COVID-19 last week’s review: Fewer tests, lower cases of new infections

While many Nigerians have welcomed the lowering infection figures with ecstasy, authorities attribute the plummeting infections to reduction in tests across states, writes Associate Editor ADEKUNLE YUSUF

IT was with ecstasy that Nigerians received the announcement that the airspace is now opened to international flights. Last week, after reeling out protocols that should be observed by all and penalties for circumventing any of the rules, Nigeria approved both airports in Abuja and Lagos for international flights.

The move led to cautious optimism that this singular action would not lead to a resurgence of Coronavirus infections in a country that recorded her index case through an Italian man that flew into Lagos last February. The nation’s airspace has been shut since March as part of measure to stop the spread of Coronavirus infections.

With daily updates from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), it was apparent that the country has been recording lowering infection figures in the past few weeks. Till date, as Saturday, September 5, a total of 54,905 cases have been confirmed, 42,922 cases discharged and 1,054 deaths recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) so far.

Last week, Saturday, September 5, NCDC said Nigeria recorded 162 new confirmed cases and three deaths. The new infections, 162 in total, took place in 15 states: Lagos (53), Gombe (21), Oyo (19), Delta (12), Ondo (11), Plateau (10), Ebonyi (9), FCT (6), Kwara (6), Kaduna (5), Rivers (3), Ogun (2), Anambra (2), Imo (2) and Ekiti (1). That same day, 106 people were discharged in 10 states: FCT (19), Ondo (18), Rivers (17), Ebonyi (15), Kaduna (15), Delta (8), Osun (8), Ekiti (3), Gombe (2) and Oyo (1). Sadly, 3 people lost their lives in two states: FCT (2) and Ebonyi (1).

On Friday Sept 4, NCDC reported that 156 new cases were confirmed in 17 states: Lagos (36), FCT (35), Oyo (29), Kaduna (10), Abia (9), Enugu (5), Ogun (5), Osun (5), Rivers (4), Ekiti (3), Imo (3), Nasarawa (3), Edo (2), Katsina (2), Kwara (2), Plateau (2) and Niger (1); while 189 discharges were made in 13 states. The recoveries took place in Plateau (52), Ogun (34), Ekiti (25), Kaduna (20), Rivers (15), Kano (10), Kwara (10), Edo (7), FCT (6), Bauchi (4), Oyo (3), Bayelsa (2) and Osun (1); while 3 deaths that were reported took place in FCT.

In terms of fatalities, it was a sad day for Nigeria on Thursday, September 3, as 21 people died as a result of Covid-19 complications – almost the total of weekly fatalities recorded lately. Also on that day, 124 new cases were confirmed in 13 states: Lagos (42), FCT (25), Katsina (14), Kaduna (11), Kwara (8), Ondo (7), Delta (4), Anambra (3), Oyo (3), Edo (2), Ogun (2), Osun (2) and Cross River (1); and 188 discharges were reported in 12 states. The states where recoveries took place: Plateau (79), Ogun (28), FCT (22), Anambra (13), Kano (10), Edo (8), Kaduna (8), Gombe (5), Rivers (5), Lagos (2), Osun (2) and Oyo (1).  The week’s highest single day fatality took nwere reported in two states: Kaduna (20) and Anambra (1).

Last week’s largest single day recoveries took place on Wednesday September 2. On that day, 429 people recovered from their infection and were discharged in 15 states: Enugu (181), Delta (55), Plateau (55), Kaduna (25), Rivers (18), Ekiti (16), Abia (15), Ogun (12), Bayelsa (10), Ebonyi (10), Edo (10), FCT (10), Akwa Ibom (6), Osun (4) and Sokoto (2). Two hundred and sixteen (216) confirmed cases were also reported in 16 states: Plateau (59), Rivers (27), Abia (22), Lagos (20), Oyo (18), Enugu (17), FCT (11), Kaduna (11), Ogun (10), Ebonyi (4), Ekiti (4), Osun (4), Delta (3), Edo (3), Akwa Ibom (2) and Bauchi (1); while 4 deaths were reported in four states: Ekiti (1), FCT (1), Ondo (1) and Plateau (1).

