• Nigeria with 6,994 bed-spaces as of Friday, battling with 8,065 active cases

• Patients with diabetes, hypertension, others ruled out of home care

Our Correspondents

There are strong indications that a major crisis is looming in Nigeria’s battle against coronavirus as COVID-19 cases are rising compared to bed-spaces available for patients that are being treated for the disease.

On Saturday, COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 12,233, with 8, 065 of them active and 3,826 patients discharged.

But the Federal  Ministry of Health told The  PUNCH on Friday that there were 6,994 bed-spaces nationwide for COVID-19 patients.

The PUNCH gathered that between Friday and Sunday, additional bed-spaces had not been provided despite the rising cases.

However, the Federal Ministry of Health, in response to The PUNCH’s enquiries on Friday, said only few states such as Lagos and Kano were battling with a shortage of bed-spaces.

The ministry also gave more insights into its proposed home treatment for COVID-19 patients, saying home care would not be adopted for coronavirus patients with underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

The ministry stated these through its Director of Hospital Services, Dr Adebimpe Adebiyi, in its response to The PUNCH’s enquiries.

One of our correspondents had asked the ministry, the guidelines for home treatment and the number of bed-spaces available for COVID-19 patients in the country.

In her response, Adebiyi admitted that states such as Lagos with 5,729 cases and Kano, with 997 cases were battling with a shortage of bed-spaces.

She, however, said the Federal Capital Territory and Ogun State had low bed occupancy rates.

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu had, at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on April 30, said the Federal Government was considering home treatment for COVID-19 patients because of a shortage of bed-spaces.

He said, “We are going to work with that to keep trying and making more spaces available but ultimately we might have to change our strategy a little bit, considering home care in certain circumstances where the person is able to provide a room where he or she can be managed sufficiently and secondly, we are able to support the care by enabling health workers to come to the house.”

But  Adebiyi, in an email sent to one of our correspondents by the ministry on Friday, said there were 7,522 active cases in the country with 6,994 beds.

She, however, said states were making efforts to increase the number of bed-spaces for COVID-19 patients.

The director stated, “There are currently 7,522 active cases in the country with 6,994 beds nationwide but states are continuing to make concerted efforts at expansion.

“The shortage of bed-spaces is occurring in only a few states such as Lagos and Kano where efforts are ongoing for expansion of bed-spaces, while some such as the FCT and Ogun State have low bed occupancy rates due to fewer numbers of confirmed or active cases.”

FG explains guidelines for home care

She also explained the criteria that must be met by COVID-19 patients and their families before home treatment could be granted.

Adebiyi said COVID-19 patients with hypertension, diabetes among others, would not be granted home care.

She stated COVID-19 positive patients would not be treated in homes where there were people with underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

The director stated, “Home-based treatment will be based on individual cases who meet the stringent criteria for such care. This emphasises ability to self-isolate in a single room with convenience for that individual, absence of co-morbidities such as hypertension and diabetes.  In addition, there should not be any person in the household with co-morbidities.

“The state should also make available health care workers to monitor the patients’ treatment at home. Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Health and her agencies including National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and the NCDC as well as relevant development partners are exploring various available options for expansion of supervised isolation.

“Discussions are at an advanced stage with high burden states for decentralisation of isolation and case management to the community through the establishment of community support centres which will be state led and community driven in line with approved guidelines and infection prevention and control protocols.”

The punch