REMARKS BY THE SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION/CHAIRMAN OF THE PTF-COVID-19 AT THE NATIONAL BRIEFING OF WEDNESDAY, 6TH MAY, 2020
I welcome you to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for Wednesday, 6th May, 2020.
2.We were unable to hold this briefing yesterday because the PTF COVID-19 had to brief the House of Representatives on progress of our National Response.
3.Today marks one hundred days since the index case of coronavirus was reported in Nigeria. Ever since, and especially after the inauguration of the PTF COVID-19, Nigeria along with other countries of the world have been ploughing through uncharted territories in our effort to contain the spread of the virus.
4.Guided by the leadership of Mr. President, the National Assembly, the cooperation of the sub-national entities, and supported by the sacrificial commitment of our frontline health workers, the media, the private sector, our security agencies, religious, traditional and community leaders as well as a greater majority of Nigerians, the PTF COVID-19 has been pursuing a multi-sectoral National Response. We deeply appreciate your support in this fight.
5.The briefing of the PTF to the House of Representatives, I must report, was very robust and fruitful. The interaction allowed for a comprehensive assessment of the public health situation in Nigeria and we received assurances that necessary synergy would be strengthened and legislative interventions effected. The PTF thanks the leadership and members of the House of Representatives for the guidance and demonstration of leadership in this era of a public health emergency
6.Early assessment of the ease of lockdown phase indicate that Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the deadliness and the virulent nature of the COVID-19 and this gives us concerns on the high possibility of increased seeding of the virus to hitherto un-affected persons and populations. Some of these areas of worries include the following:
• Non-compliance with social/physical distancing guidelines evidenced by higher than advised congregation of people in banks, traffic gridlocks especially at entry points to metropolitan areas and disregard of guidelines on carrying capacity of motor vehicles;
• Increased level of inter-state movements worsened by the dubious concealment of people in food carrying vehicles;
• Unhygienic and ill-advised use and sharing of masks especially multiple fittings before buying from vendors;
Once again, we appeal to the Governors to please align their plan for the movement of Almajiris with the ban imposed by the President. We shall intensify our dialogue on this matter.
7.Ladies and gentlemen, I want to re-iterate the fact that our individual and collective safety is in our hands and I re-echo my call and appeal to Nigerians to demonstrate our duty to ourselves and loved ones by minimizing the risk of getting infected by the virus.
8.As we continue to push the frontiers of risk communication, I wish to appeal to all Nigerians to be vigilant and desist from taking undue risks. The PTF recognises the challenges earlier encountered at the bank. We however assure you that the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as the Bankers’ Committee have put in place strategies that would reduce such re-occurrence. I, therefore plead with Nigerians to be patient and schedule their physical appearances at banks. On the other hand, I wish to repeat my call to the Banks to also quickly address issues related to difficulty with using their on-line platforms, especially re-validating expired ATM cards amongst others.
9.In view of the fact that public transportation is a major clustering area through which the virus can easily be transmitted, we call on the leadership of various transport unions to properly enlighten their members on the dangers associated with non-adherence to the COVID-19 containment guidelines. We also urge them to educate their members on the ban imposed on Inter-state travels.
10.Tomorrow marks the last day for the enforcement of the closure of Nigeria’s airspace to flights. We have assessed the situation in the aviation industry and have come to the conclusion that given the facts available to us and based on the advice of experts, the ban on all flights will be extended for an additional four weeks. The Hon. Minister of Aviation will give you details during this briefing.
11.We have continued to interface with the Governors and I am pleased to inform you that the NCDC will be visiting the Kogi and Cross Rivers States to provide support to the State EOCs. This is a giant leap in the dialogue and collaboration process. We are also retooling all Federal Medical Institutions as part of the overall support to the States.
12.We have received a boost in the isolation facilities available in Abuja with the completion of the Abuja Thisday Dome. This facility will be inaugurated on Tuesday 12th May, 2020.
13.The PTF and indeed Mr. President, is deeply worried about reports on the increasing rate of infection of medical doctors and personnel. While we renew our efforts at training these frontline workers about the infectious nature of this virus, we urge that utmost care be taken in managing COVID related cases.
14.We have similarly received reports about the emerging situation in Isolation Centres in Gombe circulating in a viral video clip. We have investigated and I wish to assure you that the NCDC team is on ground in Gombe to support the State EOC. Similarly, I can confirm that the testing laboratory in Gombe will be activated soon.
15.The overall assessment of compliance with the measures and outcomes of modelling we have developed, point in the direction of danger ahead. We therefore need personal discipline, increased awareness and enforcement. The PTF calls on community, religious and traditional leaders to take up this challenge. Similarly, we call on, trade associations, professional bodies and organizations to compliment the efforts of government. The PTF appreciates your current efforts but it has become very obvious that more needs to be done, together.
16.While we continue to advocate strict compliance with the prescribed measures, the PTF urges Nigerians to also use this period of pandemic to build social solidarity by eschewing stigmatisation, support the mental well being of our compatriots that are infected, continue to provide for the poor, sick, aged and vulnerable and to provide support in whatever manner.
17.I will now call on the Minister of Health, the DG-NCDC and the National Coordinator to provide updates on new developments. Similarly the Ministers of Aviation, Humanitarian Affairs and Foreign Affairs will brief you.
18.I thank you for listening.