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Nigeria Not Winning COVID-19 War — Virology Professor, Tomori Says

A renowned Professor of virology and former Vice-Chancellor of the Redeemer’s University Nigeria, Oyewale Tomori, says emerging indices show that Nigeria is not winning the war against COVID-19.

In an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise, Tomori said Nigeria was concentrating more on battling the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, without consideration for the other Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

Tomori said, “We are not winning either war and as we fight the Police SARS, we are forgetting and losing the other.

“The low positives we are getting reflect the low numbers we are testing. Many states have stopped reporting.

“Lagos talked of 181 students testing positive out of 440; there was a report of a university in Kaduna State with positive students, yet no one is talking about these,” he warned.

The virologist expressed concerns that though the continent was fortunate enough to be spared the COVID-19 fatalities currently ravaging Europe, he, nevertheless, warned that Nigeria need not rest for now.

“Yes, we are not seeing the European situation here but let us not deceive ourselves about the drop in the number of positives, it is a reflection of a significant drop in the number of tests performed.

“The epidemiology of the COVID-19 disease in Europe differs from that of Africa. So, we have to use different approaches.

“Have we done some things right? Yes, of course, but we have also not done many things right like inadequate and uncoordinated testing, like poor contact tracing. like non-complying with basic preventive measures,” Tomori noted.

In another interview with our correspondent, Kogi state Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Omakoji Simeon Oyiguh revealed that the association has set up a COVID-19 committee which is due to be inaugurated next week.

Oyiguh said the committee would focus on how the State branch of the NMA would deal with controlling both COVID-19 and other emerging diseases.

“This will enable us to have a scientific medical response to how to control emerging diseases such that as the politicians focus on the political aspect, the doctors will play their roles as well.

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“With that, we will be able to define what we should do within the hospitals and how we can liaise and synergise with the public and with the government,” he said.

Oyiguh emphasised that when the committee eventually becomes functional, it would give them sufficient data to determine where the state is presently in terms of COVID-19 testing.

Recall that the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday said the decline in COVID-19 cases is as a result of low testing in states due to curfews, especially Lagos, accounting for over for 60 percent of tests in the country.

Ihekweazu said posting of results on the centre’s social media handles was halted out of respect for those who lost their lives as a result of the incidents of the past days.

He said the nation must be careful about the expected spike in COVID-19 cases on account of the nationwide street protests.

“Forty to 60 percent of our testing cases are reported from Lagos. Our labs in Lagos have not been able to perform as they normally would for the past two to three weeks.

“As we move into the next two weeks, it will not take a rocket scientist to know that we have to watch the numbers very carefully.

“The reasons are obvious; we have gathered in our masses for whatever reason and for now, we have to keep our eyes open for the potential consequences. Those consequences are not inevitable; we can still do our part to prevent them,” he said.

Encouraging Nigerians against despondency, the DG said, “We cannot let down our guards; we cannot afford to add this to the many challenges that we have. Many states have done well by raising their testing capacity. So, we must stay on the ball.”

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