From a peak of over 1,380 COVID-19 confirmed cases in July to just 358 positive cases in August, Oyo State has witnessed a dramatic drop in number of new cases in a single month, an official said on Thursday.
The State Coordinator, Emergency Operation Center on COVID-19, Dr Taiwo Ladipo, said in Ibadan that the number of new infections plummeted within only a month.
But experts are of the opinion that the decline in cases may be partly due to insufficient testing.
Ladipo , spoke at a virtual lecture organised by the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), University College Hospital (UCH) Chapter, Ibadan.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the Lecture is “ Science and Mis-Science of COVID-19 ″.
According to him, Coronavirus infection among the frontline healthcare personnel and the scrapping of the drive-throgh COVID-19 test centres affected testing in the state.
He also attributed the drop in number of tests to misconceptions and disinformation about COVID-19 among the residents.
Ladipo said that reduction in the number of coronavirus testing has contributed to the downward trend of new infections.
“Initially, we came up with innovative ways to encourage people to get tested.
“There were drive-through testing centres and 12 community level mobile mass testing sites established across the state, so that gave us the high numbers we saw in June and July.
“However, we decided that we could not continue having an ad-hoc arrangement, but we should transit to more static and sustainable testing platforms which we have established in the general hospitals across the state.
“Unfortunately, we are not getting many people tested because they don’t want to visit any of the hospitals where the testing centres are now located,” he said.
“Misinformation in the media has also been a major setback, people are no longer seeing COVID-19 as a public health issue, they think it has been defeated.
“Also, we have had so many of our personnel coming down with the COVID-19 illness; I recall the instance where we had a training for lab scientists across the state and we had to test those lab scientists.
“We found that we had about 20 per cent positivity among them which was very demoralising. These are the challenges we are seeing.”
Ladipo said the state government had also rolled back many of the coronavirus restrictions due to pressure from highly placed persons in the society.
“ These people are saying that since the number of new coronavirus infections are dropping, the state government should remove all the restrictions.
“While we are giving thoughts into easing the lockdown rules, we must be mindful that the battle against COVID-19 is not yet won,” he said.
The Chairman, UCH Response Team on COVID-19, Prof. Kayode Osungbade, said the low number of new infections recorded in recent weeks did not represent an actual decline of COVID-19 in the state.
Osungbade said that following an initial surge in July, the number of infections plummeted in August due to low number of tests conducted.
“The state conducted a total number of 5,901 and 5,347 tests in June and July respectively; in August only 2,427 test were conducted.
“In June, about 1,000 of the tests returned positive and the state recorded the highest number on July with 1,380 in confirmed cases.
“However, the confirmed cases fell drastically to 358 cases in August.
“We cannot call this a true decline, we can only have a true decline when the number of test rises beyond 6,000, while the number of positive cases are falling.
“Using the current statistics to make decisions and policies may result in dangerous and irreversible mistakes,” he said.