January will be tough, spike in COVID-19 infections imminent – NCDC

Friday Olokor and Adelani Adepegba

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has said that the nation’s health system is struggling to cope with the increasing number of coronavirus infections daily.

The centre warned that the nation would pay in January for disregarding the health protocols.

Speaking at the  briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Tuesday, the Director-General, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu said, “We just faced the worst week since we started responding to this outbreak. We had more cases in Nigeria last week than in any other previous week since the beginning of the outbreak.

“Pictures and videos from across the country paint a very disheartening situation because it appears that our messages, our appeals to Nigerians over the last few months have not been heeded and we have gone ahead with business as usual.

“Events centres are full, social activities are full and so it is no surprises that cases are rising.

“January will be a tough month, no doubt about it. So, we have to brace ourselves for the consequences of the activities that we have decided to carry out in December.”

FG blames states for low testing, threatens to suspend passport

The Federal Government on Tuesday expressed disappointment with states, saying despite the resources made available to them, testing for COVID – 19 had been very low.

It also said with effect from January 1, 2021, the passports of the first 100 passengers that failed to take their day seven post-arrival PCR test would be published in the national dailies, while the passports, as deterrence, would also be suspended till June 2021.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID – 19, Boss Mustapha, added that the government had worked out additional quarantine protocols to be observed by travellers from the UK and South Africa.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, also spoke during the press conference of the PTF.

He said, “Reports received also point to the fact that laboratories recently established in the states are not working optimally. You will recall that we moved from two laboratories to about 90 (public and private) in all the states of the federation.

“Their inability to function optimally has resulted in unacceptable levels of delay in receiving results and the pressure on the National Reference Labs. We wish to urge all states to reopen all laboratories and ensure that testing is expanded and turnaround time for results is substantially reduced.”

The SGF said week 52 had so far given the nation the highest number of infections in a single week.

“We are also seeing increasing transmission among younger people and this is not considered good and safe. We must therefore exercise utmost restraint by taking responsibility,” Mustapha said

While stressing the issue of oxygen availability as critical to the success of case management, the SGF said that there was an ongoing review of the chain for the supply of medical oxygen for medical facilities across the nation.

While recalling that the PTF recently issued some protocols to states to which a number of states had been actively implementing, he commended the  states and urge others to follow suit.

The SGF also said that the PTF has worked out additional quarantine protocols to be observed by travellers arriving from the UK and South Africa.

e said, “The new policy started from Monday, 28th December, 2020. Key changes include requirement from passengers for two additional documents, permit to travel/QR code obtained from the travel portal after payment for the day seven post-arrival test; and COVID-19 PCR negative test with a validity now shortened to 96 hours or 4 days.”

Vaccines must be approved by NAFDAC, says FG

Also, the Minister of State for Health, Olorunimbe Mamora, said the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control would check and approve any vaccine that would be administered in Nigeria.

According to him, many candidate vaccines are coming up but anyone Nigeria decides on, will be thoroughly investigated and approved by NAFDAC.

He also revealed that Nigeria had yet to decide on the vaccine to get but the Federal Government was working with other partners to get vaccine by the first quarter of 2021.

Sources: PUNCH