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COVID-19: ‘why we can’t produce vaccines in Nigeria’ – Minister explains



The Federal Government, yesterday, expressed concern over the large crowd of Nigerians besieging offices of National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, nationwide for National Identification Number, NIN, enrollment, saying it may suspend the process to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, who disclosed this on on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise, urged the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, to go back to the drawing board and re-order the enrollment process to avoid large crowds at its centres nationwide..

Mamora spoke on a day government also announced its decision to review the COVID-19 safety protocols as well as the January 18 resumption date for schools in the light of Nigeria’s grim epidemiological situation with regards to the pandemic.

Mamora, who is a member of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the government had a duty to ensure Nigerians were protected at all times.

He said: “I don’t feel good, looking at the picture where people are gathered in multitude. It is like a super-spreader event which we don’t like. But I’m also aware that the relevant ministry, which is communications and digital economy, is looking at this.

“My understanding is that the whole process may be suspended to reorder it in terms of management of the crowd because it was never intended that it would become a rowdy process like that.

“We have a duty as government to ensure that people are protected; we also have a duty to ensure people comply within the limit of what is good for the society at large.”

Workers of the NIMC had embarked on strike last Thursday over exposure to COVID-19 risks, lack of personal protective equipment and poor funding. The workers, however, called off the industrial action some 48 hours later.

The Federal government through the Nigerian Communications Commission had ordered telecommunications companies to deactivate telephone lines of subscribers who failed to link their phones to their National Identity Numbers.

It also said all telcos subscribers with NIN had January 19 deadline to link their NIN with their SIM cards, while subscribers without NIN have until February 9 to do so.

The poor also die of COVID-19

Mamora, who expressed worry over the attitude of Nigerians towards the COVID-19 safety guidelines, said it was not true that only the wealthy were dying as a result of the infection.

“I am worried about the attitude of our people generally in terms of non-compliance, particularly with respect to non-pharmaceutical interventions. If you go out there, you still see a lot of people who are not bothered in terms of their attitude of not wanting to use the face mask or when it is used, it is inappropriately worn.

“You still see people in large gatherings hosting parties as if nothing is happening. A few states are putting in place enforcement measures. However, the rising figures daily are of huge concern and the deaths that we are recording on daily basis are also of concern.

“Some people seem to think it is the big people that are dying but that is not the case. Yes, it is the big people that you report and the tendency is that it is the death of the big people that will attract attention more. But he who feels it knows it; people are dying,’’ the minister lamented.

Similarly, the Federal Government yesterday announced its decision to review the COVID-19 safety protocols as well as the January 18 resumption date for schools in the light of Nigeria’s grim epidemiological situation with regards to the pandemic.

It again lamented that the nation’s health care infrastructure was greatly strained as the country was now at a critical level in its hospital capacity.

Government also explained its inability to produce COVID-19 vaccines in the country, attributing it to several years of inadequate investments in the health sector.

While it declared that no state was immuned to the virus, government also announced its decision to roll out Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits RDTKs in five tertiary health institutions in Abuja next Monday.

The government had last year, faulted Kogi State government’s insistence on using test kits rather than deploying the more expensive PCR test.

Schools resumption

Speaking at yesterday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said the earlier resumption date of January 18 was not cast in stone.

“When we decided on that date, it was just a target towards which we were working. And, of course, we are giving it a review in view of what is happening in the country.

“Today (yesterday) at the PTF meeting, we looked at the rising figures and decided that probably we should take another look at the date.

“The January 18 resumption date is not sacrosanct as it is subject to constant review in view of prevailing epidemiological circumstances. We are reviewing it. In view of the rising cases, today (yesterday) we have considered it at the meeting of the PTF and tomorrow (today), the ministry is going to take it up. So, most likely it is going to be reviewed,” Adamu stated.

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