Health

COVID-19: Nigeria will go on a lockdown if necessary – PTF

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As the number of COVID-19 cases increase, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has warned that the government will impose a lockdown if it is left with no other option to reduce the spread of the virus. 

The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, disclosed this on Sunday. 

He said it is necessary for Nigerians to abide by the COVID-19 prevention guidelines as outlined by the ad hoc PTF than going for a tough option of a lockdown. 

“If you don’t want a lockdown, the only way is to make sure we use our facemasks, avoid mass gatherings, avoid people who have respiratory tract infections, sanitise our hands and follow those non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“The very vaccines that we currently have are those non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“If numbers continue to go up, all options are on the table. There are countries in the world that have been able to control this pandemic simply by following these non-pharmaceutical interventions. They may be inconvenient, but they will not be as difficult as a lockdown”.

Lamenting the high increase of infections and casualties in recent weeks, Aliyu said it is getting more necessary to control the pandemic. 

“We are talking holistically here. All I can say is that 33 people died of COVID-19 in the last one week. Are we saying those people died for nothing? We have just recorded 6,000 cases in one week, far more than we ever recorded.

“COVID-19 exists; anybody who says COVID-19 does not exist is probably living in a completely different world. In the last one week, we’ve had a tripling of cases. You can see what’s happening in the United States, you can see what’s happening in the UK.

” I’m sure most of those who have been following the numbers will realise that what we have now far exceeds what we had in June/July last year.

“In week 52, which is the week we’ve just finished, we’ve seen a tripling in weekly number of cases, compared to what we had three weeks ago. The 6,000 cases per week is really huge. Our hospitals are already starting to get overloaded and we are already starting to feel the pressure within the healthcare system.

“So, talking about the projection, the projection really depends on whether people will start taking this very seriously and start following those non-pharmaceutical interventions that we’ve been talking about for the last one year.

“We’ve been able to demonstrate that it’s possible to flatten the curve, but we need the cooperation of everybody, we need the cooperation of the general public, we need the cooperation of the state governments”, he said.

Aliyu however assured that the government is working towards getting a vaccine and explains the consequences of not taking the vaccine which the government says will be voluntary. 

“The vaccine, together with the non-pharmaceutical interventions, is the only way to get on top of this epidemic and by the way, Nigeria cannot afford to be a pariah nation. I can tell you that in the coming months, as more and more people start taking this vaccine, it will be very clear there’s not going to be an issue with safety.

“If you don’t have the vaccine, you are going to be stuck because I am very certain that countries, internationally in the next six months to a year, will start insisting on a certificate before you get into their country. So, you’ll not be able to go for the Hajj, the Umrah or the Christian pilgrimage, holiday to Dubai, or business trip to China or South Africa, if you do not have the vaccine.

“Hopefully, we should have the first batch of the vaccine in the next four weeks, by the end of January.”

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