By Seun Adeuyi & Adejumo Enock
The Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, (PTF) has raised alarm over recent upsurge in Corona Virus infections, warning that a second lock down may be inescapable if the Nigerians continue to flout all the COVID-19 protocols.
PTF stated that in the last two weeks, its surveillance system recorded a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases across the country and warned citizens to observe all stipulated modes of behaviours so as to sustain the gains made so far in Nigeria’s COVID-19 response.
The ravaging virus has not only sent many early to their grave, but has forced people to stay at home amidst several months of local and international lock down. Social distancing, constant hand washing with soap and running water, use of hand sanitizers as well as use of face mask in public places became the new normal and most effective preventive response against the virus further spread.
Countries like Italy, Spain, Germany, China and France suffered more deaths and a new wave of reinfection is forcing them into a second lockdown.
Nigeria may also be on the verge of a second wave of the infection and imminent lockdown, Minister of Health, Dr. Ehanire Osagie warned following recent escalation on the infection curve.
His words, “We may just be on the verge of a second wave of this pandemic.” His comments came a day after South Africa said it had officially entered a second wave.
Nigeria, with a population of about 200 million people, has about 73,374 confirmed cases, 5,863 active cases, 66,314 patients discharged and 1,197 deaths as at Monday night, according to the data released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
A highlights of the situation shows as follows:
Ø On the 14th of December 2020, 201 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria.
Ø Till date, 73,374 cases have been confirmed, 66,314 cases have been discharged and 1,197 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Ø A multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at Level 3, continues to coordinate the national response activities. Giving a highlight on the recent upsurge.
COVID-19 Statistics by State
|States Affected||No. of Cases (Lab Confirmed)||No. of Cases (on admission)||No. Discharged||No. of Deaths|
The New Wave of Infection and Death
The number of prominent Nigerians that have lost their lives to the unseen virus include former chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, the former governor of Nigeria’s Oyo State, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi, A Nigerian doctor, Emeka Chugbo; a former Managing Director of PPMC Suleiman Achimugu; Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Mr Osinowo and many more.
Just recently, Lagos state governor, Sanwo-Olu, who is also the Incident Commander of the state COVID-19 response, tested positive and went into self-isolation after one of his close aides tested positive for the ravaging virus.
Similarly, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), who also is the Chairman of the Presidential task force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, and his wife went into self-isolation after some members of their household tested positive for coronavirus.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, again went into isolation recently after an immediate family member and senior officials of the State Government tested positive for the virus. El-Rufai is one of prominent Nigerians who tested positive for the virus in the earliest stages of the pandemic.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been flown to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates for treatment.
The Nigerian Military were not left out as Major General John Olu Irefin, last week, died of COVID-19 complications. Following his death, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai ordered a general test on 417 personnel present at the conference and 26 officers have tested positive for the novel virus.
The Chairman and publisher of Leadership Newspaper, Sam Nda-Isaiah also died on Sunday of complications linked to COVID-19 infection.
Health workers prepare to bury the remains of Nigeria’s Chief of Staff (COS), Abba Kyari who just died of the novel coronavirus arrived at the Gudu Cemetery where he will be buried in Abuja, Nigeria, April 18, 2020. Picture AFP.
Following the new outbreak, The Special Assistant on Digital/New Media to President Muhammadu Buhari, Tolu Ogunlesi warned that another round of lockdown may not be avoided in the first quarter of 2021.
He stated that 2020 will be a lot like 2021, adding there will be desperate attempts at flattening the curve.
Tolu Ogunlesi who disclosed this via his verified twitter account @toluogunlesi on Monday tweeted, “From a Covid POV, looks like H1 2021 will be a lot like 2020 – restrictions, lockdowns, desperate attempts at curve-flattening.
“That’s probably the second most daring roguish feat 2020 has pulled off – this act of deluding us all regarding it as an aberration”.
“Maybe we should fight back by postponing 2021 until further notice. Until 2020 fully and irreversibly convinces us it’s run out of impish energy”.
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Mohammed Bello has threatened to lock down the FCT unless there is concerted effort by residents to flatten the curve by observing all the COVID-19 rules.
He said that another lockdown is inevitable if the residents of the Capital continue to ignore the safety measures in containing COVID-19.
