Concerns are ripe among authorities and young graduates currently at the various camps of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) across the country, as at least 109 prospective corps members were diagnosed with COVID-19.
The NYSC orientation camps were opened at the weekend for Batch B, Stream 1 of this year’s season of the national youth service.
- FG tasks IT professionals on Nigeria’s cyberspace safety
- 13 trafficking victims rescued by NAPTIP, NSCDC, DSS
The cases were detected following mandatory COVID-19 tests conducted on reporting corps members. The identified cases, our reporters gathered, have been moved to isolation centres in the respective states.
NYSC officials at the states level have constituted COVID-19 Vanguard, a team to aid enforce compliance to health protocols on the camps.
The federal government had, on Monday, raised the alarm over the spread of the contagious Delta variant of the virus to more states, as authorities mull fresh lockdown for the worst-hit states.
Data obtained from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) shows a sharp spike in incidences with 851 cases recorded in the first two days of August.
Similarly, the agency’s statistics indicate that 11 persons died from COVID-19 complications on the second day of the month.
17 cases reported in Edo
In Edo State, 17 corps members tested positive for the virus at the point of registration.
It was gathered that all the corps members were tested for the virus before being admitted into the camp.
The state NYSC Coordinator, Mrs Abiodun Olubukola, had during the swearing-in ceremony inaugurated COVID-19 Vanguard as part of efforts to ensure strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocol.
Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Edo State, Dr Osagie Ebomwonyi, has disclosed that 17 corps members in the state are currently receiving COVID-19 treatment at the hospital’s isolation centre.
The personal assistant to the state NYSC Coordinator, Mr Ozeto Waheed confirmed the development.
26 test positive in Plateau
A staff of NYSC at the orientation camp in Mangu Local Government Area told our correspondent that the camp had recorded 26 cases since the commencement of the orientation exercise.
But the Public Relations Officer of NYSC in Plateau State, Jennifer Laha, said she was not in the position to give any figure of the cases.
Gombe: Response scaled up as 25 test positive
In Gombe State, the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim has called on corps members posted to the state to avail themselves at the testing centre to know their COVID-19 status.
The NYSC DG was in Amada Temporary Orientation Camp following the recently reported COVID-19 cases, where 25 corps members posted to the state tested positive for the disease.
He said that it is mandatory for every corps member to get tested and adhere to the rules, adding that they must comply with the non-pharmaceutical rules to stay safe and return to their parents healthy.
Our correspondent reports that the designated centre, located at the main entrance of the camp, is being managed by the NYSC staff and officials of the NCDC.
Meanwhile, the State Coordinator of NYSC in Gombe, Mrs Ada Imoni has inaugurated a COVID-19 Vanguard and Enforcement Committee for the ongoing exercise.
Mrs Imoni called on the enforcement committee and the COVID-19 Vanguard, comprising of 30 corps members, to ensure that camp participants adhere strictly to safety measures.
Also, the Head of Public Relations of Gombe NYSC, Ms Margaret Iliya Dankama, said all visitors and corps members posted to the camp have to be tested before they are allowed into the camps.
She explained that because of the scrutiny put in place in collaboration with the officials of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), it won’t be possible for any corps member found to be positive to be allowed into the camp.
14 confirmed positive in Sokoto
Fourteen corps members undergoing orientation have been confirmed COVID-19 positive in Sokoto State.
The State Commissioner of Health, Dr Ali Inname disclosed this to newsmen at a press briefing yesterday. He said that the corp members were now receiving treatment in one of the isolation centres.
He noted that 19,557 persons were tested since the emergence of the disease in Sokoto, out of which 787 had been confirmed positive.
He said 28 deaths were recorded in the state from the disease.
Six cases at Ogun NYSC camp
In Ogun State, Daily Trust reports that there has been an upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the last 72 hours, with a record of over 20 new cases. A total of eight new cases of the disease were recorded on Monday.
A statement by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, revealed that six of the new cases were found in Sagamu while the other two were discovered in Ijebu-Ode.
Though the commissioner was not categorical on whether the Sagamu cases were from the NYSC camp, which is located in the area, a corps member told Daily Trust that some cases had been detected and the affected persons evacuated from the camp.
Coker in an earlier statement said, “Present cumulative cases of COVID-19 in Ogun State stands at 4,801 with 12 people currently on admission in the isolation centres while 56 asymptomatic patients are on home management.”
Alert at Bayelsa orientation camp
There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp currently holding at the Kaiama town in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.
Daily Trust checks show that all the corps members deployed to the state were undergoing necessary COVID-19 protocols.
