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COVID-19: NCDC reports 1,244 New Infections

Chikwe Ihekweazu is a Nigerian epidemiologist and public health physician who is the current Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the agency  has reported 1,244 new cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of infections in the country to 101,331. The NCDC disclosed this on its official website late Monday. The agency also confirmed additional three coronavirus-related deaths in the country in the past 24 hours.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that last week the country recorded more than 9,800 cases within seven days, thus surpassing its earlier weekly record of COVID-19 infections.

Available data shows that between Jan. 3 and 9, the country recorded 9,833 cases, a sharp increase from the 5,681 cases recorded in the previous week of Dec. 27, 2020, and Jan. 2, 2021.

The public health agency said the new infections were reported from across 20 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

It disclosed that Lagos state, the epicentre of the virus in-country, recorded the highest number of confirmed cases with 774 new infections, taking the total number of cases in the state to 36,875.

The health agency added that Lagos, FCT and Plateau recorded the highest number of COVID-19 infections with 774, 125 and 102 cases respectively.

Other states with new infections were Anambra-47, Ondo-46, Rivers-27, Edo-18, Kaduna-16, Ogun-16, Gombe-16, Bauchi-11, Kano-11, Nasarawa-10, Akwa Ibom-seven, Sokoto-seven, Borno-five, Ekiti-four, and Zamfara-two.

NCDC also announced the discharge of 461 patients from isolation centres across the country.

“Our discharges today include 144 community recoveries in Lagos State managed in line with guidelines,” it said, adding that it had conducted at least 1,033,858 tests since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced in the country.

According to it, a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) activated at Level 3, is coordinating response activities nationwide.

The agency issued a public health advisory to alert Nigerians that non-adherence to public health and social measures was undermining its response efforts aimed at limiting the continued spread of the virus.

“The average number of daily confirmed cases recorded in the first week of January 2021, was higher than the cumulative cases recorded the last week of December 2020.

“Following the festive season, and in view of the increase in the number of confirmed cases in Nigeria, the NCDC and partners, with leadership from the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 are putting in place measures to strengthen the public health agency’s response to the pandemic,” it said.

According to it, while Nigerians may be tired of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact, the virus is taking advantage of the fatigue, complacency, gaining momentum, and taking advantage of lapses in the adherence to recommended safety protocols.

To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, the NCDC said, ”Nigerians are reminded to wear a face mask properly, wash hands with soap, and maintain physical distance from others.

“This is not the time to let down our guard. The virus that causes COVID-19 never went away and is still very much with us, as evidenced by the rising cases in Nigeria and globally.”

The NCDC noted that COVID-19 could affect all age groups with severe outcomes in the elderly (50 years and above), and in persons with co-morbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer etc.

“Recently there has been increased infection among the younger age groups.

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“Therefore, NCDC urges all persons to take responsibility and adhere to the non-pharmaceutical interventions (regular hand washing, maintaining physical distance, and proper use of face mask,” it explained.

It said it would continue to work with other agencies under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health to spearhead public health response to the disease.

It added that it would continue to play a key role in the multi-sectoral response to the disease, within the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF-COVID-19), established by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Given the sustained increase in cases, the agency said it would also continue to work closely with state governments, provide support through the deployment of Rapid Response Teams, provide laboratory and medical supplies as well as carry out other response activities.

“We urge state governments to take greater ownership of their response, maintain their COVID-19 surveillance structures, laboratory diagnosis and testing.

“Unless states actively test, they will not know their disease burden, putting local communities at greater risk of adverse outcomes, if the virus is not detected and impacts vulnerable populations.

“NCDC has significantly scaled-up the national testing capacity by expanding the number of laboratories for COVID-19 testing across states.

“Testing remains one of the best tools we have in our fight against COVID-19, as it enables prompt clinical management and helps in preventing further transmission.

“The cumulative number of samples tested in the country has increased significantly, and some states have sustained higher levels of testing.

“Although the country has yet to meet its total testing capacity, this remains a major priority for the response.

“Sample collection sites have also been established in many Local Government Areas, making public health testing more easily accessible.

“Testing in public laboratories remains free of charge (unless for travel purposes in private laboratories, where pricing structures vary,” it explained.

The NCDC charged healthcare professionals to maintain a high index of suspicion, especially when treating patients with breathing difficulties and also present with symptoms common to COVID-19.

It urged Nigerians to adhere to the recommended public health and social measures recommended by public health authorities and to avoid all non-essential travel within and outside Nigeria to reduce the risk of transmission.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 is more likely to spread in mass gatherings, especially in confined spaces with poor ventilation.

“It is advised that people avoid mass gatherings during this time, and if necessary meet outdoors and adhere to physical distancing and other public health measures.

“All these measures are critical in order to sustain the gains made since the onset of the pandemic.

“We also strongly advise business owners, employees and religious leaders to institute the strict enforcement and adherence to public measures, which include the wearing of face masks, ensuring the availability of handwashing facilities or providing hand sanitisers.

The NCDC said it remains grateful to all frontline health workers, state public health teams, stakeholders, and partners who have continued to work extremely hard since the beginning of the pandemic supporting the response efforts.

“We are all eager to get back to the normalcy in our lives, so the continued response and end to the outbreak starts and ends with all of us.

“We remain committed to protecting the health of all Nigerians,” it added.

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