Nigeria, on Tuesday, recorded 404 new infections of the coronavirus, the highest since March 8, 2021, to reconfirm that the country was witnessing the third wave of the virus. The third wave is heavily driven by the Delta variant of the virus which health experts have warned is more contagious and deadly.
Indeed, since the second week of July, Nigeria has continuously recorded a significant number of cases daily as against what was recorded in May and June. Data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) shows that from July 1-27, the COVID-19 infections stood at 4,010, compared to 1,100 and 1,394 recorded in May and June 2021, respectively.
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Altogether, Nigeria’s total COVID-19 infections stand at 171,728 with 4,737 active cases and 2,134 deaths.
To tackle the new wave, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on Tuesday directed all COVID-19 isolation centres to immediately activate their facilities in anticipation of a possible spike in infection.
The call was made because many states of the federation had shut down their isolation centres just as they had jettisoned testing. The protocols have also been thrown out the window in most of the states. A report by Daily Trust newspaper showed that even where the isolation centres have not been shut down, they are deserted with no drugs and personnel.
There are also reports of visitors and citizens from abroad who refused to submit themselves for the coronavirus test and accompanying isolation for persons returning from countries that are heavily hit by the virus.
It is indeed a shame that while a virus is still raging in other countries, state governments decided to shut down their isolation facilities. It is true that the cases in Nigeria are not as high as those recorded in many other countries, but it is better to err on the side of caution. The world is a global village and no country is safe if one is afflicted. So until the coronavirus is totally wiped out Nigeria should take it seriously.
It is worth noting here that Nigeria does not have the health centres, personnel or resources to handle what is going on in some of the hard-hit countries and it will be better that we do not get there as a country.
We call on governors of all the 36 states of the country and the FCT to reactivate all the isolation and testing centres and have them fully equipped, as it is on record that money was given out to them at the onset of the pandemic last year for that purpose. Oxygen must be provided in adequate quantity for people who might need it.
There COVID protocols which include the use of masks, embargo on large gatherings, among others should be revived and states should put in place machinery to ensure that they are complied with. Defaulters should be punished to serve as deterrent to others.
We call on the NCDC to embark on massive testing of citizens so that anyone found with the virus can be isolated and treated as a way of preventing many others from getting the virus. The government must also be strict on its protocols for people entering the country through the airports. The situation whereby some persons enter the country and refuse to be tested should not even arise. The rules should be applied on all travellers into the country. Anyone who refuses to subject him/herself to the rules should be sent back. Also, the authorities should find a way of monitoring those entering the country through the land borders.
Furthermore, efforts should be made to hasten the delivery of the over 29 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines purchased by Nigeria through the African Union AVATT facility; and the other vaccines being expected and while at it, it should embark on massive campaigns so that many Nigerians will get vaccinated. There are reports that some persons who took the first shot of the vaccine failed to turn up for the second. The government, therefore, has its work cut out. It needs to talk to the people so that they understand the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Nigeria, at the moment, is battling insecurity and a dwindling economy, it cannot afford a health crisis, therefore, anything that can spare the nation from a heavy bout of the coronavirus should be avoided.