COVID-19 cases in Nigeria exceed 65,000 amid fears of second wave infections

Health workers wait to takes a swab from a man during a community COVID-19 coronavirus testing campaign in Lagos on April 18, 2020. (Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Health workers wait to takes a swab from a man during a community COVID-19 coronavirus testing campaign in Lagos on April 18, 2020. (Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The number of COVID-19 infections in Nigeria has exceeded 65,000 amid fears of a second wave despite a slower increase in daily new cases.

With 152 new infections confirmed by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) late Sunday, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the West African country has reached 65,148.

The new infections on Sunday were reported from seven states across the country, and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, with no fresh COVID-19 related deaths.

However, the data released by the NCDC indicated a total of 1,163 deaths and 61,073 recoveries so far recorded. The public health agency disclosed there are 2,912 active cases across the country.

Nigeria recorded its index case in Lagos, the economic hub, on February 27. The NCDC’s epidemic curve shows the country has reached its COVID-19 peak between early June and late August with a record high of 790 cases recorded on July 1. There is a downward trend in daily infections since the end of August with most of the days reporting less than 200 cases.

On November 5, Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire expressed deep concerns over the second wave of COVID-19 infections which, he said, was imminent and called for more strengthened health systems.

Ehanire said the health systems are “already overwhelmed,” noting that Lagos — being a major international travel entry point and an extensive, vibrant metropolis, with corresponding high risks — had suffered the double impact of being the most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and also the recent mass protests against reported police brutality in Nigeria, putting the resilience of the health institutions and systems to the test.

On November 4, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation, had also lamented the lack of compliance with the polymerase chain reaction test protocol by about 65 percent of Nigerians returning to the country recently.

Likewise, the state government of Lagos warned residents that the continuous disregard of COVID-19 protocols and safety guidelines could lead to the second wave of new infections in the state.

In a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua, John Oladejo, the director of the health emergency, preparations, and response, at the NCDC, said the public health agency is working hard to block the second wave of COVID-19 infections.

“Concerning whether there is going to be a second wave, we are working hard to ensure that we prevent that. You will recall that there were recent protests and many people were gathering together. If anyone of them had the COVID-19, it means it could spread all over.”

“Because of that, we at the NCDC had to double up on this and we trained community volunteers to ensure that if there is anybody that has any symptoms of this, they will be quickly picked up, tested, and then take them for treatment,” Oladejo said.

The health official said among other measures that are being taken to prevent the second wave, the agency tries to ensure that the people in the community are being sensitized on non-pharmaceutical interventions,” so that they will know that they need to use their face masks anytime they are in a gathering combined with social distancing and that they wash their hands regularly with soap when they come in contact with anything that could be contaminated or not.”

“We have so many of our experts in the field now. We are working tirelessly to ensure that a second wave does not occur,” he added.