States decry poor safety compliance as Buhari, Osinbajo take COVID-19 vaccine jabs

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A number of states, including Edo, Osun, Bauchi, Oyo, Zamfara and Cross River have expressed frustration at the poor compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols by their people.

The various state governments said this had led to the increased number of COVID-19 cases recorded by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

This was as the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, received their first COVID-19 vaccine shots on Saturday in Abuja.

Dr Cyprian Ngon of the National Hospital Abuja had become the first Nigerian to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria on Friday.

Nearly four million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Abuja on March 2. The shipment was said to be the third and largest delivery to be made by the global COVAX initiative, which was created to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have fair access to doses.

Nevertheless, due to the recording of new infections, some state governments have cautioned their citizens against relaxing COVID-19 safety protocols, including wearing of face masks, use of hand sanitisers, regular hand washing and social distancing.

On Friday, the NCDC recorded 371 new infections, taking the total number of infections in the country to 158,042.

Three new deaths were recorded, raising the total deaths to 1,954.

The NCDC disclosed that the new infections occurred in 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory in the last 24 hours.

It stated that Lagos State reported the highest number of infections with 101 cases, followed by Rivers with 54 and Anambra with 31 cases.

According to the NCDC, a total of 137,025 COVID-19 patients have recovered from the disease, including 609 in the past 24 hours.

The centre noted that the number of active COVID-19 cases in Nigeria was 19,063 on Friday, down slightly from 19,385 the previous day.

Bothered by the increasing spread of the virus, the state governments blamed the development on poor compliance with COVID-19 protocols by their people.

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In Edo State, the COVID-19 Incident Manager, Dr Andrew Obi, while speaking with journalists in Benin City, the state capital, said it was discouraging that residents were refusing to comply with the government’s directive to tackle infection spread.

“It is quite discouraging that while the government steps up measures to protect residents against this deadly virus, some recalcitrant members of society have disregarded these orders, thereby endangering the lives of others,” Obi said.

He appealed to the people to complement the state government’s efforts at curbing the community spread of the virus by complying with the government’s COVID-19 protocols.

“We call on all residents to adhere to the compulsory use of face masks and other precautionary measures against the spread of the coronavirus as the government alone cannot win this battle,” he said.

He urged anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to contact the Edo Emergency Operation Centre on the toll-free number 08003625000 for assistance.

In a similar vein, the Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, on Saturday decried poor compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols, urging the people of the state to adhere to them.

Oyetola said this at the special prayer session to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his late mother, Alhaja Wulaimot Oyetola, held at the deceased’s residence at Iragbiji, Boripe Local Government Area of the state.

“I am using this occasion to appeal to our people to take COVID-19 protocols more seriously than before and stop insinuating that the virus has been eliminated.

“As we can see and hear, the second wave is deadlier, hence the need for all to adhere strictly to all the safety protocols and guidelines,” he said.

The governor described his late mother as a woman of virtue and an epitome of womanhood, adding that he was what he was today because of his parents’ teachings.

Also, in Bauchi State, the Chairman of the state Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Rilwan Mohammed, expressed worry about the people’s refusal to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.

He advised that people should not see the availability of vaccines as a reason to defy the protocols.

Mohammed, who is also the Executive Chairman, Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, said, “I don’t know why people are refusing to adhere to the protocols even with the fact that we are currently having a second wave of the pandemic.

“Children are already being infected in the second wave. The people should take COVID-19 seriously because it is still deadly.

“People should wear their face masks, use hand sanitisers, observe social distancing, among others. It is unfortunate that many people no longer observe the protocols. If you go to the banks and other crowded places, you will see people without face masks.”

Mohammed said even after receiving vaccination, people should still observe the protocols.

In Zamfara State, the Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Yahaya Kanoma, also asked the people to keep observing the safety protocols despite the discovery of vaccines for the disease.

“People should be very careful and should not discard COVID-19 protocols simply because of the vaccines. Even if one is vaccinated, he or she should not abandon the use of face masks as well as keeping social distancing,” he said.

