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NACA, NCDC urge Nigerians to avoid risky behaviours that predispose to COVID-19, HIV

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA) have urged Nigerians to avoid all forms of risky behaviour that predispose them to COVID-19 and Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), this festive season.

Director-General, NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, in a statement, signed by its Head, Relations and Protocol, Toyin Aderibigbe, heartily rejoiced with Nigerians especially the Muslim Ummah in celebrating Eid-El Kabir.

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Aliyu said NACA uses this important occasion to call for a reflection on the important lessons of sacrifice, dedication, love, care, and unity brought by Eid-El-Kabir.

Aliyu called on Nigerian youths and adults to continue to avoid all forms of risky behaviors that predispose to HIV and AIDS especially during this festive season and show love and care to persons living with HIV/AIDS. Stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV help spread the virus.

The NACA boss said: “Celebrate with caution and remember to test to know your HIV status as it remains the gateway to HIV/AIDS care, treatment, prevention, and control. You may take advantage of HIV self-testing kit to test yourself to know your HIV status and remember to observe COVID-19 protocols.”

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Also, NCDC issued a public health advisory to members of the public, ahead of events to mark Eid-el-Kabir.

Director-General, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, yesterday said: “Eid Mubarak! Remember to #CelebrateResponsibly by wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, and ensuring proper ventilation indoors.”

Ihekweazu said the advisory is based on the high risk of the spread of COVID—19 in Nigeria and the need for collective responsibility to prevent a surge in cases.

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According to the advisory, despite significant efforts, there is still ongoing transmission of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19, in Nigeria and across the world. In addition to this, the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than other known SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, has been detected in Nigeria. This calls for increased adherence to public health and social measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The NCDC said the virus that causes COVID-19 is more likely to spread when people gather and do not adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures. “As we celebrate this year’s Eid-el-Kabir, we urge Nigerians to be aware of the high risk of spread of COVID-19,” it noted.

The Centre urged Nigerians to adhere to the following preventive measures:
•If you must gather, please do this outdoors; otherwise, ensure that the indoor venue has enough space to accommodate attendees with appropriate physical distancing, adequate ventilation, and airflow. This must be in line with the existing COVID-19 health regulations

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•Limit all non-essential domestic and international travel. This is especially important for
intending travellers from countries with a high number of new COVID-19 cases. •If you must travel to Nigeria, please adhere to the self-isolation, testing, and other travel-related protocols

•Always wear a facemask that covers your nose and mouth when in public settings or with people outside your household

•Maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from people outside your household

•Avoid direct contact with people such as hugging and handshaking. Avoid sharing items such as prayer mats and kettles

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•Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer when hands are not visibly dirty and running water is not readily available

•Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue paper, or your elbow when sneezing and/or coughing. Dispose of the tissue properly immediately after use and wash your hands.

•Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of a respiratory illness

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•Stay at home if you feel unwell and call your state helpline for information on how to access testing. Do not mingle with others if you have symptoms such as fever, cough or sudden loss of sense of taste or smell

•Vulnerable groups i.e. people 60 years and above and/or people with pre-existing medical conditions should avoid non-essential outings and visitors. Where possible, a friend or family member should safely deliver food or any needed supplies.

According to the NCDC, while the COVID-19 vaccine confers some protection against the disease, it is important for vaccinated people to continue practicing these public health and social measures, to protect themselves and others.

The Centre appealed to religious and traditional leaders to ensure adherence to safe practices at mosques, places of worship and other venues, where religious and social gatherings occur.

“Finally, we urge all Nigerians to take personal and collective responsibility to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19, as we celebrate Eid-el-Kabir. We wish all Muslim faithful Eid Mubarak,” it noted.

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