COVID-19 cases are on the increase raising fears that the country is on the verge of the fourth wave of coronavirus, findings by The PUNCH have shown
Epidemiological data obtained on Sunday from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control showed that from November 28 to December 4, a total of 585 cases were reported.
But from December 5 to December 11, the cases took a new surge as 2,496 cases were reported, indicating an increase of 1,911 (326.67 per cent).
Amid rising COVID-19 cases, our correspondents on Sunday reported that Nigerians had abandoned adherence to coronavirus protocols such as use of face masks and hand washing.
In Lagos, it was observed that churches, mosques and other public places were no more enforcing the use of face masks
Also residents of Jos, the Plateau State capital, said there was no need for them to adhere to the protocols since the virus “has gone.”
In Zamfara State, visits to public places such as markets, mosques and churches on Sunday showed that the people had completely abandoned the COVID- 19 protocols.
Similarly, government officials have also stopped wearing face masks in both their offices and officials functions.
In Ogun state , many residents are no longer adhering strictly to the protocols.
In a related development, the NCDC showed that 22,863 coronavirus tests were conducted between November 29 and December 11 compared to 103,358 tests conducted between November 22 and November 28, signifying a 77.8 per cent drop in testing rate.
The NCDC data also indicated that 13 states including Kogi, Kebbi, Yobe, Cross river, Sokoto, Niger, Adamawa, Taraba, Borno, Ebonyi, Anambra, Nasarawa and Akwa Ibom had stopped COVID-19 tests.
Epidemiological data obtained from the NCDC revealed showed that since December 1, 2021 only about 23 states and the Federal Capital Territory had details of their reports with the NCDC.
But the Sokoto State Government faulted the inclusion of the states among states not carrying out tests for COVID-19.
The state Commissioner of Health, who is also as the state chairman, COVID-19 taskforce, Dr Ali Inname, said Sokoto must have been listed in error.
“We carry out COVID-19 tests on prospective corps members deployed to the state before, their entry into the NYSC Orientation camp.
“Our personnel are also, on ground and they administered the Covid-19 tests on the citizens that volunteered to be tested. This includes those that needs clearance to embark on travelling.”
Also the Adamawa State Commissioner for Health, Professor Isa Abdullahi, said the state was carrying out COVID-19 tests and the results were being sent to the NCDC
Commenting on the rising cases, a medical virologist at the Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Dr Oladipo Kolawole, said the country was not doing enough to fight the surging Omicron variant of COVID-19.
In an interview with one of our correspondent on Sunday, Kolawole said it was unfortunate that most Nigerians had neglected the non-pharmaceutical measures of COVID-19.
He said, “Nigeria is not doing enough to ward off the surging of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 because the populace is not taking this seriously. Most Nigerians are not keeping to the rules, they have neglected the non-pharmaceutical measures, no use of facemask, no physical or social distancing, more social gathering, no washing of hands with either soap or alcohol-based hand sanitiser, most of our local airports are always crowded.”
According to a renowned Virologist at the University of Maiduguri, Professor Marycelin Baba, the failure of states to engage in community testing and the recent surge could lead to a full outbreak if not properly curtailed.
Baba who spoke to one of our correspondents in Abuja also reiterated the fact that the change of weather could also lead to more cases.
She said, “First, failure to test and send updates will not help us to monitor the trends properly. This could mean that the figures we have far fetched than what we truly have and if this is not probably monitored, there could be a full outbreak. It is also too early to link this surge to the Omicron variant, the WHO has also said they are still monitoring the trends and investigating the variant but one thing is sure, cases are increasing.
“Another thing is that cold allows for surge in COVID-19 cases. In Europe, they get more cases during winter. While we are waiting for the WHO to conclude it’s investigations, it will be in the interest of all to make sure that tests are being done, public health protocols are adhered to and also continue with speedy vaccination.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee COVID-19, has cautioned Nigerians against letting down their guards because of the deadly nature of Omicron variant of COVID-19 .
He warned that Nigerians should not drop their guard as the Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet with the discovery of more deadly Omicron variant.