For safe re-opening of the National Youth Service Corps orientation camps across the country, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has said all corps members will be tested using the new antigen-based test.
The centre disclosed that the process of procurement of the antigen-based test was almost complete.
Speaking at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, the NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said, “We will test everyone (corps members) and that will enable us to keep our camps safe and also help us understand what is going on in the rest of the country.”
Ihekweazu also revealed that the government had launched Infection Prevention and Control call vanguard in all the states, noting that young people interested in IPC were being trained for self-management and self-regulation in the camps as they opened.
Ihekweazu said, “We know that corps members are normally young mobile population. Again, we are counting on not only the young people going to camps but parents; so we need the parents to support young people to do what they have to do.
“We have been working extremely hard over the last two months with NYSC to reopen youth service camps. We have made a lot of progress to ensure that we can do that safely.”
The Federal Government also raised the alarm that Nigeria risked massive infections of the coronavirus, especially in next or two weeks, due to possible importation of the virus into the country by international travellers.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, noted the failure of Nigerians who arrived from abroad to present themselves for the in-country Polymerase Chain Reaction test.
He said, “The nation has experienced several large gathering events during which the non-pharmaceutical interventions were not really observed.
“The PTF is highlighting these issues repeatedly because we remain at risk of importation, having opened our airspace and massive spread as a result of the protests. The next week or two remain critical. The PTF has noted with sadness the failure of Nigerians who arrived from abroad to present themselves for the in-country PCR test which they signed up to and paid before arrival. Statistics emerging from our records show that only one out of three passengers have shown up for the in-country test.
“The PTF similarly announced sanctions as a consequence of any infraction. Having observed serious non-compliance to the level of 65 per cent, the need has arisen to activate the sanctions, which includes the suspension of the passports of such defaulting individuals for a period of six months minimum.”
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the Federal Government has set up stringent criteria and measures to limit the importation of COVID – 19 into the country.
He said 18 travellers out of over 78,000 arrivals were found to have tested positive at the second testing of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“In this connection, the Ministry of Health will next week launch an advocacy campaign in which a representative of the Minister of Health will visit hotspot states that require encouragement to discuss their specific needs and challenges and find ways of stepping up sample collection for testing”, he stressed.
He said, “The evolving global situation of covid-19 gives us much reason for concern. Over 2.8 million cases were reported last one week, with half of the cases in Europe.
“This is a relatively small number, but it could increase with rising volume of flights. Moreover, NCDC estimated traveller compliance with second testing after arrival to be about 60 per cent, which is a challenge we are responding to.”
The PTF National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, said the Federal Government has shared at least N50bn to the 36 state governments to help them to increase their capacities for the testing and surveillance for the virus.
He said each state got at least N1bn.
Aliyu, who expressed concerns over the poor testing rates in most of the states of the federation, however, commended Lagos State and the Federal Capital Territory for hitting target of testing at least one per cent of their populations.
The National Coordinator, who said the FCT had hit two per cent, noted that Plateau, Gombe and Rivers “have already gone beyond 50 per cent mark of the target” while “a large number of states have not even reached a quarter of this.”