By Ajuma Edwina Ameh
As the cases of the delta variant of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to rise gradually in Nigeria, the Federal Government has placed six states and the Federal Capital Territory on red alert.
Health Minister Osagie Ehanire, who officially declared that Nigeria is now witnessing the third wave of COVID-19, named the states as Lagos, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti and FCT.
“They are called the red alert states because they have the highest contribution to the national caseload of COVID-19, and will require extra attention to contain the outbreak in those places,” he told a state house media briefing on Thursday in Abuja.
“Cases have decided to rise gradually since several weeks, and also there have been weekly increase in fatalities recorded in the past four weeks.
“Currently the states that have the highest contribution to the national caseload of COVID-19 are Lagos, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti and FCT. These are the red alert states.
“Nigeria’s particular concern about the Delta-variant is because it is much more transmissible; it is estimated to be 60 times more transmissible. It is also of concern because it affects younger people.
“Also those who earlier suffered Covid-19 are mostly people who have underlying illnesses, but this variant doesn’t discriminate much; whether you have underlying illness or not,” Persecondnews quotes Ehanire as saying.
The minister explained: “By the background overview of the pandemic in Nigeria, as at August 11, 2021, the government of Nigeria confirmed the following statistics, which by now maybe has changed a little bit.
“The total number of confirmed cases are 179,118, active cases are 10,783, discharged cases 166,144 and sadly the number of fatalities 2,194.”
On COVID-19 vaccines, Ehanire said the federal government was targeting 70 percent of its population, adding that the country has received four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and have vaccinated over two million citizens out of 200 million population.
“Until we have received and vaccinated enough people; and our target is 70 percent of our population, we can’t think of relaxing.
“The U.S. have fully vaccinated 61 percent of their population and the U.K even higher, but they are still seeing a lot more cases and they are panicking, just as we are, about the impact of the delta variant.
“The Federal government through the NPHCDA and NAFDAC have taken several measures as regards vaccines.
“The target is to vaccinate 70 percent of Nigerians against what we call fair immunity. Fair immunity means the likelihood of transmission from one person to another is grossly reduced, and to achieve that 70 percent most Nigerians have to submit themselves for immunization.
“We have received four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, in which we have vaccinated over two million citizens and about 1.2 million have gotten complete doses.
“Getting vaccines at this time is very difficult because Africa as a whole does not produce vaccines except South Africa under license from the use company.
“Many countries producing these vaccines have been reserving it for themselves, and a huge advocacy has been going on from WHO and many others organizations calling for equity in vaccine distribution.
“We just began to get vaccines with the moderna vaccines that just arrived, and we expecting very soon doses of Johnson&Johnson, Pfizer, AstraZeneca in our country.
“In addition to the four million doses of moderna vaccines from the U.S government, we have paid for 29.850 million doses of Johnson&Johnson vaccines.
“Within this month or the beginning of next month we shall begin to have not only many vaccines, but varieties of vaccines,” he promised.
On the need to observe the protocols, the health minister asked Nigerians to continue to wear facemask, use hand sanitizer, and observe social distancing and avoid crowded areas.