From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has raised the alarm over increased positive rate of COVID-19 just as three cases of the virulent Delta variant has been detected.
It has, therefore, called for strict adherence to the COVID-19 response guidelines ahead of next week’s Sallah festivities.
The decision followed a regular state performance report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to the 118th meeting council attended by State governors, federal ministers, the Central Bank Governor and other senior government officials.
Governors had on Wednesday through the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) said states would reintroduce measures for curbing the spread of the coronavirus to prevent a third wave of infections.
This was part of the resolutions reached by the governors after a meeting on Wednesday.
The decision was taken following a presentation by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, on the concerns about a third wave of infections in the state.
According to a statement by Vice President’s Spokesman, Laolu Akande, NEC received the state performance report on COVID-19 from the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who noted that the Delta variant is a new variant identified in 103 countries and is 60 per cent more transmissible than the highly infectious Alpha variant which was previously identified.
The DG said despite the low number of cases in the country, the positivity rate has gone up and Lagos State has a larger burden of 70%-80% cases in the country, having recorded an increase in number of cases in the last 10 weeks.
The NCDC therefore urged the Council to ensure the sustenance of effective COVID-19 response nationwide, while improving public health awareness, adherence to public health and social measures. The agency also called for the re-activation and sustained functioning of isolation centres as proactive preparatory measures towards tackling a possible third wave.
The Council was also briefed by the NEC Ad-hoc Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to ease the lockdown of the economy.
According to Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State Governor and Chairman of the Committee, with the emergence of the Delta variant in Lagos State, there has been an increase in monitoring activities at entry points across the country.
The Council also received updates on the FG Budget Support Facility to states as the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning informed the Council that with the agreement reached on the matter with the CBN providing a bridge financing facility to the States, deductions from state governments would now commence from July.