The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it has taken steps to improve capacity for efficiency during the gradual easing of lockdown induced by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, outlined the steps in an interview on Saturday, May 2, in Abuja.
He also outlined steps to be taken by Nigerians during the relaxation of the restrictions.
Ihekweazu said that the NCDC had in the last four weeks strengthened its capacity to confirm cases by expanding to 18 laboratories.
He added that the agency supported states to engage more resources for contact tracing; and ramped up its communications.
Ihekweazu also said that more states had established and expanded treatment centres for the management of cases.
This, he said, aligned with the country’s strategy to test cases quickly, isolate and treat confirmed cases to recovery, identify and trace contacts to reduce the risk of further spread.
The NCDC DG, however, acknowledged the challenges of the public health system in the country.
“The reality is, for a while, we have under-invested in public health in Nigeria.
“As we re-invest heavily, let’s get prepared as a nation to adhere to all preventive measures; so that we will not overwhelm our health system.
“The easing of the lockdown should not be seen as going back to the status quo.
“This will be a new normal with the mandatory implementation of several measures to keep Nigerians safe,” he said.
He thanked Nigerians for sacrifices made during almost five weeks of lockdown.
The NCDC DG said that Nigerians had a role to play in slowing the spread and protecting themselves, their families, and communities.
He urged essential workers, who would resume on May 4; according to the regulations provided by President Muhammadu Buhari, to ensure strict adherence to directives.
Ihekweazu called on employers to promote thorough and frequent handwashing with soap and water for, at least, 20 seconds.
He added that employers should make available alcohol sanitisers in office and business premises, especially at all entrances.
“Employers who feel unwell should stay at home and should not attend any public gatherings. If symptoms akin to COVID-19 develop, call NCDC on 0800 970 00010,” he advised.
The director-general said that offices and business premises should be cleaned and disinfected daily, especially frequently touched surfaces such as tables, door handles, countertops, computers, light, and air conditioner switches.