COVID-19: High infection rate among officials ’ll harm governance, security ― PTF

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has warned that the high rate of the virus infection among government officials is capable of adversely affecting governance and security in the country.

Speaking at the Monday briefing of the task force, its Chairman and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who made the assertion, affirmed that the virus does not discriminate.

He, therefore, called for vigilance among Nigerians irrespective of status.

He said: “Of recent, we have witnessed a high rate of positive cases especially among people in authority. This has a direct impact on the governance and security of our nation.

“We urge that vigilance and care should be exhibited by all Nigerians irrespective of status. This virus does not discriminate and the PTF shall keep sustaining its sensitization messaging.”

Mustapa revealed that the PTF met with the heads of security and defence agencies to review and chart a refined course “in view of the fact that COVID-19 is global health, and socio-economic and security issue and Nigeria must continue to evolve new strategies peculiar to her environment, even while working within global prescriptions.”

He said as the nation progresses into the second phase of the eased lockdown, the National Response continues to escalate its level of vigilance and monitoring, “especially as we ease restrictions in more sectors, including those with potentials for large gatherings and/or interactions between groups of people. We are conscious of the fact that this could be misinterpreted to mean that the war against COVID 19 is over.”

He emphasized that the decision for further relaxation was cautiously taken by the government to balance lives and livelihood.

While noting that rising global and domestic statistics of cases and fatalities have shown that COVID-19 has not given any relaxation, the PTF boss said citizens cannot, therefore, afford to slow down “and we must never compromise.”

He added: “Let us continue to learn from the history of pandemics by avoiding the mistakes of 1918. Having laid that foundation, the PTF calls on all Nigerians to also remain vigilant and this call is underscored by global and national developments in the last week, especially throughout the weekend.

“In the last week, we have witnessed a resurgence in countries that were noted as having successfully contained or containing the spread of the virus. The situation in Beijing and the United States of America should inform our individual and collective actions. Of course, such resurgence has led to the reintroduction of precision/location-specific lockdown in some areas such as parts of Galicia region, Catalonia, Spain.”

Mustapha noted that over the last weekend, the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council organized national prayers for both Muslims and Christians to seek divine intervention on COVID-19 and several other problems confronting our nation and humanity.

While thanking the leadership of the groups who organized the prayers, he added: “Some additional benefits derivable from the intervention of NIREC include awareness on the evils of gender violence, benefits of peaceful co-existence, religious tolerance and deepening the impact of Community Engagement and Risk Communication programmes of the PTF.”

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Mustapha informed that on Thursday and Friday this week, the PTF will be carrying out its mid-term review having crossed the three months/ half time threshold of its life span.

He said this will involve a comprehensive examination of the steps taken, the challenges and charting the way forward.

Mustapha reiterated that COVID-19 is not a death sentence, “but it becomes dangerous when we fail to detect, test isolate and treat. We can avoid contracting it by complying with non-pharmaceutical interventions of wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing, hand-washing, staying and working from home if practicable. Similarly, we can achieve more if we stop stigmatization.”

He further said: “Capacity and opportunities for testing have been expanded, with the opening of 40 laboratories and creation of more testing centres including some certified private sector medical facilities. I, therefore encourage all Nigerians to get tested to enable us to fight this pandemic.

“We have done it before and we shall do it again. The handling of the EBOLA virus, Lassa Fever, our becoming a polio-free country and successful exit from other communicable diseases over the years should give us comfort that COVID-19 would also be put behind us.”

Mustapha noted that the PTF has continued to receive support from kind-hearted Nigerians, development partners and other interest groups, saying that the Nigerians in Diaspora COVID-19 support group donated Personal Protective Equipment worth N48million which Mustapa said are already being distributed to all States of the Federation as prescribed by the donors.

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