Worried by the increasing COVID-19 cases and poor adherence to preventive measures across the country, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has urged Nigerians to adhere to recommended measures put in place by the public health authorities during the Yuletide.
The director-general of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the agency, is escalating its ongoing public communications efforts through a new campaign themed “Celebrate Responsibly and Save Lives”, is focused on all Nigerians to take all necessary precautions for a safe and healthy Christmas celebration.
“Critically, Nigerians are being urged to adhere to recommended measures by NCDC and other public health authorities, as they celebrate Christmas and New Year. Please avoid all non-essential travel within and outside Nigeria to reduce the risk of transmission.
“The virus that causes COVID-19 is more likely to spread in mass gatherings especially when held indoors. We advise that people avoid mass gatherings during this time, or hold them outdoors with physical distancing, compulsory use of facemasks and provision of handwashing facilities or hand sanitizer,” Ihekweazu stated.
Further, Ihekweazu said: “The campaign is specifically focused on the next four weeks, which includes the Christmas, New Year holiday and start of the new year, as there is a need to reinforce to Nigerians that now is not the time to let down our guard.
“COVID-19 has continued to threaten lives and livelihoods and we must take all precautions necessary. It will include the production of audio and visual materials which have been translated to local languages, for wide dissemination. The NCDC urges all individuals, traditional and religious leaders, business owners, the media, and other institutions to join the campaign.”
The campaign is part of the #TakeResponsibility campaign which began in February 2020 and focuses specifically on measures Nigerians need to take to protect themselves and loved ones during the Christmas and New Year period.
According to Ihekweazu, in the last two weeks, there has been a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country.
“On the 17th of December, a record daily number of 1,145 new confirmed cases were recorded. This increase is as a result of the convergence of circumstances which includes increased local and international travels, business, and religious activities with minimal compliance with COVID-19 safety measures by the members of the public.
“As of 21st December 2020, a total of 78,790 cases and 1,227 deaths have been recorded in Nigeria across all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, with over 70 million cases reported globally.”
The NCDC boss observed that enforcement of adherence to the safety measures is not only the sole responsibility of the government.
“Individuals and institutions have a responsibility too and need to play their part in ensuring adherence to the preventive measures. The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the PTF-COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Information and Health, as well as NCDC and its partners, are therefore intensifying risk and crisis communication efforts to remind all of us about our collective responsibility.”
The campaign is being implemented with the Federal Ministry of Information and other Government Institutions and partners involved in the COVID-19 response. It emphasises the responsibility of Nigerians, the government, the private sector, institutions, associations, communities, and individuals in implementing and adhering to the COVID-19 prevention and response measures.