COVID-19: Virologist seeks consistency on information, updates

A Virologist, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, has called for more consistency in the way information, data and updates on COVID-19 pandemic were being provided to the general public.

Tomori, also the Chairman of Biovaccines Nigeria Ltd., made the call in an interview on Monday in Lagos.

He reacted to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) report of an additional 144 new COVID-19 cases from August 14 to 15, where Lagos State was ahead of other states with 101new cases.

He said  there has not been adequate breaking down of information on how or where the surge in the COVID-19 new cases were actually coming from; whether it was from people coming into the country or it was being spread among persons living within the country.

The virologist noted that those were some of the issues and updates that needed to addressed.

According to him, up-to-date information on the COVID-19 situations will pave the way for easy assessment, analysis and predictions concerning the disease at any point in time.

“For some time now, I have observed that there is no longer consistency in the way and manner in which updates and data/information about Covid-19 are being provided for public consumption.

“The NCDC that initially provides information and updates about Covid-19 on daily basis, no longer do so.

“The centre now comes out to give updates on the disease on weekly basis.

“It is not supposed to be that way. Information and updates on the condition is still supposed to be provided every day because in other countries, update is still on daily basis.

“This is because up-to-date information will make it easy for proper assessment, analysis, monitoring and predictions about the pandemic,” Tomori said.

Tomori urged the NCDC to intensify efforts to ensure wider information dissemination/coverage to greater percentage of the populace, because not everybody could access its website or Twitter handle.

The virologist called on the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 to rise to its mandates and deploy necessary strategic measures to contain the pandemic because it was still very much present in the country.

According to him, there is also no longer information concerning the operations of the Taskforce.

Tomori said: “The major mandate of the taskforce is to coordinate and oversee Nigeria’s multi-sectoral inter-governmental efforts to contain the spread and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

“But unfortunately, we no longer hear anything about its operations. Even the designated diagnostic laboratories seem not to be functioning.

“We seem to have abandoned all the precautionary measures of COVID-19; people no longer wear the facemasks – if they see you wearing the facemask, they look at you indifferently.

“And if people are no more observing the precautionary measures with the impression that COVID-19 is gone, then, it will catch-up on us unaware.

“Personally, I never removed my facemask in a gathering; even when they say remove facemasks for group photographs; I don’t remove mine because it doesn’t take more than a second for a person to contract the infection.”

Contributing, another virologist, Dr Everest Okeakpu, identified “vaccination” as key in efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

Okeakpu, also the Chief Operating Officer, Biovaccines Nigeria Ltd., decried that many Nigerians particularly those in the informal sector, had not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

According to him, the surge in the reported new cases of COVID-19  is not a surprise because the Nigerian society has completely abandoned all the precautionary measures to the disease.

“Vaccination is the first step to preventing the contraction of the infection.

“If you are vaccinated and at least obey the preventive measures, your chances of contracting the COVID-19 infection will be very low,” Okeakpu said.

He emphasised the need for people to always complete the dosage of the vaccine accordingly – first dose, second dose and the booster dose respectively, saying that would make the vaccine more effective.

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