As fear spreads across the country over the spike in COVID-19 cases, experts are worried that most of the new cases are being recorded among the youths, hitherto perceived as the ‘safest’ group.
According to the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the growing infections among youths may eventually escalate the second wave of the virus.
Dr Ihekweazu said while most states have recorded an increase, the majority of which are in Lagos State, Kaduna State and the Federal Capital Territory, the sudden increase among the youths occurs more among those between ages 21 and 30 years.
The NCDC boss stated that the current trend may be associated with increasing gatherings and poor adherence to public health and safety measures and that the chances are that though young people may recover faster from COVID-19, they can easily transmit the disease to their parents and the elderly, who are at risk of dying.
According to him, although Nigeria has recorded fewer cases than other countries, cases are likely to escalate with poor adherence to public health and safety measures if individuals do not take responsibility. “Our success is really de- pendent on collective responsibility by all Nigerians. The virus is still with us, so we cannot go back to business as usual. At this period especially, we strongly discourage mass gatherings, non-essential travel and other activities that can contribute to the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
He added that individuals should maintain the observance of the COVID-19 protocols while stakeholders should also support government efforts. Also, Director, Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology (CHAZVY), College of Medicine University of Lagos, Professor Sunday Omilabu says there has been an increase in coronavirus strains circulating in Nigeria and some of them are very dangerous.
According to him, this is expected because all viruses mutate and so the country is now dealing with different strains of the virus. Professor Omilabu said the Federal Government should enforce covid -19 restrictions. Professor Omilabu asked that individuals with symptoms such as fever and catarrh or feeling, unwell should stay at home and refrain from self-medication.
“People are just going about as if there is no COVID-19. Before COVID-19, we had lots of coronaviruses that were in circulation. This current coronavirus that is causing COVID-19 is like any of them. So we have the virus circulating and the only thing is to prevent ourselves from contracting it,” he said.
Dr Ejike Orji, chairman, Medical Sub-Committee, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19, also stated that the severity of the infection has increased in people now experiencing the infection.
According to him, “in the first wave when there were 30 patients in one hospital, maybe two or three people would be on oxygen intermittently but now when there are 34 patients in the same hospital, 16 of them are on oxygen, that is al- most 50 per cent.”
Incident Manager, Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), Oyo State taskforce for COVID-19, Dr Taiwo Ladipo, however, said healthcare providers were showing apathy towards sending people with signs that are indicative, perhaps of COVID-19, for testing and had caused a decline in sample collection by 29 per cent.
‘No cause for alarm’
Meanwhile, the government of Delta State has said there is no cause for alarm. The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, in a chat with Sunday Tribune on Saturday said: “we are cool; the situation is not like before and we are praying it remains so.”
He, therefore, urged the people of the state to continue to observe the protocols of regular social distancing, wearing of face masks and washing of hands which he said the state government will enforce. The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in the state on Friday had announced four COVID-19 positive cases. Investigations across the state at the weekend showed that just a few residents are gradually returning to using face masks as against previous weeks that witnessed complete abandonment of protocols against the pandemic.
However, most of them had their face masks kept in their pockets or bags against possible harassment by members of the COVID-19 task force and other law enforcement agents who might resume work unannounced. Following the development, the Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr Mordi Ononye, in a statement on COVID-19 admonished residents of the state to continue to observe the COVID-19 safety protocols on the heels of the possibility of increased transmission of the coronavirus, arising from increased inter- state and international travels during the festive season,
Positive case now 8 in Ekiti
As of Saturday, the number of positive cases in Ekiti State stood at eight and the victims are already receiving treatment at the Oba Adejugbe isolation centre in the state capital, just as it has been argued that the rise in the number of cases was as a result of non-compliance by residents with the Covid -19 safety protocols.
However, some people also blamed government for being complacent with the enforcement of the guidelines and failure to conduct more tests. Governor Kayode Fayemi in a circular two weeks ago warned that any political office holder and public servants who failed to use the face mask would be sanctioned. Speaking to Sunday Tribune, the Commissioner for Information, Akin Omole, said the state government was mindful of the second wave of COVID-19 and that everything will be done to curtail the further spread of the disease.
He revealed that government has cancelled large crowd events such as Christmas carols, children’s party, among others. “Those organising parties and ceremonies are therefore enjoined to always liaise with the state’s COVID-19 Response Resources Mobilization Committee before embarking on such events,” he explained.
Similarly, Sokoto State government has reiterated its plan to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the state. The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Muhammed Ali Inname, assured that despite the fear of second wave of the virus, the state has everything on the ground to deal with the situation.
Inname, who is also the state chairman of Covid -19 task force, assured that the task force was still intact. Meanwhile, the state as of Thursday had recorded 210 confirmed cases out of 11,212 samples tested with no fewer than 17 casualties so far while 165 cases had been successfully treated and discharged.
Bauchi has 44 cases
In Bauchi State, 44 new cases with 69 active cases have been recorded. The state government also stated that the total cases since the COVID-19 outbreak is 854 with no new discharge cases apart from the 771 total discharged cases so far, while the total number of casualties stood at 14. Executive Chairman of Bauchi State Public healthcare development Agency (BASPHCDA), Dr Rilwanu Mohammed, while speaking to our correspondent by phone said that the state government has stepped up measures to curtail the new trend of the infection.
