The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 says 64% of recent spike in number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lagos (404) on Saturday, August 22, came from Nigerians who were evacuated from foreign countries.
Speaking at the National Briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, on Monday, Secretary to the Government of the Federation/Chairman of the task force, Boss Mustapha, said the validation process for the pre-boarding PCR test showed the spike.
While noting that 4,984 Nigerians have returned home so far, Mustapha promised that the validation process for the PCR tests would be intensified to minimize risks.
“Prior to the reopening of the airspace, the PTF had put in place Point of Entry Protocols to minimize importation,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the validation process for the pre-boarding PCR test have shown that 64% of recent spike in number of confirmed cases in Lagos (404) on Saturday 22nd August came from the evacuees.
“Over the weekend, 252 additional Nigerians were evacuated from the United Arab Emirates which has brought the total number of Nigerians that have returned home to 4,984. We shall intensify the validation process for the PCR tests to minimize risks.”
The PTF chairman also reacted to Nigeria crossing the 1,000 mark of COVID-19 deaths on Sunday, stating that the figure reminds Nigerians of the dangers posed by the disease.
He, however, noted that the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) has been on a steady decline over the last few months; April 30: 3%, May 31: 2.8%, June 30: 2.3%, July 31: 2.0%, and Aug 22: 1.92%.
“Last week Thursday, we informed you that Nigeria had crossed the 50,000 mark of confirmed cases. Yesterday Sunday, 23rd August, we reached the unenviable record of 1,000 fatalities. We wish to restate that these records are not just numbers as they vividly remind us of the dangers that we still face. May the souls of all those that have lost the battle against COVID-19 rest in peace,” Mustapha said.
“The PTF has however continued to study the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) and we note that it has been on a steady decline over the last few months.
“We are however convinced that our sample collection is still low. We therefore encourage States to ramp up their testing and to declare correct results because early detection will ultimately translate to treatment and ultimately levelling of the curve.
“The WHO has provided guidance on the use of masks for children 11 years and above in the context of COVID-19 as it relates to the community.
“However, Children with immune compromised conditions are advised to wear mask irrespective of age. This guidance is strongly recommended for observance and the PTF shall update you as soon as it is revised by the WHO.”
The SGF expressed the task force’s sadness over the COVID-19 positive status of the Lagos State Commissioner for Heath, Prof. Akin Abayomi. He described the news as “a grim reminder that the virus is no respecter of persons or the positions they hold.”
“This morning we received the unfortunate news of the positive status of Prof. Akin Abayomi, the Lagos State Commissioner for Heath. This has saddened the PTF as the Commissioner has been foremost in the fight against COVID-19,” he said.
“We wish him and all other frontline workers that have risked their lives but contracted the virus in the process, safe and speedy recovery.
“This unexpected news is a grim reminder that the virus is no respecter of persons or the positions they hold. Everyone is at risk and we must take responsibility. What the announcement of Prof. Abayomi has shown is that stigmatization has no place in our national response and that COVID-19 is not a death sentence.
“We therefore thank all those that have come out to announce their status and/or tell their stories and we urge Nigerians to take a queue to eliminate disbelief and skepticism.”
Mustapha finally called on Nigerians to join the hashtag #MaskOnNaija National awareness campaign as part of efforts to curtail the spread of the virus.