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FG fears surge in COVID-19 cases as schools reopen

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Osagie Ehanire


• Buhari seeks reallocation of unused IMF reserve assets, NCDC insists on testing

The Federal Government has expressed fear over a possible surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, as schools and businesses begin to open and as travels begin to pick up.

Speaking at the weekly COVID-19 media briefing yesterday in Abuja, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said, “We fear that we may have a surge in the number of cases unless we scale up surveillance and review our response plan to integrate new ways to deal with the pandemic.”

He stated that in line with the anticipated surge, the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has developed a molecular test for COVID-19 pandemic that could process results within 40 minutes.

“It is the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA), which can be performed by low skilled personnel with minimum training,” he said, adding that the test, which was ten times cheaper than the PCR, could be deployed for point of care detection and surveillance.

He explained that the technique, which was developed by Dr. Chika Onwuamah, would be deployed for use as soon as it was validated by the relevant agencies of the ministry for specificity and sensitivity.

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari canvassed the reallocation of unused International Monetary Fund (IMF) reserve assets also known as Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), currently held by developed countries, to support recovery efforts in developing economies.

Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, spoke at the virtual meeting of Heads of State and Government on financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the era of COVID-19 and beyond.

The SDR is an international reserve asset created by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to supplement its member-countries’ official reserves. The facility was designed to help in stabilising the global economy during financial shocks and IMF member-countries had previously contributed to make up the reserve totaling about $204b.

On his part, Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said testing remained a core strategy of Nigeria’s response to COVID-19.

He stressed that it was critical for understanding the burden of the pandemic on the population to target response activities accordingly.


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