• October 4, 2022

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No fewer than 816 persons have died from cholera infection as outbreak of the epidemic continues to ravage more communities across the country,  Director General, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said.

Speaking yesterday,  in Abuja, during the 18th ministerial briefing organised by Presidential Communication Team, he said the epidemic has spread to 22 states,  warning that over 31,000 people have been infected.

Also speaking at the event, Minister of Health, Dr.  Osagie Ehanire, faulted ongoing doctors strike under the auspices of National Association of Resident Doctors(NARD),  saying embarking on an industrial action in the midst of the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic with the arrival of Delta variant, cholera outbreak in 22 states and marburg virus (similar to Ebola) was not only dangerous but unconscionable.

While acknowledging  the danger the COVID-19 Delta variant has brought to the country, Ehanire, however,  ruled out another lockdown of the country.

“Lockdown is a very last measure that countries are taking because lockdown stifles economic activity, restricts  freedom and your businesses – corporate, government, private business all are affected. So it’s not  something you do easily.    And of course when we were compelled to have lockdown at the beginning, we learnt a lot of lessons. You know, at that time government provided palliatives to mitigate the impact if you couldn’t go to market or couldn’t do your business. But this is not what government is aiming to do; no government wants to lockdown. In countries where they have serious threats, they had to do what they call a precision lockdown, like in the UK.”

The minister decried the strike by doctors appealing to them to return to work. 

“I think Nigeria is probably the only country in the world today where doctors are dropping work in the middle of a threat to the whole country. So that’s what we have advised. There has been no threat. We are just appealing, all of us are doctors,  all of us went through the same residency. We’re saying this is not the time let’s continue to talk about it.  Do not put people’s lives at risk.”

He said Federal Government would apply the International Labour Organisation (ILO)  policy of “No Work, No Pay”, if the doctors insisted on carrying on with the strike, saying they would not  be paid from tax payers money for doing nothing.

He also denied threatening to sack resident doctors who withdrew their services since August 2 over alleged poor conditions of service, saying all engagements and consultations so far have been to appeal to them to call off the strike.

He said majority of the demands raised by the doctors were under the jurisdiction of state governments.

Director General of  National Agency For Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, explained that recent delays associated with the application of mModerna vaccines donated by the US government was as a result of laboratory testings where some insignificant quantities had bar-coding errors which had to be sorted.

She said the agency was working round the clock to resolve the slight hitches which had nothing to do with the vaccine quality.

She said in the previous vaccination exercises 12,000 Nigerians reported mild side effects.

Executive Director/CEO, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuiab, said in order to further combat the spread of COVID-19, the Federal Government has procured over 29 million single dose of Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines at the cost of $298.5 million (over N122 billion) to enable the country vaccinate 70 per cent of eligible members of the population.

He said 176,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines that arrived the country with roll out schedule for Monday, was part of 29 million doses the government procured that is being expected.

Shuaib said the J&J doses would be administered to those who are in hard-to-reach areas.

“The balance of the vaccine will subsequently be delivered in monthly tranches,” he said.

“This batch of J&J vaccine will be focused on those who are in the hard-to-reach areas, riverine.”

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