For the first time in recent weeks, Nigeria has gone a day without recording a COVID-19 case fatality, a development government said should not be misinterpreted to mean that the virus has been defeated.
While it urged caution and restraint on the part of the populace, the federal government said there are currently over 1, 000 ongoing vaccine trials globally.
It announced that it was studying developments regarding claims of a new vaccine, Sputnik-V by Russia.
Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha disclosed this on Thursday during a briefing of the taskforce.
He said 13, 844 of the 14, 906 Nigerians so far evacuated have undergone Covid-19 tests and that only 684 of them tested positive.
The government also decried the resurgence in the number of healthcare workers that are infected, saying it has taken concrete steps to mitigate the trend.
A day without a fatality
The SGF who announced that no fatality was recorded on Wednesday, was, however, quick to concede that the battle was far from being won.
He said: “The PTF wishes to note as we have done before that fewer numbers of confirmed cases have been recorded in the last two weeks. This should never be misconstrued as a victory over the virus. There is still a serious battle to be fought ahead of us as a people and as a country. It is, important, therefore, that we continue to build on our successes and not do anything to detract from them.
“Our Risk Communication and Community Engagement messaging and consultations have been intensified, to drive the level of awareness and compliance to the wider population using media and platforms that are most effective generally and specifically. We wish to appeal to all Nigerians to exercise caution and restraint at all times. I wish to note however that from the reports for yesterday 12th August 2020 no fatality was recorded”.
As of Thursday morning, 338, 084 tests had been conducted. While there are 47, 743 confirmed cases, 33, 943 persons have been discharged and 956 deaths have been recorded.
Studying Russian claims
Mustapha said, “globally, the world continues to pursue the search for a vaccine with over 1,000 trials on-going and different claims of levels of success.
“We note particularly, the announcement by the President of Russia on the breakthrough in the development of a vaccine even as we study the developments. Fighting the pandemic successfully will take a global effort and Nigeria will not be left out whenever and where ever progress is made. However, the health and safety of Nigerians will always remain our priority in the pursuit of a solution.
“For us in Nigeria, we shall remain focused on propagating the use of proven avoidance methods to break the transmission of the virus and effective case management to care for and treat infected persons.
“It might interest you to note that of the 14,906 evacuees received during this COVID-19 pandemic, close to 80 percent are youths for which we are glad that only 684 tested positives to the coronavirus out of the 13,844 so far tested. In the coming days, we hope to receive more evacuees from different parts of the world. The National Coordinator will elaborate on this.”
Noting that Britain has gone into recession, the SGF reminded Nigerians of the Economic Sustainability Plan backed by a stimulus package in the sum of N2.6 trillion to boost local economies, production, and for all sizes of businesses including small family businesses.
Infection of healthcare workers
Minister of State, Health, Sen Olorunnimbe Mamora lamented the spike in the infection of healthcare workers, saying the ministry has taken steps to halt the trend.
He said; “We are concerned by the resurgence of infection in healthcare workers. In a bid to sustain the gains we have made in reducing the rate of infection among our health workers, we have made training and retraining of health workers on infection prevention and control.
“In Abia State, we have concluded the training of 594 Healthcare Workers from private and public health facilities on infection prevention and control. We are currently investigating healthcare-associated infection in a health facility in Kaduna State.
“Lessons learned from this will be used to improve service delivery. I encourage our health workers not to drop their guards as the pandemic is still with us. Use your PPEs appropriately and judiciously. We have ensured that PPEs are available in all our health facilities”.
To test 1% of Nigeria’s population
Mamora reiterated the determination of the government to test one percent of the population across the country.
“As of today, more than 70 percent of all the tests conducted have been in nine states including Lagos, Kano, FCT, Plateau, Oyo, Kaduna, Edo Ogun Rivers with 25 percent of the tests in Lagos alone. We shall continue to work with state governments to ramp up case findings and sample collection activities.”
According to the minister, the pandemic has had its impact on young people, explaining that as of Wednesday, 46 percent of positive cases in the country were young people between ages 21-40.
“I will, therefore, appeal to our youths to take responsibility. Let us ensure that we adhere to the advisories to wear face masks appropriately, regularly wash your hands, and ensure respiratory hygiene,” he counseled.
Minister of State, Education, Hon Emeka Nwajiuba said when the PTF evaluates all the necessary data before it, it would inform its decision as to when to fully reopen tertiary institutions and others.
He reiterated the appeal of some stakeholders for the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU to “give a moratorium as to strike actions for the next three years so that the Nigerian University system can rebuild itself before they start further agitations.
“We are working with science and data and when the country is ready to reopen, I do not believe that ASUU will be unreasonable or illogical about resuming. They have over 10, 000 professors out of nearly 65, 000 lecturers and I am almost confident that they would know as well as we do that the children need to go back to school as long as we are ready,” he added.