The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has called on Nigerians who still harbour skepticism about the existence of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, to have a change of behaviour and comply with the non-pharmaceutical measures prescribed to curtail the spread of the disease.
Speaking at the PTF on COVID-19 National Briefing on Monday, the task force Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, noted that the appeal is in the best interest of individuals and their loved ones.
While making reference to rising numbers related to COVID-19 in Nigeria, Africa and the entire world, Mustapha urged more vigilance and commitment to safety protocols.
On the reopening of schools, the PTF chairman implored stakeholders to ensure that the agreed protocols are put in place and measures strictly adhered to in order to curb further community transmission.
He noted that the PTF is currently concluding discussions with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure safe elections in the coming weeks and months.
“For our countrymen and women who still habour skepticism about the existence and dangers posed by the virus, we urge you to imbibe a change of behaviour by complying with the non-pharmaceutical measures prescribed,” Mustapha said.
“This appeal remains in your own interest and in the interest of your loved ones. Remember, always wear your mask, observe social distancing, avoid large gatherings and maintain proper hygiene.
“Over the one-week period that the PTF could not brief the nation, global numbers have been rising. As at Sunday, August 2, 2020 the cumulative global cases went up to 18,216,962 while deaths reached 692,280. Let me emphasise that as at 29th July, global cases were around 17 million, but by the 2nd of August, 2020 the cases had increased by one million and it took only four days for this to occur.
“Six months ago when the WHO declared the novel corona virus as public health emergency of international concern, there were no confirmed cases in Africa. However, as at 2nd August, 2020, the cumulative cases in Africa had reached 961,219 while deaths stood at 20,346. In Nigeria, the number of cases had also gone up to 43,841 while deaths stood at 888 by the bench mark date.
“I want to remind us that the global increase in number of confirmed cases of the virus still calls for increased vigilance, committed adherence to protocols and determination to take personal responsibility.
“Just before the Sallah break, the second phase of the eased lockdown was extended by one week. We assured Nigerians that the railway transportation system would be partially opened on Wednesday 29th July with the commencement of the Abuja-Kaduna rail services. I am pleased to confirm that the promise has been kept with full compliance with the measures prescribed.
“Similarly, we informed you about the date that exit examination classes in schools would reopen preparatory to the commencement of examination. I wish to restate that the Education sector is critical for the development of our children and our nation. Reopening the sector is also a source of concern based on the fact that the school system remains a veritable ground for increasing community transmission if appropriate protocols are not put in place and more importantly adhered to.
“In this regard, the PTF wishes to implore stakeholders to ensure that the agreed protocols are put in place and measures strictly adhered to.
“The PTF continues to push forward with the Community engagement, risk communication and support to States. There is an on-going surveillance in the high burden Local Government Areas just as we ramp up our precision efforts.
“Similarly, the Federal Government is supporting the States to firm up their Incidence Action Plans preparatory to their accessing the World Bank facility for the fight against COVID-19.
“The National Response would continue to guide the adoption of sector specific guidelines and protocols just as the PTF is currently concluding discussions with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on appropriate guidelines to be adopted for elections beginning with the August 8th Bye-Election in Nasarawa Sate to be followed by those for Edo and Ondo States in September and October respectively.
“I, therefore, wish to use this opportunity to implore party leaders, aspirants, members and supporters to remain mindful of the virulent nature of COVID-19 during electioneering campaigns and other election processes. We need to remain alive to enjoy the benefits of our democracy.”