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COVID19: NCDC Urges Regular Assessment as Schools Reopen

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control implored states to conduct risk assessment to curb the exposure level of students to COVID-19 as schools resume nationwide.

The centre advised that the risk assessment should be conducted weekly by schools, monthly by Local Government Areas and quarterly by States.

Dr Chike Ihekweazu, the Director-General of the NCDC spoke at a media briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja yesterday. He explained that the agency and the Federal Ministry of Education had developed guidelines to assist states and schools for safe resumption.

He stated, ‘Schools should provide learners with a ‘medical status’ form to be completed by all parents and kept in confidence by the school head; ensure that a triage point is identified and well-marked at the entrance where everyone gaining access to the school is screened for high temperature, requested to wear masks and perform hand hygiene and ensure that classrooms are well ventilated with a minimum of one-meter sitting arrangement.’

The Director-General stressed the need for all staffs, visitors and students above six years to consistently put on a face mask. He also compelled the teachers to appropriate the guidelines by monitoring the children, particularly those with special needs.

The agency emphasized the necessity for access to running water, soap and hand washing facilities. The need for staff at the sickbay to be trained and given all required materials and equipments for personal protection was also recommended.

Dr Sani Aliyu, The National Coordinator of the PTF disclosed at the briefing that Nigeria had been able to conduct 600,000 tests for COVID-19. However, he regretted that all the states of the federation failed to meet the testing target set for them.

He said, ‘With the reopening of schools, the PTF remains concerned about the long-term impact of COVID-19 on education and eventually our economy.

‘As of today, we are approaching about 600,000 Nigerians that have been tested for COVID-19. This might sound like a huge figure but it is actually quite low.

‘Our target is for every state to test at least one percent of its population. Only the FCT has achieved this target. Lagos is fast approaching (the target), with about 97 per cent achievement. But other states are barely above 25 per cent.

‘What it means is that most of us do not actually know our status and this becomes even more important as we continue to relax our restrictions. We know that corona-virus spreads silently and it spreads quickly, which is why we must follow safety measures at all times especially in our schools.’

Aliyu also stated that the PTF, the NCDC, the Federal Ministry of Education and state authorities are putting heads together to make sure that the guidelines issued on school reopening were being appropriated.

In response to the question on resumption of government workers, the PTF Coordinator said details of the next phase of the response would be rolled out on Thursday. He, however, decried that those who had resumed had failed to comply with safety protocols.

On reopening of orientation camps of the National Youth Service Corps, the PTF Coordinator stated that the NYSC would determine when camps would be opened.

‘We have had further conversations with the NYSC; we have actually given them a date but announcement of that date remains the responsibility of the NYSC,’ he said.

Aliyu also disclosed that the application and clearance of international passengers would soon become fully electronic as the Federal Government would allow more people into Nigeria.

‘We have already increased the number of passengers in Lagos to 2,500 a day; we have increased the number of passengers coming into Abuja to 1,600. That is just over 4,000 passengers every day. We cannot handle paper at this level of passengers coming in. So, no more paper very soon at the airports. People will have to use the portal,’ he stated.

The PTF Coordinator advised passengers to go for COVID-19 test very close to the date of departure. He disclosed that some passengers who arrived in the country with negative results later turned out to be positive after their follow-up tests.

Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the PTF, warned against the second wave of the pandemic in Nigeria. He said the task force will soon reveal the next phase regarding the lockdown.

Peace Omenka

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