Nigeria’s federal government has directed all Covid-19 Isolation Centres across the country to immediately activate their facilities in anticipation of a possible spike in infection. Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, gave the directive on Monday in Abuja at a media briefing on COVID-19 update.
The move came as the government said it had identified 10 positive cases of COVID-19 Delta variant in passengers who came in mostly from the Lagos and Abuja airports. It stressed that henceforth, stringent measures would be put in place to monitor incoming passengers from countries where the virus had become more virulent, maintaining that anyone who breaks the isolation rule would be prosecuted.
The minster said the federal government had deployed rapid testing kits at all official entry points to the country, including the Idioroko and Seme border posts, to ensure stricter monitoring and prevention of disease importation into Nigeria.
Ehanire disclosed that in the past 24 hours, the world had witnessed an increase in reported cases of the virus across a significant number of countries, due to the high transmissibility of the Delta Variant. He said there was a rising incidence of COVID-19 in the country, adding that treatment bed occupancy is also recording an increase given the established emergence of a third wave.
“We have already asked our hospitals to reactivate all their isolation centres and prepare them for any possible surge,” he said.
According to Ehanire: “As of July 25, 2021, we have confirmed a total of 170,895 COVID-19 cases, and 2,132 fatalities. There are 4,180 active cases across the country, including 216 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours from seven states; 108 cases from Lagos State, 96 cases from Akwa Ibom State, four from Oyo, three from Rivers, two from Edo, and one each from Ekiti and Kano states.”
He regretted that despite the evidence of the emergence of a third wave of the pandemic, citizens continued to refuse adherence to public health advisories.
The minister said in preparation for the anticipated rise in cases, the Federal Ministry of Health had taken steps to urgently scale-up and enhance local oxygen capacity before any increase in oxygen consumption. He said government had invested directly and strategically in ensuring oxygen availability to avert incidence of oxygen insufficiency for COVID-19 patients in the country.
On the country’s push for COVID-19 vaccine sufficiency, Ehanire said Nigeria was expecting, “over 29 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines purchased by the government of Nigeria through the African Union AVATT facility; and over four million Moderna and almost 700, 000 AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX facility from bilateral donations from the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom; as well as Pfizer and Sinopharm from both bilateral agreements and through the COVAX facility.”
The minister allayed fears over the recent donation of Sinopharm COVID19 vaccine by the Chinese government, saying the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has been asked to subject the vaccine to regulatory test for the needed approval.
Ehanire also said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a one-dose shot, would be advantageous in the Nigerian context, with weak Civil Registration Vital Statistics (CRVS) and a nomadic population.
According to Ehanire government expects to take delivery of the vaccines this quarter, with the Johnson & Johnson expected in August.
Earlier, the minister said the country had stop vaccination in July 10, because it ran out of vaccine doses.
When asked about efforts to commence manufacturing of vaccine in the country, he said Nigeria had put up a good case for citing a vaccine manufacturing company in the country.
Ehanire added that government had also approached prominent Nigerians in the private sector to support the venture.
He explained, “We are talking to eminent Nigerians, we are waiting for the next step to put up a concept note and business plan. We are working with a company that the federal government owns 49 per cent equity and the company will be the only company we will present as the one to do the manufacturing and government will support them in many ways to get the technical transfer and to be the one supported to produce the vaccine.”
While giving an update on COVID-19 testing and treatment around the country, the Director of Disease Surveillance and Epidemiology, Mrs. Elsie Ilori, said, “So far we have identified 10 Delta variants of COVID-19 in the country. The Delta variant is more virulent than the normal one and the symptoms it presents are not in consonance with what we are used to, that is why we need to be careful.”