The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says no state in the country is free from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
NCDC Director-General, Chikwe Ihekweazu disclosed this on Monday during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The comment comes even as the NCDC is yet to officially report a case in Cross River state, as of Monday afternoon.
Mr. Ihekweazu was responding to a question about states who were discharging patients and declaring themselves COVID-19 free.
“No state, no single state in Nigeria is COVID-19 free, not one,” Mr. Ihekweazu said. “No country in the world is COVID-19 free. Even New Zealand, that is an island state is still having new cases after a period of not having any.”
He continued: “We can’t separate ourselves from the rest of the country. We live in a context, viruses spread, it’s the nature of them, so right now no state is COVID-19 free. That’s why we have to keep doing this work that we are doing, testing people, finding out if they have it.”
Don’t Be Afraid Of Testing
The PTF also asked Nigerians, on Monday, not to be scared of undergoing COVID-19 tests.
According to PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, it is important for Nigerians to carry out the tests to ascertain their COVID-19 status, especially since the virus is not a death sentence.
“I, therefore, urge Nigerians to make use of these facilities and get tested. Similarly, I implore us not to be afraid of undertaking the COVID-19 test.
“Testing positive for COVID-19 is not a death sentence, but failure to test, especially when symptoms are evident could result in death as it may be too late once the symptoms become full-blown.
“The loss of any Nigerian is not only painful but most avoidable provided we seek help early,” the SGF said.
Mustapha also reacted to the arrest of two foreigners by the Nigeria Immigration Service, noting that the PTF is aware of the possibility of illegal entry into the country.
While commending officials of the service for their prompt response, Mustapha explained that the feat was achieved following their vigilance on the nation’s borders.
“The PTF is also not unmindful of the possibility of imports, especially through our land borders. For this reason, our men and women of the Nigerian Immigration Service remain vigilant and this has resulted in the apprehension of two foreigners who tried to enter the country illegally over the weekend. This commendable effort is appreciated,” he said.
Not Taking Responsibility
The PTF, at the Monday briefing, also decried the lack of public adherence to government measures designed to halt the coronavirus pandemic.
National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said, based on observations from a national sensitization program, many Nigerians are “letting down their guard.”
Dr. Aliyu noted that despite the increase in cases and the likelihood of contracting the virus, many Nigerians were paying less and less attention to health guidelines.
He added that the PTF will continue to collaborate with security agencies and state governments to ensure the guidelines are obeyed while enjoining citizens to play their part.
“Some of the observations that have arisen from these activities (the national sensitisation program) include the fact that Nigerians have continued to show persistent and remarkable lack of compliance to COVID-19 prevention protocols, which is quite worrying,” Dr. Aliyu said.
“In the cities where adherence to these protocols was high in the first two weeks of the ease of lockdown, progressively, over time, citizens are letting down their guard and this remains a great concern.
“There is partial to total noncompliance with facemasks and physical distancing protocols by the public. Many Nigerians only use face masks to avoid security agents, where enforcement exists or where they are told to do so.
“There is also significant disbelief in the danger and impact of COVID-19. In parts of the south-east where we did a recent survey, 60 per cent did not believe that Covid was an issue at all. We clearly are not taking the pandemic seriously enough.
“There are also many myths that also continue to exist within the social media platforms, ranging from conspiracy theories to get-rich-quick to claims of treatment of herbal concoctions, all of which appear to be putting our sensitisation efforts at risk.”
Dr. Aliyu continued: “Now, you are more likely to contract COVID now if you go out and don’t observe the strict measures that we recommend far more than when this problem started three months ago, simply because of the numbers we are currently having.”
He also lauded state governments who have been diligent in reporting positive cases, noting that “there is no shame in having positive results in your state. If we do not know the true state of the pandemic in your state, you are putting the lives of your citizens on the line.”