The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, on Monday, noted that Nigeria is getting to a critical stage and it will get to a point that hospitals won’t be able to cope with more serious COVID-19 cases.
Dr Ihekweazu, stated this in a series of tweets on Monday while reacting to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the last one month.
There has been an outcry over the fear of COVID-19 spreading at the National Identity Management Commission with Nigerians besieging the NIMC offices to apply for their National Identification Number.
The directives by the Federal Government calling on telecommunications firms to disconnect telephone lines of subscribers who failed to link their NIN to their subscriber identification modules has seen no fewer than 164 million Nigerians rush to the NIMC office to apply for their NIN, disregarding COVID-19 protocols such as wearing of face masks and social distancing.
Recall that the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, while speaking on Channels TV on Monday stated that the Federal Government might soon suspend the registration for the NIN.
The minister said, “My understanding is that the whole process may be suspended so as to reorder the whole process in terms of management of the crowd because it was never intended that it would become a rowdy process like that. So people may have to wait and be called at intervals to go through the process.”
However, Mamora while speaking at a media briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, ruled out the suspension or postponement of the NIN, blaming the challenges on the attitude of Nigerians.
Mamora stressed the need to avoid crowding as was seen under the guise of NIN enrolment.
He said, “There is absolutely no cause for this if only people would voluntarily comply with advisories and guidelines as issued by the Ministry of Communications and its relevant agency.”
“The statement credited to me on social media as to the suspension of the exercise is out of context, hence misleading. For the avoidance of doubt, Mr President’s order on the matter remains as being carried out by the relevant ministry.”
The minister further stated that the tests conducted for National Youth Service Corps members show that no part of Nigeria is free of COVID-19.
The minister also said that the plan of the Federal Government regarding activation of oxygen availability in the states was on course with a view to effecting immediate repairs of non-functional oxygen plants.
Ihekweazu in his statement stated that the country is reaching a critical level, with some states in the country already facing a shortage of bed spaces.
The NCDC DG tweeted, “We are reaching a critical level where our hospital capacity will no longer be able to cope with more serious COVID-19 cases and health workers will be forced to make tough decisions. We need to protect our more vulnerable citizens.”
“We all have to take responsibility. This is not for the NCDC, the PTF or government alone. By organising large gatherings indoors, you’re not only putting yourself and guests at risk but also the staff who have limited choice but to serve. By going to clubs, you’re putting your parents at risk.”
Ihekweazu added that the number of coronavirus cases reported in the country had been on the rise in the last four weeks.
“In the last four weeks, we‘ve recorded a spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases. The virus is spreading fast, causing mild symptoms in some and severe illness/death in others,” he tweeted.
“Most important of all, the 100,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths are not just numbers. These are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, friends whose deaths will be mourned and the pain of their loss deeply felt. The response starts and ends with the people of this country.”
Ihekweazu, while speaking later in the day at the PTF briefing noted that the centre would from next week release rapid diagnosis test kits in five tertiary hospitals in Abuja while the facility would be extended nationwide from February.