The Federal Government on Wednesday says consistent testing and non-compliance to non-pharmaceutical interventions are responsible for high reported cases of COVID-19 at the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, orientation camps.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told newsmen in Abuja that scaling up of COVID-19 testing in various orientation camps across the country had increased the number of cases in the camps.
“Two things are responsible for the high cases of pandemic reported at the National Youth Service Corps camps.
“One is because of consistent testing that has been taking place in the camps. The truth of the matter is that if we ramp up testing today, there will be more cases.
“Second reason for the high cases is that people have actually let down their guards. We are no longer obeying non-pharmaceutical interventions such as washing of hands regularly with soap and water or sanitising of hands when that (washing of hand) is not available.
“Also, wearing of face masks in public places, not gathering people for party, keeping social distancing” he said.
According to him, Nigerians are behaving as if COVID-19 is not real.
“If over 4.2 million people have been lost to the virus world-wide and it is not abating. So we need to take more seriousness on the protocols around COVID-19 especially on non-pharmaceutical interventions”.
The minister however noted that with the recent increase in cases of COVID-19, no doubt Nigeria was fully in the third wave of the pandemic and this was because the country had witnessed increase in those who had been infected in many states since July.
He added that states like Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Plateau, Kano, Kaduna and Oyo had recorded high cases of the virus.
“These are states that are bearing the biggest burden of the pandemic. There is no gainsaying that we are already in the third wave of the pandemic. What we have done at the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) as soon as we noticed this was to send an alert to community workers.
“And we realised that there will be more demand on infrastructure so we try to train community volunteers and also experts in intensive care so that they can respond to this new wave of COVID-19.
“Some countries are even having the 4th and the 5th waves. It is not unique to Nigeria. Because when you look at the wave, like last Saturday it was 1000 plus and now going to 18000 cases in Nigeria.
In the last four weeks in particular, we have witnessed so much increase even globally. So far, we are witnessing almost four million every week globally and from daily cases of about 540,000, we are now witnessing 570,000 daily worldwide.
“So really, Nigeria is already in the third wave and this case has been compounded by Delta variant. And we have identified the Delta variant in several states in Nigeria also.
“The Delta variant is about 60 times more potent than the wide COVID II. And it is very virulent, deadly and more easily transmissible .
“It appears that while the normal variant will take about seven days to manifest, the delta variant manifests within two days of being infected. So, it is a real challenge to us. But the PSC is not resting on its oars to ensure that they give out necessary directive to national response team to tackle this virus,” he stated.
The minister also disclosed that the second phase of the vaccination exercise would target people from 18 years and above.
He explained that the 18 years and above were targeted because the younger ones, even in the US, were now becoming more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and attack.