At least 812 health workers have, so far, tested positive for COVID-19 in Nigeria, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said.

Mr Ihekweazu while speaking at the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday said 29 of the infected health workers are staff of the NCDC.

“We have had 812 health care workers infected, these are not just numbers. 29 of them work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. About eight of them are in the Idu treatment centre right now, ” he said.

He said the centre is distributing enough Personal Protective Equipment to health workers who are front liners in the fight against COVID-19.

”We have distributed over 40,000 pieces of complete PPE and we will continue to do this.

”By this weekend, a new consignment will be going out to every FMC in the country,” he said.

As of April 30, about 113 health workers had already been infected with the COVID-19 virus, according to the minister of health Osagie Ehanire.

Mr Ehanire explained that only health care workers with training in infectious diseases control are eligible to handle COVID-19 patients.

The federal government had earlier barred private hospitals from treating COVID-19 cases, saying many of the health workers there are not trained to handle such a disease.

It has, however, now asked private hospitals willing to treat COVID-19 patients to register with their state’s health ministry and ensure proper training of staff.

As of June 2, 10, 578 persons have been confirmed to have COVID-19 in the country. Although 3,122 persons have been successfully treated and discharged, 299 deaths have been recorded.

HEALTHCARE WORKERS AT RISK

Healthcare workers, being the first responders to patients, have continued to be at risk of exposure to COVID-19 virus.

On April 4, Aliyu Yakubu, a medical doctor aged 60, died at the Nigeria Air Force Reference Hospital, Daura, Katsina State, after contracting the deadly virus. A week later, his wife and children tested positive for COVID-19.

Due to their vulnerability to this disease, health workers have been advised to take extra precautions in handling suspected cases.

Mr Ehanire had said health workers who cannot handle the COVID-19 pandemic have the option of leaving.

“It is important for healthcare workers to understand that nobody is forced or conscripted to handle the coronavirus.

“Those who cannot handle it have the option of requesting to be excused and someone else will come in.

“The pressure on health care workers if they have a crisis can be quite severe and I do think that mental health counselling can be extended to those who feel they are impacted in that way,” he said.

ALLOWANCES

Following numerous complaints by health workers and their unions, the federal government announced its decision to give 5,000 front line health workers life insurance, which has been fully paid for by the Nigerian insurance industry.

“A special COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowance of 50 per cent of Consolidated Basic Salary will also be paid to all health workers in Nigerian Teaching Hospitals, Federal Medical Centres (FMCs), and designated COVID-19 centres for the first three months in the first instance.

“40 cent of the Consolidated Basic Salary would be paid as special COVlD-19 Hazard and Inducement Allowance to health workers at special Non-Public Hospitals and clinics in the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for same three months’ period,” the minister of state for health, Olurunnimbe Mamora, said

He also said 20 per cent of the Consolidated Basic Salary will be paid to all health workers directly managing COVlD-19 at the Infectious Diseases Hospitals (IDH) isolation and treatment centres.

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