By Olawale Ajimotokan
The Chairman Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, has said that Lagos, Kaduna and the FCT are the new epicentres of COVID-19 infections noting that they account for over 70 per cent of national incidents.
He disclosed this Monday in Abuja where he issued a new COVID-19 advisory at a PTF briefing.
He noted that the FCT, despite recording an increase of 85 per cent in tests conducted over the last week, the number of confirmed cases increased by 285 per cent during the same period, adding the trends pointed to a higher Test Positivity Rate (TPR- the number of positive cases detected as a proportion of all tests).
He said the TPR was below five per cent through September and October while the nation recorded a low point of three per cent nationally in late October 2020, adding recent trends in cases have seen this number increase to 10 per cent in the second week of December.
Mustapha said the high numbers were further reflected in the increase of admissions to COVID-19 treatment centres and fatalities, particularly in the three epicentre states.
He attributed the latest surge in infections to the lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions, large gatherings as a result of events linked to the yuletide season, recent EndSARS demonstrations and disregard for other public health preventive measures, such as hand hygiene and physical distance requirements.
He also identified a sudden increase in social gatherings in different parts of the country for weddings, religious activities, political rallies, conferences, and end of year celebrations as activities that significantly increased risks for the spread of the virus.
“Furthermore, as we reopened the economy, we experienced increased economic, social, and religious gatherings and activities all of which have combined to play a part in viral transmissions. These include:
a) The opening of the international airspace in September 2020 – While the average number of daily imported infections into the country in the last 90 days is estimated to be about 7 cases, compared to 100-150 reported new infections in the community since the beginning of community transmission, the test positivity rate in travellers arriving Lagos has recently doubled to 6.3 per cent;
b) The resumption of schools – outbreaks have been reported in schools following the resumption of physical classes; c) The resumption of NYSC orientation camps – this risk has been mitigated by ensuring that all NYSC members were screened for COVID-19 prior to admission to camp, but confirmed cases have still been identified through tests carried out;
d) The full opening of offices with the return to work of government workers from GL. 12 and below – outbreaks have also been reported in public offices, most likely linked to overcrowding, poor ventilation and the lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions; and
e) The opening of the economy with progressive relaxation of restrictions in congregational areas such as places of worship, restaurants, bars, lounges, shopping and event centres,” he said