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The Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC has confirmed 1,149 cases of COVID-19 in sixteen states across the country. The health agency made the revelation on Thursday morning via a post on its verified Facebook page. In the latest development, Lagos State, the epicenter of the dreaded disease in Nigeria recorded 680 fresh cases followed by Rivers with 157 infections. According to the new update, the country has also recorded seven deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total fatalities so far to 2,236. Since the outbreak of the disease in Nigeria in 2020, Nigeria had recorded 184,593 while 167,738 have been successfully treated. DAILY POST reports that the development is coming amid fear of a fresh lockdown due to the third wave of the virus. A similar lockdown kept the entire world at a stand still in 2020. However, the Federal Government on Thursday last week allayed the fear of a fresh lockdown, saying that the country was not at a level where another national lockdown will be considered, despite the presence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country. Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made the clarification while speaking during the weekly ministerial press briefing at the Presidential Villa in the nation’s capital, Abuja. By Ochogwu Sunday Source:
Mrs Hadiza Shagari, wife of former, Nigerian President, Shehu Shagari is dead, Mrs. Shagari died of COVID-19 complications on Thursday. A statement issued by her Grandson, Bello Shagari on his Facebook page, said the deceased died at the Gwagwalada Isolation Center in Abuja at 3am. She will be buried according to Islamic rites at the National Mosque, Abuja. “Hajiya Hadiza Shehu Shagari was 80 years old. Her Jana’iza (Funeral Prayer) will take place today, at 4:00pm, immediately after Asr prayer, at the National Mosque, Abuja.” By Nsikak Nseyen Source:
The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, has put six states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, on red alert. This comes amid fears of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic following the confirmation of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the country. The six states include Lagos, Oyo, Rivers, Kaduna, Kano, and Plateau. This was contained in a statement on Saturday signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation/Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha. Mustapha warned other states to increase their level of preparedness and continue to enforce all COVID-19 protocols. He also cautioned Nigerians to be careful as they celebrate Eid-el-Kabir on Tuesday and Wednesday. “Following the confirmation of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and the rising number of infections and hospitalisations in the country, the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 (PSC) has put six states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on red alert as part of the preventive measures against a third wave of the pandemic. “The states are Lagos, Oyo, Rivers, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, and the FCT,” the statement read in part. It also noted that the federal government will sustain “current restrictive measures against travellers arriving from India, Brazil, Turkey and South Africa.” By Ifreke Inyang Source:
There are strong indications that Nigeria is gradually approaching the third wave of COVID-19 with the steady rise in positive cases in the last one week. The PUNCH on Sunday gathered that the fear that the third wave might be deadlier than the two previous ones was heightened by the fact that the country recorded Delta variant of the virus last week when most states had exhausted their vaccine supplies. According to, the Delta variant has been confirmed in 22 African countries and has been found to spread 225 per cent faster than the original virus. No fewer than 5,600 people across Africa had died from COVID-19 in the first week of July. Lagos State, which was the epicentre of the virus in Nigeria during the first and the second waves, on Sunday said the bed occupancy in its isolation centres had increased from one per cent to six per cent. The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in a statement on Sunday, said only one per cent of the states’ residents had received COVID-19 vaccines, adding that the state was targeting 60 per cent for herd immunity. He also lamented that between May 8 and 7 July, 2021, 18 per cent (9,057) of 50,322 “passengers of interest” who arrived in Lagos via the Murtala Mohammed Airport could not be reached for mandatory isolation. The governor said these as the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control admitted steady rise in COVID-19 cases in the country in the last one week. Increase not due to backlog – NCDC The Spokesperson for the Director General of the NCDC, Emeka Oguano, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, stated that higher figures recently recorded were not due to backlog of cases. Until last week, many Nigerians had heaved a sigh of relief as the country was recording an average of less than 40 cases daily. But the daily COVID-19 cases shot up to an average of 105 cases last week as the Federal Government alerted Nigerians that the country had recorded its first case of the Delta variant of coronavirus. The World Health Organisation has said Delta is the most transmissible variant of COVID-19. According to the global body, the variant