In a week the nation recorded its highest daily COVID-19 confirmed new cases of 681, the Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the body could not predict when Nigeria would get to the peak of the pandemic even as he called for the scaling up of the country’s testing capacity. Nigeria recorded the 681 cases of coronavirus last Thursday. The new cases were reported in 17 states – Lagos (345), Rivers (51), Ogun (48), Gombe (47), Oyo (36), Imo (31), Delta (28), Kano (23), Bauchi (18), Edo (12), Katsina (12), Kaduna (9), Anambra (7), Jigawa (5), Kebbi (4), Ondo (4) and Nasarawa (1) It was the highest daily record since the outbreak of the pandemic in Nigeria in February when an Italian came down with the virus after travelling on a business trip to our country. The number of confirmed new cases has grown in leaps and bounds since then especially in the epicenters of Lagos and Kano with experts saying it will get to the peak before climbing down and then the nation exits the pandemic. The highest number of confirmed new cases, last week, got many Nigerians wondering whether the nation had reached the COVID-19 pandemic peak. Two days before the record 681 new cases, the nation recorded the second highest cases of 663 on Tuesday. Third highest figure of 627 came on Friday. Before then, the highest case of 553 was recorded on Saturday, May 31. The number of COVID-19 new cases recorded between penultimate Saturday and last Friday totals 3,344 which translates to the highest weekly tally. 389 new cases were recorded penultimate Saturday, 260 on Sunday, 315 on Monday, 663 on Tuesday, 409 on Wednesday, 681 on Thursday and 627 on Friday.
Yesterday’s figures were not available at press time In an exclusive interview with Sunday Vanguard at the weekend, the NCDC DG, Ihekweazu, acknowledged last week’s figures as high. He, however, explained that scaling-up the country’s testing capacity would enable the agency tell if Nigeria was at the peak or close to the peak of the pandemic. “On the 9th of June 2020 (last Thursday), we reported 663 new cases in the country; this is the highest number of cases we have reported in a single day since the first case in Nigeria in February”, the NCDC boss said. READ ALSO: Nigeria loses 342 persons to COVID-19, as cases rise to 12,233 “We have begun to test more cases and it is only by rapidly scaling-up the testing capacity that we can tell if we are at the peak or close to the peak of the outbreak.” Continuing, Ihekweazu called for more laboratory testing in order to understand the transmission pattern and level of spread of the virus. “We need to test more cases to understand the transmission pattern and level of spread in the country. “For now, we cannot predict if or when we will reach the peak until we test more. “However, even after reaching the peak, we must continue to strengthen our capacity to test and detect cases early, trace contacts to prevent further spread and treat those who are infected.” Meanwhile, while speaking on Thursday during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, Ihekweazu also alerted Nigerians to be prepared for more confirmed cases of COVID-19. Stating that the recent increase in cases and gaps in contact tracing were critical aspects of the national response to the pandemic, he said: “As we’ve eased the restrictions and continue to increase testing capacity, it’s likely we’ll see an increase in COVID-19 cases in Nigeria. Whether that increases continue or not will depend on our collective action.” Remarking on the recent threat of industrial action by members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, Ihekweazu, who recalled that right from the beginning of the pandemic, health systems in countries across the world have been over-stretched, said any reduction in the number of doctors available can affect the quality of care provided to COVID-19 patients and the welfare of other health workers. “We need more health workers in the fight, and not less while our mandate as it relates to case management is limited to providing guidance and support to States and treatment centres.” The DG added that health workers have been at the frontline to provide care to patients and maintain routine health services. Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, had, a few weeks ago, predicted that by the end of July, Lagos alone was likely to hit between 90, 000 and 120, 000 COVID-19 cases, adding that the figures do not signify a peak period for the state. Abayomi said the projection, which was according to the state modeling, noted that that of the 90, 000 projected cases, 95 per cent will be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Only five per cent, according to him, will require serious or intensive attention. The commissioner also predicted that the state will experience a drastic decline in the number of COVID-19 cases by November this year. He stated that it was difficult to predict when the pandemic ends in Nigeria because of several factors. Abayomi explained that between September and November, there would be a sharp decline in the number of cases in the country and that would signal that the country was heading towards defeating the outbreak. As of Friday,15,181 cases had been confirmed in the country, 4,891 discharged and 399 deaths recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).