…PTF mandates schools to conduct weekly assessments***
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has recorded 131 new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of infections in the country to 56,735.
The NCDC made this known on its official twitter handle on Thursday, noting that the new cases were confirmed in 18 states.
The health agency said Lagos state recorded the highest number of infections with 45 cases, Kaduna and plateau followed with 17 each, 16 in FCT, and 6 cases each in Delta and Niger.
Kwara recorded 5 cases, Oyo 3, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ekiti, Enugu, and Osun 2 each.
Others were, Sokoto 2, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Katsina, and Rivers 1 each.
The agency said that in the past 24 hours, 2 people had died from the virus.
According to the agency, till date, 56,735 cases have been confirmed, 48,092 discharged, and 1093 deaths recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The health agency said that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC) activated at Level 3, had continued to coordinate national response activities across the country.
Meanwhile, as Edo prepares for the governorship election on Sept. 19, the agency has reminded voters of the need to observe COVID-19 guidelines recently released.
It advised all relevant stakeholders to take actions that would help reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus during the election.
“As you are aware, the governorship election is holding in Edo this weekend but the pandemic still poses an additional challenge.
“A few months ago, we developed the guidelines for conducting elections during the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria.
”These guidelines are actually for the political parties, electorate, the election monitors, INEC, and other relevant stakeholders.
”The guidelines actually provide recommendations and actions that should be taken to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during the election,” it noted.
The agency warned that the virus thrives in mass gatherings such as there are during elections.
It, therefore, warned that failure to adhere to public health and non-pharmaceutical measures could create possibility of infection.
“We just got a story of someone that went somewhere and brought a secondary infection and of course causing deaths to the vulnerable and we need to avoid that.
“So mass gatherings during election will likely occur, and the only way to conduct an election without putting anyone at risk of contracting the COVID-19 is to comply with the protective measures at all times.
“And so we recommend the following: Ensure there is hand hygiene and temperature checks at the campaign ground, polling stations.
“Provide additional polling stations or booths to ensure physical distancing can be maintained with clearly marked floors to enforce spacing on queues.
”Make the use of face mask by everyone mandatory, and ensure regular cleaning of polling stations, tables, and other surfaces.
“Those are areas that are easy to contract the virus.
”Multiple hand-washing points or alcohol-based hand sanitiser should be provided.
”All staff at the polling unit should practice hand hygiene frequently. Of course when you meet with people you need to do that regularly,” it said.
”We know INEC has put a lot in place and we are also employing our people to also adhere to those non-pharmaceutical measures so that we don’t take home the virus to our loved ones, especially vulnerable ones,” NCDC added.
In the meantime, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, has mandated schools to carry out weekly risk assessments while states and local governments are to conduct monthly and quarterly risk assessments, as schools reopen.
Mrs Elsie Ilori, Head, Department of Surveillance and Epidemiology, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, announced this on Thursday in Abuja at the joint PTF briefing on COVID-19.
According to her, the PTF has continued to educate the public on measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
“We have also continued to review the situation in other countries that have re-opened schools. We also receive guidance from WHO and other public health authorities.
“If schools carefully coordinate, plan and put the required safety measures in place before reopening, there is lesser risk of COVID-19 cases in school settings.
“We are working closely with the Federal Ministry of Education, PTF-COVID-19, States and our partners to ensure that the required safety measures are in place to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our schools.
“The PTF-COVID-19 and Federal Ministry of Education have mandated schools to conduct periodic (weekly) risk assessments, while States and local governments are to conduct monthly and quarterly risk assessment respectively.
“This will help to promptly address the gaps that may exist in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread in schools.
“Beyond this, local governments have been advised to set up multi-sectoral school health committees dedicated to supporting and monitoring the implementation of safety protocols in the schools,” she said.
Ilori further stated that safe school reopening required the collective efforts of all, including parents, teachers, school authorities, communities, civil society organisations and the media.