Federal Capital Territory (FCT) led the pack on Saturday with 130 Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases as the country recorded 386 new infections in the country. Data from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) showed that the cases were spread across 18 states and the FCT.
NCDC said that FCT topped the list for states with higher daily cases of COVID-19 for the third time consecutively with 130, while Lagos, the epicenter of the virus, reported 65, as monitored by Daily Times.
Other states with new cases were Ondo, 37, Osun, 29, Plateau, 23, Rivers, 15, Enugu, 14, Nasarawa, 12, Bayelsa, 11, Ebonyi, 11, Ekiti, 9, Oyo 8, Edo, 8, Abia, 6, Ogun, 3, Katsina, 3, Imo 1 and Adamawa 1.
The health agency said that Nigeria had now successfully treated 20,087 COVID-19 cases following the discharge of 522 additional patients in the last 24 hours.
It noted that four more persons have died from the disease. According to the NCDC, till date, a total of 43,537 cases of the virus have been confirmed, 20,087 cases discharged and 883 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
NCDC noted that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC) activated at Level 3 would continue to coordinate the national response activities across the country.
Nigeria conducted 145,454 tests in July and recorded 17,457 positive cases during the same period.
It said compared to June, the figures represented 95 per cent increase in testing numbers and 12 per cent increase in positive cases.
“It is good news that Nigeria significantly stepped up testing in July. The 95 per cent increase in testing in July compared to June only resulted in 12 per cent increase in positive cases. June, 74,580 tests, 15,532 positive cases. July, 145,454 tests, 17,457 positive cases. July also recorded one of the lowest monthly test positivity to date. July test positivity is 12 per cent . June test positivity is 21 per cent. May test positivity is 17 per cent. July also records 51 per cent of cumulative test in the country,” it said.
States that had made this possible by their daily increase in testing were Kano, Plateau, Oyo, Lagos, FCT and Rivers States in July.
Meanwhile, Dr Olisaeloka Lotenna, a public health physician at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Anambra, is sad that many Nigerians, even the educated, seem not to care as they believe that government is manufacturing the number of cases.
“This is dangerous. It is helping to spread the disease.”
Lotenna suggests that COVID-19 survivors should help to convince Nigerians that the disease is real.
“Maybe the government needs to start sensitising discharged patients on the need to tell their survival stories, “says Lotenna.
Prof. Innocent Ujah, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, blames refusal to observe COVID-19 precautionary measures on misinformation and disinformation.
Ujah says there is the need to make COVID-19 survivors advocates of compliance with the protocols so as to send out convincing messages to doubting Nigerians.
“We do not need to see dead bodies on the streets to believe that COVID-19 is real. The reality is that this disease is real and it is killing people in large numbers.
“The National Orientation Agency needs to work with survivors and adopt a sustainable and expanded communication strategy to make our people to stop doubting but take responsibility for their health,” he urges.
Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala, urges survivors of COVID-19 to disregard stigma and tell their stories to make Nigerians more aware of the pandemic and more cautious to save lives.
According to Okpala, it is time to use the experiences of survivors to fight the ignorance among Nigerians.
“I just do not understand why people are still doubting the existence of coronavirus disease. I have seen multiple COVID-19-related deaths, and families are hiding the cause of death due to stigma.
“How else do we fight stigma if not by going head-on to tell our stories?
“Telling a survival story is a good story, it is like giving a testimony in church so that people can learn and thank God.
“If we continue to live in denial and ignore the health guidelines, cases will rise and casualties might increase.
“We need survivors to be ambassadors. You will not know how many lives you are saving by coming out to share your experiences.
“We need the voices of survivors to tell our people that COVID-19 is real and killing people.”
Okpala believes that narrating survivors’ experiences will help more Nigerians to be cautious, adhere to health guidelines, and go for tests when they notice symptoms and thereby present themselves early for treatment.
“This will help to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
“It is not only the healthcare workers on the frontline of the fight against this pandemic that are saving lives, survivors who become advocates will be saving lives too,” Okpala argues.