Members of the National Economic Council on Thursday raised the alarm over the astronomical increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria lately as shown in the daily figures being released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
They said the development was putting pressure on the nation’s already fragile health system and was threatening the economy that is currently in recession.
They made the observation at the council’s virtual meeting presided by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
The NEC, a constitutional body chaired by the sitting Vice President has all state governors and relevant ministers as members.
In regretting the spike in positive cases, members of the council resolved to put in more efforts in their various states and the Federal Capital Territory to enforce non-pharmaceutical interventions aimed at curtailing further spread of the virus.
The resolution was contained in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, titled, ‘NEC alarmed over spike in COVID-19 cases in the country’.
According to Akande, the state governors and the relevant ministers were “alarmed that the current trends are now approaching or surpassing the levels reached during the lockdown imposed at the height of the epidemic earlier in the year.”
The presidential aide said the council, in response to the spike, expanded the membership of its ad-hoc committee on COVID-19 and mandated it to quickly come up with additional measures to deal with the situation.
“The country is now experiencing a huge resurgence of COVID-19 patients needing intensive care and the existing health facilities are fast becoming overwhelmed,” the statement quoted the council members as saying.
Akande added that the ad-hoc committee chaired by the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, with the governors of Lagos, Bauchi, Plateau, Kano, Anambra and the FCT Minister as members, has now been enlarged with the addition of the governors of Ogun and Kaduna States, the Minister of Health, Minister of Information and Culture, the Minister of Youths and Sports as well as all health and information commissioners in states as members.
“The Vice President asked the committee to urgently develop innovative and new measures to curtail the spread of the disease, acting in the best interests of both the health and overall welfare of Nigerians,” the statement added.
Akande said the briefing received by council members on COVID-19 showed a disturbing trend.
He said, “The trends also show that more and more younger people are getting infected. While many of the young victims may be asymptomatic or recover without serious illness, they pass the virus to older and more vulnerable people, especially people with pre-existing health conditions, who develop serious illnesses and may easily lose their lives in the process.
“Sadly, the country is now experiencing a huge resurgence of COVID-19 patients needing intensive care and the existing health facilities are fast becoming overwhelmed.
“NEC notes that this increase is being accelerated by non-compliance with the non-pharmaceutical interventions advised by government, including the wearing of masks, limiting of gatherings, especially indoors and the washing/sanitization of hands.
“NEC, therefore, wishes to reemphasise the importance of these measures. Particularly as we approach the end of the year and the social gatherings associated with the holiday season, we must avoid activities or behaviour that may aggravate the situation and necessitate another lockdown.”