On Tuesday Sept 1, a total of 239 new cases were reported in Nigeria, with the week’s second single day largest recoveries standing at 372 and 10 fatality. Two hundred and thirty-nine confirmed cases were reported in 15 states: Plateau (116), FCT (33), Lagos (19), Ekiti (12), Kaduna (11), Ogun (11), Ebonyi (8), Benue (7), Abia (5), Delta (5), Ondo (4), Edo (3), Imo (2), Osun (2) and Bauchi (1); while 372 discharges were reported in 11 states: Plateau (109), Benue (75), Bauchi (52), Kano (44), Kaduna (27), FCT (17), Rivers (14), Imo (12), Edo (11), Ogun (8) and Osun (3). The week’s largest single day death toll was reported in two states: FCT (9) and Delta (1).

The story was not spectacularly different on Monday August 31 when a total 143 confirmed cases were reported in 18 states. The states where new infections took place: Plateau (35), Kaduna (21), Lagos (19), FCT (13), Ebonyi (9), Adamawa (7), Enugu (7), Katsina (7), Edo (6), Kwara (5), Osun (3), Anambra (2), Kano (2), Niger (2), Ogun (2), Benue (1), Borno (1) and Sokoto (1); while 125 discharges were reported in 15 states: Ogun (26), Edo (25), Plateau (21), Kaduna (14), Kwara (11), FCT (5), Borno (4), Akwa Ibom (3), Bayelsa (3), Lagos (3), Niger (2), Osun (2), Oyo (2), Rivers (2) and Sokoto (2). Interestingly, no death was reported on that day.

On Sunday August 30, NCDC confirmed a total of 138 cases in 14 states: Plateau (55), Lagos (15), Ebonyi (11), Oyo (11), Abia (8), Anambra (7), FCT (7), Rivers (7), Kaduna (6), Ondo (5), Kwara (3), Bauchi (1), Benue (1) and Edo (1); while 199 discharges were reported in 11 states: Plateau (46), Bauchi (31), Abia (28), Kaduna (27), Ondo (20), Ekiti (18), Anambra (9), Rivers (9), FCT (7), Osun (3) and Ogun (1). On that day, 2 deaths were reported in two states – Abia (1) and Osun (1). On the aggregate, last week, Nigeria had 1,178 new infections, 1,608 recoveries and 42 fatalities, regarded as the highest in recent months.

The Federal Government said the country has ramped up its COVID-19 testing capacity to 15,000 samples daily. That was the disclosure by last Thursday by the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha. He was, however, sad that the number of samples collected for testing lately has not remained discouraging. “The PTF is particularly disturbed by the low level of samples collection because of what it portends for the strategy of testing, detection, tracing, isolation and treatment. Let me give you an example. In July, seven states reported a lower number of samples collected than the preceding month. But in August, this number rose from seven to 32 states that reported a lower number of samples collected than in the preceding month,” he said.

Despite increased testing capacity and improved access to testing, the demands remain slow with not enough samples being collected. Mustapha, therefore, attributed the sudden decline in COVID-19 cases to the low samples for testing at state levels. “I want to appeal to the sub-national at this point to ramp up testing because we right now have an installed capacity of testing 15,000 samples daily. There is no reason why our testing figures should continue to decline.

“Similarly, the Cumulative Test Positivity Ratio (CTR), which shows how many per cent of our tests are positive, has reduced from 15.2% at the end of July to 13.3% at the end of August. As part of the accomplishment recorded through the National Response, Nigeria now has 68 laboratories in the COVID-19 network spread across 34 states and the FCT. The remaining two states – Kebbi and Niger – are in the pipeline for coverage in the next few weeks. The number of cumulative samples so far tested has now exceeded over 400,000,” he said.

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