COVID-19 not over, death remains, new variants possible – NCDC
By Our Correspondent
Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Ifedayo Adetifa, says the threat of the COVID-19 virus remains in Nigeria and globally and particularly for high-risk groups.
He said this on Sunday against the backdrop of the Friday’s declaration by the Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Ghebreyesus, that COVID-19 was no longer a public health emergency of international concern.
Adetifa, in a statement, said the declaration was to enable countries’ transition from acute emergency response to managing COVID-19 as part of integrated healthcare delivery for all infectious diseases.
“As transmission continues within communities, the risk of new variants emerging and resulting in surges in case numbers and even deaths remains,” he stated.
He said the declaration was made after a careful review of current evidence that showed there was high population-level immunity from the SARS-CoV-2 infection, improved knowledge of the virus and management of confirmed COVID-19 cases, a decline in the global burden of the virus and a steady increase in vaccine uptake across countries.
He said Nigeria had already de-escalated its COVID-19 response since 2022 in response to local epidemiology, focused on encouraging COVID-19 vaccination and recommended discretionary use of face masks and other public health safety measures according to personal risk assessments.
He said as part of its integrated disease surveillance strategy, the NCDC continued to encourage routine COVID-19 testing along with other infectious diseases as might be indicated in healthcare settings as part of clinical care for pandemic flu preparedness.
NCDC is the Nigeria’s public health institute with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies.
The first formal step to establish the NCDC took place in 2011 when some departments in the Ministry of Health, including the Epidemiology Division, the Avian Influenza Project and its laboratories; and the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (NFELTP) were moved to form the nucleus of the agency. The Bill for an Act to establish NCDC was signed into law in November 2018, by President Muhammadu Buhari.