NCDC calls for sustained testing after WHO’s latest declaration on COVID-19

THE NIGERIA Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has urged Nigerians to continue COVID-19 tests even after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that the disease is no longer a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

In a statement signed by its Director-General, Ifedayo Adetifa, on Sunday, May 7, the Centre said it will continue to encourage the integration of COVID-19 testing and treatment with other infectious diseases as part of clinical care for pandemic flu preparedness.

COVID-19 investigation could also be done alongside tests for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and in high-risk populations, the Centre said.

The ICIR reports that WHO declared COVID-19 as no longer a public health emergency of international concern on Friday, May 5, when its Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, endorsed the recommendation of the WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee that called for the declaration. 

On Friday, April 5, The ICIR reported how the agency raised the global COVID-19 deaths to 20 million, up from nearly seven million logged by multiple credible data platforms, including the WHO.

Ghebreyesus attributed the sharp rise to low estimates presented by countries to the WHO.

COVID-19 cases are currently about 700 million, according to Worldometer, one of the platforms collating global data on the disease.

Nigeria has 266,675 confirmed cases of the disease and has lost 3,155. 

In its Sunday statement, NCDC explained that Nigeria had already de-escalated its COVID-19 response since 2022 in response to local epidemiology, which focuses on encouraging COVID-19 vaccination and recommended discretionary use of face masks and other public health safety measures according to personal risk assessments. 

It noted that the decision had been complemented by efforts to leverage the pandemic response to improve national health security through health system strengthening, improving public health emergency management training, laboratory and infrastructural upgrades, and strategic focus on improving emergency preparedness and planning at state and local government levels.

“The declaration that COVID-19 is no longer PHEIC is to enable countries’ transition from acute emergency response to managing COVID-19 as part of integrated healthcare delivery for all infectious diseases. 



    “The threat of the virus remains within countries and globally and particularly for high-risk groups. As transmission continues within communities, the risk of new variants emerging and resulting in surges in case numbers and even deaths remains.”

    Working with partners, the NCDC said it was piloting pan-respiratory virus surveillance, aligned with the WHO’s recently declared preparedness and resilience for emerging threats (PRET) initiative. 

    “As part of our genomic surveillance, we will introduce wastewater/environmental surveillance to track not just SARS-CoV-2 but antimicrobial resistance, Mpox, and typhoid (salmonella). Finally, we continue to work on consolidating COVID-19 pandemic laboratory investments into a cohesive tiered national network of public health laboratories as prescribed in the NCDC Act (2018). 

    “With the continued emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases, our frequent and often concurrent disease outbreaks, and public health investments made during the pandemic to ensure health security in the country will need to be sustained.” 

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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