is responsible for the spike in about 98 countries across the world where it has been reported. No fewer than 737 new COVID-18 cases were recorded in the country between July 4 and 10, according to the NCDC. Vaccine expired on July 9, we have exhausted our allocation – Ogun The Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, in an interview with one of our correspondents said the state had exhausted the vaccine doses allocated to it by the Federal Government. Coker said the state got additional 10,000 vaccines and had also consumed them. Coker disclosed that July 9 was the expiry date of the vaccine the state received. She said, “The expiry date was 9th of July. We have consumed all vaccine doses allocated to the state and addition of 10,000 doses. “The Federal Government policy is that all vaccines will be procured centrally and distributed to states. So along with all other states, we await the next batch of vaccines from the NCDC.” Bed occupancy in isolation centres increases from 1% to 6% On his part, the Lagos State Governor, Sanwo-Olu, said the number of COVID-19 patients admitted into isolation centres in the state increased in the last two weeks. Sanwo-Olu, in a statement said only one per cent of the state’s population had been vaccinated. He said the state would not relent in carrying our more tests, saying the government was expecting another batch of AstraZeneca vaccine soon. According to him, the state is approaching the third wave of the deadly virus. He stated, “We are now finding ourselves at what appears to be the start of a potential third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Lagos State. Rise in positive cases from 1.1% to 6% cause for concern – Sanwo-Olu “From the beginning of July, we started to experience a steep increase in the number of daily confirmed cases, with the test positivity rate going from 1.1 per cent at the end of June 2021 to its current rate of 6.6 per cent as of July 8, 2021. The rapid increase within a week gives great cause for concern. Also, within the last two weeks, the occupancy rate at our isolation centres increased from an average of one per cent to six per cent. This is the new and disturbing reality that now confronts us. “But we must not be demoralised by this. We must instead resolve that we will not leave any stone unturned in our bid to effectively mitigate the third wave of this pandemic in Lagos State. We will continue to test aggressively. We will also focus on sequencing the samples we are collecting to ensure we are detecting and keeping track of the different variants in circulation. It is only by testing and sequencing comprehensively that we can collect the data required for informed decision-making.” The governor urged Lagosians to desist from patronising non-accredited COVID-19 treatment centers. 9,057 international passengers disappear in Lagos, give wrong numbers, shun isolation Sanwo-Olu added that it was unfortunate that 18 per cent of the 50,322 passengers who came into the state between May 8 and July 7 could not be reach for monitoring and isolation. He said, “Between May 8 and 7 July, 2021, a total of 50,322 passengers of interest arrived in Lagos via the Murtala Mohammed Airport. Of the 50,322 passengers, 18 per cent could not be reached by EKOTELEMED because of the provision of either wrong numbers or wrong Nigerian contact details to be reached on. “It is the responsibility of passengers to ensure they provide the right details for us to reach them for proper monitoring. Going forward, passengers that do not provide the right details, including phone numbers they can be reached for monitoring and an address for isolation, will face serious sanctions including fines and imprisonment according to our Lagos State Coronavirus Law of 2021. “As dictated by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, passengers from red-listed countries (India, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey) are required to observe mandatory isolation. So far, we have successfully isolated 2,386 passengers in Lagos State. Of this number, 15 per cent have absconded.” The governor also mandated religious centres to observe COVID-19 protocols, adding that no centre should operated more than 50 per cent occupancy in enclosed spaces. “Greater vigilance is required at this time in our churches and mosques and other places of religious worship. Even as we are pleased that religious houses are now open for worship, after the lengthy closures of 2020, we must not allow ourselves to be carried away by the illusion that all is now back to normal. This is especially critical, as Sallah approaches, in a little over a week from now. “The festivities will no doubt bring people together in large numbers and create conditions that can sadly cause the spread of the coronavirus. We must not allow this to happen. For this reason, we are mandating full compliance with all protective protocols. Compulsory use of masks in all public places, social distancing, temperature checks, provisions for hand-washing and sanitisers, and a maximum of 50 per cent occupancy in enclosed spaces,” Sanwo-Olu said. Kano exhausts 209,502 doses, increases surveillance at Aminu Kano Airport Also, the Kano state Taskforce on COVID-19 said the state had exhausted 209,502 doses of the vaccine the Federal Government gave to it. It stated that it had commenced surveillance at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport with a view to ensuring that international passengers coming through the airport are properly screened. The