Sani Aliyu, national coordinator, presidential taskforce on COVID-19 (PTF), has warned Nigerians to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.
The Moment Nigeria report that Aliyu featured on ‘Public Eye’, a programme on Television Continental (TVC), Aliyu said the virus cannot be compared to malaria or typhoid in terms of survival rate because of its severity.
Aliyu said the disease has claimed the life of someone as young as 27 years.
“Here is the flaw in people’s reasoning: Why don’t we allow children to have measles, after all, malaria is more common than measles,” he said.
“If you look at our numbers we are now running over 10,000 cases per week. Even the deaths have increased and more Nigerians have died from an illness that is preventable.
“Yes, it doesn’t kill everybody but for those that it has killed, it can be quite devastating and even if you don’t die from it, it can have lasting side effects.
“The youngest person to die in Lagos was just 27 years. Up to 23 percent of those above the age of 50, in our records, died.
“It is quite a severe illness and is not something we should say it is malaria or typhoid and people get better.”
On vaccination, he said: “The goal is not to vaccinate the entire population, it is to vaccinate 70 percent. That’s the number of people we need to vaccinate to establish herd immunity.
“We will start with the most at-risk groups e.g. the frontliners, security personnel, elderly people, and people with conditions that make them likely to die if they catch COVID.”
On his part, Adetunji Adenekan, chairman of Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), says the average Nigerian does not believe in COVID-19 because of what the government is doing or not doing.
“But as a citizen, how are you taking charge of your health? We are talking about the mode of transmission. When you compare COVID to malaria, ebola, the mode of transmission is different. With COVID, you can be on your lane and someone sneezes and you can catch it,” he said.
“What is the government doing to contain this? How effective are the things we are doing?
“On vaccination, we need to look inward and see how we can begin the manufacturing of these vaccines.”
Oyewale Tomori, a professor of virology and former vice-chancellor of Redeemer’s University who was also a discussant, expressed displeasure with the way the country has handled the pandemic.
Tomori said if Nigeria had done what it was supposed to do, it would have been saved from experiencing a second wave.
He said: “We can’t deceive ourselves. If Nigeria had done what it was supposed to, we won’t be having a second wave. We are testing 1 in 200 million. That is poor.
“If you have a skilled carpenter with no saw, no nails, no hammer, he’s as useless as any other person. Nigerians have the capacity, but we are not providing them with the facilities they need to function effectively. Provide laboratories for testing.”