NYSC spokesman in Bayelsa State, Mr Matthew Ngobua, told Daily Trust, “We have NCDC officials in the camp here, we also have COVID-19 Monitoring and Enforcement Committee and we have Corps Vanguard made up of trained corps members from all the platoons to monitor the compliance in wearing face masks, observing social distancing and others.
“There is no positive case in Bayelsa State orientation camp,” he said.
The Bayelsa State Coordinator of NYSC, Mrs Ojugo Elizabeth Iyowuna, during the swearing-in of the corps members on Tuesday stated that the scheme has put the necessary measures on the ground to conduct a safer orientation exercise.
She enjoined all camp participants to observe all COVID -19 safety protocols outlined by the NCDC.
She advised those with serious health challenges to report to the camp management for further guidance and advice.
None in Lagos orientation camp
The Lagos State Coordinator of NYSC, Edwin Megwa on Tuesday confirmed to Daily Trust that there is no case of COVID-19 at the Iyana-Ipaja Orientation Camp in Lagos.
According to Megwa, there is strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols right from the entrance to the campground and as such NYSC did not admit any positive case of coronavirus on camp.
He made known that nobody including the corps members was allowed access into the campground without a temperature check, washing of hands and COVID-19 test.
He emphasised that all the people on camp were tested for COVID-19 before they were allowed into the campground.
“We ensured that the COVID-19 tests were carried out by the gate before gaining access into the premises proper, so that should the result of the test comes out negative, you are allowed in and if positive, you would be isolated before further action is taken.
So, I can tell you categorically that there is no COVID-19 case in Lagos orientation camp,” he reiterated.
21 cases discovered in Taraba NYSC camp
The management of the NYSC in Taraba State has reaffirmed its commitment to the health, welfare and safety of camp officials and all prospective corps members deployed to the state.
Corps members numbering 21 were said to have been found to be positive of the virus while reporting to the camp at the weekend.
The NYSC spokesperson in the state, Mr Wisdom Agida, said that following a rigorous compulsory testing exercise, only prospective corps members and staff who emerged negative have been allowed into the camp.
He revealed that there are NCDC officials in the camp who lead, monitor and ensure compliance with all COVID-19 protocol and are supported by NYSC management.
‘Shut camps to check spread’
An infectious disease expert at the Lagos University teaching hospital (LUTH), Dr Oluwafemi Akinpeloye, has urged the government to consider the easiest option of curbing COVID-19 spread in NYSC camps by shutting down the orientation camps.
According to him, the most effective way of controlling COVID is to suspend the programme for now until the world gets a grip on the disease and understands it better.
Speaking to our correspondent yesterday, he noted that there are various options available for the government in managing the infectious disease in camps.
“The more difficult option is to isolate the corps members with symptoms and send them to the nearest health facility.
“Another option is to build an isolation centre temporarily isolate and treat the patients, the traditional style. While the most difficult option is to increase testing.”
He insisted that a single confirmed case of COVID-19 means the outbreak is imminent because of the close proximity of the youth corps members to each other on parade grounds and the sleeping arrangements.
“They can ensure that there is adequate social distancing and ensure cadets wear their masks and a hand-washing protocol must be enforced,” he said while proffering solutions.
“A COVID-19 vaccine certificate should be demanded from the cadets,” he stated.
We’re safeguarding members – NYSC
The Director, Press and Public Relations, NYSC, Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, told Daily Trust on the telephone that it was not possible for any COVID-19 cases to be in any of the NYSC camps.
“This is because before anyone goes into the camps, there is a test that is conducted and only the people that are confirmed negative are allowed into the camp.
“Everybody that goes into the camp is admitted after the test at the gates. At every camp, there are medical doctors, officials from the NCDC and others too.
“All these people worked together and they conduct Rapid Diagnostics Tests.
“Only those who are negative go into the camps. If anyone requires further tests or further confirmation, they are handed over there to the NCDC surveillance team that takes over from that point.
“So, there is no positive case in any camp nationwide,” Adeyemi said.
When asked what the NYSC will do for corps members who may have contracted the virus outside the camp in their places of primary assignments, she said that the COVID-19 or any health or medical challenges can be attended to at any government hospital and the NYSC handles and paid for such.
Contributors: Abbas Jimoh (Abuja), Usman A. Bello (Benin), Bassey Willie (Yenagoa), Christiana T. Alabi, Risikat Ramoni (Lagos), Ado A. Musa (Jos), Haruna G. Yaya (Gombe) Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Abubakar Auwal (Sokoto) & Magaji I. Hunkuyi (Jalingo)