At the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) briefing in Abuja, the Director- General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, made the declaration even as he insisted that there was nothing to be ashamed of about recording corona-virus cases in a state as the disease remain a global pandemic.
“It is not a shame to have positive cases in your state; denial will only make the issue more difficult. If we do not know the status of your people, you are indirectly putting the lives of your people and that of health workers at risk. The implication of that is the likely collapse of your health system.
“Rather than avoiding testing, kindly make your state available, so the country can collectively move forward. COVID-19 is here with us, we need to fight it and the best way to do that is to know the current situation of things.”
Ihekweazu however, urged states frustrating testing effort to desist from it in the interest of the general public. “No state in Nigeria is COVID-19 free and no country in the world can confidently claim to be COVID-19 free. It is a global pandemic and we can’t separate ourselves from the world.
Corroborating Ihekweazu’s views, the PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, advised Nigerians to make themselves available for testing to ascertain their COVID-19 status, saying that early detection safe lives.
“I, implore us not to be afraid of undertaking the COVID-19 test. Testing positive for COVID-19 is not a death sentence, but failure to test; especially when symptoms are evident could result in death as it may be too late once the symptoms become full-blown.
“The PTF is also not unmindful of the possibility of imports especially through our land borders. For this reason, our men and women of the Nigerian Immigration Service remained vigilant and this has resulted in the apprehension of two foreigners who tried to enter the country illegally over the weekend. This commendable effort is appreciated,” he said.
“We must develop national awareness to drive home our objectives. We also call on doctors and hospitals not to neglect other diseases because of COVID-19.’’ Mustapha said
In his presentation, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the government will continue to scale up its testing capacity as the country battles with community transmission.
He said: “As community transmission continues to rise, we are going to scale up our testing capacity but Nigerians need to bear in mind that it is not only government responsibility. Community must play active role in the effort to initiate state specific action plan.
National Coordinator of PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, lamented the low level of compliance with safety regulations. He said: “Nigerians have continued to show persistent and remarkable lack of compliance with COVID-19 prevention protocols which is quiet worrying.
“There is partial to total lack of compliance with facemasks and physical distancing protocols by the public. Many Nigerians only use their facemasks either to avoid security agents, which are where enforcement exists, or where they are told to do so.
‘’There is also a significant disbelief in the dangers and impact of COVID-19. In parts of the South East where we did a recent survey, 60 per cent did not believe that COVID-19 was an issue. We clearly are not taking the pandemic seriously enough,” he added.