22 December 2021 | Abuja – Yuletide Public Health Advisory for the Security Agencies and Personnel in Nigeria
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) issues this public health advisory to guide security agencies and personnel ahead of events to mark Christmas and New Year Celebrations. This is based on the high risk of spread of COVID—19 in Nigeria and the need for collective responsibility to prevent a bigger surge in cases.
In the past few weeks, Nigeria has recorded a rapid increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the country including the transmission of Delta and Omicron variants of concern. The rate of spread has been alarming with a 500% rise in cases from epidemiological week 47 to week 48 of 2021. The country is now effectively experiencing a fourth COVID-19 wave.
Therefore, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health, as well as NCDC and its partners are intensifying communication efforts to remind Nigerians of the risk we face and need to take collective responsibility to reduce transmission of the virus
Since the onset of the pandemic, security agencies have played a critical role in the national and subnational 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 (NPIs) across the 36 States and FCT 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 admissions 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 the 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.
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. This includes 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.
The NCDC has launched its yuletide season campaign themed #CelebrateResponsibly. The campaign calls on all Nigerians to take all necessary precautions for a safe and healthy Christmas and New Year celebration. To download materials for the campaign, please visit www.covid19.ncdc.gov.ng or contact [email protected] We encourage all security agencies to adapt and share these messages within their network and educate the general population.
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 whilst also adhering to the following preventive measures:
Limit all non-essential domestic and international travel. Travelers to Nigeria should adhere to the self-isolation, testing and other travel-related protocols
Always wear a facemask that covers nose and mouth when in public settings or with people outside your household
Maintain physical distance of at least two metres from people outside household
Avoid direct contact with people such as hugging and handshaking. Avoid sharing items such as prayer mats and kettles
If you must gather, please do this outdoors; otherwise, ensure that the indoor venue has enough space to accommodate attendees with appropriate physical distancing, adequate ventilation, and air flow. This must be in line with the existing COVID-19 health regulations
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer when hands are not visibly dirty and running water is not readily available
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue paper or use your elbow when sneezing and/or coughing. Dispose of the tissue properly immediately after use and wash your hands.
Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of a respiratory illness.
Stay at home if you feel unwell and call your state helpline for information on how to access testing. Do not mingle with others if you have respiratory and other symptoms such as cough, sore throat, a bad cold, cough, fever, or sudden loss of sense of taste or smell
Vulnerable groups i.e., people 60 years and above and/or people with pre-existing medical conditions should avoid non-essential outings and visitors. Where possible, a friend or family member should safely deliver food or any needed supplies. See NCDC advisory for more information- https://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/media/files/AdvisoryforVulnerableGroupsV2June2020.pdf
Get vaccinated but while the COVID-19 vaccine confers some protection against the disease, it is important for vaccinated people to continue practicing these public health and social measures, to protect themselves and others.
We appeal to religious and traditional leaders to ensure adherence to safe practices at churches, places of worship and other venues, where religious and social gatherings occur.
Finally, we urge all security agencies to take personal and collective responsibility to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, as we celebrate Christmas and New Year. We wish you all safe celebration.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is the country’s national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies. The Bill for an Act to establish NCDC was signed into law in November 2018, by President Muhammadu Buhari. The mission for the NCDC (2017-2021) is ‘To protect the health of Nigerians through evidence-based prevention, integrated disease surveillance and response activities, using a One Health approach, guided by research and led by a skilled workforce’.
NCDC Toll-free Number: 6232 | SMS: 08099555577 | WhatsApp: 07087110839 Twitter: @NCDCGov | Facebook: @NCDCgov | Instagram: @NCDCgov | NCDC Media Releases
Dr Ifedayo Adetifa
NCDC Director General