COVID-19: Infection Scare Forces PTF’s Change Of Operational Modes - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS


Thursday, July 23, 2020

COVID-19: Infection Scare Forces PTF’s Change Of Operational Modes

ABUJA - The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic has said it might have to restructure its modes of operations to rely more on technology rather than making physical contacts.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF and Chairman of the PTF, Mr Boss Mustapha, said this became inevitable realising that even members of the task force were becoming exposed, citing the COVID-19 positive status of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyema, who is also a member of the task force.

The SGF, who gave this indication during Thursday’s media briefing by the PTF in Abuja, also revealed that last Monday’s briefing, which was just a day after Onyema disclosed his positive status, was suspended as a result of the shock that accompanied the realisation that the spread of the virus had reached the PTF secretariat.

“For the first time since the PTF commenced the regular briefing , we had to postpone the briefing for Monday 20th July, 2020. On Sunday 19th July, 2020, the dangers that our frontline workers face on a daily basis was forcefully brought to our consciousness, when the tweet from the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs who is a member of the PTF, went viral. That singular piece of information in the public space is sufficient proof to Nigerians that the virus is real and does not discriminate.

“Sequel to that development, the PTF and its Secretariat immediately carried out a risk assessment and tested all members to determine their status, out of an abundance of caution. Fortunately, as a precautionary measure, the PTF had earlier arranged that all journalists covering its activities should be tested by the NCDC.

“I am pleased to inform you that testing of members for COVID-19 has been a regular exercise for the PTF and that policy would be sustained. I am also pleased to inform you that haven successfully taken all precautionary measures regarding safety, the normal business of the PTF has resumed. We will however not lower our guards for any reason because the nation cannot afford to shut down its response.

“Our prayers and best wishes are with the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs as it is with all Nigerians that have contracted the virus and the entire humanity bearing the burden of the pandemic. We wish them all speedy recovery.

As we progress however, the PTF might consider restructuring the mode of delivering some of its activities, relying more on technology, to minimize the risks associated with avoidable physical contacts”, he said.

Speaking on the forthcoming Eid-El Kabir festival, Mustapha charged all Nigerians, especially Muslims, not to abandon the safety regulations and protocols for the prevention of COVID-19, especially considering the urge to want to gather for prayers, noting that the disease does not understand festive seasons.

While he commended state governments that had already instructed caution for the period in their states, he charged others to borrow a leaf from the ones that had cautioned against gathering, warning the most vulnerable, especially the old and those with underlining illnesses, to be most careful.

“We also have cause to begin to advise Nigerians on the upcoming Eid-El Kabir Festival. This naturally comes with lots of mass gatherings but we must not forget that the guidelines are still in existence and the virus is very potent.

“We urge all State Governments to ensure that guidelines are adhered to and citizens should not indulge in activities that would allow for the spread of the virus and lives are endangered.

“We are encouraged by State Governments that have announced ban on Sallah Festivities and hope it will be upheld and replicated by other States. The National Coordinator will also amplify on these issues”, he said.

He warned that the WHO statistics show that India has joined the USA and Brazil in the category of countries that have recorded over one million cases, and that cumulatively, 15,403,120 cases have been recorded from 215 countries and territories.

©The Nation

“On the African continent, the cumulative total for Africa has risen to 773, 804 including 16,448 fatalities. Nigeria, with 38,344 cases account for about 5 percent of the Africa’s numbers. Similarly, Nigeria, with 813 deaths accounts for five percent of fatalities in the continent.

“The message of hope is that the world continues to close its ranks in the search for a vaccine in a manner designed to guarantee rapid, fair, and equitable access worldwide,” he said.

On the resumption of international flights, the SGF said the next phase is for aviation regulators to engage with other stake holders to facilitate an integrated and seamless resumption of international flights.

“I plead with all Nigerians to await authentic information from the aviation authorities and discountenance fake news and speculation on dates,” he said.

He added that as the nation approach the last five days to the end of the eased lock down phase, the PTF shall rigorously evaluate the developments on the basis of emerging data, evolving science, strengthened best practices and improvements in the Risk Communication Strategy.

He said that all these will help the taskforce to form an opinion upon which the next set of recommendations to Mr. President will be based.

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