The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has appealed to authorities in various states not to close down the facilities built to treat persons infected with COVID-19.
PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, made the plea on Thursday while briefing reporters in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Instead, he wants them to keep the centres running efficiently and smoothly as the country begins to witness the second wave of the virus.
Mustapha explained that it was necessary for authorities to intensify efforts to support the public sector laboratories with critical reagents.
According to him, the PTF expects the leadership of all federal tertiary health institutions to raise their level of testing and turnaround for results.
The SGF noted that a series of advisories were issued by the PTF to state governments on ways to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country, in line with the authorisation of the President.
He revealed that as a follow-up, the PTF met with the select team of governors on the platform of the National Economic Council (NEC) and by extension, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
The PTF chairman stated that the task force was aware of the global conversation on the new strain of COVID-19 discovered in the United Kingdom.
He said the government’s health experts were working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to study the variant strain and would make a statement at the appropriate time.
Mustapha gave an assurance that the PTF would increase measures pertaining to high burden countries to scale down the possibilities of importation of the disease.
He asked Nigerians to expect an improvement very soon on the turnaround time for receiving COVID-19 test results.
Read the full remarks of the PTF chairman at the briefing below:
REMARKS OF THE SGF AT THE NATIONAL BRIEFING OF THE PTF ON COVID-19 FOR THURSDAY, 24TH DECEMBER, 2020
I welcome you all to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) for Thursday, 24th December 2020.
The PTF wishes all Nigerians a safe, COVID-free Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
As the President advised in his address to the PTF on Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, please shelve all non-essential travels during the period and avoid large gatherings.
You will recall that in line with the authorisation of the President, a number of advisories were issued to states on ways to curb the spread of the virus in Nigeria.
As a follow-up to this development, the PTF met with the select team of governors on the platform of the National Economic Council and by extension, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
The meeting was robust, and the governors shared their experiences on the implementation of these measures and pledged to push it further.
In his speech, the President made several pronouncements including:
Further extension of the mandate of the PTF till March 2020;
Authorisation to ensure that violators of the travel protocols are sanctioned;
The plan for a comprehensive health sector reform; and
The determination of the government to pursue the issue of vaccines in a safe, effective and cost-friendly manner.
For us on the PTF, we thank Mr President for the confidence he has in our ability to deliver on the mandate and we rededicate ourselves to more work.
The successes recorded by the PTF in managing the control of the pandemic since March 2020 could never have been possible without the support of our partners being the media that took the message to Nigerians.
We also thank the National Assembly, the sub-national entities, the private sector coalition, the international community, development partners, well-meaning Nigerians, security agencies, and our frontline workers. The list is endless.
As we commence the process of adding vaccines to the task, we wish to reaffirm that all aspects of the pronouncement of the President will be approached with the seriousness it deserves.
New guidelines have been developed and will be unveiled by the National Coordinator. The task is huge, but our will is stronger this time.
Accordingly, the PTF is working with the relevant MDAs on regulatory and certification issues before we go further, on the subject of vaccines.
In 2021, its vaccines plus NPIs. As we make progress on this NPIs +Vaccines phase, I urge the state governments not to close down their treatment centres.
Rather they should keep them running efficiently and smoothly because the cases of infections are rising and we must intensify our efforts to support the public sector laboratories with critical reagents and the PTF expects the leadership of all Federal Tertiary Health Institutions to raise their level of testing and turnaround for results. The DG NCDC will elaborate on this during this briefing.
Similarly, the PTF is aware of the global conversation on the new strain of virus discovered in the UK.
We had assured Nigerians that our experts working with the WHO are studying the variant strain and shall make a statement at the appropriate time. The WHO Rep will elaborate on this.
On international travel, especially from the UK, South Africa, and some very high burden areas, we continue to evaluate the actions taken by various countries.
We note that some of the countries that initially banned flights have now adopted the requirement already in place in Nigeria.
We have also weighed the security, economic and social implications of a full ban, especially when we consider the situation in our neighbouring countries and the ECOWAS as a whole.
The PTF shall increase measures pertaining to those high burden countries to scale down the possibilities of importation. The National Coordinator will elaborate on this.
The PTF is working assiduously on the turnaround time for receiving test results. We are working with the NCDC to improve on this. Nigerians should expect improvement very soon.
I now invite the Hon. Minister of State for Health, the DG NCDC, and the National Coordinator to update you on technical developments.
I thank you for listening and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Remember, COVID-19 is not going on holiday. Stay Safe, always.