Nigeria: Covid-19 - States Strategise Against Second Wave

(file photo).
18 December 2020

Following the resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the country, state governments have devised additional measures and enforced existing ones to curb spread of the virus.

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 said yesterday that Nigeria had entered a second wave of infections and stands the risk of not just losing the gains from the hard work of the last nine months but also losing citizens.

This was revealed by the chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, in Abuja.

This came as the PTF said it would submit its end of term report to President Mohammadu Buhari on Tuesday, December 22, 2020.

The PTF chairman, who was represented by the minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, at the national briefing yesterday, said the events and statistics of the last two weeks within and outside Nigeria had been very mixed.

He said; "We have witnessed spikes in the number of infections at home and abroad. The real threat is upon humanity and the progress made in the global health sector in the last five decades or more.

"In Nigeria, the indication is that we have entered a second wave of infections and we stand the risk of not just losing the gains from the hard work of the last nine months but also not losing the precious lives of our citizens.

"The PTF believes that if we do the right things, adhere to the NPIs and step up our testing and detection, loss of lives will be minimized and the rising curve will begin to flatten out."

"We are in a potentially difficult phase of the COVID-19 resurgence, accessing the hope offered by the arrival of the vaccine is still some time ahead, vaccines alone cannot cure the virus, rather, a combination of initiatives including the NPIs, more than ever before, we need compliance."

States Strategise Against Spread

Meanwhile, in separate interviews with LEADERSHIP Friday, top officials in the states said they were contemplating total and partial lockdowns to halt further spread of the virus. They lamented that residents had lowered their guards even as they accused religious leaders of being the worst culprits.

We May Lockdown Entire Rivers State - Commissioner

The Rivers State commissioner for health, Professor Princewill Chike, declared that the state government may consider a lockdown of the entire state.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, Chike said: "The main problem we have with Covid-19 is living in denial. I want to use this medium to beg the press to talk to the people. When an adult cannot protect the vulnerable, then, something is wrong.

"With this particular wave that has commenced and is ravaging several parts of Europe, we believe that in this part of the world, we should be wise and protect ourselves.

"When you talk about a possible lockdown, if our case, the number of cases we are having starts rising again beyond what we are managing, the possibility of a lockdown may also have to come in because you have to be alive to come and run your market and your businesses."

He advised residents of the state to always wash their hands and avoid public gatherings.

The commissioner added: "The only things I want members of the public to do are to wash their hands regularly, and don't go to public gatherings."

Kaduna Shuts Schools Over Fresh Cases

The Kaduna State government has already closed all schools in the state to curb spread of COVID-19. The commissioner for education, Usman Muhammad, said the schools were shut due to the rising cases and to prevent a second wave of infections.

Residents Lower Guards In Cross River--Commissioner

In Cross River State, the commissioner for health said residents were lowering their guards against COVID-19 spread.

He, however, said the government was doing everything to prevent further spread of the virus. The commissioner who doubles as COVID-19 chairman in the state, Dr. Betta Edu, called for caution by every resident.

She said the people were used to visiting friends, families and relatives at Yuletide and warned that the situation is different this year because of the outbreak of the second wave of the pandemic.

She urged residents to strictly adhere to NCDC guidelines to avoid being infected. Edu advocated complete daily health checks and screening forms to be completed particularly by workers who may have gone in contact with anyone suspected to be infected outside the work environment or stay at home for seven days.

When asked if there was any need for another lockdown, Edu stressed that though the economy of the nation was of paramount interest to every citizen, the health of individuals was of great priority to the nation.

On what the ministry is doing to contain the second wave of infections, she said it had come out with additional measures to prevent 'localised' lockdowns in certain locations.

"It's very important for everyone to continue staying vigilant and adhering to up-to-date public health advice in your community.

"Our best defence against infection is our behaviour as individuals by using face masks, washing our hands always and using hand sanitisers while on transit or in recreational parks or public places.

According to him, the various isolation centres have been reactivated and the staff have been placed on alert. Iwu stressed that the state government had set-up a committee to enforce the compulsory use of face masks and ensure that citizens maintain social distancing and regular washing of hands.

Dr Harold Onumo, a medical doctor, said if the state government puts measures in place and ensures strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols, there would be no need for another lockdown apprehensive.

He urged citizens to take adequate precautions and obey NCDC rules.

A/Ibom Begins Aggressive Campaigns

The government of Akwa Ibom State in anticipation of a second wave of COVID-19 says it has put in place measures to check its further spread by embarking on an aggressive sensitisation of the citizens and stressing the need for them to strictly adhere to precautionary measures.

Ikpeazu Orders Re-launch Of COVID-19 Protocols In Abia

Following the resurgence of confirmed cases of COVID-19, Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has directed the re-launch of preventive and control measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

The commissioner for Information, John Okiyi Kalu, told LEADERSHIP Friday that the recent report by the NDDC that 47 persons tested positive for the virus in the state in one day called for concern.

He said short of a total lockdown, the government had directed complete observation of all COVID-19 prevention protocols.

"We are advising that people take personal responsibility for their protection and that means they don't need the government to chase them about to wear face masks, they don't need government to chase them from pillar to post to keep their environments clean," he said.

