The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that the Federal Government is searching for about 6,000 coronavirus suspects across the country.
The Minister who is a member of the Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus said these 6000 people had come in contact with confirmed cases or people with travel history to countries with high index cases.
He, therefore, urged Nigerians to stop stigmatising people that tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, adding that it could hinder others from coming out.
Mohammed made the appeal Tuesday on a Nigeria Television Authority programme, “Good Morning Nigeria” monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
He said: “The challenge we have today in Nigeria is that of people trying to stigmatise those who have Coronavirus.
‘This is responsible for why many people are not coming out for a test, even when they have contact with confirmed cases or have recent travel history.
“They did not come out for testing because they are afraid of the stigmatisation if they turn out to test positive for the virus,” he said.
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The Minister specifically called on the media to limit report of positive cases for the virus by mentioning names except when such persons come out to announce their status.
He similarly encouraged those that tested positive not to be ashamed because Coronavirus is not a death sentence.
Responding to allegation in certain quarters that some people who came out to test for the virus were denied, the Minister gave conditions before suspected cases could be tested.
He explained that people who have no symptoms and no contact with anybody who has tested positive or with recent travel history abroad, particularly to countries with high index cases, have no reason worrying for any test.
“What you need to do is to comply with the recommended hygiene procedure, maintain social distance and stay as home as much as possible.
‘However, if you have had contacts with someone who tested positive and you have symptoms, call us, we will come around and take a sample from you.
“If you test positive but the symptoms are mild, we will take you to isolation where you will be managed.
“It is only those who have severe symptoms that will end up in the hospitals and in the Intensive Care Units,” he said.
The Minister underscored the need for Nigerians to comply with government directives on stay at home, social distancing and maintaining basic hygiene procedures
“Our position is that we do not even want people to get to isolation centres and hospitals.
“Hence we are appealing to people to obey all the basic instructions because prevention is better than cure in this case,” he said.
Mohammed, however, said that the country is prepared in the unlikely case of upsurge in a number of people affected by the virus.
He said in addition to the existing COVID-19 testing centres, two has been newly opened in Ibadan and Abakaliki while that of Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Kano would join before the end of the week.
The Minister added that in about a week time two private concerns would also set up their laboratory to start running the test which will increase testing capacity to 5,000 per day.
“We are also expecting the new technology that would increase testing capacity to about half a million per day.
“We currently have 700 beds in various parts of the FCT to serve as isolation centres,” he added.