From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has advised schools in the country to ally with the agency teams in states and take advantage of the availability of the Rapid Diagnosis Test Kits to test all children returning to school at the end of vacation.
The Director-General, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, while calling for vigilance and adherence to safety regulations of COVID-19) as students return to school at the end of the vacation.
Ihekweazu, made the call at a briefing by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 on Monday, in Abuja.
Schools across the country resumed on Monday while those in model colleges and upgraded schools will resume in batches due to the ongoing West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Ihekweazu said: “This brings me to a very important topic today, that I am sure affects everyone. Life during COVID-19 has been very difficult for parents across the country.
“This week, children will be going back to school because, schools are resuming, school principals and others are having to deal with this situation of taking responsibility from students who might get infected and might spread the virus.
“It’s important to be aware that children are not immune to this disease, they can get it as easily as anyone else, and can also spread it as ease as anyone else, even themselves don’t get generally severely ill. But they are very good spreaders of the virus.”
The NCDC boss further warned that children do not present the same symptoms as adults, who present very commonly with shortness of breath and symptoms of smell or taste.
“They present very unusual normal symptoms, it can be very difficult to distinguish from what we called common cold or malarial fever. And if caregivers, teachers and parents do not take such symptoms seriously they’ll go ahead and spread. And we’ve seen instances of large outbreaks of going completely unnoticed.”
Ihekweazu further added that even if they may not be severely ill, children may infect parents or guardians, who may be a little bit more vulnerable.
“In addition to the vaccines, we also now have rapid tests that we can test the whole school community,” he disclosed.
Ihekweazu added that the agency was ready to work with school owners, he added that any school needing more information on the Rapid Diagnosis Test kits should get in touch with their states teams.
“This way we can keep our schools going. Schools have enough challenges staying open in Nigeria. In every part of Nigeria, it’s been a difficult challenge keeping our school open, we can’t afford an uneducated future.
“We have to keep our children in school. And at least from our perspective, keeping them from COVID is an important way of keeping them in school,” he said.