Nigeria

Minister urges Nigerians not to declare victory over coronavirus too early

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this at the PTF briefing on Tuesday in Abuja.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Monday encouraged Nigerians not to declare victory over COVID-19 too early, saying it is a long haul for which the surest way so far is non-pharmaceutical intervention.

While adding that Nigeria’s vaccine manufacturing aspirations are on track. “We are working with the Private sector and have the full support of influential, Nigerians outside the country.

Ehanire made this known at the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday while hinting that, there are therefore still surprises coming up with the novel Coronavirus, as it evolves.

He said that Nigeria is preparing along all established avenues, including participating in research and development. Several Nigerian groups are engaged in genomic sequencing and few in vaccine development, while NIPRID is working on phytomedicines research.

“But the most potent tool so far, to save lives, remains full vaccination in prescribed intervals, which has gone without incident around the world for so long now, that nobody should be having doubts about it, anymore. The vaccines we use are trusted, so I urge all citizens to drop their hesitancy and take the vaccines.

“It is commonplace in many foreign countries now that proof of Covid-19 vaccination is needed, in order to be admitted to restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs, even to board aircraft on international flights. This trend is intensifying around the world and will, no doubt, begin to take root in Nigeria in due course.

“I will not be surprised if domestic Nigerian Airlines start to demand vaccination cards, before boarding. I advise that nobody should be left behind in vaccination, lest they face an embarrassing situation”.

“Nigeria has so far tested a total of 3,392,457 samples, of which 213,147 were confirmed positive for Covid-19, while active cases are 4,447 and cases discharged to date are 205,732. There have sadly been 2,968 covid-related fatalities with a case fatality rate of 1.39%;

“Bed occupancy in the week under review was 16.17% in 86 Isolation wards, and oxygen is widely available, mainly in cylinders, with oxygen concentrators as a backup.

“There is no surge in demand. A review of the oxygen situation in 125 treatment centres is ongoing, to also identify non-functional plants for repair.

“Majority of patients (67%) on admission in isolation wards have comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension obesity and other non-communicable diseases, which are known determinants of the severity of Covid-19 illness. The same finding has been made in some Eastern European countries where severe waves of Covid-19 are raging presently.

“Despite palpable fatigue among citizens on adherence to COVID-19 preventive protocols, I have hardly encountered any person who didn’t have a face mask. Oddly enough, they would leave their mask in their pocket or handbag and wear it on demand. Others wear it on their chin. The mask is not helpful anywhere except covering the mouth and nose.

“Global trends suggest that public health measures like masks and social distancing are still very useful protection against infection. The present infection surge in certain European countries, which already had vaccination over 60%, is proof that full vaccination is no reason to drop our guard or a guarantee against infection.

Also, the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr Ifedayo Adetifa said NCDC will continue to deliver on its mandate to prevent, detect and respond to protect Nigerians from the deleterious impact of diseases of public health importance.

He said; “This has been greatly facilitated by the support of the Federal Government, collaboration with sister agencies and partners. For this ongoing pandemic, the NCDC actions include but are not limited to: Continued surveillance of cases using the digital surveillance tool, SORMAS nationwide; Support for the network of molecular laboratories set up diagnose COVID-19; Expansion of access to COVID-19 testing through the deployment of validated rapid diagnostic tests to improve surveillance; Management and expansion of the national stockpile for infectious diseases and delivery of needed commodities to support the response of our States to outbreaks; and Consistent risk communication to Nigerians and the world at large on the latest national COVID-19 updates whether via social media, our website, these briefings and regular media engagements

Meanwhile, Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said NPHCDA, we are supporting States to establish mass vaccination sites across the Country.

“There will be the expansion of vaccination sites to all public health facilities (primary, secondary, tertiary), the inclusion of private health facilities and setting up of mass vaccination sites in populated areas e.g. Universities, College of Education, Polytechnics, Schools of technology, vocational institutions, stadiums, motor parks, town squares, markets, shopping malls, to mention a few.

“This process will not interrupt the ongoing vaccination services in the public health facilities. All designated health facilities would still be vaccinating against COVID-19 as well as carrying out their routine services. We are leveraging on fixed and outreach routine immunization sessions and creating temporary posts to expand the COVID-19 vaccination service delivery. We are continuing to engage with stakeholders to promote awareness and vaccine confidence, and we have strengthened our accountability framework to reflect our principles of transparency in the handling of COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria.

“Our best guarantee against COVID-19 for now is vaccination, and that is why the Government is committed to mass vaccination campaigns. We hope to vaccinate at least 50% of our population by the end of January 2022. We will be conducting the National flag off of this mass vaccination campaign this Friday, November 19th 2021 by 10 am.

In addition, as part of our effort to mitigate fraud and further enhance the integrity of our vaccination exercise, I am glad to announce that NPHCDA has commenced a nationwide “Operation Verify Your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Online” exercise. The exercise will enable you to confirm your personal information such as name, date of birth, and correct damaged QR codes. Verifying your personal information will enable the government to secure your vaccination record against impersonation and other fraudulent activities.

He added that this exercise is also one of the ways we are checking the criminal activities of those who may have obtained the vaccination card without taking the vaccine. We will invalidate all COVID-19 vaccination cards illegally obtained by unvaccinated people during this exercise. This also gives international travellers the opportunity to verify their vaccination records well ahead of their travel date.

“We, therefore, advise such persons to verify their records a week prior to their travel date to avoid delays at the point of departure. However, newly vaccinated persons are advised to verify their vaccination records 24 hours after. To verify your COVID-19 vaccination records, please visit www.vaccination.gov.ng/verification-guide, and follow the instructions. If for any reason one is unable to access the website, simply call the NPHCDA COVID-19 helpline: 0700 220 1122 for assistance.

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