and an Edo State-owned PCR testing laboratory.
“We need to continue increasing bed capacity to match the probable number of patients so that we do not experience horrific scenes of bed space shortages seen in some European hospitals.”
On easing of social restrictions, the minister said that will only be considered “if we can meet up with expectations that will not allow a spike in infection rates.
“This is what has led certain countries to reintroduce lockdowns.
“We are reviewing health sector-specific advisories on re-opening the economy.”
On mortality rate, he said: “It is too early for us to generalise about mortality rates.
“But people with preexisting conditions are more vulnerable and need to better protect themselves.”