COVID-19: NCDC urges caution as cases increase

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says the country has recorded an increase in  COVID-19 cases, urging caution among the residents. “From the beginning of September to the end of November, Nigeria has recorded a gradual increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. “In the last week (30th of November to the 6th of December), our surveillance system has recorded a sharp increase in cases. “The average number of daily cases recorded last week is higher than what was recorded between September and November,” the NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said on Friday. Ihekweazu spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja. He said the increase necessitated a public health advisory on the issue. The director-general said that the advisory was to provide an update on the pandemic and emphasise measures to reduce the risk of spread. He said that as at Dec. 10, 2020, Nigeria recorded over 71,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 1,190 deaths across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). According to the NCDC boss, COVID-19 situation continues to differ across states. He said that while there had been an increase in the number of cases across 23 states, 73 per cent was from Lagos, Kaduna and the FCT. “Eight of the 23 states with an increase in the number of cases reported a record high number of weekly cases last week. “It is important to note that in the last week, the proportion of people who have tested positive among those tested increased from 3.9 per cent to 6.0 per cent when compared to the previous week. “However, in the last week, there was a decline in the rate of testing across 12 states. These are Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Yobe, Borno, Gombe, Bauchi, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Benue and Anambra,’’ he said. Ihekweazu said that NCDC would continue to work with all states to scale up demand for and access to COVID-19 testing. “Given the epidemiology of the virus, with increase in cross country travel and poor testing rates, none of these states can report to have full control over the pandemic yet,” he said. Ihekweazu said that the agency had continued to respond to the COVID-19 situation since the outbreak in Nigeria. “The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, which includes NCDC, and state governments have continued to scale up response activities. “NCDC has supported all states in Nigeria to activate at least one public health laboratory for COVID-19 diagnosis. “Testing for public health purposes remains free of charge. A list of sample collection centres across states can be found on www.covid19.ncdc.gov.ng “The NCDC through the World Bank REDISSE Fund has also supported each state with N100 million for implementation of  COVID-19 Incident Action Plan. “Through support from the Africa Centers for Disease Control (ACDC), NCDC deployed epidemiologists to support response activities in states, and community volunteers in local government areas.’’ Ihekweazu said that Nigerians should not relent in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread. “We remind all Nigerians to adhere to the following important public health measures: Maintain physical distance of at least two metres from others in public settings. “Avoid direct contact such as hugging and handshaking with people, avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of a respiratory illness, limit all non-essential domestic and international travels. “Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser when hands are not visibly dirty and running water not readily available,’’ he advised. He advised residents to cover their mouths and noses properly with tissue papers or their elbows when sneezing and/or coughing. “Dispose of the tissue papers properly immediately after use and wash your hands. “Stay at home if you feel unwell and call your state helpline. “Do not mingle with others if you have symptoms such as fever, cough or sudden loss of sense of taste or smell. “ Public settings including religious settings and markets should ensure adherence to public health and safety measures,’’ he urged. Ihekweazu advised those up to 60 years and people with pre-existing medical conditions to avoid non-essential outings and visitors,” he urged. (NAN) – Dec. 11, 2020 @ 14:58 GMT |

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