The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, has warned that notwithstanding the announcement of the discovery of vaccines to tackle the virus, the mass production of the vaccines were still far off, hence the need for Nigerians to avoid unnecessary travels and continue to observe the non-pharmaceutical interventions.
The Director-General, National Center for Disease (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, gave the warning on Monday in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the taskforce.
According to him, Christmas carols and other festivities are 'super-spreaders' of the virus, hence should be avoided this year."
"As the year rounds off, I do know we did not expect it to pan out this way but we can take the necessary actions now to make 2021 hopeful and successful year and bring about a move back to the way of life that we miss so much.
"But before we get there, we have an intervening period, the month of December with the associated festivities that mark the end of the year, the normal travels that we are use to carrying out.
"This is really to re-emphasize the call by the PTF that many of the traditional meetings that we engage in at this time of the year, whether it's Christmas carols or festivals, trips, family gatherings, each of those could end up being a super spreader event. So we must take this into consideration as we make our choices," Ihekweazu said.
He added, "While we have had a lot of encouraging news about vaccines, we are still very far from mass production, we are even very far from having one with a license. So we have to tighten our belts and get through this month of December.
"So I really want to encourage everyone listening to this to remain vigilant, discipline, stay safe and abide by the general protocols that we have advised throughout the year. This is the best way that we can keep our love ones safe and transition safely in 2021.
"This is particularly important for the elderly in our country who we may want to go and visit as we do by this time of the year. There will be many more opportunities after this period and we have to live long enough to make use of those opportunities."
The NCDC boss said that a travel advisory has been issued, detailing why travels both locally but internationally must be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary.
He said that since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nigeria, over 67,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported with over 1,000 deaths.
He said that most of the confirmed cases and deaths have been in urban/semi-urban cities and town and the risk of spread remains.
He warned that The COVID-19 virus does not spread on its own, as it spreads when people move around.
According to him, by traveling across countries and cities, there is a higher risk of transmission, especially to rural areas where the existing health infrastructure is already weak.
"Nigerians are therefore advised to be vigilant, this is not the time to let our guard time. It is therefore advisable to limit all non-essential domestic and international travel. This is especially important for intending travellers from countries recording a high number of COVID-19 cases.
"As an alternative to travel, the following should be considered, limit festivities to members of your immediate household. While remaining physically distanced, remain socially connected with friends and loved ones using mobile or video conferencing technology. Hold virtual services and prayer sessions to limit mass congregation. Limit person-to-person contact and physical movement using electronic money transfers
"Always wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth when in public settings, such as religious centres and market places. Maintain physical distance of at least two metres from others in public settings.
"Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of a respiratory illness, stay at home if you feel unwell, and call your state helpline.
"Do not mingle with others if you have symptoms such as fever, cough or sudden loss of sense of taste or smell. Public settings including religious settings, businesses, markets should ensure adherence to public health and safety measures.
"Vulnerable groups, that is people 60 and above and or people with pre-existing medical conditions should avoid non-essential outings and visitors," he said