FEARS are growing among Nigerian health officials that the coronavirus pandemic may have a lingering effect in the country as the death toll over the last week has increased by 240% and the number of people testing positive is also rising.
So far, Nigeria has been spared the worst of the pandemic but with restrictions being lifted and testing being stepped up, statistics show that incidences are on the rise. For instance, no fewer than 310 out of the 13,641 international outbound passengers tested positive for Covid-19 over the last two weeks.
Virologists have described the figures as disturbing, expressing concern over the sharp increase in infection rate among outbound passengers who according to them might have infected people in their relative environments. These virologists have urged the federal government to begin contact tracing of the infected outbound passengers.
A recent Covid-19 epidemiological report published by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) revealed that the number of outbound passengers who tested positive had spiked. Between July 5 and 11 only 43 outbound passengers tested positive for Covid-19 but the numbers have since been rising.
A week later between July 12 and 18, the figures rose drastically as 126 outbound passengers who presented themselves for testing were said to be positive. Then between July 19 and 25, no fewer than 141 passengers tested positive, making a total of 310 passengers as against 59 positive passengers in the previous month.
In the week of July 26 to 31, Nigeria suffered her highest death toll in three months as no fewer than 17 deaths were reported. Although the NCDC did not disclose the states which recorded the deaths, information, it is believed that Lagos suffered no fewer than eight casualties while Akwa-Ibom recorded five deaths over the past week.
Professor Oyewale Tomori, the chairman of the Expert Review Committee, said: “While I am sad, I will not say I am surprised, as this was bound to happen. I am particularly concerned about Akwa-Ibom State as I have been monitoring their figures these past days and I have not been comfortable and the sad thing about it is that they are not even on red alert.
“Now to the infected outbound passengers, this situation is actually worse than inbound passengers testing positive. For inbound passengers, they can still be curtailed at the airport but for people, who are travelling out of the country, definitely someone must have infected them, they would have also infected other people.”
Another associate professor of virology at the Osun State University, Waidi Sule, said the failure of individuals to obey the laid down measures will result in a greater catastrophe if adequate care is not taken. He added that people need to understand that using face masks, obeying Covid-19 guidelines is not for other people but for themselves.