Nigerians and the international community have been expressing concern over the rising cases of the dreaded COVID-19 in the country.
They are worried that the virus, which recorded an index case in March had by June 22, recorded 675 new confirmed cases and seven deaths all in one day bringing the total reported cases for the country to more than 20,000.
The concerns of Nigerians, especially of the stakeholders are gaining strength also from reports that Lagos, the epicentre of the pandemic, is running out of beds for patients, many of whom are now being turned back at isolation and treatment centres in the state.
In fact, there has been an upbeat in confirmed cases in the last one month with incidences rising from 981 as at April 24 to 7,839 by end of May. The tally, therefore, shows an increment of 6,858 cases in one month on the back of an expansion in the nation’s testing capacity.
The spread of COVID-19 in the country touched a new milestone recently as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) revealed that the country now has 20,919 confirmed cases.
Of the 20,919 confirmed cases, 7,109 patients have been discharged. It is feared that the figure of confirmed cases would have been more as just a total of 115,760 tests were carried out as at June 21, compared to 113,575 total tests that were carried out a day earlier. According to the NCDC, the 675 new cases were reported from 21 states with Lagos recording 288; Oyo 76; Rivers 56; Delta 31; Ebonyi 30; and Gombe 28 . For the rest Ondo , Kaduna and Kwara recorded 20 each ; Ogun 17; FCT 16; Edo 13;Abia 10; Nasarawa and Imo nine each; Bayelsa , Borno and and Katsina recorded eight each; while , Sokoto and Bauchi recorded three; each and Plateau recording two cases.
Meanwhile, the latest numbers brought Lagos state’s total confirmed cases to 8,864, followed by Abuja 1,583; Kano 1,190; Oyo 988; Rivers 930; Edo 797; Ogun 663; Kaduna 600; Delta 532; Gombe 479; Borno 476; Bauchi 467; Katsina 434; Jigawa 317; Ebonyi 264; Plateau 253, and Imo 243;Abia state 232 cases, Kwara 200, Nasarawa 193; Bayelsa 177; Ondo 154; Enugu 144; Sokoto 138; Zamfara 76; Kebbi 67; Anambra and Niger 66 cases each; Akwa Ibom 65; Osun 60; Yobe 56; Adamawa 45; Benue 44; Ekiti 35; Taraba 18; while Kogi state recorded the lowest cases of just three. Nigerians are mainly concerned about Lagos , the economic nerve center with almost 9,000 cases at the last count.
It is commendable to see Lagos acquiring new testing machines to combat the pandemic with the help of international donors, who are matching their concern with donation of essential equipment.
We commend the NCDC for its recent unveiling of a new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine to boost COVID-19 testing in the country and it is expected to help boost testing to 3,000 per day.
The facility is stationed at the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL), a campus of the NCDC National Reference Laboratory in Lagos. The machine was procured using part of the £661,000 UKAid funding the British government donated to the Nigeria branch of the World Health Organisation (WHO) this year.
In his remarks at the unveiling, Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the machine will help in achieving the Centre’s goal to test over two million people over the next three months. The NCDC confirmed that total samples tested as of June 22 stood at 117,569.
Concerned about the unabated spread of COVID-19, President Muhammadu Buhari has described the situation as frightening and appealed to Nigerians to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health to stay safe from the disease.
Reports are also rife of private health care facilities failing to report virus-induced deaths, preferring to attribute them to other causes, including heart disease, in order to avoid closure for decontamination.
The President cautioned Nigerians to be more conscious and adhere strictly to guidelines specified to save the country from recording deaths on the scale witnessed in Europe, America and other parts of the world.
The President’ advice is coming on the heel of reports that morgues, particularly in Lagos, Cross River, Edo, Imo and Kogi states are becoming full, raising concerns about the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s health system as mortuaries in less endemic states experience a rise in the number of bodies deposited.
It is advisable, therefore, for Nigerians to ensure they observed safety guidelines like wearing face masks, avoiding crowded areas and observe safe distancing, so that collectively we will win the battle against COVID-19.