The Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala, said this on Wednesday during the opening of a two-day training for private healthcare providers in Awka.
Okpala attributed the number of deaths recorded so far in the state to the late presentation of cases by patients and diagnoses by health personnel, hence the need for early intervention strategy.
He expressed concern over the spike in the number of cases since the emergence of the second wave, compared to the first wave.
He said the state recorded one of the least numbers of positive cases during the first wave.
He said that the private healthcare providers, “who are closer to the people, should be the first point of call for any patient.
“They have the power to give medical advice and save more patients if they do the right thing,” the commissioner said.
He said that about 10,000 tests were conducted between December 7 and January 31, with 1,053 positive cases and 19 deaths.
“But we can record low cases and no death if we can do the right thing and adopt the state’s COVID-19 chain of survival strategy, which is about compliance with safety protocols.
“It is also about early recognition of symptoms, early identification with the system, early diagnosis, and initiation of treatment by healthcare personnel, early contact tracing, early notification of results, and initial treatment.
“The state has invested so many resources to contain the spread of COVID-19 but the major problem has been the lack of compliance.
“People and even some doctors will be treating malaria or typhoid and refuse to call for COVID-19 test until the patient starts experiencing shortness of breath or hypoxia.
“At that point, it might be difficult to handle such a case.
“We are training the private healthcare providers so we can have a unified practice in the handling of the pandemic and ensure early treatment because delay is dangerous,” Okpala said.
He advised the public to continue to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols, such as regular handwashing and use of facemasks, to protect themselves against the virus.
Also, the State Director, Infection and Prevention Control, Dr Kenneth Nwokolo, said the state had initiated policies to tackle the disease, including tracing, testing, and treatment.
He urged healthcare providers to work with the COVID-19 sample collectors in the 21 local government areas of the state.
“In the case of COVID-19, everybody is vulnerable. So, health professionals in the state should treat every case of malaria as COVID-19, until proved otherwise,” Nwokolo said.
He advised health professionals to commence treatment protocol immediately, “once anybody presents with any of the symptoms, even before the test result comes out”.
According to him, the treatment protocol includes the supportive therapy adopted by the state in the management of COVID-19 patients.
“This will make the disease not to progress to severe stage and casualties reduced,” Nwokolo said.
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