Eniola Akinkuotu, Dayo Ojerinde, Deborah Tolu-Kolawole, James Abraham, Chima Azubuike and Armstrong Bakam
24 December 2021
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The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 on Thursday said indoor religious gatherings should be limited to 50 per cent with full compliance to public health measures.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the PSC, Boss Mustapha.
The statement, which was made available to journalists in Abuja explained that there had been reduced compliance to public health social measures which had led to increased COVID-19 cases in the country.
The committee however added that it might be forced to introduce more restrictions should there be more increase in cases.
The statement partly reads, “The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 recognises the importance of the Christmas and New Year celebrations for most Nigerians. As we prepare to celebrate with our families and loved ones, it is important that we do so safely by taking the necessary precautionary measures to stop the further spread of COVID-19 in our country.
“The PSC wishes to remind Nigerians that we are now experiencing the fourth wave COVID19 as new cases have continued to rise in the country. This is the result of a mix of very low vaccination coverage, increased travels and movements, reduced compliance to public health social measures and highly transmissible Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant now circulating in the country.
The statement further reads, “Indoor religious congregation should be limited to 50 per cent capacity with full compliance to public health social measures; andfacemasks and hand sanitizers should be used at all times regardless of vaccination status while in public spaces;
“Families are advised to limit the number of visitors to their homes and put
in place precautionary safety measures, Any gathering in excess of 50 people should be done in open spaces with physical distancing;
“ Avoid non-essential interstate travel at this period as this increases the risk of spreading infection from one place to another. People who intend to travel are encouraged to take a rapid COVID-19 test to confirm status as many infected persons are asymptomatic.”
CAN laments FG’s directive on gatherings
When contacted for comments on restrictions at the places of worship during Yuletide, the Christian Association of Nigeria asked Christians to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
CAN, however, faulted the government’s directive that all gatherings must not exceed 50 per cent capacity.
In a chat with The PUNCH on Thursday, the Spokesman for the CAN President, Rev. Bayo Oladeji, said it was curious that such directives were always issued during Christian holidays.
Oladeji said, “Earlier in a statement we asked all Christians to observe the COVID-19 protocols. But it is very unfortunate that they always bare their fangs during Christmas. That is when they always remember the need to enforce COVID-19 protocols.
“Nobody is enforcing anything in the markets. If you go to the banks, you will see crowds. Even if you go to the airports, you will see crowds. There is no social distancing. I was at the international airport two weeks ago. People were standing. There is no social distancing.”
Isolation centres filling up – NCDC
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says isolation centres for persons sick with COVID-19 are starting to fill up in some states.
The NCDC director-general, Ifedayo Adetifa, said this on Thursday while speaking on AIT’s Kakaaki programme, warned that the Omicron variant was more transmissible than the Delta variant and appeared to have a shorter incubation period.
He stated, “It is responsible for the increase that we’re seeing in COVID-19 cases, but it is also important to note that even as that is happening, the existing Delta variant is still persisting. It’s either slowly being replaced or has already been replaced by Omicron,“ he said.
“In addition to the wave, isolation centres and treatment centres in some of our cities, especially those that typically have the highest burden, are already beginning to fill up.”
The Gombe State Commissioner for Health Dr. Habu Dahiru, said that state had over 600 bed in various five isolation centres in the zones across the state.
Dahiru made this revelation in an interview with our correspondent, saying that more may be added as the need arise.
He noted that in the last two months the number of positive cases had doubled.
The Executive Chairman, Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Rilwan Mohammed, on his part, said that the state had one functional isolation centre.
He said: “We have an isolation centre which is the Lassa Fever Camp in all the General Hospitals but for now, we only have one that is functional at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital.”
A total of 118 patients are receiving treatment for COVID-19 in Plateau State .
The State Commissioner for Health,Dr Nimkong Lar, disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH in Jos on Wednesday.
According to him “We recorded 33 infections yesterday (Tuesday) and today(Wednesday) 26 persons were diagnosed of the disease. In all, We have 118 patients who are being treated for COVID-19 in plateau state .Out of the number, only four are in isolation centres while the rest are receiving treatment in their homes “
Lagos laments non-availability of Mordena vaccine
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has lamented the non-availability of Moderna vaccine in the state.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, on Thursday, via his Instagram handle, appealed for understanding of the people over the non-availability of Mordena vaccine in all vaccination centres in the state.
He said, “The Lagos State Ministry of Health and Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board sincerely appeal for understanding over the non-availability of Mordena vaccine in all vaccination centres in Lagos at the moment.
“It should be noted that the supply of vaccines to all states of the Federation is done exclusively by National Primary Health Care Development Agency. Like other states of the federation, Lagos State relies on NPHCDA for supply of all COVID-19 vaccines
“At the moment, Lagos State has yet to be supplied with another batch of Moderna vaccine since the last stock was exhausted. The situation is, however, temporary. The state is in touch with NPHCDA to ensure availability of adequate doses of Mordena vaccine at vaccination centres as soon as possible.”
Abayomi assured people that the second doses of Mordena vaccine would be administered to all who have received the first doses as soon as the state receives new supply from NPHCDA.
‘Shortage of vaccine will affect prevention, containment of COVID-19’
A Consultant Medical Parasitologist at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Professor Wellington Oyibo, said the shortage of Moderna vaccine in the country would affect the fight against COVID-19.
Oyibo, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, said, “The shortage of any type of medical interventions is a major blow to prevention, control or containment of any health condition. For the vaccines, it will be particularly a challenge for those who desire the booster dose in the light of the new variant of SARS COV-2, the Omicron variant.”