He, however, advised that the established safety protocols should be strictly adhered to by the people, particularly in public places in order to reduce the possibility of being infected just as he advised that any symptom should be reported at the nearest hospital.
Kano residents not observing protocols
Investigations in Kano State has shown that most residents are no longer complying with the COVID-19 protocols as worshippers in both mosques and churches, including buyers and sellers in markets no longer use their face masks.
The state government has therefore directed residents to use their face masks or risk being prosecuted as a mobile court will start operations by the middle of this week to arrest offenders. “Please inform your loved ones and other people so that they will not be caught unawares.
“Also, the state government has directed all schools, as well as tertiary institutions, to proceed on immediate holidays,” the Commissioner for Health, Aminu Ibrahim Tsan- yawa said. The state recorded 85 new cases in the last 10 days, according to Tsanyawa who expressed worries that 25 per cent of the new cases were severe. However, the chairman of COVID-19 Technical Taskforce, Dr Tijjani Hussaini, disclosed that 56 persons had died of coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic in the state.
“We are seeing increasing number of COVID-19 cases. There is a dramatic 85 new positive cases recorded in 10 days as of last Friday,” he said, adding that “Only yesterday [Thursday], we had 21 cases (14 per cent) in one day. Looking at the number of positive samples within a space of one week, it means the positive cases have risen drastically,” he said. During a press conference held at the Government House, Kano, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje had said “Indeed, we are back to the drawing board because the virus is back. The case in Kano is worrisome. But I have trust we shall be able to win the battle in the state,” he said.
182 persons test positive in Plateau
In Plateau State, no fewer than 182 persons have been infected with COVID-19 in the past five days, according to the state government which has threatened to prosecute anyone violating the laid-down protocols. State Commissioner for Health, Dr Nimkong Lar, said the spike was as a result of flagrant disregard for the safety measures put in place, adding that quite a lot of people have dropped their guards against the pandemic.
He added that the state governor, Governor Simon Lalong who tested positive for the pandemic is responding to treatment. In addition, the state Commissioner for Information Mr Daniel Manjang, debunked the rumour that the state government wanted to impose a lockdown as a result of the spike. “There have been rumours of another lockdown; for now the situation has not war- ranted that but government might be forced to lock down the state if the cases keep increasing and the people keep disobeying COVID-19 guidelines,” he said.
Osun citizens charged to use face masks Osun State Commissioner for Political Affairs and Inter-governmental Relations, Honourable Taiwo Akeju has stated that it has now become a crime for the citizens of the state not to put on their face masks wherever they go. Akeju assured the people of the state that the government would not relent in its efforts to see that its citizenry are protected from contracting the COVID-19 virus while offenders would be prosecuted.
Infection on the rise in Gombe
The chairman of the COVID-19 Management Committee and deputy governor of the state, Dr. Manassah Daniel Jatau has advised people of the state to keep observing the protocols as new cases spike. He added that the seem- ing containment of the virus has led to a general relaxation among Nigerians leading to a much bigger second wave.” He also noted that the recent #ENDSARS protest across the country also contributed to the spread of the virus. In his brief, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Gana, said that the virus thrives in temperate conditions, describing the current weather condition as ideal for the spread, which he said “is hitting double digit.”
Low level compliance
The level of compliance to the COVID-19 protocols in Ondo State is considerably low, Sunday Tribune has observed as most residents of the state have failed to comply with the laid-down protocols in public places, social gatherings and markets.
In Oja Oba market, Akure, both the traders and buyers were seen without nose masks or observing social distancing rule as the market was full to its capacity as the Christmas and New Year approach. There was no exception in most of the supermarkets visited in the state capital, while only a few sanitized their hands before going into the supermarket. The chairman of the state Inter-ministerial Committee on coronavirus, Prof. Adesegun Fatusi, who said low compliance with COVID-19 preventive protocols has been noticed in the state, noted that the risk is higher in higher institutions in the state.
He cautioned on the dangers attached to partial or non-compliance with COVID-19 guidelines and therefore used the occasion to educate the public on handwashing hygiene as well as proper use of hand sanitisers.
Edo govt urges caution
Similarly, the Edo State government has appealed to residents of the state to be cautious and observe precautionary measures aimed at flattening the curve of the pandemic just as eight new cases have been recorded. Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Osarodion Ogie, asked residents to, during the Yuletide season, observe all precautionary measures against spread of the pandemic in order to remain safe and healthy afterwards.
He said the state government “recognises this has been an extremely difficult year for us all, but we can’t afford to give up now. We urge residents to support the government’s efforts at containing the pandemic by complying with all guidelines as we cannot afford a reversal of the gains we have made against the pandemic.”
Additional reports by Ebenezer Adurokiya, Alphonsus Agborh, Olakunke Maruf, ‘Yomi Ayeleso, Ishola Michael, Hakeem Gbadamosi, Isaac Shobayo, Ishola Michael, ‘Suyi Ayodele, Adeolu Adeyemo and Kola Oyelere