Taskforce Coordinator, Dr Tijjani Husain, disclosed these in a telephone interview with The PUNCH in Kano on Sunday. He said the surveillance, which was being carried out in collaboration with port health and other officials of the airport, was aimed at ensuring that inbound international passengers undergo the necessary health screening before leaving the airport. “Any passenger who arrives at the airport must present COVID-19 test certificate otherwise he will be put on quarantine and subsequently go for test. “The measure is taken to ensure that no passenger carrying the COVID-19 Delta variant or other deadly disease is allowed to spread the disease,” he said. On COVID-19 vaccine, the taskforce coordinator said the vaccines the state received from the Federal Government had been exhausted and awaiting the arrival of another consignment. “If you recall the Federal Government gave Kano state 209,502 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and all the doses have been exhausted and we are still awaiting for another consignment,” he said Ekiti exhausts vaccine, vaccinates only 2% of residents The Coordinator, Ekiti State COVID-19 Response Task Force, Prof Mobolaji Aluko, also said the state had exhausted all the AstraZeneca vaccine doses supplied it by the Federal Government. Aluko, who said that since additional vaccines were not forthcoming when the state had vaccinated only about two per cent of its population, said there was no choice than to wait for when the Federal Government would get another supply. He said, “We will wait. Ekiti will not go to the market to buy because the Federal Government cannot allow states to begin to engage in competition among themselves over vaccines. It will not augur well especially for smaller states. It is better for it to be centralized. So we have to return to our attempt at non-pharmaceutical controls”. The coordinator said that the state would have to ramp up COVID-19 testing “to know people who have contacted the virus including whether the Delta variant has got into the state which is not impossible. We have to test, we have to isolate and to treat”. Speaking to one of our correspondent, the Executive Chairman, Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Rilwan Mohammed, said that the state had used all the Astrazeneca vaccine doses given to it by the Federal government. “All the vaccine that was given to us has finished. In fact, there is no state in Nigeria that has any vaccine left, all the vaccine in Nigeria is finished. I asked the National Primary Health Care Headquarters and they said that they don’t have even a single one.” In Enugu, the State Government said that it used all the AstraZeneca vaccine it got from the Federal Government before its expiration date. The Executive Secretary Enugu State Primary HealthCare Development Agency, Dr George Ugwu, who spoke to one of our correspondents on telephone, said the agency exhausted all the doses of their vaccine on July 5, 2021. The Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, had last week said Nigeria would be expecting a shipment of 3.92 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of July or early August . Explaining the efforts of the NCDC, the spokesman for the director general, Oguano, advised Nigerians not to abandon safety measures. He said, “What we are seeing now is not a backlog of cases, the number of cases are gradually increasing, we cannot say it is as a result of the third wave yet.” Delta strain has the potential “to be more lethal because it’s more efficient in the way it transmits between humans,” the WHO’s Dr. Mike Ryan said. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nigeria was announced on February 27, 2020, when an Italian citizen in Lagos tested positive for the virus. This signaled the beginning of first wave in the country, forcing the Federal Government to declare a lockdown on April 27, 2020 with effect from May 4 to 17 spanning. The second wave was between November 2020 and January 2021 when the country recorded an increased number of positive cases after the curve had flattened between August and September 2020. By Dayo Ojerinde, Deborah Tolu-Kolawole, Solomon Odeniyi, Tukur Muntari, Daud Olatunji, Abiodun Nejo, Matthew Ochei, Bakam Armstrong and Raphael Ede Source:
• Doctors divided over Buhari’s London medical trip • President started his UK medical trip long before 2015, says Shehu • NARD decries arrears of unpaid salaries • Blames mass exodus of doctors on poor remuneration, conditions of service • PDP asks Buhari to admit failure in health sector • Buhari’s health tourism, a global disgrace, says HURIWA Almost two years after his last private trip to the United Kingdom (UK), President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, jetted out of the country on a medical trip to London for the sixth time since he was sworn into office in 2015. The president and some aides departed the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, for the London ‘routine’ medical check-up around 2:30 p.m. Those at the airport to bid the president farewell included the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammed Bello; Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu and other presidential aides. Before departing the Presidential Villa, Buhari had met behind closed doors with security chiefs, where he directed them “to fish out and crush heads of bandits, kidnappers and their local collaborators to restore confidence in the society.” The president’s trip has expectedly elicited