October 9, 2020

COVID-19: Nigeria may record surge in cases – PTF

…As 4,500 people fly into Abuja, Lagos daily

By Sola Ogundipe & Gabriel Olawale

Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, PTF yesterday, raised alarm that the full reopening of the country’s economy may bring about a surge in the number of positive COVID-19 cases even as it urged Nigerians not to relent in an effort towards curbing the spread of the virus.

Speaking in Abuja while briefing the media, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said that as schools, economic activities and international flights resume, there are heightened concerns about a surge in number of positive COVID-19 cases which may frustrate the success recorded so far.

“We are worried about an increase in the number of cases in certain countries where we used to record high volume of human traffic. This calls for concern that there may be a surge in the number of positive cases if we do not take steps and respond properly with our strategy of trace, test, and treat.”

Ehanire who advised that people should desist from non-essential trips to high burden areas especially people with non-communicable diseases, said: “All travelers especially arriving passengers should please cooperate with border authorities in our effort to reduce COVID-19 cases to the minimum,” he stressed.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the level of testing, the minister noted that Nigeria’s testing rate is below expectations.

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“We have the capacity to test 3,500 people per day but what we are getting on a daily basis is below that. This makes our development partners to start doubting our data.”

On his part, the Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha said that the situation of COVID-19 continues to give  serious concern especially as relate to testing.

Mustapha said: “The week before independence celebration, we notice a drop in a number of confirmed cases and reduction in a number of states reporting confirmed cases while the rest of the world continued to declare high  a number of cases.

“We are going to have National testing week when we will carry out testing in all Local Government Areas. “

Calling for caution, he said: “Although Nigeria is no longer in the top five cumulative death countries in Africa, the PTF urges Nigerians to change their nonchalant attitude towards the virus because the virus is real and deadly.

“The PTF is conscious of the fact that our recovery rate is fast and encouraging. We encourage people to test, isolate, and treat. The success recorded needs to be sustained. We are working with the European Union on flights into Nigeria, and once the negotiation is completed we will inform Nigerians.”

“On a daily basis Abuja and Lagos record not less than 4,500 passengers so we cannot afford to relax. We need to do more to survive and we have the solution in our hands. Together, let us take responsibility,” he remarked.