…Assuages fears over hike in air fares; Denial’ll only make issue worse – NCDC DG
….We must match increasing community transmission with testing — Health minister
….60% of South Easterners don’t believe there’s COVID-19
By Sola Ogundipe, Chioma Obinna, Omeiza Ajayi & Gabriel Olawale
The Federal Government yesterday declared that no state in Nigeria was free of COVID-19 amid claims by some states government that they were free of the pandemic.
Declaring this during the Presidential Task Force, PTF, briefing on COVID-19 pandemic in Abuja, the Director- General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said there was nothing to be ashamed of about recording coronavirus cases in a state as the disease remain a global pandemic.
Ihekweazu urged states frustrating testing effort to desist from it in the interest of the general public.
“No state in Nigeria is COVID-19 free and no country in the world can confidently claim to be COVID-19 free. It is a global pandemic and we can’t separate ourselves from the world.
“It is not a shame to have positive cases in your state; denial will only make the issue more difficult. If we do not know the status of your people, you are indirectly putting the lives of your people and that of health workers at risk. The implication of that is the likely collapse of your health system.
“Rather than avoiding testing, kindly make your state available, so the country can collectively move forward. C OVID-19 is here with us, we need to fight it and the best way to do that is to know the current situation of things.”
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Corroborating his views, the PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, urged Nigerians to make themselves available for testing to ascertain their COVID-19 status, saying that early detection safe lives.
“I, therefore, urge Nigerians to make use of these facilities and get tested. Similarly, I implore us not to be afraid of undertaking the COVID-19 test. Testing positive for COVID-19 is not a death sentence, but failure to test; especially when symptoms are evident could result in death as it may be too late once the symptoms become full-blown. The loss of any Nigerian is not only painful but most avoidable provided we seek help early.
“The PTF is also not unmindful of the possibility of imports especially through our land borders. For this reason, our men and women of the Nigerian Immigration Service remained vigilant and this has resulted in the apprehension of two foreigners who tried to enter the country illegally over the week-end. This commendable effort is appreciated,” he said.
He identified lack of case definition, in ability to reach call centres and location centres as part of the major challenges toward the effort to tackle Covid-19 in Nigeria.
Mustapha however called for more awareness and sensitisation, “We must develop national awareness to drive home our objectives. We also call on doctors and hospitals not to neglect other disease because of COVID-19.
In his presentation, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the government will continue to scale up its testing capacity as the country battles with community transmission.
He said: “As community transmission continues to rise, we are going to scale up our testing capacity but Nigerians need to bear in mind that it is not only government responsibility. Community must play active role in the effort to initiate state specific action plan.
Hike in air fares
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika assured Nigerians that the re-opening of the airspace for domestic flights would not necessarily lead to a hike in fares, saying the ministry was meeting with stakeholders to come up with measures to cushion the effect of the pandemic on the industry.
“We are doing everything to ensure that ticket prices do not skyrocket. They may be different, but they are not going to be something that air passengers cannot afford,” said Sirika.
He said the seats within the aircraft would be reconfigured to ensure that the virus was not spread among passengers at will should there be any carrier on board.
Sirika also assured that aircraft would be thoroughly disinfected before passengers would be allowed to board, saying the new airline passenger safety measures would be demonstrated to the public in Lagos very soon.
He said: “Currently, our fatality rate is 2.55 percent, some of these cases could have been prevented assuming they present early enough at the treatment centre.”
60% of South Easterners don’t believe there’s COVID-19
National Coordinator of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, lamented the low level of compliance with safety regulations.
He said: “Nigerians have continued to show persistent and remarkable lack of compliance with COVID-19 prevention protocols which is quiet worrying.
“There is partial to total lack of compliance with facemasks and physical distancing protocols by the public. Many Nigerians only use their facemasks either to avoid security agents, that is where enforcement exists, or where they are told to do so. ‘’There is also a significant disbelief in the dangers and impact of COVID-19. In parts of the South East where we did a recent survey, 60 percent did not believe that COVID-19 was an issue. We clearly are not taking the pandemic seriously enough,” he added.