COVID-19: Nigeria struggling to cope, January will be tough, FG says…Confiscates 100 passports

…FCT threatens to shut markets, malls

…Cooperate with govts on crossover night service – CAN

…NMA attributes second wave to poor adherence to guidelines

…Ondo threatens to jail  church leaders who flout ban on crossover service

…Oyo records 50 deaths, introduces new restrictions

…There’ll be new pandemic-related challenges in 2021 —WHO

By Dayo Johnson, Omeiza Ajayi, Luminous Jannamike  & Adeola Badru

THE Federal Government, yesterday, said that January 2021 would be tough in terms of managing the Covid-19 pandemic due to continued safety violations during the Yuletide.

FG also announced its decision to confiscate 100 international passports of travelers, who evaded the Day 7 post-arrival PCR test.

It also explained its helplessness in the face of gross violations of Covid-19 safety protocols, saying the nation’s health system was currently struggling to cope with the increasing number of infections daily.

This came as the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, threatened to shut down markets and other business ventures in the territory for violating the safety protocols.

FCTA also said that  476 health workers  have so far contracted Covid-19 in the territory, out of which four medical doctors have lost their lives.

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN,  has urged churches in the country to follow strictly the Covid-19 protocols and additional directives by the relevant state government authorities as they prepare for the crossover night service.

Also, the Plateau State chapter, of Nigerian Medical Association, NMA,  has attributed the second wave of Covid-19, to poor and non-adherence to non-pharmaceutical guidelines.

Also,  Ondo  State government has threatened to jail any church leader who flouts the directive  that churches and mosques were not permitted to hold any service beyond 10p.m., across the state due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Oyo State government has introduced new restrictions and banned street carnivals in order to ensure strict compliance and curtailment of the Covid-19 guidelines and protocols in the state. Also, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has predicted that the world should brace up for more pandemic-related set backs and challenges such as new mutations of the coronavirus in 2021.

Speaking, at yesterday’s  briefing of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on Covid-19, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu said, “We just faced the worst week since we started responding to this outbreak. We had more cases in Nigeria last week than in any other previous week since the beginning of the outbreak.

“Pictures and videos from across the country paint a very disheartening situation because it appears that our messaging, our appeals to Nigerians over the last few months have not been heeded and we have gone ahead with business as usual. Events centres are full, social activities are full and it is no surprising that cases are rising.

“January will be a tough month, no doubt about it. So, we have to brace ourselves for the consequences of the activities that we have decided to carry out in December. Our colleagues, the Chief Medical Directors, CMDs are here today because of the pressures that we face across the country. Our treatment centres are filling up, we are struggling to keep up, we are struggling to find the facilities and oxygen to manage.

“Every night we are faced with phone calls of patients desperate for care. So, unfortunately, January will be a tough month for all of us. It will be tough but we still have an opportunity to do what we need to do, liaising with state governors to be more purposeful in implementing the measures that we have collectively agreed on. We have seen some of them doing that but many of the states in the country haven’t and pretend as if there will be no consequences. This is the reality we face and so we have got to brace ourselves for January.” Iheakwazu added that in terms of the new variant of the virus, there was no change in presentation of symptoms except that it is more transmissible which would mean more cases, including critical ones and possible increase in case fatalities.

Minister of State, Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora lamented the growing wave of misinformation in the country warning Nigerians not to self-medicate.

He said, “We have seen occasions where some patients might even want to force the hands of the attending clinicians regarding a particular drug that they have read online or heard that it works. But so far, what we know is that aside Dexamethasone which has been established to help to some extent in hospitalised patients and of course the administration of oxygen where and when required, no other treatment has been found to be effective in Covid-19.”

Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha said, “Our TPR analysis shows that 16 out of every 100 tests carried out are positive. We are also seeing increasing transmission among younger people and this is not considered good and safe. We must therefore, exercise utmost restraint by taking responsibility. “Data shows that despite the resources already made available to sub-national entities, testing is very low across states in varying degrees. This is not helping our National Response. Indeed, some states have not reported any infections in several weeks.

“Reports received also point to the fact that laboratories recently established in the states are not working optimally. You will recall that we moved from two laboratories to about 90 (Public & Private) located in all states of the federation.

“Their inability to function optimally has resulted in unacceptable levels of delay in receiving results and pressure on the National Reference Labs. We wish to urge all states to reopen all laboratories and ensure that testing is expanded and turnaround time for results is substantially reduced. In the same vein, states should please keep their Isolation/Treatment Centres open because of the rising cases of infection nationwide.”

