42 COVID-19 infections recorded, FG rules out restrictions

The Federal Government has insisted it will not impose COVID-19 restrictions on China despite the rising infections in the East Asia country.

The Coordinator and Technical Head of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Dr Muktar Muhammad, who added this in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja on Sunday, however, said the government has raised the surveillance level in the country.

China’s decision to relax its strict COVID-19 rules to curb the virus and lack of transparency has been greeted with some anxiety in many countries.

At least 23 countries have imposed restrictions on travellers from China amid fears of an increase in COVID-19.

Data from the World Health Organisation shows that China reported 24,565 new cases on January 13, 2023, and so far there are 10,855,369 confirmed cases and 33,698 deaths.

However, Muhammad said countries imposing restrictions on China are doing so without a scientific basis as available data shows that cases are increasing worldwide.

He said, “For us, what we are doing now is to try to raise our surveillance level to be able to understand what kind of viruses are coming in, to continue to do our genomic sequencing to identify the variants that are coming into Nigeria so that we will have credible intelligence on what we need to do.”

The expert stated further that the government has intensified surveillance at sentinel points to monitor the situation in the country.

He added, “We believe what is happening is not more than a seasonal increase in upper respiratory tract infections, including COVID-19, and we are monitoring the various variants circulating in the world.”

42 new cases

The centre has confirmed 42 new cases of the virus in the country in two weeks.

The cases were recorded in Lagos, Edo, Kano, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Plateau States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

The 42 new cases brought the nation’s confirmed COVID-19 infections to 266,492, according to the NCDC.

The centre explained “From December 31, 2022, to January 6, 2023, 13 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria.

“The 13 new cases are reported from two states – Lagos (12) and Edo (one).”

The NCDC also added that,from January 7 to January 13, 2023, 29 new confirmed cases were recorded in the country.

“The 29 new cases are reported from six States- Lagos (15), FCT (5), Kano (four), Nasarawa (three), Kaduna (one), and Plateau (one).

“A multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre activated at Level 2, continues to coordinate the national response activities.”

China releases data

However, the World Health Organisation said it is analysing the COVID-19 situation data provided to the agency by China.

The WHO in a press statement made available stated that: Chinese officials provided information to the agency on a range of topics, including outpatient clinics, hospitalisations, patients requiring emergency treatment and critical care, and hospital deaths related to COVID-19 infection.

“WHO is analysing this information, which covers early December 2022 to January 12, 2023, and allows for a better understanding of the epidemiological situation and the impact of this wave in China. WHO requested that this type of detailed information continue to be shared with us and the public.”

Experts speak

A virologist at the Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Dr Oladipo Kolawole, said there should be a concern about flights coming from China and the government should put necessary measures in place at both the NCDC travel Portal and points of entry to the country.

He said “I think we require a negative COVID-19 test from the passengers coming from such region if not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if the government deem fits, they should not be banned for now like other countries that have done that.

Also, a medical laboratory scientist at the Department of Microbiology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, Obinna Chukwudi, urged the government to quarantine travellers from China to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“We can’t always wait till things get bad before strengthening our health system to abate future pandemics or epidemics. The government must invest and finance the health institutions to better great ready,” he said.


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