…asks states to wade in, lauds 425 hospitals, clinics donated by Catholic Church as isolation centres
…spikes in cases due to expanded testing capacity
The Federal Government has condemned in strong terms the challenges facing the frontline health workers, including threats and demands from coronavirus patients at the isolation centres.
It described as reprehensible such behaviour and called on state governments to step in and address the matter immediately.
Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19, said at Monday’s media briefing of the task force the attack on the health workers was inhuman and unacceptable.
“The PTF has also continued to receive, rather sadly, reports about challenges facing the frontline health workers. They have received threat to lives, experienced detention by patients they are actually nursing to health and suffered other forms of harassment.
“Let me underscore the fact that these frontline workers constantly put their lives on the line to make sure persons infected are provided with the best care possible to enable them become healthy citizens again.
“It is, therefore, inhuman and unacceptable that patients engage in acts of locking them up and making demands that these frontline officers, most of the time do not have the capacity to address.
“The PTF COVID 19 views such behavior as reprehensible and should be deprecated. We call on all State governments to take this up appropriately,” Mustapha said.
Harping on the importance of complying with the COVID-19 guidelines, the SGF reiterated that contracting the virus was not a death sentence, pointing out that disregarding the guidelines “is a costly choice.’’
Mustapha said: “While we continue to work on all options, the PTF wishes to repeat the dangers inherent in lack of compliance with guidelines issued.
“We must always remind Nigerians that Mr. President took a painful and difficult decision to ease the restrictions by approving revised measures that will maintain a balance between the safety of Nigerians and giving them the opportunity for some level of economic activities, that will sustain their means of livelihood especially , the poor and vulnerable who depend on daily means of subsistence.
“The eased restrictions must therefore not become an excuse for us to lead the lives we were used to, pre-COCID-19 days. I wish to re-iterate that the world today has completely changed from what we used to know and if we want to continue living the old ways, the cost would be enormous.
“Contracting COVID-19 is not a death sentence but disregarding the guidelines for its avoidance, as guided by experts, is a costly self-voyage. Unfortunately, such choices can not be made by individuals but the collective and we are all resolute in stamping this scourge out of Nigeria.”
On inadequate isolation centres across the country, the PTF chairman appealed state governments to set up more isolation centres with a minimum of 300 beds.
He reminded governors that the Catholic Bishops have volunteered over 400 of their clinics across the country as isolation centers, urging them to reach out to the clerics.
“The PTF has continued to review the relevant policy and protocols so that our actions and decisions are most effective and the nation can properly take COVID-19 positive cases out of circulation to avoid the spread of the virus.
“We have recognized a significant role for community ownership, guidance, acceptance and implementation and the PTF will introduce appropriate inclusive policies in the coming weeks. You will all be apprised of developments on this in due course.
“As part of efforts to support the States in the establishment of the Isolation and treatment centres, I wish to remind our Governors that the Catholic Bishops Conference has volunteered all the 425 hospitals and clinics nationwide for adaptation and use as isolation centres. Governors are encouraged to please approach Catholic Bishops in their states to access these facilities.
“As a further cost-effective measure, I also wish to remind subnational authorities that the Nigeria Institute of Architects have pledged the pro bono services of their members to modify, design and supervise all COVID-19 related projects nationwide. Again, we urge that this offer be taken up speedily.”
He reminded Nigerians that the week one of Phase One of the three-pronged fortnightly strategy for easing the lockdown has just ended but observed that the week had witnessed increased number of positive cases.
“The completion of the first week has provided the PTF COVID-19 an opportunity for a mid-phase review of the impact of the guidelines put in place to drive our National Response. I am also sure that, Nigerians have equally focused on the pandemic and have done their assessment of progress made, especially as it relates to compliance.
“One gratifying outcome of the assessment we have all undertaken as stakeholders is our convergence of thoughts on the level of compliance with the guidelines and how our individual and collective responses could improve and/or jeopardize our ability to contain the coronavirus.
“During the first week, the country generally witnessed increased number of positive cases. This is attributable to our expanded capacity for testing with the opening up of more testing centres and laboratories.
“As at today, there are 21 laboratories nationwide including private laboratories and we continue to engage with more private laboratories,” Mustapha told newmen.