reactions from Nigerians over the deplorable state of healthcare system with experts saying the country could be losing more than N576 billion ($1.2 billion) yearly to medical tourism. Nigerians have for decades suffered from an inadequately funded healthcare system, squalid clinics and hospitals, and poorly paid and overworked healthcare workers who frequently move abroad for employment. There are at least 8,178 medical doctors of Nigerian origin working in the U.K., according to data on the U.K. General Medical Council website. The exodus has worsened healthcare in a country that has one doctor for every 5,000 people, according to the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA). It would be recalled that President Buhari had in 2015 promised to stop medical tourism and save the nation scarce foreign exchange if elected president. In fact, he promised to ban elected government officials from foreign medical trips after he rued the millions of dollars expended on medical tourism. Before the dawn of COVID-19 last year, reports suggested that almost 5,000 people leave the country monthly for various forms of treatment abroad. However, The Guardian investigation revealed that the rate of medical tourism reduced drastically since January 2020 due to the outbreak of the pandemic and the travel restrictions that followed. Defending the trip, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said President Buhari began his yearly medical trip to London even before he came into office as Nigeria’s president in 2015. Shehu said this yesterday while addressing newsmen at the departure wing of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, just after his principal departed the country for medical check-up. He said: “The President is looking at the window of opportunity that has opened with the Easter holiday. It’s a much relaxed period for everyone – Good Friday, Easter Monday, National Holidays. Then, he will use that period for his regular medical check-up. “This is something he has done for so many years even before he came to office. Every year, he had appointment with his doctors and he went there to do it. The only anomaly this time around is that COVID prevented this kind of thing to hold in 2020. So, he has lost some period. The last time he was there was one and half years back.” The president is due back in the country in the second week of April. Buhari is embarking on the medical trip at a time members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors have declared their intention to commence strike action on April 1. According to the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), about N576 billion ($1.2 billion) is lost to medical tourism yearly in Nigeria, an amount that could have been invested in the development of the country’s health care system and the country as a whole. This is about N100 billion less than the N632.7 billion allocated to the health sector in the 2021 budget. Also, a Price Waterhouse Coopers (2016) report states that Nigerians spend $1 billion annually on medical tourism with 60 per cent of it on four key specialties namely: oncology, orthopedics, nephrology and cardiology. This is nearly 20 per cent of the total government spending on public health sector for the year including salaries of all public sector doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers as well as other health programmes like malaria, tuberculosis, polio and Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) prevention. NARD’s position is corroborated by a study published in International Journal of Development and Management Review (INJODEMAR) titled “Medical Tourism in Nigeria: Challenges and Remedies to Healthcare System Development.” The paper by researchers from Departments of Sociology, University of Ilorin, Medical Microbiology, Bowen University, and Mass Communication, University of Ilorin, identified brain drain syndrome, underfunding, dilapidated structures and obsolete equipment, industrial strikes, culture of Nigerians preferring anything foreign and negative attitude of health professionals as problems facing the Nigerian health sector. Some of the remedies to the problem as suggested in the paper include: adequate funding of the system, improved health care facilities, better remuneration and motivation for health workers, government intervention on the battle for supremacy among health workers, immediate ban of government sponsored medical trip abroad, adequate training, enforcement of legal action against medical negligence, improved medical research and encouraging foreign investment. MEANWHILE, despite widespread debate of Mr. President’s visit to UK, medical doctors are divided on whether it is appropriate or otherwise after the country spent huge sums of money recently to refurbish the Aso Rock clinic. In its 2021 budget, the president allocated its highest amount ever to the State House including the ‘presidential wing’ of a hospital the president seldom uses, where N17.3 billion will be spent to run the State House, Nigeria’s seat of power. While the apex body of medical doctors in Nigeria, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), says Mr. President has the right to choose where to get treated, the radical body of medical doctors, NARD, says Buhari’s trip is a waste of scare foreign exchange and it is encouraging brain drain. They are, however, unanimous that Nigeria can reduce the unemployment indices drastically by investing heavily on health. President, NMA, Prof. Innocent Ujah, told The