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COVID-19: The second deadly assault

77,993 now infected, New variant, more infectious strain, Govt mulls another lockdown

By Segun Olanrewaju

Fresh from its minor pause, COVID-19 is back with a deadlier assault. The whole world has become its potent theatre, and Nigeria may be heading fast to a fresh lockdown. This is in line with the global response trailing the new surge, following the discovery of a deadlier strain in Britain which could snowball into severe economic losses across the globe.

Over the weekend, the Nigerian authorities announced 920 new infections, signalling that a new wave of unpalatable measures, topped by lockdown, would have to be marshaled to contain the effects of the raging virus which has held humanity hostage.

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) [ last Friday confirmed 920 new infections of COVID-19 in the country, with six deaths in 24 hours. The agency also disclosed that, from a sample 874,000 samples it tested, 77,933 were confirmed positive.

The NCDC said this figure represents the highest number of infections recorded in a single-day count since the first case was confirmed on February 27, 2020, and that the development came four days after Nigeria’s previous highest figure of 796 cases. ‘‘With the new cases, the country’s total number of confirmed infections has now exceeded 75,000,’’ the agency said.

According to the NCDC, 300 patients had also been discharged after testing negative from the virus while new infections were reported from 17 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) within 24 hours.

Suggesting that the federal authorities were mulling a hard-line approach, NCDC disclosed that Lagos State alone reported 308 of the 920 new cases while the FCT recorded 207. The rest are Kaduna, 179; Plateau, 46; Niger, 43; Adamawa, 26; Sokoto, 18; and Rivers 16. Yobe recorded 15 new infections; Enugu and Kano 13 each; Ogun, 12, Delta, 10; Edo, 5; Osun and Oyo, 3 each; Anambra, 2; and Ekiti, 1.

On the other hand, however, the NCDC also announced that it recorded a slight increase in its daily count of recoveries with 281 patients discharged last Wednesday.  ‘“The new figure of discharged patients included 106 community recoveries in Lagos State managed in line with guidelines. Out of over 850,000 samples tested, 75,062 have been confirmed positive but 66,775 patients have recovered,’’ the NDDC stated in the December 16 release.

But last Friday, the NCDC also said that a multi-sectoral National Emergency Operations Centre activated at Level 3 had continued to coordinate national response activities, adding that, up-to- date, 77,933 cases had been confirmed, 67,784, discharged and 1,218 deaths recorded in 36 states and the FCT. The figures may rise, experts fear.

Though the NCDC has told Nigerians to adhere to all COVID-19 public health and safety measures, including hand washing, proper use of face masks and physical distancing to contain further spread of the pandemic, there are fears that fresh tougher measures could be taken to drive the resolve home.

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