NCDC: Nigeria’s low cases due to sample collection
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has revealed that 684 of the 14,906 Nigerians evacuated from different countries tested positive for the disease. Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, at the media briefing yesterday in Abuja, took cognizance of the effect of the disease on global economy and, therefore, called on Nigerian business owners to access the N2.3 trillion stimulus package made available by the government to sustain themselves.
Mustapha noted that over 1,000 vaccines for the disease have been put on trial globally with varying degrees of reported success, but insisted that Nigeria shall remain focused on propagating the use of proven avoidance methods to break the transmission of the virus and effective case management to care for and treat infected per-sons.
The SGF said: “It might interest you to note that of the 14,906 evacuees received during this COVID-19 pandemic, close to 80% are youths for which we are glad that only 684 tested positive for the coronavirus out of the 13,844 so far tested. In the coming days, we hope to receive more evacuees from different parts of the world. “Globally, the world continues to pursue the search for a vaccine with over 1,000 trials on-going and different claims of levels of success.
We note particularly, the announcement by the President of Russia on the breakthrough in the development of a vaccine even as we study the developments. “Fighting the pandemic successfully will take a global effort and Nigeria will not be left out whenever and wherever progress is made. However, the health and safety of Nigerians will always remain our priority in the pursuit of a solution.” “The ravaging effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy should provide more compelling reasons for us all to leave no stone unturned in fighting this pandemic. This week, the United Kingdom would be going into a recession after its economy suffered a slump in growth by a record 20% in the second quarter.
“I wish to remind all Nigerians that ahead of such occurrence, our government had put in place an Economic Sustainability Plan backed by a stimulus package in the sum of N2.6 trillion to boost local economies, production and for all sizes of businesses, including small family businesses I, therefore, urge our businesses to take advantage of the stimulus package to revive and/or boost their businesses. We cannot afford to let our economy slide,” he added. Mustapha said the fact that fewer number of persons have been confirmed positive of COVID-19 in the last two weeks should not be misconstrued to mean that the pandemic was over.
“There is still a serious battle to be fought ahead of us as a people and as a country. It is important, there-fore, that we continue to build on our successes and not do anything to detract from them,” he warned. Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, in his comments, said the government’s target was to test one per cent on the nation’s 200 million population for COVID-19 in a short period of time. He equally disclosed that 46 per cent of the 47,743 people tested so far were youths with age ranging between 21 and 40 years. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who survived the pandemic, thanked everyone for their prayers just as he shared his experience at the isolation centre with the public.
Onyeama acknowledged the dedication of the nation’s health workers just as he re-echoed a suggestion that the Ministry of Health devised a means where anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 could be placed on some drugs ahead of their access to testing facilities. Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that the low number of COVID-19 cases in the country is due to lesser number of samples collected across the states. NCDC Director General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that the testing labs were underutilized because the states were not collecting enough samples for the laboratory to test. Ihekweazu, who was represented at the briefing by NCDC Head of Surveillance and Epidemiology Department, Mrs. Elsie Ilori, said: “Since the Sallah break, some of our confirmed cases have been very low compared to what we have been having before. This is not because the numbers are getting low, but because we’re not collecting enough samples.
“If you notice, the number of samples collected during Sallah was very low and we believe it was because of the festive season such that some labs even went on break, it shouldn’t have been. “So we’re working with the states to quickly address this so that we do not have this kind of situation again,” he said. The DG explained that the agency want every local government to have a sample collection site in the country.