President to PSC: Prevent third wave

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Conscious of the possibility of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic due to super-spreaders such as religious festivals, and election campaigns, among others, President Muhammadu Buhari has instructed the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 to do everything possible to prevent a third wave.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who made this known yesterday during a television interview on Arise TV, stressed that the re-issuance of the COVID-19 guidelines became pertinent in order to avert what is currently happening in India.

He said: “We have kept sequencing, analysing and doing risk assessments, which we then offer to the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), led by Mr Boss Mustapha. We offer all this information in an organised way so they can make an informed decision. This is part of the information that led to the restriction of travel and the re-issuance of the guidelines recently.

“Ever since the information (about the Indian variant) came out from Ede, the government has taken steps and restricted flights from India reissued guidelines, and warned Nigerians about the impending risks. All the actions that a responsible government should take have been taken.

“Nothing in the reissued guidelines is actually new. What happened was that we generally stopped adhering to them across the country. We started behaving as if nothing was happening and there was no pandemic.

“Learning lessons from what happened in India; a country that is very similar to ours in many ways, and understanding what triggered the number of cases in India is most likely to be linked with religious festivals, election campaigns that brought people together. All are super-spreader events. India’s infection numbers increased exponentially.

“The re-issuing of the guidelines by the PSC is to ensure that there is a rise in the consciousness of Nigerians and state government authorities because they have the enforcement authority on almost all the guidelines, apart from those that relate to aviation.

“We can’t only rely on enforcement; we, as citizens, must ensure that we do our best. We can only sustain the very fragile gains that we have made if we continue to work together.”