•Increases vigilance over emerging variants
•Vaccinates 1,173,869 persons
•Worries over new variants of coronavirus
The Presidential Steering Committee PSC on COVID-19 has expressed concerns over the emergence of new variants of the novel coronavirus, but assured that the federal government remains at alert to ward off any threat.
This was as the National Primary Health Care Development Agency NPHCDA announced that Nigeria has recorded 8,711 cases of mild vaccine adverse effects and 52 cases of moderate to severe side effects.
It also announced that the federal government has signed up for 28 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines which are expected to be delivered by the end of May.
Chairman of the PSC and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha who disclosed this on Monday in Abuja said the country is still not out of the woods, urging Nigerians to hold on a little longer.
“If examples from other jurisdictions are anything to go by, we are still in the woods”, he stated.
Mustapha who was speaking during Monday’s briefing of the PSC in Abuja added that subsisting measures against the pandemic would be maintained.
The SGF added that over 1.17 million people have now been vaccinated.
He said; “The significance of the preceding measures is underscored by the fact that several variants of concern are emerging from different jurisdictions and are capable of being imported into Nigeria. We continue to deploy science and data to address these cases. The PSC will provide steps being taken to stop the importation of these cases into Nigeria in our subsequent briefing.
“The vaccination programme is still progressing but we still have reasons to intensify our campaign against hesitancy. As at date records show that we have vaccinated 1,173,869 representing 58.3% of the eligible persons targeted in the current phase have received the first dose of Astra Zeneca vaccine. This is low in our estimation.
“For some time now, the situation between Nigeria and the UAE over travel requirements have been under management. I am pleased to inform you that we have reached a comfortable position acceptable to both parties.
“You will recall that we also informed Nigerians that three international points of entry (Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu) would be reopened. Kano has reopened while Port Harcourt and Enugu are almost ready. The key concern of the PSC is the availability of infrastructure for Port Health Services”, Mustapha added.
On his part, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire called for the continued adherence to all non-pharmaceutical interventions, saying Nigeria has scales up surveillance in all its ports of entry to avoid importation of the emerging variants.
While he asked Nigerians not to travel to countries whose epidiomiological situations are less than desirable, Ehanire said even countries who have succeeded in vaccinating at least 25 percent of their population are still very circumspect and struggling to contain the pandemic.
“The cases in India, Turkey and Brazil are of concern to is due to their demographic similarities with Nigeria and going by the fact that they are currently experiencing what is referred to as the third wave”, said Ehanire.
Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC, Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu said while “pandemic fatigue” is not unexpected, Nigerians must not forget where they are coming from. “We cannot afford another larger outbreak as is being experienced in some countries now”, he stated.
Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib said Nigeria is aware of the current scarcity of vaccines and in anticipation vod delayed supplies had administered only 50 percent of its allocation in order to guarantee a second dose for those who took the first.
He said the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC is currently in talks with vaccine manufacturers and evaluating their products in the hope of emergency use authorization of their vaccines by global regulatory authorities.