Nigeria winning COVID-19 war, PTF declares

Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu (C), speaks to passengers to enforce social distancing in a bus as part of measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Lagos, Nigeria on March 26, 2020. - Nigeria's government on March 26, 2020 warned that Africa's most populous nation could soon see an exponential increase in COVID-19 coronavirus infections unless contacts of confirmed cases are tracked down quicker. The country of around 190 million people has so far recorded just 51 infections and 1 death, but testing has been limited. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

By Abujah Racheal

Abuja, Oct. 19, 2020 The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 says the nation is winning the war against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said this on Monday in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the taskforce.

Mustapha, however, said that the PTF had adopted an approach of “cautious optimism” and shall encourage Nigerians to do same in view of the observed level of risk perception, skepticism, and general non-compliance with the NonPharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs).

The SGF said that the focus of the next steps, in the national response, would be on consolidating the gains recorded as well as the preservation of lives and livelihood.

“The PTF continues to monitor developments in-country and around the world so as to improve on its activities and its decisions.

“A review of our situation in Nigeria within the last one week shows that scores of COVID-19 patients were discharged after recovering from the disease, leaving Nigeria with less than 4,000 active cases,” he said.

He maintained that 4,876 patients recovered and were discharged which represented a 388 per cent increase when compared with 967 people discharged in the previous week.

The chairman noted that cumulatively, a total of 56,611 patients had been discharged after treatment, as at date, representing 92 per cent of all cases since Nigeria recorded her index case in February.

He added that currently, Nigeria was managing around 3,704 patients in various isolation centres across the country.

“Last week was week 34 of our National Response and week 42 of the year. Indications are that Nigeria appears to be winning the war against COVID-19. Some of the current figures support this position,” he explained.

According to him, in the 34th week of the pandemic in Nigeria, a total of 1,174 new cases were recorded in the country, representing a 32 per cent increase from the 921 recorded in the previous week.

The PTF boss said that the increase in new cases could have been caused by an increase in the number of people tested for the virus.

Mustapha said that a total of 25,699 samples were collected for testing in the week under review, compared to the 18,597 tested the previous week.

He said: “This statistical review becomes very relevant when we remember that over the same period, quite a number of large gathering events, particularly the protests across the country, have been taking place.

“It becomes more pertinent because of the fact that measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and use of sanitisers were never observed.”

The PTF chair noted that similarly important is the fact that the education sector had joined aviation in the gradual but safe reopening process.

“While we continue to monitor the process, the need for constant reminders and engagement with communities, proprietors, parents, teachers, among others cannot be over emphasised.

“Civil Servants on all grade levels have been allowed to return to work for the first time since March.

“This also calls for caution, vigilance and effective preparation and leadership by Permanent Secretaries and CEOs of agencies of government.”

He, therefore, urged that alternate days of attendance be worked out to avoid overcrowding the offices.

The SGF, who urged the #EndSARS protesters, mostly youths, to harken to the invitation to dialogue, also emphasised that non-compliance with the NPIs were very risky adventures that must be avoided.

Mustapha said that the nation could not afford to lose momentum and risk a second wave that might overwhelm the nation’s health systems.

“It will not be out of place for the PTF to, in consideration of the foregoing, remind all Nigerians that we are in the middle of a global pandemic.

“The virus remains very virulent, deadly and dangerous. It is an unseen enemy which thrives when people lower their guard.

“The PTF has, on account of these developments, accelerated its plans for the National Testing Week (NTW) and shall continue to monitor developments in all areas of the economy that have reopened.

“We shall also monitor mass gatherings over the next three weeks for signs of spike in numbers.

“We urge everyone who has been exposed unduly to large gathering to get tested and/or report any signs of the symptoms of COVID-19,” Mustapha said.