As part of efforts towards curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the federal government on Monday launched a sensitisation campaign.
Tagged ‘Powerful H.A.N.D.S,’ the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, while speaking at the launch, said the campaign is targeted at select states with high COVID-19 cases in the country.
He listed the concerned states as Lagos, Oyo, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Rivers and the federal capital territory, FCT.
Mr Ihekweazu said the initiative aims at increasing the number of Nigerians who practice COVID-19 preventive measures, which includes regular hand washing.
“This will last for an initial period of four months while communicating the main message that “THE POWER TO STOP COVID-19 IS IN OUR H.A.N.D.S,” Ihekweazu said.
He noted that the pandemic has led to the rapid development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, “reflecting remarkable human capacity to build on years of existing research to bring about exponential scientific innovation.”
He, however, said the initiative, as a national social and behaviour change campaign, is simpler to curb the spread of the virus.
The director general gave the H.A.N.D.S’ acronym to mean; “H – Have your hands washed or sanitised frequently; A – Always cough or sneeze into your elbow; N – No going out without face mask; D – Distance of at least two arm’s lengths should be maintained; S – Stay indoors and self-isolate if you feel sick.”
The NCDC boss said although the pandemic fatigue is understandable, it is important for everyone to continue to adhere to all non-pharmaceutical measures already put in place.
“Wash your hands with soap and water, use alcohol-based sanitisers, ensure physical distancing, do not attend large gatherings, especially those without adherence to COVID-19 protocol,” he said.
As some countries are experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, Nigeria has continued to record low cases for almost three months.
As of Thursday, Nigeria has recorded 165,852 COVID-19 cases, according to an update by the NCDC.
In his remarks at the launch, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, said although the cases in Nigeria are reducing, the risk of transmission persists along with the emerging COVID-19 variants from countries such as India and South Africa.
Mr Kallon said this calls for the need to sustain the gains already made in the nation’s response to the pandemic to ensure there is no resurgence.
He said; “There is no better time than now to empower and encourage people to sustain the practice of preventive behaviours to protect themselves and loved ones from the scourge of COVID-19.
“We are optimistic that this campaign will rekindle families, friends and children’s efforts to contain the transmission of COVID-19.”
The country representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Peter Hawkins, said the pandemic has overcome many people’s lives around the world.
He said Nigeria must be complacent to prevent the COVID-19 situation witnessed in other countries.
Mr Hawkins said the timing of the campaign is right as it hands over the power to stop the COVID-19 pandemic to the people.
“The vaccine is here in Nigeria and the campaign is going well but it will be a long time before the campaign can be fully implemented,” he said, adding that; “With our hands, only with our hands can we defeat this pandemic.”
Also speaking at the launch, the Executive Director of Centre for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI), Babafunke Fagbemi, said the campaign is starting to sustain gains already made in the fight against the pandemic.
She said the Nigeria infectious disease the centre has done tremendous work to ensure the country recorded low cases as compared to others.
Ms Fagbemi said it is pertinent to empower people with the latest information towards rebuilding hope and give confidence to fight the pandemic.
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