An epidemiologist with the state Ministry of Health who pleaded not to be mentioned, said it was a misconception to believe that the spread of the virus had been stopped, adding that now that the contrary had occurred, the people must stick to the protocols to stay safe.

Worship Centres Worst Offenders-Plateau Govt

The Plateau State commissioner for information and communication, Hon. Daniel Manjang, said the state government had not relaxed the COVID-19 protocols, stressing that the protocols were still in place and the task force had not been disbanded.

He said; "If you go to churches, mosques and any other public gathering you see people flouting Covid-19 protocols without putting on face masks or observing social distancing."

He said the state government was sad with the development, while urging the necessary security agencies to commence the enforcement by arresting and prosecuting anyone found without face mask in public places.

Manjang further said with the second wave of Covid-19, if the people refuse to observe the protocols, government had no alternative to imposing another lockdown to prevent further spread of the virus in the state.

The commissioner then advised the people to always observe the protocols.

The state council of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) lamented the second wave of the virus.

Reacting, the auditor of the association, Ndak Kizito, said people were not adhering to the protocols, even as Covid-19 is real.

He said he would not advocate for another lockdown but people should ensure that all protocols concerning the pandemic should be strictly adhered to.

Jobs Threatened As Taraba Takes Measures

The commissioner for health in Taraba State, Dr Innocent Vakkai, said people might lose their jobs if a second wave goes on a large scale in the state.

According to him, the state is doing everything possible to encourage the people to maintain social distancing, urging citizens to continue to stay away from large gatherings and practice hand hygiene, and use of face masks.

"If everybody just uses face masks, we will dramatically cut transmission. A recent study suggests that if everyone wears a mask all the time, it could prevent a second wave of the virus from happening.

"You simply cannot get infected with this virus unless you breathe it in, or you touch an infected surface and then touch your eyes, nose and mouth. If you prevent breathing it in, and you prevent touching contaminated surfaces and touching your face, you cannot get infected," he said.

Vakkai stated that beyond maintaining social distancing and wearing masks when out of homes, "The only other thing that will change or mitigate the severity of a second wave is when and if vaccines become available."

He said the state government had made provision for enough testing kits and medical facilities that would help stop the virus from resurfacing in the state. He said media houses in the state had been charged to keep creating awareness among the masses and urging them to adhere to the protocols.

The speaker, Taraba State House of Assembly, while passing 2021 budget into law, said N2 billion had been added to the budget in order to combat the virus.

FCTA Moves To Curb Spread

Worried by the increasing number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the nation's capital, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, recently organised an emergency Covid-19 Stakeholders' Review Meeting to review the problem, particularly in the light of the second wave of the pandemic.

Speaking during the meeting, Bello decried the non-adherence to precautionary measures and protocols in the territory, adding that there would be massive enforcement to ensure that lives are saved and protected.

"We all have to appreciate that Covid-19 is here, it has come back with vengeance. It is killing people and the reality is something that we all, leaders both religious, traditional and government officials have to go back to our various communities and send this message.

"We know that there is fatigue. Everybody is tired of Covid-19, but the reality is that it is here. We all need to have our internal motivation and strength to be able to really take a very good leap to make sure that we jointly fight the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic."

Senator Philip Aduda, who represents the FCT in the Senate, commended the minister for conveying the stakeholders' meeting, even as he urged FCT residents to adhere strictly to all precautionary guidelines.

"There must be reorientation and we must talk to the people for them to know that the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic is serious. People should go back to their facemasks and go back to what happened in March this year, so that this Christmas we can enjoy it, be happy and celebrate with our loved ones," Aduda said.

Benue Admits Patients At Isolation Centre

In Benue State, our correspondent observed that the state appears not prepared for a second wave of Covid-19 as visits to some of the isolation centres in Màkurdi showed that some are no longer functioning.

But the Chief Medical Director, Benue State University Teaching Hospital, (BSUTH) Professor Terrumun Swende, disclosed that the isolation and treatment centre at the hospital was very functional and patients were still being admitted there.

According to him, at the last count, over four patients were on admission there.

He, however, urged citizens to strictly observe the protocols, saying the disease is very much around.

Also Speaking, the CMD of Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi, Dr Peteru Inunduh, said the isolation and treatment centre at the facility was working well.

According to him, the last patient on admission was discharged on Monday even as he urged members of the public to observe social distancing, washing of their hands with soap, use of hand sanitisers and wearing of masks as well as avoiding crowded areas.

Niger Closes Schools, Shuts Offices from Dec. 21

The Niger State government has directed the closure of public and private schools as well as tertiary institutions across the state from today, December 18, 2020.

A statement from by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and chairman, Niger State Task Force on Covid-19 pandemic, Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, said the closure followed an upsurge in Covid-19 in the country.

Ahmed Matane disclosed that the second wave of coronavirus in the country necessitated the closure of all schools in the state for 30 days.

The chairman stated that in order to curb the spread of the virus, the government had directed that all civil servants are to stay at home from Monday, December 21, 2020 till further notice except those on essential services.

The SSG enjoined the people of the state to quickly return to the use of face masks, physical and social distancing to help curb the spread of the virus.

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