Eniola Akinkuotu, Friday Olokor, Adelani Adepegba and Ade Adesomoju
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Thursday raised the alarm over the prevalence of substandard hand sanitisers in Nigerian markets.
It said the development was inimical to the efforts of government to curtail further spread of COVID-19.
The Chairman of the task force, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, stated this at the briefing of the task force in Abuja.
Mustapha said research had revealed that 63 per cent of hand sanitisers in Abuja were without the registration numbers of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
He urged Nigerians to ensure that they buy their sanitisers and other products from credible sources.
Mustapha said, “As part of the non-pharmaceutical measures, we recommended in line with global practice the use of hand sanitisers. Ordinarily, that ought to stimulate local production because of increased demand.
“We regret to inform you that following a survey conducted by the Nigerian Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development to check the influx of substandard goods into the market, it was revealed that 63 per cent of alcohol-based sanitisers in Abuja do not have NAFDAC registration numbers. There could also be similar situations around the country.”
While reminding Nigerians to always comply with the non-pharmaceutical measures put in place, the SGF reiterated that the reasons for extending phase two of the eased lockdown were still present and that Nigerians needed to change their behaviour.
Dignitaries flouting protocols at airports
Mustapha said the PTF had received reports about violations of guidelines put in place in the aviation sector by some dignitaries who failed to follow the protocols at the airports.
“We believe leaders must lead by example. In truth, as leaders and followers, we must change our behaviour if we must overcome the pandemic,” he added.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, also stressed the need for Nigerians to continue to observe all non-pharmaceutical measures put in place to curtail the spread of the virus.
He urged the most vulnerable, especially the elderly and those with underlying health challenges, to be restrained from going out except it was important.
“There is presently no room for parties and unnecessary travel; these will have to wait till further notice,” he said.
UK won’t pay you hazard allowance, FG tells doctors
While answering a question, Ehanire told Nigerian doctors planning to emigrate to the United Kingdom that they would not be paid hazard allowance if they migrated.
The minister was responding to a question regarding the failed attempt of 58 doctors to travel to the UK last week.
Ehanire said, “I think we are one of the few countries giving hazard allowance, This UK where they are going, there is no hazard allowance, they don’t give doctors hazard allowance, but you just get your salary.”
The minister said he was also informed that doctors were migrating from the UK, hence it was not only a Nigerian challenge.
Ehanire noted that Nigeria would not stop doctors who wanted to emigrate, but they must ensure that they had visas.
‘18% of 60-plus persons at risk of dying’
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, said at the Thursday’s briefing that up to 18 per cent of those above 60 years old were at risk of dying of the disease.
He also warned that younger persons could also die of the dreaded the disease, urging everyone to play their roles in stopping the spread of the virus.
Aliyu noted that the youngest person to have died of COVID-19 in Abuja was 38-year-old.
He said, “As we know COVID -19 infects people of all ages. However, the evidence to date suggests that two groups of people are high risk of fatal illness from COVID-19 – these are people above the age of 60 years and those having underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer or anything that suppresses your immune system.
“Even if you are not at high risk, you must continue to play a part to prevent the spread of coronavirus to those who are vulnerable and can die from COVID-19.”
NCDC conducts over 200,000 tests
The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the centre had so far conducted over 200,000 COVID-19 tests in the country.
He explained that the centre had 54 testing facilities across 27 states, noting that the agency was working to bring the centres close to Nigerians.
Ihekweazu blamed the process of getting the result from the laboratory to the individual for the delay in the release of test results.
He, however, said, the NCDC was working hard to reduce the result transmission period.
This, he said, would be achieved through the online portal being set up to enable individuals to access their results on their own.
He stated, “We have carried out over 200,000 tests across the country and by far, most people get their results on time. We now have testing facilities in 54 centres in 30 of 36 plus one state.
“The major factor driving the delay is not in the testing, it is in the process and from getting the result from the lab to the individual. We don’t want to bypass the states because the states are really the custodians of the public health response.”
Ihekweazu revealed that a lab which was shut down for decontamination in Ebonyi State had been reopened, stressing that his desire was to ensure that the people had a better experience.