Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has said that as part of effort to ensure the safe reopening of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camps across the country, all reporting youth corp members will be tested with one of the new Antigen-Based test.
The NCDC DG, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this disclosure on Tuesday in Abuja, at the PTF briefing, where he informed that the process of procurements of the antigen-based test was almost complete.
“We will test everyone and that will enable us to keep our camps safe and also help us understand what is going on in the rest of the country”, he said.
Ihekweazu also informed that government have launched an infection prevention and control (IPC), call vanguard in all the states and young people interested in IPC were being trained for self management and self regulation in the camps as they open.
The DG also noted that risk assessment of all the camps have been happening over the last few weeks while assuring parents that everything possible have been done with other stakeholders to ensure that youths were safe in camps and there would be an outbreak.
The NCDC boss said even if an outbreak occurs, plans have been put in place to respond. He however urged parents to support their children to do right thing before resuming camps.
He also noted that though youths were at lower risk, “lower risk does not mean no risk”.
“We know that corp members are normally young mobile population.
Again we are counting on not only the young people going to camps, but parents, so we need the parents to support young people to do what they have to do”, he said.
“We have been working extremwly hard over the last two months with NYSC to reopen youth service camp we have made a lot of progress to ensure that we can do that safely”, the DG assured.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said that it has concluded plans to set up a modern vaccine production company in Nigeria and work towards licensed indigenous production for the COVID-19 vaccines.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this at the PTF on COVID-19 briefing.
According to him, the ministry was preparing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a first line pharmaceutical company in Nigeria, on a Public/Private Partnership (PPP) to set up the company.
Ehanire also said that the government was working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure Nigeria’s access to the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.
“The evolving global situation of COVID-19 gives us much reason for concern. with half of the cases in Europe. The UK, France, Germany, Spain and others in Europe have resorted to lockdown and other measures, to control the pandemic. With the high volume of air traffic between Nigeria and Europe, we are examining the associated risk factors for Nigeria.
“Our concern is heightened by several emerging factors that challenge whatever gains we may have made in recent months: the inevitable need to reopen air travel, to stimulate economic activities, the imminent Reopening of schools and Youth Service, again necessary for restoration of social order, but which global experience links with spikes in Covid infection rates in most countries,” Ehanire said.
He said that a total of 63,036 confirmed cases have been recorded as at Tuesday, 3 November, out of 627,600 persons tested so far for Covid-19, with 59,328 cases treated and discharged.
“We have sadly lost 1,147 persons to the disease in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. We currently have 2,561 active cases which are being managed at home or in treatment centres.
“We are concerned about the decline in the testing rate in several states of the Federation. Records show that only Lagos and the FCT have met the testing target of at least one percent of the population. Plateau, Rivers and Gombe have reached over 50 percent of target, while 25 states are yet to reach 25 percent of their population. We do not have the confidence to draw firm conclusions on our status, till this situation improves.
He said, “Preliminary reports show that contact tracing and case finding have declined in states with a consequent reduction in the number of persons tested. I therefore renew my call on states and stakeholders to step up testing capacity, to help identify positive cases for Isolation or treatment and protect the rest of the population, which is the duty of government.
“While we still evaluate the impact of recent unguarded mass gatherings in various parts of the country as a risk factor for spreading COVID-19, my concern is that we may find a spike in confirmed cases, with the widespread disregard for preventive measures associated with large gatherings and movements. We must take collective responsibility for each other’s actions, if we are not to experience the upsurges in new cases experienced in many other countries, and a throwback to conditions worse than the present.