Similarly,  the Incident Manager and Coordinator, COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre in Oyo State, Dr Taiwo Ladipo, warned about the danger of failing to comply with the protocols, saying that vaccines “are not an absolute guarantee against the virus.”

He said, “The vaccines do not prevent you from getting the virus. What the vaccine does is just to boost your immunity against getting it.

“The vaccine, therefore, is to reduce the severity of the virus. Despite the provision for the vaccine, people should adhere to the COVID-19 protocols such as hand washing, use of sanitisers, social distancing and the use of face masks. These have to be observed even when you take the vaccine shots.”

Also, the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, decried poor compliance with COVID-19 protocols, advising the people of the state to keep adhering to the guidelines.

“Nigerians should continue to observe COVID-19 protocols despite the procurement of vaccines as the vaccines do not provide 100 per cent protection.

“The people should continue to use their face masks, hand sanitisers and other non-pharmaceutical interventions until Nigeria attains herd immunity. Even though the vaccine provides immunity, you can still get the virus through the nostril and pass it on to someone else,” she said.

Meanwhile, in preparation for the receipt of vaccines, Edu said the state would spend N30m as counterpart funding for the first phase of the vaccine roll-out.

She said, “We should be spending over N30m for the first phase of the rollout, which includes e-training.

“We have built cold stores as part of the funding. We have test-run all our cold chain equipment which are supposed to receive the vaccines, and they are ready to go.”

On Saturday, the President, Buhari, said the COVID-19 vaccine offered hope for a safe country after he and Osinbajo were vaccinated against COVID-19.

Buhari was vaccinated by his personal physician, Dr Suhayb Sanusi, at about 11.51am at a brief ceremony witnessed by top government officials at the New Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Shortly after, Osinbajo was vaccinated by his personal physician, Dr Nicholas Audifferen, at about 11.57am.

The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Agency, Faisal Shuaib, thereafter presented vaccination cards to the first and second citizens.

In a brief remark after the vaccination, the President said the vaccine offered hope for a safe Nigeria.

He, therefore, called on state governments, traditional and religious leaders to mobilise their people to embrace vaccination.

Buhari said, “I urge all state governments, traditional and religious leaders, to take the lead in the mobilisation effort within their environment and spheres of influence. The vaccine offers hope for a safe country, free of coronavirus.

“I similarly urge all eligible Nigerians to present themselves and be vaccinated in accordance with the order of priority already mapped out, at the various authorised designated centres only.”

Buhari congratulated the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on the successful multi-sectoral approach to the management of the pandemic.

While acknowledging and commending the support of governments, donors, development partners, the private sector, traditional and religious leaders, as well as critical stakeholders who have supported Nigeria thus far, the President assured all that the resources would be equitably administered.

“I have been assured by the Presidential Task Force that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which Nigeria has accessed, will arrive in batches beginning with the first batch of about four million doses already received. I am similarly aware of the roll-out and administration plan to cater for over 70 per cent of our population between 2021 and 2022,” Buhari said.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, commended the President for the “sterling leadership qualities” that he provided in the national response to COVID-19.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said Buhari and Osinbajo demonstrated leadership by “offering” themselves for Nigerians to believe in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

He urged eligible Nigerians to make themselves available for vaccination and disregard conspiracy theories, adding that vaccination may soon become a requirement for travelling.

“The word that is going out there on behalf of Mr President is that Nigerians should make themselves available, those who are eligible for the first phase of the deployment, because the deployment is going to be in four phases to receive these vaccines,” he said.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, also said the vaccine had been certified safe by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.

For now, the minister said the only side effect associated with the vaccine was mild pain around where it was injected.

–Presidency

Meanwhile, the Presidency on Saturday said Buhari had not experienced any side effects since he took the COVID-19 vaccine earlier in the day.

The Senior Special to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘COVID-19: No side effects on President Buhari after vaccination.’

