Nigeria records 29 fresh cases of COVID-19 in one week as WHO continues to recommend use of mask in public areas

NIGERIA – Nigeria has recorded a surge in COVID-19 cases recently, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, NCDC.

Between 7th to 13th January 2023, 29 new confirmed cases were recorded in the country from six states with Lagos recording the highest number of cases (15), followed by the FCT (5), Kano (4), Nasarawa (3), Kaduna and Plateau with 1 case each.

To date, a total of 266,492 cases have been confirmed, 259,858 cases have been discharged and 3,155 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

According a statement, a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at Level 2, continues to coordinate the national response activities.

WHO recommends use of masks in public

This comes as WHO continues to recommend nose mask to be worn in public areas as part of a continuous process of reviewing COVID-19 response, treatment, and management.

WHO has said that nose masks will continue to be a key tool against COVID-19 irrespective of the local epidemiological situation, given the current spread of the COVID-19 globally.

The WHO also updated its guidelines on mask wearing in community settings, including treatments, patient care and clinical management.

The global health body said that it is working with guideline development groups composed of independent, international experts who consider the latest available evidence and the changing epidemiology.

The Agency argued that previously, its recommendations were based on the epidemiological situation.

Similar to previous recommendations, WHO advises that there are other instances when a mask may be suggested, based on a risk assessment.

Factors to consider include the local epidemiological trends or rising hospitalisation levels, levels of vaccination coverage and immunity in the community, and the setting people find themselves in.

On isolation, WHO advises that a COVID-19 patient can be discharged from isolation early if they test negative on an antigen-based rapid test.

For those who test positive for COVID-19 but do not have any signs or symptoms, WHO now suggests 5 days of isolation in the absence of testing, compared to 10 days previously.

Isolation of people with COVID-19 is an important step in preventing others from being infected. This can be done at home or at a dedicated facility, such as a hospital or clinic.

The evidence considered by the guideline development group showed that people without symptoms are much less likely to transmit the virus than those with symptoms.

Although of very low certainty, evidence also showed that people with symptoms discharged at day 5 following symptom onset risked infecting three times more people than those discharged at day 10.

In a review of COVID-19 treatment, the WHO has extended its strong recommendation for the use of nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (Paxlovid).

Nirmatrelvir-ritonavir was first recommended by WHO in April 2022 and the Agency strongly recommends its use in mild or moderate COVID-19 patients who are at high-risk of hospitalisation

WHO also reviewed the evidence on sotrovimab and casirivimab-imdevimab, and maintains strong recommendations against their use for treating COVID-19. These monoclonal antibody medicines lack or have diminished activity against the current circulating virus variants.

There are currently 6 proven treatment options for patients with COVID-19, three that prevent hospitalisation in high-risk persons and three that save lives in those with severe or critical disease. Except for corticosteroids, access to other drugs remains unsatisfactory globally.

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