Nigeria has now tested more than 1 million samples for the covid-19 and has at least 1 public lab in every state, according to the NCDC. Over the past week, 7,130 people have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of active cases in the country to 24,415.
As the cases continue to rise, there are setbacks in receiving vaccines from the manufacturers abroad. This is largely due to wealthier nations having paid for the vaccines ahead of time, putting them up on the priority list. South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa recently appealed to rich countries to stop hoarding the vaccines and allow less-wealthy nations access.
Here are the other important developments surrounding the covid-19 in Nigeria.
Kaduna partners Zipline for delivery of vaccines using drones
Kaduna state has signed a partnership with Zipline, a medical delivery firm that delivers blood, vaccine and other medications to wherever they are needed. These will reduce the need for Kaduna state to invest in ultra-low freezers and allow the state to have constant access to the vaccines that it needs.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said the partnership will help to “ensure that millions of people in Kaduna State will always get the care they need.”
Some covid-19 vaccines like the Pfizer vaccine require extremely low temperatures for preservation, as low as -70 degree Celsius ((-112°F). The Nigerian government is looking to procure vaccines that do not require ultracold freezers and as such will not be very expensive to preserve.
Zipline drones will also be delivering the vaccines in the US, and the company said it is in talks with other governments of other states in Nigeria to leverage its tech and reduce the need for infrastructure.
15 million covid-19 vaccine doses are expected in February
15 million doses of the covid-19 vaccines will be received by the federal government in February. This is the first batch of vaccines expected in the country and will be received from AstraZeneca under the COVAX program. Recall that the country was expecting 100,000 doses in January which was expected to be used to innoculate 50,000 people.
Also Read: FG Against Jan 18 School Resumption, Nigeria Readies Freezers for Vaccines
However, there has been a delay since the January announcement, and the vaccine doses have not arrived as expected. The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the delays with the vaccine has been from manufacturers because they have heavy commitments elsewhere.
The date of the first arrival of vaccines in Nigeria has kept changing because the decision lies with the manufacturer who already has heavy commitments.”Osagie Ehanire
He, however, maintained that 15 million doses will reach the country any time from February. No exact dates were given by the minister as to when the vaccines are expected.
Nurses and experts disagree with FG over lockdown
There is a division of opinion concerning putting the nation through another lockdown. While nurses and other health workers are in support of enforcing a lockdown, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce disagreed with the prospect of locking down the economy yet again.
According to the LCC, the first lockdown plunged the Nigerian economy into a recession after adversely affecting the country’s GDP in the second, third and fourth quarters of the year. But health workers argue that a health crisis might be in the offing and a lockdown as a means of enforcing Covid-19 protocols and drastically reducing the spread of the virus locally could avert it.
Also Read: Buhari Signs New Regulations into Law, Lagos to Procure its own Vaccines
The presidency has not ruled out lockdowns as a way of dealing with the spread of the covid-19 in Nigeria. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Presidency: Nigerians should comply with mandatory mask-wearing to avert lockdowns.’
IGP warns officers to respect Nigerians while enforcing Covid-19 laws
As the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) begins to enforce the new covid-19 regulations, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammad Adamu, has asked the officers to display tact, compassion and empathy when handling citizens.
In a series of tweets, the IGP cautioned officers enforcing the regulations to show tact, compassion and empathy with the citizens. He reiterated that the officers must be firm and professional and at the same time remain polite, civil and respect the fundamental rights of the citizens.
It is important for people to also voluntarily comply with the protocols, which include wearing of face mask, social distancing, and reduced number of people in gatherings.
Recall that Nigerians recently flooded the streets across states in the country to protest against police brutality. This was done hand in hand with the protest against SARS; the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, which is allegedly responsible for the brutal treatment suffered by many young people in the country.
The IGP’s reminder to the police force to handle citizens with respect is necessary to prevent an uprising like that which characterized the #EndSARS protests.
75 health workers tested positive for Covid-19
In the last week, 75 health workers got infected with Covid-19 virus and this is higher than what has been the trend before. Remarking on the rise in cases, Ihekweazu said, “First, I’ll like to address the increasing number of COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers themselves. In the last one week, 75 healthcare workers were infected, but we can reduce this risk,”
“For healthcare workers, please maintain a high index of suspicion at all times. We need you alive and well. This means that you should suspect COVID-19 in every case you meet, until ruled out. Even, when ruled out, there is still the small risk of infection.”
Health workers will be receiving more Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits (RDTs) in their facilities to help them carry out more tests and increase the chances of staying safe.
Reducing the rate of infection among health workers ensures that the nation has enough manpower to treat people with covid-19 symptoms and to continue to test suspects.
FG could suspend flights to Dubai
Flights from the UAE into Nigeria may be suspended by the Nigerian government as a result of the new protocols imposed by the UAE on travellers from Nigeria. The new protocols mandate Nigerians to get tested for the covid-19 at most 4 hours before getting aboard the flight to UAE.
Nigeria, on the other hand, allows incoming travellers to get tested for the covid-19 72 hours or earlier before they travel into the country. As part of the protocols, the test must also return a negative result or else the intending travellers can not be allowed to board into Nigeria.
Besides the 4-hour timeline for getting tested for the covid-19, the test result must also be negative before Nigerians can be allowed to travel into the UAE. This puts a strain on travellers from Nigeria and facilities that conduct rapid testing.
The director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Nuhu, said, “If they insist on having these additional tests being done, then PTF has decided that their operations will be suspended into Nigeria.
“This will enable the PTF to have a clear and transparent process on determining who will do these test based on the requirement for accreditation by NCDC, National Laboratory Council, Lagos State Government for Lagos airport and FCT for Abuja airport,” he explained.
Featured image credit: Techcrunch
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