The federal government has expressed concern over what it described as total disregard for the coronavirus guide-lines and protocols by Nigerians.
Secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) and chairman of the presidential task force on COVID -19 (PTF), Boss Mustapha, who stated this yesterday during the statutory briefing of the task force in Abuja, warned that in spite of appreciable progress Nigeria has recorded so far in containing the virus, citizens should be more vigilant following the reopening of the air space for international travels.
The SGF who recalled that a number of restrictions had been relaxed stressed that more sectors of the economy are reopening just as schools are beginning to reopen.
He said, “The call for greater vigilance is underscored by the fact that our economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic and we are pushing through our home-grown economic recovery strategies to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Also, our health systems, in-spite of its fragility, have been able to withstand and contain cases resulting from COVID-19 infection, where those of more advanced countries have been overwhelmed.
“This call is made more pertinent in view of the noticeably increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven very successful.
“Face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era,” he said.
… Convenes Stakeholders Meeting For Total School Re-Opening
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Education and United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) are holding a stakeholders meeting simultaneously in all geopolitical zones with the aim of reopening schools across the country.
The meeting which commenced yesterday will span through Thursday, September 24, 2020 to plan and address the eventual safe re-opening of schools and learning facilities, nationwide.
High level government officials, including the minister of Health, other participants drawn from the six geographical zones, comprising of all commissioners of Education, Health, SUBEB chairmen, NCDC, traditional rulers, SBMCs, PTA and other influential leaders are taking part in the meeting.
Nwajuiba said the ministry considers it expedient to hold the meeting to plan and address the eventual safe re-opening of schools and learning facilities, nationwide.
“Accordingly, the Federal Ministry of Education developed the Safe School Readiness Template for an integrated ap-proach to safe school re-opening which comes with many lessons. The template requires the full engagement of all stakeholders which is considered a sine qua non for successful implementation,” he said.
In a statement by the ministry’s spokesperson, Ben Bem Going, the minister stressed that great accomplishments are made based on synergy.
“It is on this premise that we are all here to deliberate and adopt the Template for the Safe Re-opening of schools and learning facilities,” the statement noted.
10% Of COVID-19 Cases Are Under The Age Of 19 – Minister
Meanwhile, the minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has revealed that youths under the age of 19 account for 10 per cent of current confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The minister who stated this at the daily briefing of the PTF on yesterday said, “With regard to COVID-19 and growing complacency, it is important to stress that, even though adults, especially those 60 years and above are more vulnera-ble, complications do occur in all age groups. Records show that 10 per cent of all positive cases we have treated are below the age of 19 years.
“They are also the same mobile group that can be without symptoms, but can easily spread the disease. Therefore, as schools begin to reopen in some areas, I urge caution and adherence to the protocols and advisories for reopening schools, in order join us to prevent COVID surge”.
On the need for testing, the minister said, “It is important for us to generate national and international confidence in our data by conducting more targeted testing before we draw conclusions. It means that all states and local govern-ment areas must cooperate with NCDC by raising sample collection rate, using criteria listed, to increase testing to a desired rate and to report promptly; as we are still far from the target of two million tests. In this regard we can sup-port states with community volunteers for contact tracing, case finding and investigation.
“While stepping up surveillance and case finding, states can also ensure that suspected symptomatic COVID cases are sent for treatment in time or supported before then with medical oxygen, to save lives and reduce fatalities,” he stressed.
NCDC To Test For Anti-bodies In 4 States
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and their partners are conducting anti-bodies household surveys in four states in Nigeria to better understand the burden of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.
Speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force yesterday, the director-general of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said these seroprevalence surveys, which will be carried out in Gombe, Enugu, Nasarawa and Lagos States will provide the best evidence yet on the extent of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.
Explaining further what the surveys entail, Ihekweazu said,
“Seroprevalence surveys are used to identify the occurrence of disease in a population by estimating the presence of antibodies in individuals who have had the disease. This is done by testing blood samples in randomly selected house-holds in selected states.
“For Nigeria’s COVID-19 seroprevalence survey, household members will answer a brief questionnaire, be tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, as well as for acute COVID-19, if they consent”.
In a related development, NCDC and NIMR have launched the COVID-19 Household Surveys in four states across the country.
The surveys will be conducted between September and November in four states of Gombe, Enugu, Nasarawa and Lagos States, and preliminary results are expected to be released by December 2020.