Guardian yesterday: “I don’t have any problem with Mr. President going abroad for medical treatment. What I will not support is he going there for malaria treatment. Besides that, the President has the right to choose where to get treated.” Ujah, however, urged the Federal Government to meet the demands of resident doctors to avoid another industrial action that could shut down the health sector. “These doctors are suffering. Despite all the risk they are taking treating patients, they are being owed. That is not fair. A labourer deserves his or her wages. They have exhausted other avenues to get their demands and strike has become the only option,” the NMA President said. President of NARD, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, told The Guardian: “Truly what is the state of the Villa clinic? What is the state of all the monies been budgeted yearly for the clinic? This tells you no one is accountable. If things have been normal, no commander in chief will travel for a ‘routine’ medical check-up. If we are in a saner nation, the medical specialty the Commander In Chief (CIC) needs would be deployed there. But no one has been deployed. I can almost as a matter of fact tell you that the lead physician who the CIC sees is most likely a Nigerian who relocated for greener pastures to save his sanity.” On threat to begin strike tomorrow (Thursday), Okhuaihesuyi said: “The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors after an extraordinary National Executive council has decided to embark on an industrial action owing to persistent neglect of the health institution as well as the welfare of the persons working round the clock to ensure health is given to our people. “The government has over the past 20 years reneged on all its terms of settlement with doctors whilst the doctors have once again been made to carry on despite poor working conditions with hearts laden with pain. If the Aso Villa clinic was working at top quality backed with good remuneration they would have top class physicians there delivering top quality service but again it’s not the case. The clinic is just in the name, nothing to show for it.” On why Nigerian doctors still leave for greener pastures abroad, the NARD President said the major tripod of emigration of doctors are: poor working condition; insecurity; and welfare. Okhuaihesuyi said these top three, the world over, make for doctors emigrating. “As we speak Nigeria has no three star government-owned tertiary health institution. How many radio oncology centres do we have, yet we have expertise but our patients die physically and mentally after long waits for radiation therapy. Can you walk into any health facility in Nigeria today and get sorted out easily? We are still moving at a snail pace while other nations of the world are miles ahead,” he said. Globally, medical tourism has contributed immensely to the growth and development of healthcare system and countries engage in it because it attracts people from various parts of the world, thereby adding value to the countries involved. In the United States for example, over 60,000 medical tourists were attracted to the country in 2008, while in the year 2012, Jordan attracted 250,000 international patients accompanied by more than 500,000 relatives generating well above $1 billion income from medical tourism that same year. There is no record of medical tourists coming to Nigeria. MEANWHILE, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to admit that his administration has failed to make impact in the healthcare system. The party, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that the routine overseas medical check-up by the President is a direct indictment of his presidency over its failure to fix the healthcare system. The party said it is worrisome that under President Buhari, even the hitherto highly rated State House Clinic, has become so moribund that it can no longer provide a simple medical check-up service for Mr. President. “While the PDP has nothing against where any person, including President Buhari, seeks his or her medical services, our party is worried that the Buhari presidency is taking no decisive steps to fix our health care system, ostensibly because Mr. President can afford overseas medical treatment at tax payers’ expense,” the statement added. ALSO, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described as shameful and regrettable the decision of President Buhari to continue to travel to London at serious costs to the taxpayers to take care of his personal health needs. The rights group said the unwise choice of the President to patronise foreign health service providers in total rejection and disregard for the Nigerian indigenous health service professionals has shown that his administration is hypocritical about achieving any kind of mileage in the area of rebuilding the near moribund health care sector of the nation’s economy. “The continuous patronage of foreign medical services by President Muhammadu Buhari and members of his immediate family is a categorical message that the president, Muhammadu Buhari, may be unwilling to bequeath enduring and sustainable legacies in the areas of building enduring and strategic health infrastructures, which should put to an end to the wasteful ventures of tourism by government officials who fritter scarce foreign reserves to service their personal health challenges at public costs abroad.” By Chukwuma Muanya (Lagos), Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and Segun Olaniyi (Abuja) Source: