The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chike Ihekweazu, has said that the COVID-19 transmission would rise with the reopening of schools and airports.
He, therefore, warned against complacency and the belief that infection rates were declining.
Speaking on Monday during a media briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, the DG said only Lagos, Federal Capital Territory, Ogun and Kano states had been consistently carrying out a high volume of testing.
Specifically, Ihekweazu said testing rates had declined drastically in Taraba, Adamawa, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Kebbi, Zamfara, Jigawa and Yobe states.
The DG observed that Nigerians were not responding to the plea to come out for testing, adding that the testing needed to be sustained in order to combat the pandemic.
He added, “I am very confident about what is going on in Lagos, FCT, Ogun and probably Kano and a few other states. Having said that, it doesn’t mean they should let down their guards completely.
“In fact, with schools and airports opening, we have to increase the level of our testing because inevitably, there would be more transmission. So, how are you able to mitigate the impact of that moving forward, given that we have learnt so much about this virus in the last few months.”
Also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, called for more vigilance to forestall possible resurgence of the COVID-19 as schools resumed in some states across the country.
He warned that the appreciable progress recorded might be eroded, especially due to the opening of the airspaces to international travels, relaxation of a number of restrictions and opening up of more sectors of the economy.
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, said Nigeria was performing below target in terms of tests for COVID-19, warning Nigerians against making the country to record a second wave of the pandemic.
According to him, people are avoiding the tests for various reasons, including payment, fear and stigma.
He, however, stated that the government had established and accredited laboratories where tests are done for free.
Aliyu said, “The PTF remains seriously concerned about the current low testing rate we have in the country. Nigerians are not getting tested for COVID-19 but we must test to track, in order to slow the spread of the virus even further and to stop any more preventable COVID-related death.”
Aliyu urged Nigerians to go for COVID-19 tests, which he said are free at 69 laboratories and centres across the country. According to him, a weekly assessment by the PTF had shown that more Nigerians have shown lack of interest in testing for the virus.
Meanwhile, the National Coordinator of the PTF also disclosed that funds had been released to states to manage the pandemic, urging them to prioritise testing.
Aliyu said, “We have released money recently to 32 state governments; each state government was given N1bn. This is for the purpose of driving their COVID response and we are asking them to please prioritise testing in addition to surveillance activities linked to COVID-19. We urge state governments to please publicise their sample collection locations so that people can access the tests.”
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said 10 per cent of all positive cases treated so far were below the age of 19 years.
He warned that despite the downward trend in numbers of COVID – 19 positive cases as well as fatalities, “we unfortunately cannot afford to rejoice or speak of success, for many reasons.”