The Minister who disclosed this in the FCT Emergency stakeholders’ review meeting on the 2nd wave of Covid-19 Pandemic held in Abuja on Monday, said the second wave of the virus is deadlier as lives are already being lost in the Territory.
While condemning the non-compliance of residents to the safety protocols of COVID-19, Bello urged the residents to adhere to all protocols stipulated to prevent the spread of the Virus.
He further stated that washing of hands, maintaining social distance, and wearing of face masks will help curb the Virus.
The FCT Minister warned that declaring another round of lockdown will be detrimental to Abuja’s Economy.
However, the Minister has also triggered the process of reactivating the Ikharo Attah led disbanded COVID-19 task force to ensure that FCT residents comply with the new protocols for the immediate flattening of the curve.
Speaking with The Breaking Times on Tuesday, Attah said that the Minister just summoned him and is planning to reconstitute the task force immediately for the enforcement of COVID-19 protocols.
Kaduna, Jigawa Lock down Schools
The Kaduna State Government on Tuesday in a statement, ordered the closure of schools across the 23 Local Government Areas of the state from Wednesday.
The State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Shehu Makarfi said that the decision was a proactive measure upon the upsurge of the COVID-19 virus in the state so as to guard against a second wave of escalation and lockdown.
He said, “The increased cases of COVID-19 showed a replication of figures recorded in the first wave of the virus in April, May and June 2020, adding that a new wave of the infection is fast spreading across the state.
“As part efforts to control the spread of the pandemic and save citizens’ lives in the state, the state is directing all public and private schools to close on Wednesday, 16th December, 2020”.
“To reduce the impact on teaching and learning, all schools would continue to plan lessons and where possible, provide online resources for students or online lessons for the students.
“Learners in the basic, post basic and secondary school levels could continue learning even at home from the Kaduna State TV and Radio e-Learning Programmes,” the statement added.
On the same note, The Jigawa State Government on Tuesday announced the closure of public and private primary and secondary schools across the state following the increasing cases of coronavirus in the country.
The acting Permanent Secretary at the State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Rabiu Adamu, in a statement in Dutse, advised parents and guardians to prepare for the evacuation of their children and wards back home from Wednesday, especially those in boarding schools.
The PTF also disclosed that COVID-19 vaccine will not arrive into the country earlier than 2021. The PTF through the NCDC twitter handle stated,
“We are on course to access safe & efficacious COVID19 vaccines in the 1st quarter of 2021… We’ll be leveraging the Polio resources & experiences to ensure successful delivery of the vaccines to the last mile, especially to the high risk populations”.
Also collaborating the plan, Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala after a meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama gave assurances that the COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the country in the first quarter of 2021.
Okonjo-Iweala said that the international initiative involved the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, GAVI, and the international community is working to get vaccines delivered to developing and poorer countries, in an affordable manner and quickly.
Her words, “So, the Pfizer vaccine, the AstraZeneca, those are being negotiated now so that poor countries don’t have to stand in line behind rich countries.
“So, we hope they are starting by the end of January. We will be able to reach these countries, including most of the African countries, Nigeria included, will be able to get access to some of these vaccines.
“Initially, it will be for frontline health workers, followed by some other target groups – older people, those with underlying conditions, and then, from there, the rest of the population. I think the COVAX facility can cover maybe 20-23 per cent of the population by the end of next year.”
COVID-19 Herbal Remedy
There is yet no approved traditional Medicines that have been potent enough to cure the virus even as many herbal practitioners had sent samples of traditional drugs to the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for approval.
The National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said that it has received about 40 herbal formulations applications for the treatment of COVID-19 from researchers in the country.
The Director-General, NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye, said the 40 herbal formulations are currently undergoing review to ensure their safety for use but warned that if not well researched, herbal medicine could kill fast.
She said, “When it comes to herbal medicine you cannot say this medicine can cure until you do clinical trials. You can only change the recommendation on the product to provide relief for this, or management of that. You cannot cure COVID-19 when you don’t do antiviral testing. You have to go to clinical trials and use so many people. Our herbal medicine may be able to cure COVID-19 but it depends on the stage”.
As it is, the only alternative is for Nigerians to reinvent the recommended non-clinical remedy or get ready for another round of lockdown which may finally cripple the already fragile economy and the consequent rounds of deaths and health complications associated with the virus.
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