With the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the country, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has said that the time had come for another national lockdown.
In the wake of the outbreak of the disease, the federal government had imposed a lockdown in Lagos, Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for five weeks to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
The chairman of the PTF and secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who dropped hints of a looming national lockdown yesterday during the briefing of the Task Force in Abuja, lamented that some Nigerians were already romancing with COVID-19 in the manner of Tom and Jerry.
Mustapha said: “You want to hear the truth? If it were within my powers, this is the time to lockdown. Lockdown might not be a popular thing but this is the time to lockdown because I can see the attitude of Tom and Jerry, we are already romancing with COVID-19 and it is not good.”
While stating that Nigerians must continue to take responsibility to reduce community transmission of the virus, Mustapha urged the citizens to take the virus serious and continue to observe the guidelines developed by the task force.
“I saw a real romance with COVID-19 today. People behaving as if the matter(virus) is over. It is a very serious issue and my appeal to Nigerians listening is that; let us take this thing (virus) serious. “By now, with 500 plus fatalities, you can’t be ignorant, you can’t say you don’t know of any body that has fallen victim either by way of name or pictures but today they are no more ,” he added.
Mustapha explained the reasons why the compliance level of COVID-19 protocols is low in the country. He said that the non-compliance had been largely fuelled by skepticisms and ignorance about the disease.
All through the month, Mustapha noted that the PTF communicated to Nigerians in different ways, the dangers of complacency and non-compliance with measures prescribed for the fight against COVID-19.
Particularly, he stressed that Nigerians were reminded that there is at present no known vaccine for the virus and that all over the world, non-pharmaceutical measures still remained the most effective and avoiding being infected remains the best choice for everyone. He stated: “The PTF also continued to assess the developments nationwide and found that non-compliance has been largely fuelled by skepticism and ignorance about the disease.
“We also noted that stigmatisation has further impacted on the willingness of people to come out to seek help and even tell their stories.
“The nature of this pandemic demands that we must detect and treat it in order to address it. Let me emphasise, therefore, that COVID-19 is not a condition to be ashamed of as it has no respect for status, nationality, race, creed, tribe, etc. Every person infected must be treated to prevent spread and avoidable fatalities,”
The SGF also expressed concern over the resurgence of the virus in Europe, China and the United States.
According to him, ”closely related to the high number of confirmed cases and fatalities at home are lessons drawn from other jurisdictions. From Europe to China to the United States of America, the rising numbers and reported resurgence in some cases should also be of concern to us.”
Meanwhile, the minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has said that the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has developed a guideline for the establishment of Community Support Centres.
The minister, who stated this at the PTF briefing on COVID 19, yesterday in Abuja, said that the central objective of the guideline is the establishment of Community Support Centres (CSCs) in selected clusters of local government areas (LGAs) for the management of COVID-19 cases.
According to him, “these centres will strengthen the capacity of the health system at the community level to respond to the outbreak and result in the reduction of the transmission of the disease within communities in high burden and high density states.
On Tuesday, 23rd June, 2020, an Emergency National Council on Health was held virtually, attended by state commissioners for health, heads of agencies, directors at the Federal Ministry of Health, development partners and other stakeholders in the health sector to review status and align all response to COVI-19 outbreak in the states.
“Council approved the Health Sector COVID-19 Pandemic Response Action Plan which was developed by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with departments and agencies to present one response in the health sector delivered in a coordinated and strategic manner.
“As we learn more about the disease, we will continue to evolve response actions. The community transmission has resulted in the high number of confirmed cases with the challenge that in some states, the facilities for case management may become overwhelmed,” he said.