As students return to school, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has called for vigilance and adherence to safety regulations in the face of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Schools resumed on Monday, while those in model colleges and upgraded schools will resume in batches due to the ongoing West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
The Director-General, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu who made the call at the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) briefing on COVID-19 on Monday, in Abuja said, ”This brings me to a very important topic today, that I am sure affects everyone. Life during COVID-19 has been very difficult for parents across the country.
“This week, children will be going back to school because, schools are resuming, principals and others are having to deal with this situation of taking responsibility from students who might get infected and might spread the virus.
“It’s important to be aware that children are not immune to this disease, they can get it as easily as anyone else, and can also spread it as easy as anyone else, even themselves don’t get generally severely ill. But, they are very good spreaders of the virus.,” Ihekweazu said.
The NCDC boss noted that the second challenge was that children do not present the same symptoms as adult, who very commonly present shortness of breath or they do not carry the most common symptoms of smell or taste.
“They present very unusual normal symptoms, it can be very difficult to distinguish from what we call common cold or malarial fever.
”And if caregivers, teachers and parents do not take such symptoms seriously they’ll go ahead and spread. And we’ve seen instances of large outbreaks of going completely unnoticed,” he added.
He said that even if they may not be severely ill, they were unlikely to prevent parents or guardians, all of whom may be a little bit more vulnerable.
“In addition to the vaccines, we also now have rapid tests that we can test the whole school community,” he further said.
Ihekweazu added that the agency was ready to work with school owners, and that any school needing more information on the Rapid Diagnosis Test kits should get in touch with their State teams.
“This way we can keep our schools going. Schools have enough challenges staying open in Nigeria. In every part of Nigeria it’s been a difficult challenge keeping our schools open, we can’t not afford an uneducated future.
“We have to keep our children in school. And at least from our perspective, keeping them from COVID-19 is an important way of keeping them in school,” he stated.