With Nigeria recording 1,664 new infections on Wednesday, the highest since the pandemic hit the country in February 2020, and more deaths, the country may witness another national lockdown going by what the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 implying
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said that the nation recorded 1,664 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, January 6, the highest daily infection recorded in the country.
As at Saturday night, total cases have risen to 97,478.
The centre also said that Nigeria has recorded 77,982 recoveries and 1,330 deaths. Active cases are now 14,990.
The new record infections were recorded in 22 states and the FCT, with Lagos contributing 642 cases, the highest number.
The FCT recorded 407 new cases while Plateau recorded 160 new cases; Kaduna State having 83 new infections while Rivers State recorded 62.
The record infection rate has raised concerns, especially since between February 27 to May 11, 2020, Nigeria recorded a total of only 4,641 cases.
While Nigerians are wary of the climbing numbers and the possibility of another lockdown, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told journalists in Lagos that the economic and social implications may make another lockdown difficult.
“I don’t think there is anywhere the Federal Government said it will impose another lock-down.
“However the Federal Government is not happy that Nigerians are not observing all the COVID-19 protocols like washing of hands and wearing facemasks.
“The Federal Government is aware of the economic and social implications of having another lock-down.
“The Federal Government will, however, urge Nigerians to follow all the COVID-19 protocols,” he said.
But the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, on Tuesday at the joint national briefing of the task force, said there might be another lockdown so as the government can take appropriate measures to protect Nigerians.
Aliyu cautioned Nigerians not to let their guards down as the vaccines are yet to arrive the country and their effect is not immediate in any case, as the two doses of the vaccine are administered one month apart.
“There is no doubt we know we are in great danger, hence why we continue to talk about these non-pharmaceutical interventions [hand washing and facemasks].
“We know that vaccines are available, but these vaccines are not here yet.
“No doubt that we are all tired, we wish we had left COVID-19 behind us in 2020, but sadly that is not the case. COVID-19 is still very much with us. We will continue to urge the public to please comply with our non-pharmaceutical interventions; they work, they’ll protect you, they will protect your loved ones.
“Three weeks ago, if we took 100 samples, we got four positives. We are now getting 16 positives. In November in Lagos, five persons died of COVID-19, in December, 26 died of it. In Abuja in November, two persons died of COVID-19, in December 18 died of it.
These are all preventable deaths from a disease we know we can protect ourselves from,” Aliyu said.
He went on to advise that the most effective way to ensure one’s protection against the virus would be to assume that virtually all the people you come in contact with are potential carriers, against whom one must protect oneself.
“That way you’ll be able to protect yourself because you would not allow somebody with COVID-19 to come near you without a facemask or cough in your face.
“You wouldn’t hold his or her hand, you wouldn’t embrace them, you wouldn’t allow them to come too close to you.
“So, the best way to enforce protection is to assume that that risk is there with everybody you meet, regardless of whether in an office situation or at home, having a visitor and so on.
“If you have to go into a gathering, preferably, do it outside because if you do it outside, you have a lower risk of getting COVID-19 if you are coming across a positive person than if you are meeting the person indoors,” he said.
However, Nigeria has obviously not been testing enough or enforcing the protocols more stringently.
Aliyu urged state governors to stand up to their responsibilities in this regard, citing scary infection rates as well as facts about the situation in states of the country.
“In the same vein, we are asking state governments to please set up task force teams that are empowered to make sure that people wear facemasks in public and observe all the rules that we have put in place.
“It should be socially unacceptable to come out without a facemask and it is about time that we started putting in place measures to compel people to do the right thing if we cannot convince people to do otherwise in terms of their changing behaviour,” he said.
He said last week, on 37, 000 samples were tested. From these, 9,000 were from Abuja while 7,000 were from Lagos.
“A week ago, over the holiday period, at one point we had over 16,000 samples at the National Reference Laboratory in Gaduwa because the laboratories across the country had closed for the Christmas and New Year holidays. Surely, if you are having a pandemic, would you really close for holidays?”
“So, we appeal to the states to pick up the tab; there are more than 70 public health laboratories throughout the country. Testing is free when it comes to public health.
“If you are travelling, yes you have to pay, but if you are not travelling, you should be able to get a test done,” he said.
Hitting too close to home
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, who with his wife went into self-isolation, after four of his children tested positive for COVID-19, also said the majority of his household in his Yola, Adamawa State family house tested positive to the virus, after testing. He and his wife were, however, negative.
He said at the briefing that the Federal Government won’t fold its arms and watchcitizens die of the virus when preventive measures can be taken to save the citizens.
“My wife and I consistently tested negative but members of the household were infected. The last one, it was a nightmare.
“I was not infected. All my four children were infected. So, the agony that you go through even as a father, as a parent.
“A lot of you here are parents, so you need to do everything you can to ensure that you keep yourself and members of your family safe.”
Why death rates are spiking in Nigeria—Mamora
The Minister of State Health Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, said that the late admittance of COVID-19 patients at approved treatment centres largely contributed to the number of deaths recorded in the country.
According to him, the various approved treatment centres have scaled up activities as directed and the quality of care continues to improve.
“A major factor contributing to the mortality of cases is the late presentation at the approved treatment centres.
“We, therefore, appeal to caregivers not to hold on to suspected cases who fit the case identification protocol for longer than necessary and refer promptly.
“This will greatly improve treatment outcomes and drive our case fatality rate further down,” he said.
He also said that the Federal Government has been making spirited efforts at ensuring the availability of oxygen on a short-term basis through collaboration with CACOVID while still pursuing the process for immediate intervention for nationwide equitable and sustainable oxygen availability at the Federal Tertiary Hospitals as well as State-owned Hospitals.