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• NCDC, experts differ on ending face masks, temperature checks




• NCDC, experts differ on ending face masks, temperature checks

…It’s when COVID-19 vaccine is found, says Centre

…Nigeria has to be certified free first, virologist declares

…NMA president says nobody can predict the time

…Cost-weary citizens do away with shields

There seems no end yet for temperature checks and use of face masks as experts, on Thursday, expressed diverse positions on when Nigerians should do away with the shield and the checks.

These, among other measures, were introduced to prevent citizens from contracting or spreading the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. But it is noticeable across the country that many citizens have abandoned the use of masks and doing temperature checks.

While the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says Nigerians should continue with face masks until an effective vaccine is found, some medical experts say there is no conclusion yet on the matter because the biology and epidemiology of COVID-19 are not well understood at the moment.

A virologist and Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, told The Guardian that the measures should not be ended “until a country is declared free of the disease, like polio-free status, or maybe no case reported for a period of time, like two times the maximum incubation period in the face of reliable surveillance, adequate laboratory testing and efficient contact tracing.”

He wondered when the time would come.

Similarly, the President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Prof. Innocent Ujah, painted a picture of a long time waiting for the end of the virus. He said, “It is too early to know when to stop wearing face masks or stop temperature checks. Nobody at the moment could be very categorical about the two issues raised. The biology and epidemiology of COVID-19 is not well understood at the moment.”

While the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, and Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, Prof. Bode Chris, told The Guardian the virus could only be said to have ended “when COVID-19 is officially declared over by the government, based on scientific evidence of such,” the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, said the end would not be certified “until we are sure the epidemic curve has flattened and cases have gone down to single-digit per day.”

A vaccinologist, former researcher at the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) and founder/CEO of Innovative Biotech, Keffi, Nasarawa State, Dr. Simon Agwale, told The Guardian: “I think we can only stop wearing masks or using temperature checks when we find an effective vaccine. Without this, it will be risky to stop wearing masks.”

MEANWHILE, the NCDC has advised Nigerians to wear face masks every day until a vaccine is found for COVID-19.

The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, told The Guardian that with the non-availability of a vaccine that could prevent COVID-19, citizens must depend on non-pharmaceutical measures such as use of face masks, handwashing, social distancing and management of confirmed cases to mitigate the impact of the disease.

“Studies have shown that the correct use of face masks is critical to reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection. We encourage people and businesses around the world to rally behind the importance of wearing a mask properly every day until a vaccine that prevents infection is readily accessible to all citizens,” he said.

Ihekweazu, who is also an epidemiologist, emphasised that the use of masks is a key component of Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) procedures in medical and non-medical settings.

He stressed that given the widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in Nigeria, strict adherence to using of masks in public spaces, particularly where physical distancing might not be practical, could slow the spread of the virus.

“The appropriate use of a face mask is one of the comprehensive non-pharmaceutical preventive and control measures adopted to limit the spread of COVID-19 by preventing respiratory droplet transmission. Masks can also be used by healthy persons to reduce exposure,” he said.

Ihekweazu said the NCDC, in its effort to strengthen IPC in health facilities, had continued to prioritise training of health workers and supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face masks, to state facilities.

“As Nigeria’s public health institute, we will continue to provide periodic advisories on face mask usage, including making and care of reusable cloth masks,” he said.

Ihekweazu added: “Firstly, there is scientific evidence that wearing face masks reduces the risk of spread of COVID-19. Also, the early detection of high temperature can help to reduce contacts between those that are healthy and others who may have been infected.

“It is very important we do not stop these public health and safety measures. Even when a vaccine is made available for population-use, it is not a magic bullet. We may still be required to adhere to certain measures to protect ourselves in addition to the vaccine, in certain circumstances.

“For now, there is a risk of further spread of COVID-19 if people do not adhere to public health and safety measures such as wearing a face mask in public settings, hand-washing, physical distancing and others.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), medical face masks should be worn primarily by people who show symptoms of COVID-19, health workers and people who are taking care of people with COVID-19 in closed settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).

