COVID-19: Nigeria Trying Hard To Avoid Another Lockdown, Says Health Minister
The Federal Government on Thursday said it is trying hard to prevent another lockdown, even as fears continue to mount over the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in Africa’s most populous nation.
On Wednesday, Nigeria’s infections crossed the 126, 000 mark, out of which 100,365 have recovered, but the government has insisted it would only push for a lockdown of the country as the last resort.
“The lockdown is always a last resort. It is not the first step that the government takes. If you hear of the countries which had to do lockdown – the UK and many European countries – it was because they were getting figures that were running virtually amok,” the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire noted on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“So, the consequence of a lockdown on the economy including the social consequences are such that you do not take that (lockdown) as a first step. So, we are trying very hard to see that it does not come to a lockdown.”
‘Without Extra Pain’
As the country drives to tame the ravaging pandemic, adherence to non-pharmaceutical measures have been a knotty issue with many citizens flouting the guidelines.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday signed the Coronavirus Health Protection Regulation 2021, a move targeted at strengthening Nigeria’s efforts at combating the disease which has infected more than 100 million people globally.
And Ehanire believes that citizens’ compliance with the guidelines as released by various health agencies, will aid the country’s push to contain the disease first confirmed in Wuhan, China in late 2019.
“The compliance and participation of citizens and adherence to all these rules will go a long way in ensuring that we get what we want without extra pain,” the minister added.
41 Million Doses Secured
The Minister also noted that Nigeria has secured an additional 41 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
However, the date of the vaccine’s delivery into the country remains unknown as vaccine manufacturers struggle to meet global demand in time.
“We do not have an exact date,” Dr Ehanire said. “The date it comes out depends on when the manufacturers are able to deliver, and that is not something that any country can enforce at this time.”
The 41 million doses were secured as part of efforts by an African Union task team to help countries on the continent gain equitable access to vaccines.
The AU earlier on Thursday had announced that it had secured an additional 400 million doses of the vaccines for the continent.
This comes on top of an earlier announcement by the AU that it had secured 270 million vaccine doses.
Many African countries, including Nigeria, are yet to start vaccination programs even as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise across the continent.
Nigeria was expected to take delivery of 100,000 vaccine doses via the WHO-backed Covax sharing facility by the end of January, but the timeline has now been shifted to February, Minister Ehanire confirmed on Thursday.
“The timelines are not in the hands of the recipient,” he stressed, noting that blocs like the European Union who had preordered vaccines since last year were yet to get enough supply.