The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has warned Nigerians against large purchase of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, saying the drug had not been certified for use.
The Chairman of the PTF and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said this at the PTF COVID-19 daily press briefing on Thursday in Abuja.
He said through the surveillance system set up by the PTF, it had received reports that Nigerians had been purchasing hydroxychloroquine in large quantities to treat the virus.
“We wish to reiterate that this drug has not being certified for use in treating COVID-19 in Nigeria by the relevant health and pharmaceutical authorities.
“Self-medication of any kind is fraught with the danger of increasing risks of avoidable casualties. We therefore strongly warn against self-medication,” he said.
According to him, “if you are sick, please seek medical advice and if you are confirmed positive, kindly self-isolate in an approved facility, the COVID-19 is highly infectious and dangerous.”
Although the World Health Organisation and other health experts have repeatedly warned that no drug has been approved for treating COVID-19 yet, statements by public officials including President Donald Trump of the U.S. and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State may have encouraged the mass purchase of chloroquine and its derivative, hydroxychloroquine, by Nigerians.
Mr Trump has repeatedly encouraged the use of the drug and said even he was using it. Mohammed also said he had approved the use of the drug for COVID-19 patients in the state.
On Thursday, Mustapha said the PTF had continued to receive support, donation of equipment and solidarity messages from professional organisations.
He acknowledged the support of Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) and the Chemical Society of Nigeria (CSN).
Others were the NNPC and its partner, Messrs OCEA S.A, through its Nigerian representative, Mystrose Defense Systems Ltd.
Mustapha said May 20th served as a reminder to the world about the severity of the COVID-19 when the World Health Organisation (WHO) reminded the world that there was still a long way to go in fighting the pandemic, quoting Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director General, who said 106,000 cases were recorded globally in 24 hours, representing the highest single day number since the outbreak of the pandemic.
“This is significant because it brings to realisation, the relentless assault of the virus on humanity,” he said.
Mr Mustapaha added that for Nigeria, the importance of such message was clear, adding that there is need to eschew skepticism about the existence of COVID-19 and its potency.
He called for a change in behaviour, while urging citizens to join hands in tackling the pandemic.
Nigeria has so far tested 40,043 persons since its COVID-19 index case in February. Of these, 7,016 have tested positive.
A breakdown of the confirmed cases so far shows that 1, 907 have recovered and have been discharged, and 211 deaths have been reported.
A breakdown of the 7,016 confirmed cases shows that Lagos State has so far reported 3,093 cases, followed by Kano – 875, FCT – 446, Katsina – 303, Bauchi – 228, Borno – 227, Jigawa – 225, Ogun – 183, Oyo – 190, Kaduna – 170, Gombe – 144, Edo – 144, Sokoto – 113, Rivers – 80, Zamfara – 76, Kwara – 66, Plateau – 70, Osun – 42, Nasarawa – 38, Yobe – 45, Kebbi – 32, Delta – 31, Adamawa – 27, Niger – 22, Ondo – 22, Ekiti – 20, Akwa Ibom – 18, Taraba – 18, Enugu – 16, Ebonyi – 13, Imo – 7, Bayelsa – 7, Abia – 7, Benue – 5, and Anambra – 5.
Nigeria has implemented some measures to check the spread of the disease. These include a ban on interstate travel, a nationwide dusk to dawn curfew and ban on large social gatherings.