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COVID-19: Why Nigeria slipped into fourth wave

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ON Monday, December 20, the Nigerian government announced that the country had plunged into the fourth wave of COVID-19.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) broke the news in a statement mailed to The ICIR.   

As part of measures to contain the virus and its attendant health and economic consequences, the government called on people in the country to rev their fight against the disease, especially as more people travelled for Christmas and New Year festivities.

In a campaign tagged #CelebrateResponsibly, the government has urged Nigerians and other residents to avoid all non-essential travels and adhere strictly to guidelines set by the authorities to curb the spread of the virus.

The campaign is part of the #TakeResponsibility campaign, which began in February 2020.

Nigeria confirmed its first COVID-19 case on February 28, 2020, two months after China reported the first global case of the disease in its central city of Wuhan.

The country slipped into the second wave of the virus in December 2020.

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In August, the nation announced it had drifted into the third wave of the disease, with a spike in cases of Delta variant.

According to the NCDC, as of December 19, the country had recorded 223,887 cases and 2,985 deaths from the virus.

However, the government restated its commitment to intensifying risk communication efforts to further combat the virus and reminded people of the risk the country faced from the disease.

As the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 continues to support the Federal Ministry of Health, its agencies and other tiers of government to combat the virus, at least five issues may have led to the nation’s slide into the fourth wave.

  • There has been laxity in implementing COVID-19 laws and regulations in the country. Because the tribunals, task force, and related institutions empowered to arrest and punish defaulters of the regulations have been ineffective, people no longer take the protocols seriously as before. 

For instance, the compulsory use of face masks in public places has been ignored by many. The situation is worse in religious gatherings and markets. At motor parks, rambunctious commuters fail to put on their masks. Commercial buses are often overcrowded with passengers who do not wear masks.

  • Checks by our reporter show that handwashing and hand sanitiser devices are either not dispensing water or liquids in most institutions where they are mounted in Abuja. The situation may not be different in other parts of the country.
  • In recent weeks, some religious organisations, especially big churches, organised annual events that brought several people from across the world into the country. The gatherings had people who did not follow the simple non-pharmaceutical measures to curb the spread of the virus. Coincidentally, cases of the virus have spiralled after the events ended, as the NCDC data showed. 
  • Citing fear and believing myths, misconceptions and other false information about the disease, many Nigerians have been apathetic and hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and available vaccines are expiring. The country does produce the vaccines but gets them as donations from nations making them. Rather than blame Nigerians who refused to take the vaccine, The ICIR earlier this month reported how the government blamed manufacturers and donors for the expiration of about one million vaccines it received from donors. 

As of December 16, 8.3 million people, representing 7.5 per cent of the target population, had received vaccination for the first dose of the virus. Four million people, representing 3.6 per cent of the target population, got their second dose the same day.

As the Omicron cases spike globally, worsening the spread of the disease, there were 275 million cases and 5.3 million deaths from the virus globally as of December 21. Recoveries from the virus stood at 247.5 million.

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