As arguments and different opinions persist on the right time to stop the use of face masks and temperature checks, it has been observed that many citizens are fast leaving their faces unshielded, perhaps because of the costs of changing the masks regularly.

Citizens buy face shields from hawkers at costs not factored by those who insist they must wear them.

Even some organisations have stopped giving masks to their workers, exposing them to the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

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By Fola Ojo

It commenced as a localised endemic in Wuhan, China. From there, its mangling metastasis hit South Korea, Italy, Japan, Iran, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Few weeks after, it spiralled down into a few African nations including my beloved Nigeria. The manifestation of the novel disease coronavirus or COVID-19, did not consciously hit the world until around January, this year. In the aftermath, humanity slid into a panic mode. From a few numbers of cases, headcounts from the effects of the rabid virus shot up into thousands infected, and thousands more human beings losing the breath of life. While developed nations with cutting edge healthcare system were and are still counting horror numbers in citizens infected, hospitalised, and dead, Nigeria is recording far lower even than an average nation whose citizens are in strict obedience to preventative protocols against the virus.

Recently, I saw a picture of some family members in an event in Lagos where no single person had a mask even in their pockets. They left their homes with no shred of thoughts about the dangers of COVID-19. While the mask-culture has become a lifestyle in America where I live, what I observe in Nigeria makes me think that the country must not be on planet earth. I asked my sister why nobody had a mask on. She responded: “Boda mi, there is no koro in Naija oooo. Koro is dead”. I asked a few pastor friends of mine who live in Nigeria. Many of them had similar responses: “It’s God oooo. We have prayed Koro away from Naija”. Do we not pray in America; or my friends in the United Kingdom don’t know how to seek God’s face? Does God hate the rest of the world where men are bundled in body-bags and six feet below as a result of COVID-19? Please somebody tell me what is the magic against COVID-19 in Nigeria? Is it God; or voodoo arithmetic headcount? It has to be God, indeed!

According to Nigerian government data, as of today, about 57,000 cases have been recorded, 44, 000 have recovered, and 1,088 deaths. I still want to know the Nigerian magic against COVID-19. People cluster in markets with no masks. They agglutinate at feverish owambe parties without facial coverings. They dance; they sing; they carry on as if nothing is in the air. Where masks are worn, they are like malfunction wardrobes. Coverings are strapped around the chin, neck, mouth, leaving the nostrils wide open for deadly droplets to inhabit their nasal cavities. And you believe coronavirus cases are accurately rock-bottom low in Naija? Is this God; or voodoo arithmetic headcounts? It must be God!

When I think about how Nigeria arrested Ebola Virus Disease at its killer throes, a part of me wants to stand in obeisance to Nigeria’s unusual tactics and strategies arresting ravaging viruses. It truly must be God. An infected Liberian man who arrived Lagos by air brought Ebola virus into Nigeria on July 20, 2014. Five days later, the man died. But he had already set off a raging fire of the virus in Nigeria’s commercial capital with about 23 million people. Who in Nigeria will forget Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, the Lead Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at a private hospital in Lagos? Adadevoh had never seen Ebola before but was able to diagnose and contain Nigeria’s first-ever Ebola patient. The outbreak was effectively controlled by authorities garnering support from the private sector and international community. Eight people died; and 12 infected were nursed back to good health.

Reports of the effect of COVID-19 in Africa, especially in Nigeria, have shocked scientists around the world. Factors like population density; and crowding in poverty-stricken neighbourhoods that make social distancing impossible should have been scientifically considered enhancers and facilitators of a wild and wide spread of the virus. But these factors have obviously worked in the opposite direction. The expectation all along had been that Nigeria should be one of the worst-hit; but that is not the case. Nigeria is doing better than many nations both with regard to cases and casualties. Experts around the world also agree that even if cases are underreported in Nigeria, the nation is doing well regarding her approach to COVID-19.

The UK’s top virologist Professor Shabir Madhi told the BBC News regarding COVID-19 and Africa: “I thought we were heading towards a disaster, a complete meltdown.” The UK’s top virologist echoed what others must have thought about the African coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this year, the monster-virus sneaked into Nigeria from Europe and the UK en-route the United States. Travellers from these two hotspots who were determined to circumvent America’s travel ban order on their citizens took advantage of Nigeria’s Business e-visa initiative rolled out last year to ease international business.

