The war against the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic is far from being over. In fact, citing a combination of factors, those who should know are alarmed at a possible spike in the rate of new infections in the country.
The expected surge may not be unrelated to the recent gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States, the recent #EndSARS protests and refusal to comply with protocols by citizens arriving the country from abroad.
These were the submission of Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha on Tuesday. He said the next two weeks are critical in the fight against the virus.
Mustapha, at the briefing of the PTF, decried the failure of Nigerians who arrived from abroad to present themselves for the in-country Polymerase Chain Reaction test they signed up to before arrival, according to Abuja Reporters.
He said statistics from the nation’s records showed that only one out of three passengers had shown up for the in-country test.
“The PTF at the last briefing cautioned on the need to avoid complacency on account of the low number of infections published daily and the possibility of a second wave. That advice was premised on the fact that risk perception remains very low and sample collection has been on the decline,” Mustapha said.
He also cited the recent governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States as well as the #EndSARS nationwide protests.
“The PTF is highlighting these issues repeatedly because we remain at risk of importation, having opened our airspace and massive spread as a result of the protests. The next week or two remain critical.
“The PTF similarly announced sanctions as a consequence of any infraction. Having observed serious non-compliance to the level of 65%, the need has arisen to activate the sanctions, including the suspension of the passports of such defaulting individuals for a period of six months minimum.”
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the government had concluded plans to establish a modern vaccine production company in Nigeria.
He said the ministry was preparing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with a first-line pharmaceutical firm in Nigeria to set up the company.
He said the government was working with the World Health Organization to make Nigeria’s access to the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.
The minister expressed concern over the decline in the testing rate, contact tracing and case finding in several states, saying records showed that only Lagos and the FCT had met the testing target of at least one percent of the population.
“Plateau, Rivers and Gombe have reached over 50 percent of target, while 25 states are yet to reach 25 percent of their population. We do not have the confidence to draw firm conclusions on our status, till this situation improves.
PTF National Coordinator Dr Sani Aliyu said a total of N50bn had so far been released to the 36 states to fight coronavirus.
He urged the governors to use the resources for the purpose intended.
“We’ve given resources to state governments. Every state has received at least a billion naira, the states government have received the largest single bulk of the PTF interventions. As of today, a total of N50bn went to states. So, we have enough resources at the state level to be able to push for increased testing and improved surveillance,” Aliyu said.
According to him, the government’s massive testing for COVID-19 begins this week nationwide.
He said the list of the first 100 passports of passengers that failed to show up for the test at day 14 since arrival would be published
“Up to 7,000 passengers will potentially come into the country when we fully reopen our airports. The risk of reintroduction and a second wave of COVID-19 is real and this is why we cannot rest on our oars.
“When we looked at our data for the first 5,000 plus passengers coming into the country, 105 were positive at day seven of testing, whereas they only had negative PCR result on arrival. This is in a situation where we’ve not even opened our airports,” he said.