Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has cautioned Nigerians that the fewer reported COVID positive cases in the past few days ‘give us no reason to rejoice or to lower our guard’.
Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire gave the warning at Monday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force on the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Minister, as testing is expanded to include small towns and rural areas, a more accurate picture of Nigeria’s COVID-19 status will emerge.
‘The apparently fewer COVID positive cases of the past few days give us no reason to rejoice or to lower our guard. As we expand and include small towns and rural areas in our testing scope, a more accurate picture of our COVID-19 status will emerge. There is good reason to prepare for COVID invasion of rural areas with testing, first aid, ambulance service and commensurate Isolation and treatment centres,’ he stated.
‘However, we note with concern the development in many overseas countries of a sharp upsurge in COVID-19 cases after they lifted or relaxed restrictions in air travel, commerce, and especially social activities. We know that some countries had to quickly restore lockdown or limit movement of citizens and even to postpone elections in order to deal with the COVID-19 spike. In one country, thousands of members of the congregation of a religious group had to be put in quarantine, having tested positive.
‘These are significant lessons for us as we prepare to reopen our economy and as we consider options for resuming flights and travel operations, or opening schools and land borders.
‘Unless we utilise lessons learned to define and set measured precautionary steps to mitigate the risks, the danger of falling into the same negative balance in our own COVID-19 strategy and losing the gains made so far, is real. The impact of lockdown on livelihoods and socio-economic activities is well known and serious and what we wish to avoid. The other side of this coin is the question of what we need to do to take up the challenge of keeping control of COVID-19, as we reopen. This is a shared responsibility of government and people and an assignment for the entire country. It has been repeatedly stressed that the easiest, cheapest, well-proven options are still the simple nonpharmaceutical interventions, like wearing masks, avoiding crowds and frequently washing hands. It is the least citizens can contribute, by adhering to these, and urging their neighbours to adhere so that we together stand a better chance of limiting the negative consequences on the economy of easing and opening the borders.’