Chikwe Iheakwazu says Nigeria is struggling to keep up with the rate of new infections, as treatment centres are filling up.
The failure by Nigerians to comply with COVID-19 protocols during the festive period could lead to an increase in new infections across the country, the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) said on Tuesday.
The Director-General of the centre, Chikwe Ihekweazu, at a Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing, said the consequences of violating the rules will appear by January 2021.
Mr Ihekweazu said appeals made to the public to adhere to all non-pharmaceutical measures put in place to limit spread of the virus have been ignored.
He noted that the country had more cases last week than any other week since the onset of the pandemic.
“Our appeals to Nigerians over the last few months have not been heeded and we have gone ahead with business as usual. Events centres are full, social activities are full and so it is no surprise that cases are rising,” Iheakwazu said.
“January will be a tough month, we have to brace ourselves for the consequences of the activities that we decided to carry out in December.”
Since early December, there has been a spike in coronavirus cases across Africa’s most populous country.
Health experts believe the lowering of guard on safety and the weak enforcement of protocols especially in the country’s major airports in Abuja and Lagos could be responsible for the development, warning that the situation could get worse if citizens keep violating safety protocols.
With the country into the second wave of the pandemic, federal authorities have ordered the reopening of all isolation and treatment centres.
The Nigerian government has also reintroduced new restrictions to check the spread of the virus, including closure of bars and nightclubs and limiting the number of people allowed in a public gathering.
At the briefing, the chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, said 16 out of every 100 COVID-19 tests carried out during week 52 came back positive.
He noted that the national response against the COVID-19 pandemic is passing through a challenging phase due to the seriousness of the second wave of infections in the country.
“Week 52 has so far given us the highest number of infections, in a single week, to date. Our analysis shows that 16 out of every 100 tests carried out are positive,” he said.
He also said there is an increased transmission among younger people and “this is not considered good and safe.”
Nigeria’s positive infection rate of 16 per cent in Week 52 is above the overall average of less than 10 per cent positive tests from all samples tested since February.
Also, Nigeria, in week 52 recorded more new COVID-19 cases than any other week since the first case of the virus was registered in the country in February.
As of the time of reporting, Nigeria has 85,560 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Of this figure, 71,937 have been discharged and 1,267 deaths have been recorded in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory
Mr Iheakwazu said Nigeria is struggling to keep up with the rate of new infections, as treatment centres are filling up.
“Every night we are faced with phone calls of patients desperate for care. Our treatment centres are filling up, we are struggling to keep up, we are struggling to find the facilities and oxygen to manage,” he said.
But the PTF chairman said efforts are ongoing to ensure oxygen availability as this is critical to the success of case management in the country.
He said the country’s objectives are to ensure that infection, prevention and control (IPC) are properly instituted to minimise spread and exposure of health care workers to the virus.
He said “those who require hospitalisation will be well managed; those requiring medical attention for other ailments gain access to Treatment at medical facilities; and critical care is available and deployed especially where oxygen is needed.”
Mr Mustapha explained that health authorities have been directed to prioritise the level of infections, prevention and control as well as case management.