The Federal Government has enjoined all citizens to continue observing COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical protocols, saying there was no declaration of victory yet over the pandemic.
It explained that it was important Nigerians continue keeping safe, practice all safety procedures outline by government and medical experts in preventing outbreak of third wave in the country.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, made the call at the weekly press briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team in Abuja on Thursday.
Ehanire said: “We are not yet out of the woods; there is no declaration of victory yet. We are still going to continue all the measures needed to keep our country and citizens safe.
“These are called the public health measures; non-pharmaceutical interventions wear your masks and avoid all forms of public gathering and congregations that will make people too close to each other especially where you have enclosed space, which usually have a super spreader status.
“We want to particularly advise religious congregations, sporting congregations, markets and all those places where people gather. We have been improving therapeutics and the government has been very supportive with that.”
While commenting on the proposed oxygen plants approved by the Federal Executive Council on June 2, the minister said that 38 of such plants would be built, with Lagos State having two while the remaining 35 States and the Federal Capital Territory will have one each.
“Just yesterday, the Federal Executive Council approved 38 brand new oxygen plants for the country. One will be sited in the States of the country and the Federal capital Territory but Lagos, because of the high proportion of illnesses that they have suffered, they are going to have two. So the supply of oxygen will be assured when the plants come on board in 20 weeks time,” he said.
On the expected supplementary budget for the purchase of vaccines, the minister said that the prices for the vaccines had not been ascertained yet.
“There are different prices for the vaccines and we do not really know exactly which one we’re getting. In addition, we know that the ones we are getting from COVAX are at no cost to us.
“So what you’re doing is that the additional ones that we’re going to get will take care of 50 million Nigerians, COVAX will take care of 20 million. They are even offering to take care of more than that, maybe up to 30 million. The prices vary, some vaccines are in the neighborhood of 20 or 30 dollars, and others are five or six dollars.
“Therefore, to make a budget, we are working on a rough sketch, some money earmarked.
However, Mr President has also announced that there will be a supplementary budget. But we want to get a clearer picture first, before we actually submit a budget,” he said.
The Nigerian government said that it would strongly collaborate with religious and traditional leaders, to convince more citizens to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Executive Secretary of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, who also spoke at the event, stressed the need to enhance collaboration between government, religious and traditional leaders in convincing more citizens to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the NPHCDA boss, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, and called on those who have not yet taken to do so. Shuaib revealed that already over 1.9 million Nigerians had so far taken the first jab of the vaccine while over 148,258 had taken the second jab.
“In terms of specific numbers, as of today, 1,961,883 of the targeted eligible Nigerians have been vaccinated with their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Similarly, about 148,258 Nigerians have already received their second doses across the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja,” he said.
He said that Nigerians should embrace the community ownership of the vaccination exercise, saying already the Sultan of Sokoto and President of the Christian Association of Nigeria had accepted to help.