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Second wave: Low testing as COVID-19 ravages states

Only 0.4 per cent of Nigerians tested since February.

COVID-19 infection is on the increase across the 36 states with experts saying current figures would have been much higher if the testing capacity is better, Daily Trust reports.

In the last one week, the number of infections has doubled with more people dying amidst increased violation in observing safety protocols.

Sources say infections and deaths are only limited to what is being reported in the media and decried that more people especially the elderly and those with underlying complications are dying in towns and villages after infecting others.

They, therefore, called for a radical approach to stem the tide before it gets out of hand as obtained in other parts of the world that had better response capacity.

Second wave

On Thursday last week, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said Nigeria had entered the second wave of the pandemic.

Daily Trust reports that while 418 new cases were recorded on Sunday, December 13, the number escalated to 920 yesterday.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said that six deaths were recorded in 24 hours.

The verified Twitter handle of the agency indicated that new infections were reported from 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) within 24 hours.

It showed that Lagos State reported 308 out of the 920 new cases while  FCT had 207; Kaduna 179, Plateau 46, Niger 43, Adamawa 26, Sokoto 18, Rivers 16, Yobe 15, Enugu and Kano 13 each,  Ogun 12, Delta 10, Edo 5; Osun and Oyo 3 each, Anambra 2 and Ekiti 1.

Late response aggravating dilemma

Many Nigerians are complaining about the challenges they face when they want to carry out COVID-19 test in many centres across Nigeria.

At the initial stage, there were lamentations of a delayed result after taking the test, leading to some patients dying even before the result came out.

With the arrival of the second wave of the disease, credible sources said in addition to other factors, many laboratory workers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other parts of the country have contracted the coronavirus; hence the setback in testing capacity and by implication multiplicity of undetected infections.

Daily Trust reports that since the outbreak of the disease in February, only 874,617 samples have been tested by the NCDC in a country of over 200 million people. Out of those tested, 77,933 turned out positive as of Sunday.

“This is not the reflection of the true situation in the country,” a health official in Abuja who does not want his name mentioned, said.

In Abuja, a civil servant who is in isolation and awaiting his results told Daily Trust that he was asked to expect his result after four days.

Though, asymptomatic, he lamented that on the number of days for the results to be known while in private labs it is just two days.

“I would advise those showing serious symptoms to go to a private lab where it is done at N50, 000 and within a shorter period because, at the NCDC centre, it would take not less than four working days before the results are out. I did mine on Friday and was asked to expect my result on Wednesday,” he said.

Another source said it could take a long time if one was not lucky. “I was told that the testing capacity in the FCT has gone down because some of the laboratory workers have also tested positive of recent,” he said.

NCDC speaks

Asked about the delay in getting COVID-19 test results in spite of the second wave and spike in cases, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that in the last few weeks, the country had experienced over 300 per cent increase in the number of samples getting to laboratories for COVID-19 test.

He said since the beginning of the pandemic, health workers in NCDC across treatment centres, state public health teams and other frontline workers had been working hard.

“For example, the NCDC National Reference Laboratory in Abuja has been running 24/7 shifts since the beginning of the year,” he said.

He called on Nigerians whose samples had been taken to remain in self-isolation saying, “This will help us reduce the risk of transmission.”

The Chairman, Medical Sub-Committee, FCT Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Dr. Ejike Orji, said the increasing rate of COVID-19 in FCT and other places was because people failed to adhere to instituted protocols against the virus.

“For instance, if we all use face masks, we will have 95 per cent chance of not contracting the virus. We should avoid large gatherings. People have resumed parties.

“For instance, when you have about 2,000 tests or more in a day, the result may not come out as easily as we want. The delay is not only here but in other climes too.”

Mr Bolade Clement, who went for test after returning from abroad alongside his family, said the process was not as difficult as people made it to look like they did theirs at the E-clinics in Abuja.

According to him, the results were sent to them 48hours after, saying the government had made it easy now by giving license to more laboratory outlets to do the test.

But Sanusi Aliyu, a resident of Gwarinpa said only the privileged could afford to do the test at private laboratories.

Plateau residents adamant

Even though Governor Simon Lalong has tested positive to COVID-19, residents have refused to adhere to the stipulated precautionary measures.

Our correspondents observed that people still go about without face masks, no social distancing, while the hand washing devices and sanitisers provided in public places have either been stolen or vandalized.

The state’s Commissioner of Health, Ndar Lar, told our correspondent that they will take “stringent measures” in enforcing the safety measures as the virus had resurfaced across the country.

The Director-General of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), the country’s apex think-thank, Professor Habu Shuaibu Galadima, died yesterday due to COVID-19 related complications. NIPSS is situated in Kuru, near Jos in Plateau State.

Daily Trust gathered from one of the DG’s aides that Galadima died at the Gwagwalada Isolation centre in Abuja, and was said to have made contact with Governor Lalong and other dignitaries during last Saturday’s graduation of Senior Executive course 42 of the National Institute.

Lalong, who announced that he tested positive to COVID-19 on Thursday, is in isolation.

Before he was appointed DG in August 2019, Prof. Galadima was the Director of Research and the Chief Operating Officer of the Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre of the National Institute.

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday extended his condolences to the family of the late NIPSS DG, government and people of Nasarawa State, describing the deceased as an intellectual colossus who stood tall in the field of scholarship and knowledge.

Also, the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdullahi Bawa, and the clerk of the House, Abdullahi Kagara, have contracted coronavirus.

