Globally, many countries, including Nigeria, have continued to put necessary public health measures in place to control the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Nigeria was able to overcome 1st and 2nd waves of the outbreak through the application of diverse evidence-based intervention strategies aimed at prevention, early detection and response to cases of COVID-19.
Some of these strategies included lockdown, enhanced surveillance and contact tracing, the establishment of a country-wide network of molecular testing laboratories, intensified risk communication and community engagement, deployment of a national rapid response team, distribution of essential medical commodities etc.
Similarly, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has continued to lead the rollout of COVAX facilitated vaccines. This and other afore-mentioned interventions have contributed significantly to the current level of outbreak control in Nigeria. However, the recent upsurge in the number of cases in some states remains a major source of concern and a clear indication that we are not ‘out of the woods’ yet.
In order to slow down transmissions and flatten quickly the curve of the 3rd wave that is still in its early phase, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has recently placed six high burden states on red alert. These are Lagos, Oyo, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory.
This underscores the need to have a high index of suspicion as well as strict enforcement of COVID-19 protocol in these states. The ongoing festivities remain another red flag that could be a super spreader event for COVID-19 if care is not taken.
Indiscriminate travelling and social gatherings during festivities increase the risk of the spread of the virus across States. Therefore, the leadership of various states are urged to also ensure strict compliance with COVID-19 preventive protocols in their States.
In the same vein, the NCDC has scaled up risk communication activities by leveraging both new and traditional media platforms to communicate evidence-based messaging on COVID-19 preventive measures across the country.
We are raising public awareness through strategic social mobilisation and community engagement while we also support the states with essential medical commodities. We are also mindful of the need to heighten surveillance at our various points of entry particularly across all international airports given the emergence of the Delta variant.
Therefore, the public is advised to continue to comply with all recommended infection prevention and control guidelines.
The following measures are basic ways to reduce the spread and avert the 3rd wave of COVID-19:
- Consistent and correct wearing of face mask in public settings
- Maintaining physical distance of at least 2 metres
- Avoiding crowds or large gatherings
- Regular hand hygiene
- Mandatory temperature checks in public spaces
- Immediately call your states specific hotlines in case you notice any of the symptoms of COVID-19
To this end, we urge Nigerians to continue to take responsibility during this festivity period and beyond by complying with public health and social measures instituted and recommended by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Our ability to overcome the current pandemic and quickly control the third wave depends largely on our collective efforts.