COVID-19: Death Cases Rise by 34% in Two Months

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• NCDC partners states to prevent fatalities

• Ekiti to sanction hospitals violating guidelines

Gboyega Akinsanmi, Olawale Ajimotokan, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Victor Olakitan in Ekiti

The number of deaths resulting from COVID-19 complication rose from 1173 on November 29, 2020 to 1578 on January 31, 2021, official statistics analysed by THISDAY have revealed.

In cumulative, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) statistics, the death cases between November 29 and January 31, represents about 34.5% increase within a period of two months.

Since Nigeria recorded first COVID-19 death on March 23, 2020, as shown in the NCDC statistics, the death cases rose to 1,173 in November 29, 2020; 1,180 in December 6, 2020; 1,197 in December 13, 2020; 1,221 in December 20, 2020 and 1,254 in December 27, 2020.

Unlike the previous year, NCDC’s statistics revealed that the pandemic had killed 1,311 as at January 3; rising to 1,358 in January 10, 1,435 in January 17; 1504 in January 24 and 1577 in January 31.

Between December 27 and January 31 alone, the statistics revealed an unprecedented increase in death cases and accounted for 25.84% COVID-19 fatalities, perhaps the highest death record since March 2020.

The death cases increased by 0.59% between November 29, 2020 and December 6, 2020; 1.19% between December 6, 2020 and December 13, 2020; 2% between December 13, 2020 and December 20, 2020 and 2.7% between December 20 and December 27, 2020.

From December 27, 2020, the death cases rose by 4.54% in January 3; 3.58% in January 10; 5.96% in January 17; 4.8% in January 24 and 4.94% in January 31.

Given these statistics, the NCDC yesterday said that it had started working extremely hard to prevent rising casualties resulting from covid-19 pandemic.

The Director General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu gave the assurance in view of Friday’s highest single day death toll from the infection.

According to him, the situation is a very tragic one which demands serious commitment by every Nigerian to stop a reoccurrence.

Speaking with THISDAY yesterday, Ihekweazu said NCDC would continue working with states to quickly identify and prevent further spread of the disease.

He described the 27 deaths recorded on Friday “as a stark reminder of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last six weeks, our surveillance system has continued to record a consistent increase in cases, including severe cases.

“Every death recorded is a tragic occurrence and our health workers are working extremely hard to prevent these. Everything we think and do in terms of the response, is focused on trying to save lives.

“The fact remains that most people remain susceptible to this virus. We will continue working with states to quickly identify and prevent further spread of the disease.

“In addition, the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC recently published a patient’s handbook on management of mild COVID-19 cases at home. The goal is to enable states and treatment centres to provide optimal care to severe cases, who are at higher risk of death.

“Critically, we ask Nigerians to take responsibility to limit transmission of the virus. We all have a role to play in protecting each other and our country. Please avoid large gatherings, always wear a face mask, wash your hands regularly.”

In a bid to curtail the spread of the lethal disease and reduce the number of casualties, the Ekiti State Government yesterday ordered both private and public hospitals in the state to perform mandatory Covid 19 tests on all patients with manifesting fever, cough and catarrh symptoms.

A statement by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Oyebanji Filani, explained that the move is part of efforts to curtail the spread of the virus in the State.

According to him, the symptoms of the current wave of Covid-19 is similar to some other known and common diseases such as malaria and respiratory tract infection adding that it may also be asymptomatic.

“I hereby instruct all health facilities in the state to contact their respective Local Government Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (LGDSNO) for modalities to conduct the test on their patients”.

He solicited the support of all stakeholders towards warding off the virus, emphasizing the need for the general public to cooperate with healthcare providers to achieve the desired goal.

Filani also warned that the State Government would not hesitate to sanction any hospital that fails to comply with the government’s directive.

Likewise, the Federal Capital Territory Administration yesterday threatened to sanction corporate organisations that err and violate the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulation recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The resolution was taken at a stakeholders’ meeting chaired by FCT Minister, Mallam Muhammad Bello and attended by the Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, the National Incidence Manager of the political, traditional, and religious leaders as well as heads of the various security agencies in the FCT.

It reiterated the need to ensure the effective use of the mobile court system for trial of corporate and individual offenders.

Additionally, there will be increased public education and community engagement and massive awareness campaigns across the six Area Councils of the FCT to further sensitise members of the public on COVID-19.

While all public and private schools are to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the regulations, it was also resolved that affordable face masks be provided for members of the public.

Bello said that even though the FCT “is regarded as a coronavirus epicentre, the administration has been successful in its response to the disease and assured of the FCTA’s preparedness to fight the second wave through the cooperation of all the stakeholders across the Territory.”

He added that the Task Force on COVID-19 guidelines enforcement would be re-invigorated to ensure that enforcement cascades down to the community and grassroots level while reminding the security agencies that enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines must be implemented as a presidential directive.