From Moses Emorinken, Abuja
The Federal Government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday stressed that it is too early to declare that the country’s COVID-19 curve is flattening, as daily new infected cases fluctuate between 500 to 700.
Flattening of the curve simply means that the rate of spread or transmission of the virus has gradually started to slow down.
There is still active community transmission of the virus in Nigeria and across Africa.
Also, given the relatively number of low tests the country has done compared to the entire population, the best anyone can do is mere conjectures about reaching a peak and flattening of the curve for COVID-19, they said.
Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, while speaking on the issue during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, said: “It is too early to interpret whether we are seeing a plateauing. Yes, the number fluctuates between 500 and 700 every day, and sometimes we see a bit more. But remember, even though we report this as one outbreak, there are really several other clusters of cases happening.
“The only state where we have seen a consistent trend is in Lagos. In many other states, we have seen increases and decreases at different points, depending on a series of activities like the ability to test.
“There are continuous investigations going on and efforts to understand the outbreak in the different parts of the country. But remember, even though we report this as a single outbreak, it really is not a single outbreak – there are different drivers of transmission in different parts of the country.
In his contribution, the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, said: “Concerning when Africa will peak, we are still learning to understand the trend. The disease is still being transmitted actively. Most African countries have community transmission firmly established. We must treat decisions on COVID-19 as a life or death decision.
“As of June 24, WHO has recorded 25 candidate vaccines. I want to emphasise that these candidate vaccines are not promising vaccines. To decide whether they are promising or not, WHO has a strategic advisory group of experts on vaccines and immunisation.
“After those 25 candidate vaccines have finalised clinical evaluations, which are on the way now, then the experts group will be able to review the evidence and advise the WHO Director-General whether any of them can be considered as promising so that it can go to the next stage. The same applies for drugs and treatment.”
In his address, Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire added: “The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria crossed the 40,000 mark to 40,534 over the weekend. With 262,579 persons tested, we have crossed the quarter million mark. When the epidemic curve will begin to flatten is still a matter of conjecture, given the relatively small fraction of our population that has been tested so far.
“Sixty PCR Public Health laboratories are now active in Nigeria, which together should be in a position to address testing capacity challenges and ramp up utilisation if only the logistics could be improved. This would, along with sheer community spread, be responsible for the rising trajectory of the epidemic curve in the population tested so far.”
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