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Second wave of COVID-19: 6000 cases recorded since December - Dr. Okechukwu

Feb, 2021 | By Prudence Okonna | ||

As the world battles to contain the new strain of corona virus and work on managing the second wave, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has put out more restrictions on social gatherings as well as the emphasis on precautionary measures to reduce the spread. The Minister for Health, Osagie Ehanire had earlier announced that the government would receive 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021.

In a chat with Abuja Digest Weekly, the Director of the Public Health department of the Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS) of the FCTA, Dr. Josephine Okechukwu, confirmed that the first roll-out of the vaccine which is yet to arrive will be for 20 percent of the population of Nigeria. While the news of the vaccine is cheering to some, some other groups have rejected the vaccine before its arrival, basing their decisions on their religious beliefs. Speaking on the supposed apathy towards the vaccine and strategies to encourage people to take it when it arrives, Dr. Okechukwu said she was more concerned about the behaviour and attitude towards the virus. She added that there had to be an attitudinal change first.

"At this point, the vaccine is not my concern, my concern is for people to change their behavior and attitude first towards the virus. Also, Nigeria is yet to agree on the vaccine it wants to buy, it is the middle of January and stakeholders are yet to agree on the vaccine to buy, they have to prepare for everything; they can't just purchase anything because it needs to be bought. Nothing has been purchased yet and the first batch to come in will be for just 20% of the population, how many thousand are there, health workers alone can cover the 20%. We haven't talked about the vulnerable group, so we have to first attend to those who believe that covid-19 exists before we go after those who do not believe it exists."

Speaking on strategies to drive home these attitudinal changes expected, Dr. Okechukwu said she had mandated the Risk Communication Unit of the Department to continue to sensitize members of the public especially in the markets, worship centers, and motor parks. She added that the statistics of cases are out there and speak for themselves. "Our statistics are there, it speaks for itself, the experiences we are having speak for themselves. We have so many survivors and they are coming out to share their stories. If it is a scam, as a lot of people say, The U.K, France, the U.S, and other countries cannot be scamming the world. It is in Africa, and it is killing people daily."

Dr. Okechukwu lamented the increase in cases adding that FCT recorded about 6000 cases from December 1st till now. On a concerned note, she appealed to everyone to take responsibility and do what is right for themselves and their families. "Our mortality is increasing; we have had about six thousand cases in the space of five weeks, from December 1st till date. We are worried about the spread; people should change their attitude towards this disease.

The spread of covid-19 has a lot to do with the behavior of people towards complying with guidelines; by wearing a facemask, maintaining physical distancing, avoiding social gatherings, using sanitizer, and washing of hands and generally taking into cognizance proper personal hygiene everywhere you are. And if you have any symptoms, it is necessary to get tested, protect people around you. If we do not change our attitude towards covid-19, we will keep having the same problem."

On encouraging the populace to consider the vaccine when it arrives, she said "In medicine, you don't force anyone to take any medication, supposing you force a person and it starts adversely affecting that person, what happens? The legal issues are there and the vaccine is not going to be enough," adding that the least they can do is to educate and sensitize but can't force anyone.

She said, "Many young ones between the ages of 20 and 50 are the ones that are heavily infected and many are asymptomatic, the ones we call super spreaders, they harbor this virus but they don't even know they have it. They bring this virus and infect their parents at home who are elderly. These are the ones that end up dying. However, the young ones also die from the virus, so if everyone is susceptible to mortality, then we all have to be careful. Our message is to let every young person know that they are very vulnerable by virtue of their social and physical activities."

She said the message to people is to have behavioral change towards covid-19. When these can be adhered to, it will drastically cut the spread of covid-19. Recall that on the 14th of December 2020, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha announced that the second wave of the Corona virus outbreak had hit Nigeria. He said this was confirmed because the number of cases had spiked in the weeks before then.

News Update

Defending the budget, Malam Bello called it a balanced budget, adding that capital expenditure will gulp 54.56% or N163,651,140,779.25 while recurrent expenditure takes home 45.44% amounting to N136,312,350,743.21 of the total estimates.

Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has flagged off COVID-19 vaccination for residents of the Territory, just as she declared the safety of the vaccine.

Seven state Governors and one Deputy Governor graced the unveiling ceremony which was performed during the Nigerien President's visit to Nigeria. The unveiling was performed by the visiting President himself last week.

Minister of State, FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, who flagged off the programme last week in Gwagwalada, affirmed that the initiative was a strategy to enhance social inclusion.


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