Nigerians have abandoned COVID-19 protocols despite the detection of Delta variant, a highly contagious strain of the virus.
Our correspondents, who monitored public places across the country on Tuesday, observed that residents were no more adhering to safety measures as they dismissed the Delta variant, which was detected in the country last week.
But experts, who spoke to The PUNCH, warned that Nigerians’ disregard for safety rules would lead to the rapid spread of the dangerous strain.
Amidst the widespread disregard for protocols in the country, the University of Lagos, Akoka on Tuesday said patients at its medical centres were presenting flu-like symptoms similar to COVID-19.
It was gathered that because of a rumour of a suspected case of the Delta, many students were no more sleeping in the university hostels.
Despite the advice by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, washing of hands and use of face masks have been abandoned in many cities as state governments have stopped enforcement.
At bus termini in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, on Tuesday, passengers and drivers did not adhere to the protocols.
But the state government, in a statement appealed to residents not to let their guards down but adhere strictly to the COVID-19 preventive measures to prevent them from contacting the Delta variant.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr Oyebanji Filani; and the Coordinator, COVID-19 Response Task Force, Prof. Mobolaji Aluko, in the statement while alerting citizens to the presence of the deadly variant in Nigeria, said it was capable of severely impacting infected persons within a short time.
They stated, “Ekiti State COVID-19 Response Task Force is set to heighten surveillance and the strict enforcement of all existing measures aimed at containing the pandemic in the state. All indigenes and residents are hereby enjoined to adhere to the government’s public health advisories and regulations in our collective interests.
“We must not relent in the practice of preventive measures such as the proper use of masks in public gatherings, maintenance of hand hygiene through proper hand-washing or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and social distancing.”
Our correspondent in Sokoto State noticed that banks, markets including the Sokoto Central Markets and motor parks, had stopped enforcing safety measures.
At the entrance of Sokoto Central Motor Park, what was left were damaged motorized hand washing bowls, without water and soap.
Residents of Plateau State, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said it was not important to use face masks, adding that the Delta variant would go as the previous strains went down in the country.
It was observed that face masks were no longer in use in public places such as bus stops, schools, churches and mosques.
A resident, Rose Michael who acknowledged the disappearance of the use of face masks and other safety measures in public places, blamed the development on “familiarity with the disease”
In Rivers State, while shopping malls, banks and hotels continue strict adherence to the protocols, especially the use of face masks, motor parks flout them.
Our correspondents, who have been monitoring the level of compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines, observed that the people had completely ignored the guidelines in parks, bus stops and commercial vehicles.
It was also observed that the measures were not being enforced in schools and churches in Port Harcourt and other parts of the state.
UNILAG patients present COVID-19-like symptoms, varsity urges adherence to protocols
In UNILAG, a student, who resides in one of the hostels on the university campus, confided in one of our correspondents that many of his colleagues who were ill, had symptoms similar to COVID-19.
“We have many people falling sick with COVID-19 symptoms. We don’t know what is happening. Many of us have to start going home instead of sleeping in the hostel,” she said.
Another student confirmed that her roommate tested positive and had been isolated.
The undergraduate stated, ”Yes, one of my roommates tested positive. After that, we (other roommates) went for the COVID-19 test but returned negative. People are saying that there is Delta variant on campus but I don’t know how true that is.”
“We had a test today and the turnout was large, just that many of us were scared and we all used our nose mask,” another student told one of our correspondents.
When contacted, the spokesperson for UNILAG, Nonye Oguama, said “no comment.”
The institution on its website confirmed that its medical centre had recorded an increase in the number of patients with symptoms similar to those of COVID-19.
The statement published on the university website read, “The University of Lagos Medical Centre wishes to inform all members of the University of Lagos Community about what appears to be the start of a potential third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Lagos State.
“The Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-olu, in his press statement issued on July 11, 2021, stated that since the beginning of July there has been a steep increase in the number of daily confirmed cases, with the test positivity rate going from 1.1 per cent at the end of June 2021, to its current rate of 6.6 per cent as at the 8th of July 2021. This is with a concurrent increase in the occupancy rate at Lagos State isolation centres.
“The University of Lagos community has also been affected by this potential third wave, with an increase in the number of patients presented to the University of Lagos Medical Centre with flu-like symptoms which are similar to COVID-19.
“The Medical Centre hereby assures all members of the university community, that all necessary actions in line with the Federal and Lagos State governments’ guidelines have been taken regarding this potential threat in our community.
“The Medical Centre will also return to providing EMERGENCY ONLY SERVICES during this period, in order to protect all members of the community from potential infection within the facility. The Medical Centre Emergency Contact line: 09095879781 remains open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“Despite this threat to the return of normalcy, pursuit of education and daily livelihood, it has become imperative once more to judiciously adhere to the following COVID-19 guidelines and protocols in order to curb the spread of this disease.”
It was gathered that a female student in the Law Department got infected, adding that the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, summoned an emergency meeting of the senate as the third wave of COVID-19 hits the institution.
Nigeria expecting 41,282,770 vaccine doses July, September
In Abuja on Tuesday, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, disclosed that Nigeria would be expecting 41,282,770 COVID-19 vaccine doses this year.
He advised Nigerians to embrace non-pharmaceutical means of curbing the Delta variant of coronavirus.
Nigeria has exhausted its first shipment of vaccines.
Faisal, who disclosed this during a press briefing in Abuja, noted that the Ministry of Health and its agencies were working towards supporting the local production of vaccines in the country.
He said, “The country has officially ended the first phase of its strategic COVID-19 vaccination plan and is now preparing to commence the second phase in the next few weeks. We have also received communication for the delivery of the following vaccine shipments in the coming months.
“3,924,000 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca by end of July or early August 2021 from the COVAX facility, 3,930,910 doses of Pfizer-Bio-N Tech COVID-19 vaccine in August from the COVAX facility donated by the United States Government, 3,577,860 doses of Pfizer-Bio-N Tech COVID-19 vaccine in Q3 from the COVAX facility ,29,850,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine by the end of September, that will arrive in batches from the African Union Commission.
Faisal also added that the Federal Government had procured equipment for the preservation of the vaccines.
“We are making every effort and are confident that, with your continued support, Nigeria will be able to make more significant utilization of the vaccines, that would be supplied to the country.
“The National Primary Health Care Development Agency is putting in place all necessary logistics for storage, distribution, security, and accountability for the range of vaccines we are expecting.
“To this end, the Federal Government of Nigeria has procured 60 units of U701 ultra cold chain equipment, and as we speak, about 37 of them have been deployed to all the 36 States and FCT in preparation to receive all COVID-19 vaccines that would require ultra-cold.”
Meanwhile, medical experts have said the country lacks the capacity to contain the deadly Delta variant.
A virologist at the Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Dr Oladipo Kolawole, in an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday, stated, “The country does not have such capacity to contain the deadly Delta variant. We have to be extra careful by observing all non-pharmaceutical measures and encouraging vaccination.”
Non-pharmaceutical intervention will help to contain virus, says Tomori
A professor of virology, Oyewale Tomori, advocated non-pharmaceutical interventions to overcome the variants of COVID-19.
Tomori, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Tuesday, said it was unfortunate that many Nigerians failed to obey the non-pharmaceutical protocols during the first and second waves of the virus.
He said, “Simple non-pharmaceutical intervention is what we require to contain the Delta strain of the virus. It is the same technique that we need to overcome, but unfortunately, we have refused to use it and that is why when it comes in full force we will be in trouble.
“It is obvious there we don’t have enough hospital facilities to fight the virus; it is nothing new.” ,,
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