FG SET RO REVIEW SAFETY PROTOCOLS AS WELL AS SCHOOL RESUMPTION DATE IN VIEW OF INCREASING NUMBER OF CORONAVIRUS CASES

Omeiza Ajayi

The Federal Government has announced its decision to review the COVID-19 safety protocols as well as the January 18 resumption date for schools in the light of Nigeria’s grim epidemiological situation with regards to the pandemic.

This was as it again lamented that the nation’s health care infrastructure was greatly strained as the country is now at a critical level in its hospital capacity.

The government also explained its inability to produce COVID-19 vaccines in the country, attributing it to several years of inadequate investments in the health sector.

While it declared that no state is immune to the virus, the government also announced its decision to roll out Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits RDTKs in five tertiary health institutions in Abuja by next Monday.

The Federal Government had last year faulted the Kogi state Government’s insistence on using the test kits rather than deploying the more expensive PCR test.

Schools Resumption

Speaking at Monday’s briefing of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on COVID-19, Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu said the earlier resumption date of January 18 was not cast in stone.

“When we decided on that date, it was just a target towards which we were working. And of course, we are giving it a review given what is happening in the country.

“Today at the PTF meeting, we looked at the rising figures and decided that probably we should take another look at the date.

“The January 18 resumption date is not sacrosanct as it is subject to constant review in view of prevailing epidemiological circumstances. We are reviewing it. In view of the rising cases, today we have considered it at the meeting of the PTF, and tomorrow, the ministry is going to take it up. So, most likely it is going to be reviewed”, Adamu stated.

Protocol review

National Coordinator of the Taskforce, Dr. Sani Aliyu noted that the PTF would soon review the safety protocols to target nightcrawlers who violate the current safety precautions.

“Our beds are fast filling up in our treatment centres and you don’t want to be in a situation where the decision is being taken as to whether you should be put on oxygen or a ventilator.

“The PTF is currently in the process of reviewing our protocols. We have had discussions with state governors including a review of curfew hours particularly to address the issue of nightlife and entertainment which is also driving the current numbers and once this review is completed, an announcement will follow with regards to the curfew”, he stated.

Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Iheakwazu on his part lamented that hospital capacity in several towns has reached a critical level.

He said; “We are reaching a critical level with our hospital capacity in many towns in Nigeria and we must begin to protect our most vulnerable as we get deeper into this phase of the outbreak. Remember this virus is not tired and it is taking advantage of our tiredness and fatigue”.

Minister of State, Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora warned against overcrowding at the enrollment centres of the National Identity Management Commission NIMC, saying the situation could be avoided if prospective enrollees would adhere to the timelines released by the Commission.

He said the result of the test of participants of the National Youth Service Corps NYSC scheme indicates that no part of the country is free of the virus, saying the PTF reached the conclusion knowing that corps members were mobilized from all over the country.

“The result from the tests conducted on prospective NYSC members has incontrovertibly confirmed that no part of the country is free of COVID-19 disease. We safely and comfortably draw this conclusion because corps members are mobilized from all the states of the country for each of the orientation camps.

“With the increased number of confirmed cases, the number of active cases has increased. As of today, we have 18,699 active cases on treatment both in the facility and in the community using the treatment protocols. Many of the active cases may require care in one of the treatment or isolation centres thus imposing enormous burden on our facilities.

“Thee report that many of those who died, reported late for treatment at the approved centres because they were referred late from private facilities is alarming. We therefore once again seize this opportunity to urge health care practitioners to promptly send all suspected cases for testing and when positive, refer them to isolation centres for treatment. Attempting to treat suspected or confirmed cases not only exposes the health workers in such a facility to risk of infection but also denies the patient early access to effective treatment in an approved treatment centre.

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