The Nigeria Centre For Disease Control has reemphasised the need to avoid non-essential travels during the Easter and Ramadan celebrations to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director- General, NCDC, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Saturday that it is very important to adhere to public health and social measures required to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.
Ihekweazu said: “As Nigerians plan to celebrate Easter and begin Ramadan, it is very important to remember the public health and social measures required to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.
“It is very important to remember the public health and social measures required to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.”
He also emphasised the need for sustained testing as an effective public health response to detect, isolate and treat cases of COVID-19.
Ihekweazu added: “Testing is one of the key components in Nigeria’s response to the pandemic.
“The benefits of getting tested include ascertaining the incidence of COVID-19 in the community, opportunity to break the chain of transmission in the community and tracking of mutation of SARS-CoV-2 in the country.”
He said the number of collection sites and laboratories had increased in the country, making testing more accessible and effective.
He said: “The capacity for testing has increased in Nigeria since the outbreak began from four laboratories to 129 functional laboratories.
“Of these, 48 are private laboratories and eight are corporate laboratories.
“Each state and the FCT have several sample collection sites with at least one molecular laboratory to test.
“Samples are tested daily to ensure results are communicated to the clients, patients and/or managing team for optimum care.”
The NCDC boss noted that it was, therefore, important that Nigerians to utilise these resources to enable control of the spread of COVID-19.
Ihekweazu said: “The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, sneezing, loss of smell and taste among many others.
“It is important to get tested when you have any of the symptoms in the case definition or if you are a close contact to any confirmed case.
“If in doubt on how to get a test, call your state emergency line or call 6232, the NCDC Connect Centre toll free number.
“Some individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19, may never develop symptoms as in ‘asymptomatic cases’.
“Others may have very mild disease ‘pauci-symptomatic’ or they may develop moderate to severe COVID-19 disease.”
Ihekweazu added that it was also important to note that co-infections of SARS-CoV-2 with other pathogens have been reported, thus a positive test for another pathogen does not rule out COVID-19 and vice versa.
He noted that in the last two weeks, the number of samples collected and tested had reduced despite the availability of sample collection sites and public health laboratories.
The NCDC boss, therefore, urged Nigerians who meet the criteria to get tested.