The number of new coronavirus cases across Nigeria rose last week for the sixth consecutive week, a PREMIUM TIMEs review of official data shows.
Nigeria recorded 4,269 cases last week (June 20 to 27) a 2.5 per cent increase compared to the 4,162 infections recorded the previous week, according to data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Before that, the country had recorded an increase in weekly infections for four consecutive weeks.
The increase in new coronavirus cases last week occurred despite a reduction in the number of tests carried out.
A total of 16,106 tests were carried out last week, a 22 per cent reduction compared to the 20,588 tests conducted the previous week.
Recoveries Increased, Deaths reduced
While new infections increased, more Nigerians recovered from coronavirus last week than in the previous week, according to the official data.
A total of 1907 patients recovered and were discharged last week, a 22 per cent increase from the 1,077 who were discharged in the previous week.
Meanwhile, 52 deaths were reported between last Sunday and Saturday. This is a 50 per cent drop when compared with the 99 who lost their lives in the previous week.
Last week's data of increased recoveries and reduced death occurred at the time global health agencies approved the use of dexamethasone for the treatment of critically ill COVID-19 patients.
While many drug trials are still ongoing, a preliminary study showed that dexamethasone reduced mortality by about one third for patients on ventilators, and by about one-fifth for patients requiring only oxygen.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has since approved the results of the clinical trials.
Although yet to be recommended for treatment by the NCDC, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, called on frontline clinicians to consider the use of dexamethasone in the treatment of COVID-19 across the country.
"Luckily, this medicine is not new. It is a well-known steroid that is used for other purposes but was found to be useful in this case (treatment of COVID-19). So it is easy to try it out because we already know its side effects. It is not a product that will get you worried about its possible side effects.
"So we are going to ask our clinician to also consider adding it to their trials and see what result it brings in our circumstances," the minister said on Thursday in Abuja.
Commenting on the increasing cases, the NCDC advised Nigerians to focus on non-pharmaceutical interventions such as using face masks, physical distancing and frequent hand washing to keep themselves safe from contracting the virus.
Also, Mr Ehanire in a tweet warned Nigerians that the use of face shields without the face masks are not effective in COVID-19 prevention.
He said the face shield protects only the face but the face mask curbs the spread of respiratory droplets.
Nigeria so far
As of the time of reporting, there were 13,201 active cases of COVID-19 in the country; 9,539 have recovered and have been discharged while the total number of confirmed deaths from the virus is 558.
A breakdown of the 24,077 confirmed cases shows that Lagos State has so far reported 10,026 cases, followed by FCT - 1, 736, Oyo - 1, 305, Kano - 1,195, Rivers - 1, 050, Edo - 933, Delta - 828, Ogun - 774, Kaduna - 703, Katsina - 528, Bauchi - 497, Gombe - 492, Borno - 486, Ebonyi - 327, Jigawa - 317, Abia - 302, Plateau - 298, Imo - 290, Enugu - 258, Ondo - 232, Kwara - 217, Nasarawa - 206, Bayelsa - 184, Sokoto - 151, Osun - 108, Niger - 84, Akwa Ibom - 83, Zamfara - 76, Kebbi - 76, Adamawa - 73, Anambra - 71, Yobe - 59, Benue - 47, Ekiti - 43, Taraba - 19, and Kogi - 3.
Only one state, Cross River, is yet to officially report any case of the virus, although even that is controversial.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) said a patient has tested positive for coronavirus in the facility despite the fact that NCDC has not announced any confirmed case of COVID-19 in the state.
Lagos remains the epicentre for the disease in the country, while Oyo State has risen to the third position, overtaking Kano State in terms of the number of recorded infections.
Also, states like Zamfara, Kogi and Jigawa have not reported any new case in almost two weeks.
As regards testing, Nigeria has so far collected and tested 127,158 samples since the beginning of the outbreak in the country in February.
Timeline last week
On Sunday, 436 new cases of COVID19 were reported in the country.
On Monday, 675 new cases of the pandemic were reported in the country. This brought the tally of confirmed cases to 20,919 as of 11:55 p.m. on June 22.
On Tuesday, 452 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded.
As of 11:55 p.m. on June 23, the country had reported a total of 21,371 cases, out of which 7,338 had been discharged and 533 had died.
A total of 649 new cases of the pandemic were reported on Wednesday which brought the number of confirmed cases to 22,020.
On Thursday, 594 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the country.
As of 11:55 p.m. on June 25, a total of 22,614 new cases had been recorded while 7822 had been discharged with 549 deaths.
On Friday, 684 new cases were reported in Nigeria.
On Saturday 779, new cases of the pandemic were recorded.
As of the time of this report, a total of 24,077 cases have been reported, out of which 8,625 have recovered and 558 have died.