From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Afraid of a possible second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the Federal Government has directed all isolation centers closed due to low testing to reopen.
This is even as it has warned Nigerians to avoid necessary travels especially to high burden areas, warning that the virus will not go on holiday even though Nigerians are planning to go for the Christmas holiday.
According to the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, “Everyone of us has a role to play in the effort to prevent explosive spread of this infection in Nigeria. While we strive for the best, we must prepare for a possible second wave which we must ensure, does not get to be worse than what we have seen so far, judging from what we observe in other countries.
“The US, UK and other countries are going through very difficult times, and we do sympathize with them. To prepare ourselves, I have directed that all Isolation and Treatment Centres, which were hiterto closed due to reduced patient load, to be prepared for reopening and the staff complement put on alert.
“The increase in infections stems certainly from rising community transmission to a large extent, but also to a less extent from travelers entering Nigeria, among whom we have recorded 87 positive cases arriving to the country, as against 59 in the previous week. This number can increase as the volume of travelers rises, especially as people return home for the Christmas and New Year holidays. To ensure that we further contain imported cases, Port health officers at Points of entry have been directed to be vigilant and diligent in screening travelers arriving Nigeria, especially from high burden countries.”
Ehanire added: “We are seeing the increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last few days, which we have frequently alluded to in recent times. This rightly suggests that we may just be on the verge of a second wave of this pandemic. Last week, we recorded 1843 against 1,235 two weeks before that and 1,126 the week before that. In the past 24 hours, 474 new confirmed cases and two deaths were recorded, with an indication that this week’s figure will beat last week’s. As at today, we have crossed 70,000 mark with a total of 70,669 confirmed cases of which 65,242 have been treated and discharged. Sadly the number of deaths has now reached 1184 as against 1,167 two weeks before.”
The minister emphasized that “Until vaccines are available, our best bet is still the appropriate use of face masks, physical distancing, hand sanitizers and observance of respiratory hygiene, for prevention and control. We must avoid unnecessary travels and crowded places. In that connection, it is not too early to advise strongly against throwing caution to the wind during the upcoming Christmas and new years holiday. We must not forget that Covid will not take a holiday. Please endeavor to protect yourselves and others and still obey the measures at Christmas.”