The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has asked security agencies to enforce COVID-19 protocols across the country as Nigerians gather for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
This was made known in a directive signed by Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, the NCDC Director-General, on Friday.
The directive comes amid a rise in COVID cases across the country, especially since the detection of the Omicron variant.
The statement read: “The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health, as well as the NCDC and its partners, are intensifying communication efforts to remind Nigerians of the risk we face and the need to take collective responsibility to reduce the transmission of the virus.
“Security agencies are also encouraged to ensure consistency of the messages to the community, as generated by relevant authorities as well as identify the right channels of communication. These include the Federal Ministry of Health, state Ministries of Health and the NCDC.
“Information and feedback should also be shared with relevant authorities to influence decision-making and strategies. We urge security personnel to be aware of the high risk of spread of COVID-19 and the great risk of exposure occasioned by their jobs and to ensure that they are fully vaccinated, including booster doses.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, security agencies have played a critical role in the national and sub-national response, most critically in supporting the implementation of public health policies as instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria. This includes the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021 which makes provision for the enforcement of the implementation of existing guidelines on mass gathering and adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the country.
“There is generally poor compliance with the NPIs across the country and this has continued even into this Yuletide, which, in combination with low coverage of COVID-19 vaccination, is a recipe for a big surge in cases and admission to treatment centres.
“As celebrations for Christmas and the New Year commence, the NCDC urges security personnel to work with heads of communities, associations, institutions, religious bodies and other key stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of existing public health policies and regulations. The virus that causes COVID-19 including the Omicron variant, which is rapidly spreading across the globe and within Nigeria, is more likely to spread when people gather and do not adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures.”
The NCDC had a few days ago, declared that Nigeria had slipped into a fourth wave of the pandemic following a 500 per cent increase in cases in the past two weeks.
The centre had earlier on Friday announced that 45 cases of the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus had so far been detected in the country. It added that the first Omicron case was detected in a sample on November 9, 2021.