The Federal Government has urged Nigerians to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocols to avoid a replication of India’s experience in the country.
It also advised that Nigerians must learn from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in India and other parts of the world, by not letting down its guard on vaccination and preventive measures.
The government gave the advice on Monday.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who spoke during the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, urged Nigerians to take their COVID-19 vaccines and comply with the extant non-pharmaceutical measures of hand and mouth hygiene, using face masks, avoiding mass gatherings, and practicing physical distancing.
He said: “The case fatality rate has reduced since the beginning of this month, but should not be a reason to slow down: we should rather increase our commitment to reducing the spread of the disease as well as fatalities therefrom.
“Although COVID-19 positive cases have continued to drop even with sustained testing, we must remain on our guard. The experience of other countries shows the unpredictability of the disease. Countries in Asia, such as India, Pakistan and Thailand have been badly shaken by the enormity of the new wave of infections.
“We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to our friends in India, and take this opportunity to renew our caution in this COVID-19 pandemic response. Nigeria and India have very similar demographics, and the COVID-19 trends so far have been quite similar. Therefore, we must take heed of this forecast.”
The Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said: “In terms of the virus, it is changing and the more it is transmitted, the more it develops new mutations, and the more it develops the capacity to move from one individual to the other. It is in these mutations that new variants emerge.
“Those variants have led to the most rapid escalation of cases we have seen in many countries. This happened in India literally over a few weeks. No country has a rise as steep as what is happening in India.
“What that tells us is that if we are to face a situation such as that, we will not have the time to prepare. So, we have to use the opportunity the virus gives us now to prepare while trying to prevent it. To do that, we have to understand what happens within the virus by consistently testing people.
“Concerning the b.1351 variant in South Africa, it has been detected in a few countries, but I won’t really use the term ‘spreading fast.’ it has been detected in a few countries, especially in countries around Southern Africa.
“Why this variant is of the concern is because it escapes vaccination, or one study saw that there were some impacts on vaccination in that particular study. Subsequent analysis doesn’t seem to really come to the same conclusion, but it is still classified as a variant of concern.
“Our role is to detect it as much as possible by increasing our sequencing capacity. But ultimately, what we need to do here is to continue pushing our vaccination efforts so that even before it has the opportunity of getting into Nigeria, we are able to reach a high level of population immunity in our country.”
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