In a bid to scale up its COVID-19 response and halt virus transmission, the Federal Government has slammed a ban on meetings and domestic travels by its officials.
Henceforth, all government or board meetings should be conducted virtually until further notice, it directed.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, announced this at Monday’s briefing of the taskforce in Abuja.
Mustapha reiterated the call for Nigerians to remain vigilant as the pandemic would not go away by a wish, neither would it go away if people refuse to keep safe.
He said: “Please let us all resolve to play our part, while Government does its best to save lives and livelihood. To this end, all government offices shall continue to hold virtual meetings in their offices especially where participants exceed four persons and suspend all unnecessary travels for meetings.
“For corporate organisations, board members, among others, the reopening of the domestic flights should not be misconstrued. The PTF strongly encourages virtual meetings as well; we still urge places of worship to cautiously follow the guide lines on public gatherings.
“We urge members of the political class to exercise utmost circumspection in their gathering for whatever reasons.
To speed up COVID-19 tests, the Federal Government said it would establish sample collection centre in each of the 774 Local Government Areas of the country.
While reiterating that contacting COVID-19 is not a death sentence, Mustapha said not presenting oneself for testing or treatment when symptoms become observable could likely lead to avoidable death.
He announced that a sample collection centre has been set up at THIS DAY DOME, Abuja and that all government hospitals in the FCT have been designated as sample collection centres.
PerSecondnews recalls that the SGF had at the weekend said during the visit of some media houses to the Asokoro Observation Centre and their interaction with some patients should give Nigerians the comfort to get tested and treated, if necessary.
According to the PTF chairman, the decision is part of the outcome of the PTF mid-term Review of the National Response Strategy.
According to him, the Mid-term review had in attendance legislators including the Chairmen of the relevant Committees on Health in the Senate and House of Representatives, the Office of the Vice-President, Ministers, Diplomatic Community as well as development partners.
On the case management deficit, Mustapha said focus was on having enough oxygen nationwide as the number of hospitalized persons increases.
“Underlying the above, as a cross-cutting initiative, is an enhanced Risk Communication Strategy designed not only to educate the citizenry on the virulence of the virus and individual and collective roles but more importantly to tackle the deliberate mis-information being bandied around especially in the social media.
“An enhanced Risk Communication strategy becomes inevitable when we realise that within the last 24 hours, the world witnessed the largest single day cases of 230,370 while in Nigeria the last week recorded the highest weekly fatality of 70 deaths,” Mustapha said.
The PTF chair said that the rising fatalities in Nigeria was not unconnected with denial and delay in seeking help.
Mustapha said that the PTF is also encouraged by the compliance messages that have gone viral on the social media and that one of those that caught his attention gives three major reasons why COVID-19 is spreading fast.
He cautioned: “They are my colleagues, so, I can speak without a mask; they are my close friends, so, I can speak without a mask; they are my relations, so, I can speak without a mask.”
“This message is so poignant that if we juxtapose it with the fact that crowded places and closed spaces create environment for the spread, we should behave more responsibly,” Mustapha said while appreciating the author of the quotes.
On the controversy surrounding the schools resumption, the SGF said the PTF had followed with keen interest the arguments for and against resumption of schools.
“We recognize that our children are precious and we would not do anything to compromise their safety.
“The PTF has assessed the circumstances and has put in place necessary guidelines to be followed while the managers of the sector have the responsibility for drawing up the protocols and determining the dates.
“We urge Nigerians to follow closely the critical steps being taken by the Federal Ministry of Education in conjunction with other stakeholders,” he said.
He said the Federal Ministry of Education had released guidelines for schools and learning facilities reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closure.
“The guidelines clearly spell out major things to consider before schools and learning facilities shall reopen, the reopening process, sequencing and scheduling of safe reopening and decisions about schools reopening.”