Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government will next week inaugurate an 18-man national COVID-19 task team to ensure vaccine security, even as it welcomes developments in the scientific community announcing a COVID-19 vaccine.
Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire said the committee will have a 7-point of reference which will include generating strategies for acquisition, deployment and options for licensed production by Biovaccine Nigeria Ltd.
‘Now that vaccines are known to be close at hand, the Federal Ministry of Health is taking measures towards vaccine security, for which an 18-man National COVID-19 Vaccine Task Team with seven Terms of Reference (ToR) will be inaugurated this week,’ the Minister stated on Monday.
‘The TOR will include generating strategies for acquisition, deployment and options for licensed production by Biovaccine Nigeria Ltd. Our options with WHO/GAVI led Covax facility remain our first line of engagement,’ Ehanire said.
The Minister further informed that the reported ‘strange deaths in Delta, Enugu, Ebonyi, Benue, Bauchi and Kogi, have turned out to be Yellow Fever outbreak as confirmed by the NCDC who are responding with Rapid Response Teams to the outbreak.’
He said of 586 suspected cases, 40 were confirmed in laboratory tests, with 10 deaths as at last week.
According to him, as at Monday, November 23, Nigeria has recorded 66,383 COVID-19 cases from 743,298 samples tested so far, with 62,076 persons successfully treated and discharged.
He added that the nation sadly recorded 1167 deaths with a case fatality rate of 1.76%.
The minister said that eight states account for 72% of confirmed cases because they are testing and reporting steadily.
‘Of 1,235 confirmed cases reported in 22 states in the past week, Kaduna, Lagos, FCT, Oyo, Plateau and Ogun accounted for over 84%.
‘We are thus not yet where we want to be with our testing rate. We shall continue to engage states to strengthen active case finding and testing, since we are committed to lowering case fatality rate to less than 1%, to save more lives from COVID-19.
‘We are by no means out of the woods and must not become complacent. Citizens with symptoms suggestive of COVID or those who had contact with confirmed COVID patients should present themselves for testing and, if positive, comply with instructions for treatment,’ Ehanire said.