It allows business investors to apply online for a visa before travelling to Nigeria. These cruel and crafty travellers from the UK and other European countries exploited the loophole to facilitate their travels through the Delta Airlines’ direct flight to Atlanta. When I received this information, I quickly contacted Nigeria’s Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, about considering shutting down the nation’s borders to people travelling by air from outside of the country who might be carriers of the deadly virus. Three days after, the Federal Government announced a travel restriction to passengers from 13 countries attempting to enter Nigeria.

For those Nigerians who are still downplaying the gruesomeness of this virus, rethink. Ask those who have seen the virus in action with its terror fangs. Ask anyone who has once experienced it; or who knows someone in the cruel claws of the pandemic. I am sure their testaments will give you a clearer picture of the virulence of the virus. To my sister who said that God has killed COVID-19 in Nigeria, I say a loud Amen! She knows I also believe in God. And I also believe in God’s word that says “Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom…” Wisdom is not the vice-principal, or deputy to anything. It is the main thing. It is the Commander-In-Chief. That is why for now, until the world gets a medicinal intervention or preventative vaccine, when you find yourself in a large gathering of people, strap on your mask, stay six-feet distant from the next person; and sanitise your hands often.

– Follow me on Twitter @folaojotweet

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‌By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has expressed concerns over the sudden increase in the number of cannabis smokers in the country, warning that it could have a dire consequence for the country.

The NDLEA is not alone with this concern as health workers have also warned that cannabis smokers are more susceptible to getting infected with COVID-19.

Cannabis smoking is the inhalation of smoke or vapours released by heating the flowers, leaves, or extracts of cannabis and releasing the main psychoactive chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol, which is absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs.

Since the Federal Government’s pronouncement of lockdown in states affected by COVID-19, there has been heightened report of how local cannabis sellers are embracing trading on the dark web, online vending of cannabis and other psychotropic substances online.

It could be recalled that the NDLEA had warned on June 23, 2020, that the COVID-19 lockdown in states affected by COVID-19 could give rise to drug addiction and experimentation of newer concoctions.

Chairman of the agency, Col. Muhammad Abdallah (retd.) gave the warning at a virtual news briefing to commemorate the 2020 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking in Abuja.

“In the light of the prevailing atmosphere of COVID-19, drug-dependent persons are more acutely at risk because of their usually attendant underlying health issues, social stigmatization, and the dearth of access to health care.

“Making matters worse is the fact that the front burner currently is the exclusive pressure of COVID-19, other matters less so. That is why there has never been time much worse for drug-dependent persons. The lockdown merely accentuated the dilemma,” he said.

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• Oba Ogunwusi gives COVID-19 warning




• Oba Ogunwusi gives COVID-19 warning

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has cautioned Nigerians against relaxing in the observation of necessary protocols as COVID-19 cases drop.

The monarch spoke with State House correspondents after a courtesy visit to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Ogunwusi said he looked forward to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and return of normal lives and activities.

“No, we cannot relax; it is not possible; COVID-19 is real; we have to keep protecting ourselves.

“ We have to be very careful; thank God the Federal Government is looking at how to open the economy the more.

“ We should follow the COVID-19 guidelines and we should not relax; but what the government is doing is that they are opening up the economy.

“We will continue to live and continue to pray that Covid-19 should finally leave us alone so that we will continue with our normal lives and activities.’’

He said that traditional rulers have been doing a lot to guard against community spread as they were closest to the people.

According to him, traditional rulers will continue to do more to sensitise the people on what is going on in the world as Nigeria is not an exception.

“Some of our people who do not believe in it we have to let them know.

“We are very fortunate in Nigeria; the cases are sort of mild; but how many people are coming out for the test?

“What is critical is that we have not really had very huge community breakdown, community infections.

“ So, we thank God Almighty that has helped thus far and will also give credit to the people in the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19; they have done very well,’’ he said.

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