The second wave of dreaded COVID-19, which can lead to another lockdown, is very likely in Nigeria, the country’s Presidential Task Force on the virus has declared.
Prominent member of the task force, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who declared this, maintained that the second wave of COVID-19 is not inevitable in the country if citizens do not continue to adhere to measures put in place to contain the viral pandemic.
Nigeria was on a total lockdown between March and May, an experience that seriously impacted businesses and other activities in the country.
Speaking on Arise TV, Ihekweazu, who doubles as the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, said that Nigerians need to take personal responsibility in ensuring that the second wave of the infection is averted.
He added that as schools reopen, there will be an increased opportunity for transmission; noting that stringent measures have been put in place in the Nigerian airspace to contain the spread of the disease.
“We need Nigerians to see that it’s not what the government can do; people need to take responsibility.
“We know that as we move towards the reopening of schools, there will be increased opportunity for transmission because students will come together.
“For the reopening of airspace, we’ve carried out very stringent mitigation measures in testing before coming in and testing on arrival.
“We need Nigerians to see that it’s not something any government can do on her own. We see a lot of easing off of the systems of these measures by institutions that have the capacity to insist on it.
“I went into a bank and I saw fewer people wearing mask, yet there is a manager in that bank that can insist that these measures are carried out.
“You go into our religious places and if people are not wearing masks anymore, there is a pastor or someone in charge that can implement this.
“The second wave is not inevitable, but we can avoid it. It can only be achieved in a sustainable way.
“We have to come together as a society. Nobody in this country wants another lockdown and we are hoping that we have learnt enough from the consequences of the first one to prevent the second one,” Ihekweazu said.
Continuing, the NCDC boss urged Nigerians to collectively work towards containing the spread of the viral pandemic.
“We, as the people, have to come in and do our bit. Just a little bit more until we get to that point where we do have a vaccine and when we do have a vaccine, we still need some time to distribute it across the country,” he said.
Ihekweazu said the Federal Capital Territory and Lagos State had closed some isolation centres “because we’re not seeing the numbers of serious patients that we saw three to four months ago.
“It’s not like we are shutting down, but we are strategically moving step by step to where we need to be.
“On testing, I think one day, a story will be told on how we were able to scale testing so quickly in Nigeria,” he said.
Ihekweazu added that the short-term goal for COVID-19 vaccine is access. “We have had a global coalition with COVAX that is working very hard to ensure equitable access across the world.
“Once the vaccines become available — what I mean by vaccines becoming available is that there are two important criteria for vaccines, which are efficacy and safety. Once this is proven, we hope to get to that data by the end of the year.
“And the next thing is production capacity. We don’t have a lot in Nigeria. Most of the production will happen in India and a few other countries.
“The third aspect will be the distribution and that is where we really have a lot of capacity.
“There is a whole chain of activities going on and we are confident that once vaccines become available, we will play our role to make sure that we get it as quickly as possible,” the NCDC boss noted.