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Indian strain: Nigeria at risk of COVID-19 third wave, expert warns


• Over 20 countries ban flights to India

A professor of Virology, Oyewale Tomori, says Nigeria runs a high risk of COVID-19 resurgence.

According to him, some of the factors responsible for the recent outbreak in India are also prevalent in Nigeria.

Tomori said this in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Friday.

The World Health Organisation reported that Africa faces a high risk of COVID-19 resurgence.

Although the organisation did not name the countries, it stated, in its risk assessment of 46 African countries, that three countries on the continent face a ‘very high risk,’ 20 face ‘high risk,’ 22, ‘moderate risk’ while only one country faces ‘low risk.’

Tomori told Saturday PUNCH that if India, a COVID-19 vaccine-producing country, could be facing such a big problem, Nigeria, a country depending on others for vaccine and with high level of carelessness, might not be spared. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

He said, “We have been comparing the situation with what is happening in India, they were doing very well before they landed into a big problem. If you look at the situation there, you will notice that there are three or four factors responsible.

“Inconsistent message from their government – government would say ban on gathering is not over but you will find that they are holding political campaign rallies.

“There was a festival in which millions of people participated. All of these added up. India has close to 1.5 billion people. Some states can even be as big as Nigeria. So, when they have political campaigns in which there is no law and order you can be sure that things will blow up.

“I think that was the condition that spread it (COVID-19) and the fact that variants are coming up even though vaccinations are being rolled out.”

The virologist said the same situation was playing out in Nigeria.

He added, “We have the same situation in Nigeria. In Africa, Nigeria ranks quite high; we have the largest population.

“As a people, we have discarded, forgotten the guidelines. Most people don’t wear masks now and if they wear, they are wearing it as a neck choke.

“We have started gatherings. The churches are meeting. I am a bit scared of when the Ramadan festival is over and we, as of now, have only vaccinated a million people out of 200 million. So, in reality, we are not doing well as far as vaccination is concerned.”

While saying that there is a high possibility of COVID-19 third wave in Nigeria, the virologist questioned the rate of testing for the virus in the country.

Tomori said, “I was told the Indian variant is already in Nigeria but we don’t know what is causing and what is not causing it.

“Don’t trust all these test results where they say 20 cases today, 30 cases tomorrow. The question you should be asking is: how many states are testing? If the states are not testing, of course, you won’t find positive cases.

“When you look at the reports of the NCDC, you will see some states testing just one sample in one week. So, we are not serious.

“So, there is a high possibility of a third wave, especially as we have a festive period coming. I remember our second wave came almost in time with the Christmas period, when there were lots of gatherings and more people travelled in the country. We have the potential for a third wave, no doubt about that.”

Meanwhile, as India buckles under a deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and hospitals in the country running out of beds and oxygen supplies, over 20 countries across the world have as of Friday announced travel bans and restrictions to the South-Asian country. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The countries are the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Singapore, France, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Belgium.

Others include Canada, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, The Netherlands, Thailand, Maldives, The Philippines, Cambodia, Ukraine, Uganda, Malawi, and Indonesia.

The British Broadcasting Corporation reported that the country’s deadly COVID-19 second wave has devastated big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow and Pune.

Crematoriums have run out of space, and funerals are taking place in car parks. The pandemic is also reported to have firmly gripped many smaller cities, towns and villages where the devastation is largely under-reported.

On Friday, the country reported over 402,000 new cases and over 3,500 new deaths within a 24-hour period, taking the total number of cases to over 19 million and total deaths to over 211,000, according to data by Worldometers. The country has a population of 1.36 billion, according to World Bank data.

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