The Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, has warned that the country has reached “a critical level“ in number of cases of COVID-19 where the hospital capacity would no longer be able to cope with more serious cases and health workers would be forced to make tough decisions.
Ihekweazu said this on Monday in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
According to him, the Coronavirus pandemic is spreading fast, causing mild symptoms in some victims and severe illnesses and death in others.
“We need to protect our more vulnerable citizens, while we all have to take responsibility because this has gone beyond the NCDC, PTF or government, as all hands must be on deck.
He said that many victims have continued to experience fatigue and other symptoms even after recovery.
According to him, in the last four weeks, the country has recorded a spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases.
“We have now reported over 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria and this is a stark reminder of the reality we live in now.
“A virus that has affected over 100,000 lives and led to over 1,300 deaths within 11 months in Nigeria, with millions more globally.
“We cannot be too careful. The silent face of COVID-19 with which you cannot tell whether someone has the virus or not, the only option before us is to take protective measures at all times,“ he said.
Meanwhile, Ihekweazu said that healthcare workers needed now to maintain a higher index of suspicion for COVID-19, noting that “if people were unwell, they should first rule out COVID-19 before treating malaria’’.
“We are rolling out the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits (RDTs) in five institutions in Abuja. This will increase access to testing and we then intend to roll out across the country in February.
“This will make testing a lot more available to hospitals,“ he said.
The NCDC boss pointed out that there was no state that was spared of COVID-19.
“We would have been surprised if there were, as our data suggest that we were right in saying that there is COVID circulating in every state of Nigeria and we all have to continue the hard work we have been doing,” he pointed out.
“By organising large gatherings indoors, you are not only putting yourself and guests at risk but also the staff who have limited choice but to serve.
“By going to clubs, you are putting your parents at risk,“ he said.
Speaking on COVID-19 fatigue, he said that while Nigerians might all be tired and fed up, the virus was taking advantage of the fatigue and gaining momentum.
“By adhering to health measures, wearing masks, washing hands, observing physical distancing, staying at home, avoiding large gatherings and poorly ventilated indoor space, we can prevent its spread.
“Most important of all, the 100,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths are not just numbers, but these are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, friends whose deaths will be mourned and the pain of their loss deeply felt,“ he pointed out.