Seized passports

“The PTF has worked out additional quarantine protocols to be observed by travelers arriving from the UK and South Africa.  This is in keeping with our determination to minimize any possibility of importation of the virus. “With effect from  January 1, 2021, the passports of the first 100 passengers who failed to take their day seven post-arrival PCR test will be published in the national dailies. The passports, as a deterrence, will also be suspended till June 2021.”

FCT to shut markets, malls

Meanwhile, Head, Media and Public Enlightenment of the FCT Ministerial Enforcement Taskteam on Covid-19 Regulations, Ikharo Attah issued the warning while monitoring the level of compliance in some shopping malls and business premises across the city.

He said the administration will “not hesitate to shut down shopping malls, Maitama farmers’ market and business premises in the city that fail to comply with the Covid-19 protocols and guidelines.

READ ALSO: NMA ask health professionals to be alive to duties

“From what we observed, there is high compliance by costumers and visitors to these malls and business premises, sadly, same cannot be said of the workers and operators of shops and other businesses in the malls.”

Also,  Chief Press Secretary, CPS to the FCT Minister, Anthony Ogunleye, who gave the update of the health workers in a statement, yesterday,  noted: “Since the first case of Covid-19 was recorded in the FCT, a total of 476 health workers inclusive of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory staff, drivers and other auxiliary personnel have been infected by the virus.

Cooperate with govts on crossover night service – CAN

The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in a statement by its President, Reverend Samson Ayokunle, said: “We are not happy that we would not be able to enter into the new year prayerfully in joint fellowship with our brothers and sisters. We, however, urge you all to abide by the directives of each state government on this so as to prevent the spread of the infection.

“There is no sacrifice that is too much in order to put an end to the pandemic once and for all. One thing that is certain is that the end of Covid-19 is here at last in the mighty Name of Jesus Christ.

“CAN advises that, where the government places an embargo on the Crossover Night service, churches may meet earlier to praise and give God praises for the gift of life despite the pandemic and to place their requests for 2021 before God. In those states, services should be closed about 10:30 pm or at most 11pm to enable worshipers to return home on time.”

Second wave caused by poor adherence to guidelines – NMA

The second wave of the Covid19 pandemic has been blamed on poor and non-adherence to the recommended non-pharmaceutical guidelines.

Chairman of the  Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Plateau State chapter, Dr Innocent Emmanuel, who disclosed this in Jos, said, “We need to go back to the basics by ensuring adherence to the Covid-19 non-pharmaceutical guidelines, as we cannot afford another lock down and the economic challenges that come with the pandemic. “It is pertinent that we adhere to the rules to ensure that we do not have the morbidity and mortality that comes with the virus,” he said.

Ondo threatens church leaders who flout ban on crossover service

In Ondo State, CAN denied knowledge of the government directive. The state CAN chairman, Rev. John Oladapo argued that the Christian body was not carried along by the government hence churches should go ahead with the crossover services across the state.

But Chairman, Ondo State Inter-ministerial Committee, Prof Adesegun Fatusi, warned: “We hereby, call on all the people in Ondo State to celebrate the end of the year with a deep sense of responsibility and a strong commitment to safety and resist any call by anyone, no matter how highly placed, for them to disobey government order and, therefore, put themselves at the risk of Covid-19 and its consequences as well as legal penalties, including fines and jail terms as specified in the Ondo State COVID-19 laws.”

Fatusi, in response to the  call on Christians to disregard the government directive relating to the curfew currently in operation from 10pm o 4am , warned that “Covid19 is primarily a health issue, and not a religious issue. It is, therefore, not in the domain or area of competence of any religious group and for CAN leadership to indicate that technical decisions on health matters cannot be validly made by the state government without first consulting with the Association is implausible and absurd.”

50 deaths recorded, Oyo introduces new restrictions

Oyo State government has said that there would no longer be street carnivals in order to ensure strict compliance and curtailment of the Covid-19 guidelines and protocols in the state, even as 50 deaths were recorded.

Coordinator of Oyo State Task Force on COVID-19, Prof Temitope Alonge, who gave the revelation during a press briefing, reminded the private health care providers and all individuals in the state to continue to make use of the testing centres available in all local government areas in the state.

WHO praises role of science in overcoming current, emerging challenges

Director General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus who gave the warning, said: “At present, we are working closely with scientists to better understand any and all changes to the virus and how these changes affect its ability to spread, or any potential impact on available tools.

“As the year closes and people around the world raise a toast to mark both the passing of the year and the dawn of a new one, I raise a toast to science. May we share its results (vaccines) fairly and equitably in the year ahead and together end the Covid-19  pandemic,” the WHO chief said on his Twitter.

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