Director General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu
The Nigerian Medical Association on Sunday said Nigerians must be vigilant to avoid rising cases of COVID-19 in the country. The NMA President, Prof Innocent Ujah, who gave the advice in an interview with The PUNCH, said the country could not afford an upsurge in coronavirus cases. Ujah stated this as the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, warned Nigerians against non-adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols, saying the country was still at the risk of coronavirus. Our correspondents across the country on Sunday reported that there had been laxity in the adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols. In Lagos for example, unlike three months ago, motorists were no more observing social distancing as they fully loaded their buses. Also, most passengers discarded the use of face masks which was made compulsory three months ago when COVID-19 infections were at their peak. An Oshodi-bound, passenger, Idayat Aderibigbe, who boarded a fully-loaded 18-seater bus at Sango, Ogun State, said she stopped wearing face masks last month. “When drivers insisted that we must wear it, I considered it as inconvenience, but nobody cares now. God is our protector. Coronavirus has gone,” she said. In Enugu State, a student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Raymond Chidinma, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said, “I don’t take my face masks around again as I used to do.” A resident of Enugu, the state capital, Stella Omaba, who works at the Nigerian Correctional Service, told The PUNCH that she wore the facemask and observed other NCDC protocol only when she was at work. A resident of Kano, Musa Lawan, said he had before been observing the protocol when the pandemic was at its peak in the state, but later stopped due to the reduction in the number of cases in the state. “I don’t know when last I used face mask or used sanitiser because the number of cases has drastically reduced if compared with the time the pandemic broke out between February and March 2020,” he said. As of Saturday, 2020, a total of 62,853 cases had been recorded in Nigeria, while 1,144 people had died of the virus. No fewer than 58,675 recoveries had also been recorded as of October 31. On the contrary, there has been an upsurge in coronavirus infections in Europe and the United States. For instance, as of Saturday, the United Kingdom had confirmed over one million COVID-19 cases, out of which almost 47,000 deaths had been recorded. The country’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, on Saturday announced a four-week national lockdown as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. He had said, “Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative. From Thursday until the start of December, you must stay at home.” In the US, a total of 9,402,590 cases had been recorded as of Saturday according to worldometers.info. No fewer than 36,072 deaths have been recorded.. Commenting on the increasing COVID-19 cases in Europe and the US, the NMA president, Ujah, said, “The cases have been rising in Europe and America, we also have had our fair share but not as terrible as their own. We must remain vigilant because our health system cannot contain what countries in Europe and America have been able to contain. We do not want anything that will worsen the bad situation.” He gave the advice in an interview with The PUNCH in view of the increasing cases of the virus in Europe and other parts of the world. The DG, in an electronic mail sent to one of our correspondents in response to an enquiry, said increasing cases of COVID-19 in Europe should serve as a warning to Nigerians that virus was still in circulation. He said, “We are aware that the number of COVID-19 cases is escalating in other parts of the world. This is a reminder to all of us that the virus is still in circulation and we remain at risk of infection, especially where public health and safety measures are not adhered to. “Following our review of lessons learned when the pandemic began, we introduced more stringent airport screening measures to limit the reintroduction of cases from other countries. These include the compulsory pre-and post-travel test for everyone coming into Nigeria.
“While this may have seemed inconvenient to some people, it has enabled us detect new cases and limit the risk of spread of the disease. In addition to the travel tests, our colleagues at port health services work very hard to screen passengers for fever and other personal history that may put a person at risk. We also continue our extensive risk communications so that Nigerians are aware of the risk of infection and adhere to measures to reduce this risk.” He, however, advised Nigerians to take personal responsibility by adhering to public health measures such as wearing face masks in public settings, physical distancing and frequent hand washing with soap and running water.
Wike threatens churches for flouting covid-19 guidelines
In a related development, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, threatened to sanction any churches that flouted COVID-19 protocol in the state. Wike stated this at the Saint Thomas Anglican Church in Mile 2 Diobu, in the Port Harcourt Local Government Area during Chief Azubuike Nmerukini’s family special thanksgiving service organised in honour of his wife, Dame Oroma Nmerukini who survived a health challenge. Nmerukini is the Chairman of the state Local Government Service Commission. The Governor according to a statement is by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri Wike on Sunday observed that more than 85 per cent of worshippers did not wear facemasks during the service. He warned that if the trend continued, the state government would be compelled to revisit its position on the number of worshippers in a church service. The governor stated, “85 per cent of those who are here are not wearing face masks. That is the problems we have. Nobody wants to obey a simple instruction. The mere fact that we have agreed that we should worship and allow everybody, does not mean that we should disobey the protocol.“My lord Bishop, encourage our people to wear their face masks. It is very important. If this continues then I will go back and review the restriction to say it cannot be more than a particular number”, he said