PTF on COVID-19 Chairman, Boss Mustapha.
Says Nigeria will apply principle of reciprocity for int’l flights
14 medical doctors killed so far
Warns youths against violation of protocols
By Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale
The Presidential Taskforce, PTF, on COVID-19, on Thursday, decried the poor attitude of Nigerians towards COVID-19 testing and safety protocols, saying, despite the increased capacity, sample collection remains very low.
Expressing displeasure during the weekly COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, the Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce, Boss Mustapha further lamented that the numbers of local governments, LGAs, that are hot spots have increased from 16 to 20 and regrettably happened to be a hard-to-reach area.
“Initially, we have 10 local government areas that are hot spots which eventually increased to 16 but now we have 20 LGAs that are hot spots. Regrettably, this recent local government is more remote.
“Presently, Nigeria now has the capacity to test 15,000 people daily but sadly, what we get in terms of sample is between 3,000 and 6,000 daily. When we started the fight against COVID-19 in the country, we only have two laboratories that can conduct a test but today the country has 64 laboratories. We hereby urge Nigeria to get tested. For every one test, we would have lost seven.
“Nigeria attitude is our biggest challenge in the fight against COVID-19 because we have done everything possible as a responsible government with support from international communities and a local partner so we are not in short of any resources; our major challenge is Nigeria’s attitude. The country would have flattened the curve if we comply with the non-pharmaceutical protocol.
He hinted that the existence of Nigeria as an entity is through the help of God not because of infrastructure, maturity, good governing system or inclusive social security net,
“When we started the distribution of palliative, we don’t even know who is eligible because our social data are not credible.
Regretting that Nigeria has exceeded 50,000 marks, the PTF Chairman who noted that the country was close to hitting the unenviable record of 1,000 deaths said every single death further underscores the grief and pains of families and friends, scuttled lives that could have contributed to national development and abridging God’s purpose for the lost soul.
He disclosed that 14 medical doctors have paid the supreme price while they toiled daily to save lives.
Reacting to the protest by the Nigerian students recently, Mustapha lamented that it would be extremely selfish for Nigerian youths to continue to flout the safety protocols and carry on without a thought for their safety and those of the vulnerable.
He said such behaviour has been amplified in the surge in some states of the United States of America.
“This unpredictability is reflected in the last twenty-four hours when Plateau State witnessed the highest daily number of confirmed cases.
“In the last two days, the World Health Organisation WHO had issued warnings on Vaccine Nationalism and that young people are aiding the spread of the virus. The latter is more germane for us as Nigerians with our over 80% youthful population and should give us more cause to be on our guard. It would border on extreme selfishness for our youths to believe that since they are asymptomatic carriers they can carry on with life as they please.
He warned the youth that being asymptomatic does not guarantee immunity forever.
“We are encouraged by the fact that the majority of our youths are in the vanguard of this fight and still call on the few non-conforming ones to join.”
Speaking, the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu said Nigeria will deploy the principle of reciprocity on nations that bans flights from Nigeria from flying into their countries.
Nuhu who represented the Minister of Aviation at the briefing also reiterated the decision to resume international flights, adding that, Nigeria will treat citizens of other countries the way their home countries treated Nigerian citizens.
“Nigeria will not allow international flights from the European Union (EU) countries and other countries that have banned flights from Nigeria. As we open the airspace, we’ll apply the issue of reciprocity. Those who have barred flights from Nigeria would not also be allowed into the country.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire disclosed that the Federal Government was working with relevant partners to be able to access vaccines when they are eventually developed.
“Nigeria is also working with the World Health Organisation to finalize enrollment with ACT Accelerator, a global mechanism tracking and sponsoring research Organizations working on covid19 vaccine development. We are also interested in the COVAX facility, a GAVI supported global initiative to procure and assure equitable access to vaccines, as soon as they are available, especially for Lower and lower middle-Income Countries (LMIC).
“This will prioritize Nigeria for allocation of a part of 2 billion vaccines doses that will be secured, in a special plan to protect the interests of poorer countries”.
Coordinator of the PTF on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu disclosed that the country is making progress in the area of research as 173 researchers are currently working out of which 13 have completed their findings. The outcome of the findings will be sent to PTF for guiding.
“We have also registered for WHO country trials so that investigations will be conducted on drugs to know the efficacy for treatment. So far, 22 sites from 13 states have registered for the trials to get the best drugs for treatment.