As schools resume nationwide, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has urged states to conduct risk assessment to mitigate the exposure level of pupils to COVID-19.
The centre advised that the risk assessment should be conducted weekly by schools, monthly by local government areas and quarterly by states.
Speaking at a media briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Chike Ihekweazu, explained that the agency and the Federal Ministry of Education had developed a guideline to support states and schools in preparing for safe reopening.
He stated, “Schools should provide learners with a ‘medical status’ form to be completed by all parents and kept in confidence by the school head; ensure that a triage point is identified and well-marked at the entrance where everyone gaining access to the school is screened for high temperature, requested to wear masks and perform hand hygiene and ensure that classrooms are well ventilated with a minimum of one-metre sitting arrangement.”
The DG emphasised that all staff, visitors and students above six years must wear face masks at all times, adding that teachers had the discretion to define circumstances when the wearing of a face mask is not appropriate for children, particularly, those with special needs.
The agency equally recommended access to running water, soap and hand washing facilities, pointing out that staff at the sickbay should be trained and provided with required personal protection equipment.
Only FCT meets target as 600,000 samples tested
The task force added that Nigeria had been able to conduct 600,000 tests for COVID-19.
It regretted that all the states of the federation failed to meet the testing target set for them.
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, disclosed this at the briefing.
He said, “With the reopening of schools, the PTF remains concerned about the long-term impact of COVID-19 on education and eventually our economy.
“As of today, we are approaching about 600,000 Nigerians that have been tested for COVID-19. This might sound like a huge figure but it is actually quite low.
“Our target is for every state to test at least one per cent of its population. Only the FCT has achieved this target. Lagos is fast approaching (target), with about 97 per cent achievement. But other states are barely above 25 per cent.
“What it means is that most of us do not actually know our status and this becomes even more important as we continue to relax our restrictions. We know that coronavirus spreads silently and it spreads quickly, which is why we must follow safety measures at all times especially in our schools.”
Aliyu also noted that the PTF, the NCDC, the Federal Ministry of Education and state authorities had working closely to make sure that the guidelines issued on school reopening were being followed.
While answering a question on resumption of government workers, the PTF Coordinator disclosed that details of the next phase of the response would be rolled out on Thursday. He, however, decried that those who had resumed had failed to comply with safety protocols.
On reopening of orientation camps of the National Youth Service Corps, the PTF Coordinator stated that the NYSC would determine when camps would be opened.
“We have had further conversations with the NYSC; we have actually given them a date but announcement of that date remains the responsibility of the NYSC,” he said.
Aliyu also disclosed that application and clearance of international passengers would soon become fully electronic as the Federal Government would allow more people into Nigeria.
“We have already increased the number of passengers in Lagos to 2,500 a day; we have increased the number of passengers coming into Abuja to 1,600. That is just over 4,000 passengers every day. We cannot handle paper at this level of passengers coming in. So, no more paper very soon at the airports. People will have to use the portal,” he stated.
The PTF Coordinator advised passengers to go for COVID-19 test very close to the date of departure. He disclosed that some passengers who arrived in the country with negative results later turned out to be positive after their follow-up tests.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, warned against second wave of the pandemic in Nigeria.
The PTF Chairman said the task force would soon unveil the next steps regarding the remaining phase of the eased lockdown.