The Federal Government has said that Nigeria now ranks third in the countries with the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa after Egypt and South Africa.

Details of statistics released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC as at June 1, 2020 indicate that the country has a total of 10, 578 confirmed cases of the virus with a total of 229 deaths while a total of 3, 122 patients have recovered and discharged from various isolation centres across 35 of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Abuja.

South Africa leads the pack in the continent with a total of 37, 486 confirmed cases of the virus while 17,291 patients have so far recovered from the disease even as 705 deaths have been recorded.

Egypt follows closely with a total of 28, 935 confirmed cases with 7,642 persons recovering from the virus while 1, 052 deaths have been recovered.

Director-General of the NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, who made the disclosure during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, also raised concerns over the increasing cases of health workers testing positive to the virus, saying that 812 healthcare workers have been affected by the virus; 29 of them being members of staff of the NCDC.

He noted that this development places additional responsibilities not only on the NCDC but also on every Nigeria to join hands with the government and relevant agencies in flattening the COVID-19 curve in the country. He however assured that, as the lockdown easing continues, the centre will further strengthen the public health response.

“As we go further in the easing of the restrictions, I just want to remind all of us that the easing of the restrictions doesn’t mean the easing of the response. In fact, the response is being strengthened. The public health response is being strengthened as the measures restricting certain movements are being used.

“So, I really wanted to just spend today to reflect on some numbers with you because crossing that 10,000 mark was quite a significant event, I won’t call it milestone and every night when we work very hard to bring out those numbers, sometimes numbers begin to feel like what they are. You forget that there are people behind each number.

“It is very important for us to remember that these are people and at the NCDC we engage with these people almost every day same as the state governments across the country. And when you engage with these people it means a lot more to you than just the numbers. So, really as we report on this every day, let’s remember that these are people, each single number there represents an individual with a brother, sister family, village, community.

“The second thing I’d like to say is something around the provenance of those numbers. So, we’ve reported since the beginning of the outbreak on the likely exposure, right now cumulatively just two percent of cases have a travel history, in the beginning there used to be 80 to 90 percent, at some point it was 100 percent when everybody came back from some country or the other. Twenty three percent of patients of new cases are contacts of existing patients.

 ‘At the moment 75 per cent of people have an unknown source of their illness. What does this really mean? It means that community transmission is happening. It means that you cannot link your exposure to one particular person or one event. And this is normal of a respiratory virus for which 80per cent of people are insymptomatic”, Ihekweazu said.

He also noted that the 299 deaths so far represent case fatality ratio of about three per cent, noting that Nigeria has also increased her testing capacity, having tested over 65,000 samples and also increased the lab network 30 following the activation of a lab in Bauchi and one new one in Abuja.