Kaduna recording high numbers

With about 4,451 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the year, Kaduna State is third on the list of states with the high number of infections in the country after collecting more than 33,000 samples.

The number of cases in the state continued to climb with a record of 179 positive cases on Saturday from 639 samples tested in a day, forcing the state government to issue a directive that all civil servants below grade level 14 work from home from today.

Daily Trust reports that in October, Kaduna State commenced walk-in COVID-19 testing across its 23 local government areas. An investigation by our correspondents in some local government areas including Giwa, Lere, Igabi, Kaduna North and South, Jema’a, Chikun, Makarfi and Kudan revealed that the walk-in centres are fully active and samples being taken from residents without paying any money.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) in the state, Aliyu Sokomba, told Daily Trust that, “All over the world, there has been a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and of course for the countries that have intensified their testing, they can pick more and more people testing positive and so, the case in Kaduna State is not an exception. Once you test, chances are that the number of cases detected will increase.

“The more they conduct tests, the more they identify the cases and the more they are isolated and treated and the better it is for all of us,” he said.

Kano records 102 news cases in 4 days

From December 14 to 18, Kano State had recorded 102 new cases of COVID-19 from the 770 samples tested, with officials of the state’s COVID-19 response team saying they were optimising testing capacity to meet up with the emerging trend.

Speaking with our correspondent in a phone interview, Dr Sabitu Shu’aibu Shanono, the deputy coordinator of the state’s COVID-19 response team, said they were aware of the increase in the number of cases in communities.

He said the team in Kano did not down tool after the first wave of the pandemic.

However, Daily Trust observed that there was little or no change in the attitude of residents as mosques, churches, markets and other social gatherings do not observe the required social distancing nor enforce the use of face masks or handwashing among other measures.

It is believed across the state’s metropolis that most of the few people still using facemasks do so because of dust as a result of the Harmattan season and not because of COVID-19.

Jigawa State had ordered the closure of schools in a move to curtail the spread of the virus.

Between December 14 and 18, Jigawa and Katsina states have recorded 48 and 187 new cases from the unspecified number of samples collected.

At an event on December 17 in Kano, the Deputy Governor of Katsina State, Mannir Yakubu, who is also the chairman of emergency response committee on COVID-19, had said that they were mobilising “enormous resources in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

10 in 100 samples come out positive in Lagos

In Lagos State, findings indicate that out of every 100 tests conducted, an average of ten people turn out to be positive, which shows an increase from the five per hundred recorded in September, but lower than the peak in August, which was between 20 and 30 per hundred.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, rising from a virtual Executive Council meeting on Friday, stated that Lagos was recording an increase in COVID-19 cases in all local governments. The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said that the state had recorded 26,215 cases of COVID-19 between February and December 17.

Abayomi explained that during the first wave of COVID-19, there were only 100 -150 cases per day while at the beginning of the second wave, the state was recording 100 to 459 cases.

The State epidemiologist, Dr Ismail Abdul Salam, said yesterday that they have a functional isolation centre for the treatment of COVID-19 at the infectious disease hospital (IDH) in Yaba.

In Ogun State, our correspondent gathered that 151 patients are currently on home management of COVID-19 treatment, while 34 deaths have so far been recorded in the state.

Dr Hakeem Yusuf, the state epidemiologist told our correspondent that, “Our testing is decentralised to LGAs, so one can get tested in any of our LGAs where he or she resides”.

In Oyo state, 27 patients are at Olodo treatment centre. The Commissioner for Health in the state, Bashir Bello, told Daily Trust that the state had seven functional test centres saying the system was structured for people to get the result of their test in less than 24 hours.

In Ondo, the acting Commissioner for Health and Special Adviser to Governor Akeredolu on Health, Dr Jibayo Adeyeye, said coronavirus had killed 41 people in the state this year. Our correspondent reports that people in the state were no longer observing safety measures put in place.

In Ekiti, 23 people are currently on admission at the treatment centre even as the state is still running its COVID- 19 molecular laboratory.

The Commissioner for Information, Civic Orientation and Values, Mr Akin Omole, cautioned that the second wave would most likely be more devastating the first phase.

Why Nigeria entered second wave – FG

The federal government said complacency and laxity in enforcing COVID-19 protocols were responsible for the spike in cases and the eventual second wave of the virus.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, who disclosed during an appearance on NTA Weekend file, said the new wave was connected to many factors including the reopening of schools, airports and borders.

The minister noted that relaxation of the populace in adhering to COVID-19 protocols as evident in the way they are hosting parties and other gatherings made the resurgence of the virus imminent.

“The so-called second wave is a thing that we have been warning about, it is the complacency that we have had that brought about the new wave of the new COVID-19 infections.

“So, there are many factors responsible for this wave and we need to reverse all of this and come back to safer areas,” he said.

He admitted that government institutions also failed in their responsibilities in enforcing COVID-19 guidelines because “they thought we were out of the woods, even some people congratulated us for defeating coronavirus. We made it clear that the situation is very fluid and very much around us and would probably be around us for some time.”


By: Ojoma Akor, Olayemi John-Mensah, Faruk Shuaibu (Abuja), Dickson S. Adama, Ado Abubakar Musa (Jos), Lami Sadiq (Kaduna), Clement A. Oloyede (Kano), Abdullateef Aliyu, Christiana T. Alabi, Risikat Ramon

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