Forty-one days after Nigeria lifted travel ban on South Africa, the World Health Organisation announced that the country had discovered a new variant of the coronavirus disease tagged B11.529.
The PUNCH reports that the Boss Mustapha-led presidential steering committee on COVID-19 on October 14, 2021 during the presidential steering committee on COVID-19 had announced that the country had lifted the travel ban it placed on South Africa following a review of the pandemic activities in the southern African country.
WHO Africa Regional Director, Dr Moeti Matshidiso, while addressing journalists on Thursday explained that WHO was still investigating the new variant.
Matshidiso, however, raised concerns over the possible surge in the number of infections during the festive seasons.
She said, “We have become aware of the new variant which is the B111.529 and we have seen it in South Africa and Botswana. The information came out yesterday. We don’t know how infectious it is but there is an urgency to roll out the vaccine to those who are most vulnerable.
“There are lots of investigations going on. As we are approaching the December holidays and people are traveling, there will be a surge in infections from country to country.”
WHO also said that only 18 percent of Nigerian health workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, ranking Nigeria as one of the countries with the lowest ranks of vaccinated health workers in Africa.
In the statistics given by the global health body, it was stated that there is an estimated 1.6 million health workers in Nigeria.
It said only 296,123 had received the first and second dose, which means that only 18 percent of the total health workers are fully vaccinated.
Matshidioso said, “The majority of Africa’s health workers are still missing out on vaccines and remain dangerously exposed to severe COVID-19 infection. Unless our doctors, nurses and other frontline workers get full protection we risk a blowback in the efforts to curb this disease. We must ensure our health facilities are safe working environments.
“The risk of health worker infection rises whenever cases surge. This is a pattern that has been observed during the previous three waves of the pandemic. With a fourth wave likely to hit after the end-of-year travel season, health workers will again face risks amid low vaccination coverage.”
But the President of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Michael Nnachi, blamed vaccine hesitancy on the part of the nurses on of mis-information.
According to Nnachi, most nurses and midwives were not carried along in the vaccination process and hence rely on information from social media.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunmimbe Mamora, in an interview with our correspondent on Thursday said health workers had enough information and exposure about vaccination.
This is as the minister stated that there was no need for the Federal Government to make pronouncement on compulsory vaccination for health workers.
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