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Experts warn on second wave of COVID-19

By Chukwuma Muanya
14 December 2020   |   3:40 am
A major reason for a second wave is predicated largely on the fact most people have abandoned safety precautions in the false belief that it is no longer prevalent. This argument is strongly canvassed by a professor of virology

NCDC alerts to a sharp rise in cases, deaths
• Laments declining testing in northern states
• Discloses N100m for an action plan

Medical experts have warned that Nigeria will likely record frightening figures in COVID-19.

A major reason for a second wave is predicated largely on the fact most people have abandoned safety precautions in the false belief that it is no longer prevalent. This argument is strongly canvassed by a professor of virology and pioneer vice-chancellor of Redeemer’s University Oyewale Tomori.

Tomori, who is also the chairman of Experts Review Committee on COVID-19, stressed that since the virus arrived on February 27, it had not left the country.

He observed that the country would have prevented nearly 70,000 cases and over 1000 deaths from the disease if necessary protocols were observed.

Similarly, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, told The Guardian in an exclusive interview that due to the fact no country in the world had been declared safe, no country could claim to be free from the second wave.

“There is the risk of a ‘second wave’ and many countries have begun to experience a spike in cases,” he said.

Also expressing fear for a likely second wave spike, a member of Lagos State COVID-19 Response Team, Prof. Akin Osibogun, told The Guardian, said the best approach was to be prepared and not to let down guards.

He said: “Many countries, including Nigeria, are worried about a possible second wave of the COVID-19. The preventive approach of promoting facemask, social distancing, hand washing and limiting crowd events are still recommended.”

Osibogun, who is also the immediate past Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, said the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test remained the gold standard while efforts were on to determine rapid mass testing techniques that might be appropriate and reliable for the environment.

MEANWHILE, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has warned that the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic may be an inevitable following increase in the number of cases across the country. Consequently, the centre, over the weekend, issued a public health advisory, which provides an update on the current situation, response activities and recommends measures to reduce the risk of spread in the country.

Latest figures from the NCDC indicate that on December 12, 2020, new confirmed cases of 617 and four deaths were recorded.

The 617 new cases are reported from 15 states: Lagos (225), FCT (181), Kaduna (125), Adamawa (25), Nasarawa (20), Kano (12), Rivers (eight), Edo (four), Ekiti (four), Bayelsa (three), Ogun (three), Plateau (three), Akwa Ibom (two), Delta (one) and Sokoto (one).

According to the Centre, a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at Level 3, has continued to coordinate the national response activities and till date, 72,757 cases have been confirmed, 65,850 cases have been discharged and 1,194 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The NCDC reported: “Since the beginning of September to the end of November 2020, Nigeria has recorded a gradual increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. However, in the last week (30th of November to the 6th of December) our surveillance system has recorded a sharp increase in cases. The average number of daily cases recorded in the last week was higher than was recorded between September – November.”

According to the NCDC, the COVID-19 situation continues to differ across states. While there has been an increase in the number of cases across 23 states in the country, the majority (73 per cent) of the cases detected were from Lagos, Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory. Eight of the 23 states with an increase in the number of cases reported a record-high number of weekly cases last week.

It noted that there has been an increase in the number of tests carried out nationwide in the last five weeks.
“It is important to note that in the last week, the proportion of people who have tested positive among those tested, increased from 3.9% to 6.0% when compared to the previous week,” the NCDC said.

However, it disclosed that in the last week, there was a decline in the rate of testing across 12 states. These are Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Yobe, Borno, Gombe, Bauchi, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Benue and Anambra.

The NCDC said it would continue to work with all states to scale up both demand for and access to COVID-19 testing and that given the epidemiology of the virus, the increase in cross country travel, and poor testing rates, none of these states can report having full control over the pandemic yet.

It said since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, which includes NCDC, as well as state governments have continued to scale up response activities.

According to the report, the NCDC has supported all states in Nigeria to activate at least one public health laboratory for COVID-19 diagnosis. “

The NCDC said it had through the World Bank REDISSE Fund also supported each state with N100 million, for the implementation of the state COVID-19 Incident Action Plan. It said it has deployed epidemiologists to support response activities in states, and community volunteers in Local Government Areas (LGAs) through support from the Africa Centre for Disease Control (ACDC).

The NCDC added: “As part of the measures to reduce the risk of an increase in cases associated with international travel, the PTF-COVID-19 instituted measures that are enforced through a travel protocol. Through these measures, we have mitigated to some extent the impact of travel on the epidemic in Nigeria. However, the advice, for now, is to avoid non-essential travel altogether.”