The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Friday that its support for the Federal Government’s decision to reopen schools for the second term of the 2020/2021 academic session was based on the fact that the benefits of having children in school outweigh the risks of transmission of COVID-19.
But NCDC Director-General, Chikwe Ihekweazu, also said though children are not the face of COVID-19 at the moment, they risk being among its highest and biggest victims.
Ihekweazu spoke during the virtual Plenary Session and Annual General Meeting of the Pediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) in Lagos.
He noted that the current data and statistics for the welfare of children in Nigeria was sad and troubling, and having them stay out of school would further aggravate the situation by denying them what they require to have healthy and productive lives.
The Director-General said Nigeria has the highest number of children out of school, nearly 31 million of children under the age of five and about half of the population under the age of 15.
He added that 10.5 million children are currently out of school and closure of schools may result in 10 million being out of school forever.
Earlier, the Director-General said the worst outcomes of the virus had been spared in children because the presentation in them was less severe, often asymptomatic and often not clinically significant to visit the hospitals.
His words: “Just 10 percent of our cases have been confirmed in children and one per cent deaths.
“The few deaths that occurred in children were likely to have happened to them through morbidity that led to deficits in coping with the virus.”
Ihekweazu called for collaboration among governments, schools and parents to effectively protect children from contracting the virus.
Also speaking, a Consultant Paediatrician, Dr. Ngozi Onyia, said the healthcare system was plagued with many issues that stood as threats in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Onyia, who is also the Managing Director of Paelon Memorial Hospital, said the major threats of health workers managing the patients included burn-out, exhaustion, high infections among staff, and over-regulation without clear guidance from the government.
The theme of the event is: “Child Survival in Nigeria Amid COVID-19 Pandemic: Issues, Challenges and Way Forward.