Against the background of reported increasing new cases of COVID-19 infections among members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State Branch, has urged the Federal Government to find another way to carry out camping activities for youth corps members or delay them till the third wave of the infection subsides in the country.
Making the call in Lagos yesterday, the Chairman, Committee on Infectious Diseases of NMA in Lagos State, Dr. Japhet Olugbogi said if the camping of coppers has to go ahead under the current outbreak of the third wave of the coronavirus, every youth copper expected in the camp should be vaccinated with double doses of the available vaccine.
According to Olugbogi, who is a public health physician and an epidemiologist: “Camping them without really vaccinating them will be high risk for COVID-19 spread.”
Consequently, he reasoned that the government should either do without the camping completely or ensure that all campers including the support administrative staff and the NYSC corps members themselves get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“If the government cannot do this they have no business camping at this point in time because we are in the third wave of COVID-19 already.” Olugbogi, who is also the Medical Officer of Health for Apapa/Iganmu Local Government Area (LGA), spoke in an exclusive interview with the New Telegraph.
While describing the spread of new coronavirus infections among youth cops members as an unwholesome development and noted that it is not unexpected, given the scepticism and unconcerned attitude of youth corps members and some members of the public, many of whom do not believe that COVID-19 is real. Hence, the epidemiologist reasoned that most of the corps members do not take the precautions that they need to take.
It will be recalled that among young graduates at the various camps of the NYSC across the country, at least 138 prospective corps members have been diagnosed with COVID- 19. Some of the NYSC camps where positive coronavirus cases were detected included Edo 17; Plateau 26; Gombe 25; Sokoto 14; Ogun 35; and Taraba 21.
The cases were detected following mandatory COVID-19 tests conducted on reporting corps members, though the identified cases have been moved to isolation centres in the respective states where they were detected.
While confirming that there has been an increase in the number of new coronavirus infections, the Chairman, Committee on Infectious Disease at the Lagos NMA, said, the figure of the number of new infections has been increasing among the populace since the beginning of July: “There is no gainsaying that those COVID-19 cases are in the community, especially mutated versions of the virus.
We don’t even know how many they are in the communities right now, but what we are sure of is that we have the Delta variant and some other variants in the country and they are spreading like wildfire right now.”
According to data issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Nigeria has recorded 36 deaths, 3,707 new COVID-19 cases in one week, specifically between August 1 and 7. Data on the NCDC website showed that Lagos State alone had recorded 2,070 cases, followed by Akwa Ibom state with 437 cases.
Sadly, the number of deaths and new infections in the first week of August is higher than the cases recorded in 28 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), between July 28 and August 1, representing week 30.
The data for week 30 also showed that there was about 50 per cent increase in the number of new cases, as against the previous week which recorded 1,579 new cases, even as the number of inbound and outbound international passengers infected with the virus increased from what it was the previous week.
Regarding the newly delivered Moderna vaccine, Olugbogi said: “If you are above 18, you are eligible to take the vaccine. So, everybody should proceed to designated centres around them, be it primary healthcare centres (PHCs), or general hospitals and get the jab, which is also in two doses.”