The statement read, “In response to press enquiries, I would like to assure all citizens and to dispel fears and misconceptions about the safety of the vaccine administered on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, earlier this morning.

“After he got his jab, the President felt normal and went about doing his job. If there are side effects that follow, we will be open about that. But so far, there is nothing of a side effect, serious or mild, on the President. He is carrying on as normal.

“We hope this will help to send a strong message to the people, especially those grappling with hesitancy about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.”

–FG

Meanwhile, the Federal Government says some cold rooms meant for the storage of COVID-19 vaccines in some states were destroyed during the protests, thereby undermining the ability of these states to store the vaccines.

The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, said this while making a presentation during a meeting between representatives of the Federal Government and the 36 state governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum on Thursday.

A copy of the PowerPoint presentation, which was obtained by , however, showed that Shuaib did not reveal the number of states affected or their identities.

He said all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory had walk-in cold rooms but at different capacities.

He said, “All 36 states plus the FCT have walk-in cold rooms for vaccine storage at different levels of functionality. They also have ice-lined refrigerators. However, there are states where cold rooms have been vandalised following the #ENDSARS protest and have yet to be repaired.

“The NPHCDA will be conducting periodic assessments to guide the functionality of these equipment. All LGAs have ice-lined refrigerators and other vaccine refrigerators. LGAs where storage space was deemed insufficient are currently being supplied solar direct drive refrigerators, to ensure the capacity to handle the increasing population and scheduled new vaccine introductions.”

Shuaib further stated that each ward would be supplied with at least one solar direct drive with enough capacity for one month’s supply of vaccine, adding that all the wards would be equipped by May or June 2021.

“The storage space being provided for each ward was determined using their projected 2028 populations. The SDDs have an indicative useful life of 10 years,” Shuaib said.

The protests, which took place in October 2020, were hijacked and led to the destruction of several property, including health facilities.

Shuaib, in the presentation, urged state governors to repair the cold chain equipment and cold rooms vandalised during the protests.

The World Health Organisation had also in October last year said one of its offices in Nigeria was looted, adding that pieces of Personal Protective Equipment were stolen from the stores.

As of 6.40pm on Saturday, the number of global COVID-19 deaths was 2,595,251, which was about 2.2 per cent of the global 116,873,540 cases.

The figures were drawn from Worldometer, a research organisation based in the United States.

The top five countries with the most deaths were the US, with 535,924 deaths; followed by Brazil which recorded 262,948 deaths; Mexico, 189,578;  India, 157,791; and the United Kingdom, 124,419.

In Africa, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said 3,948,029 cases had been recorded on the continent, alongside 105,275 deaths.

South Africa had the most deaths at 50,566; Egypt, 10,916; Morocco, 8,876; Tunisia, 8,130; and Algeria, 3,010.

In Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said Lagos recorded the most deaths at 414; followed by Edo, 176; Federal Capital Territory, 150; Oyo, 114; Kano, 105; Rivers, 97; and Delta, 65.

An report published on Thursday said the number of COVID-19 deaths decreased by seven per cent to 62,055 over the past week, an average of 8,865 per day. In Africa, the figure was reported to have dropped by 14 per cent, for a total of 2,151 deaths.

The drop in cases, however, took place mainly in North America, where the number of deaths dropped by two per cent, to 12,282. In Asia, the number of victims decreased by 18 per cent to 3,666, Europe, which recorded the most deaths in the world at 22,795, nevertheless also saw a decrease of four per cent in its toll.

To help struggling citizens, the United States Senate has voted to approve a $1.9tn relief package to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $1.9tn plan passed by 50 votes to 49 on Saturday, and will now head to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to be endorsed.

The relief plan, championed by President Joe Biden, will see stimulus cheques worth $1,400 sent to most Americans, according to a report.

The US has been badly hit by the pandemic, with nearly 523,000 deaths and 29 million infections, and an unemployment rate of 6.2 per cent.