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FG warns on possibility of second wave of COVID-19 in Nigeria

..Urges Nigeria to avoid non-essential trip to high risk countries

The Federal government has warned Nigerians against non- challant attitude to the COVID-19 protocols, as fresh wave of the pandemic hits Europe and ahead of the resumption of schools in Nigeria on Monday, 12th October, 2020.

Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, speaking at the national Presidential Task Force PTF, briefing, on COVID-19 on Thursday, in Abuja, called for increased vigilance especially by Health workers and airport officials.

Ehanire revealed that 22 peesons out of a total of 1,473 Persons of Interest (POI) tested across 3 laboratories in the FCT since the opening of the international travel air space, tested positive, as at 26th September.

The minister therefore advised Nigerians against non-essential travel to high burden countries.

Federal government had announced the reopening of schools, which will further increase economic activities, even as international flights increase.

Federal governemnt said the country may record a surge in the number of positive cases, if responses strategies of trace, test, isolate and treat are not scaled up.

Ehanire expressed concern over what he described as “huge covid increases in certain countries with Nigeria have high volume of human traffic.

“The risks that the movement of travelers create, can only be countered with improved surveillance programs.

“I wish to specially solicit that all travelers cooperate with border authorities to protect our people and also our health system from stress. We are obliged to reduce the risk of covid importation to a minimum”, he urged.

The minister,further informed that testing and tracing capabilities have improved with virtually every state having atleast one laboratory that has increased the daily testing capacity to about 3,500.

He however said the country is still testing well below the capacity, because laboratories are receiving fewer samples than they could handle, leaving some partners to doubt our reports.

“I therefore appeal to state governments to improve on sample collection and capacity utilization. All persons with covid evocative symptoms, or who may have come in contact with a confirmed covid case should please submit themselves for testing”, the minister said.

With regard to Rapid Diagnostic Tests RDTs, the Minister informed that the sensitivity and specificity is about 85% and its use is limited to specific circumstances.

Ehanire announced that Federal Ministry of Health will organize a Primary Health Summit in the second week of November to unveil the President’s agenda on Basic Health Care and the areas of emphasis in the march to Universal Health Coverage.

Ehanire said the Basic Health Care Provision Fund is in full operation and all eligible States have received their allocations. The BHCPF 2020 Manual will be formally presented on that date. Details will follow in due course.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said the PTF and relevant agencies are working with the European Union on the issue of flights into Nigeria.

” As soon as negotiations are completed, Nigerians will be informed accordingly.

He noted that flights currently allowed into Nigeria, show a combined number of 4,500 arriving passengers per day into Lagos and Abuja

Mustapha who noted that “reports have suggested that many Nigerians do not trust the government and its agencies” however called on Nigerians “to continue to build mutual trust between government and the governed if successes already recorded are to be sustained in the fight against COVID-19”

He stated that although Nigeria is no longer in the top five countries by cumulative deaths in Africa, the PTF continues to urge Nigerians to change their attitude of scepticism and nonchalance to the virus. For the avoidance of doubts, the virus is real, ferocious and deadly. To date, Nigeria has recorded 59,738 confirmed cases and 1,113 fatalities.

The PTF said it is fully conscious, but not deceived, by the fact that the county’s recovery rate is high and very encouraging.
“We still urge, however, that everyone should get tested because testing is the only way to detect, isolate, trace and treat.

The Director General of Nigeria Center for Disease Control NCDC, Chikwe Ikekwazu announced that the NCDC, the ministry of education and the National youth services Corp, NYSC are working in collaboration to publish guideline for the safe reopening of schools and camp.

He also noted that a digital surveillance tool has been activated in local government areas of the country, airports, points of entries and land borders to help improve the surveillance of vivid and other effects diseases in the country.

The NCDC boss also noted that samples would no longer be transferred from different parts of the country to a particular center as all states now have their own laboratories

“Yesterday we finally activated the 69th public health lab In Niger state, bringing it to 69 PCR lab, 22 expert labs and 17 private sector labs, currently with the capacity to test for covid-19 in our country” he added

Chikwe also revealed the Introduction of two rule antigen base rapid diagnostic test kits that have been recently given for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

The two test kits, according to him, have a shorter turn around time and can help public health workers to initiate immediate health response, thought it will not replace PCR test, the context of its usage will be given.

Tony Ailemen, Godsgift Onyedinefu, Gift Wada, Abuja.

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