Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has decried deaths of Nigerian children killed by COVID-19 so far.
According to PUNCH, Dr. Ihekweazu says losing ten (10) children to COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in Nigeria was a tragic incident that should be prevented ahead of the second wave of the virus currently ravaging the country.
Reporting the statistics of the viral pandemic, the NCDC chief said, “Sadly, we have recorded 10 deaths from COVID-19 in children between the age of 0-10;” adding, “Majority of deaths from COVID-19 in Nigeria have been in people aged 61-70.
Ihekweazu said, whether young or old, every life lost to COVID-19 is a painful loss.
A molecular virologist at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Dr. Joseph Shaibu, attributed the low children mortality to a number of factors.
“Many things could have been attributed to it. Some link it to immunity because COVID-19 is an opportunistic virus whereby if you are not immune-compromised, hardly will you come down with it.
“I think that is the main reasons we have young people who are infected but don’t come down with the virus.
“But once there is comorbidity and some other immune-compromised history, it becomes so difficult.
“That’s also why COVID-19 is more pronounced in adults whose immunity is already going down and some of them have an issue with one sickness or the other affecting them,”
Meanwhile, Ihekweazu stated that over the last five weeks, the NCDC surveillance system had detected an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“This has increased significantly in the last two weeks, especially in Lagos, FCT and Kaduna. This is an important reminder to us all that the virus that causes COVID-19 is still in transmission in our country, and we remain at risk,”
He stressed that the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, NCDC and state governments had continued to scale up the response activities.
He, however, said individual responsibility was important to control the acute phase of the pandemic.
When asked about the safety of the proposed COVID-19 vaccine, the NCDC director said that he was confident of its efficacy.
“So far, we have received very promising results on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. Some of these have received emergency approval in countries like the United Kingdom.
“However, reaching herd immunity in countries and across the world will take a mammoth effort and perhaps years to come, given the need to immunise large populations.
“Therefore, we must continue the basic preventive measures of handwashing, physical distancing, and wearing of masks properly.”
When asked if Nigerians have reason to be scared ahead of the second wave of COVID-19, Shaibu said it depends on the strain that comes with the second wave.
“If it is a strain that we have been dealing with, I don’t think so. Unless, of course, if it is a different strain that nobody can say anything specifically about.
“Viruses are usually unpredictable. Once a virus starts romanticizing its environment, more so people and animals, it can change its form and you can’t really predict it.
“Hopefully, we shouldn’t have a very virulent strain because once it becomes virulent, the issue is going to be entirely different from what we have in the first wave,”
Shaibu warned that Nigerians need to be careful, especially during the festive season.
“If you walk around, you will discover that many COVID-19 preventive measures that the government put in place are being violated. There are also some people who, to date, still don’t believe coronavirus exists. That is one of the difficult issues we are contending with. It is quite difficult to help somebody who doesn’t believe there is an issue.
“Once people are not adhering to guidelines put in place, there is nothing more the government can do about it. You will have to first protect yourself from the infection before we talk about any other thing. But if our people can stick to the guidelines put in place, the effect of COVID-19 will be reduced maximally,”