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Low COVID-19 Cases Shouldn’t Be Misinterpreted For Victory, FG Warns Nigerians

Akinola Ajibola  
Updated August 10, 2020
A file photo of the SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, addressing reporters at a PTF briefing in Abuja.

 

The Federal Government has warned Nigerians to remain vigilant as the nation intensifies the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Addressing reporters on Monday in Abuja at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, warned that the country has yet to win the war against COVID-19.

According to him, it is important that the daily low test and case confirmation numbers should not be misinterpreted to mean that Nigeria has overcome.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said the government has over time ramped up testing but there was more to be done to raise the quantum of test per million.

He said an analysis showed that five states still account for 60 per cent of cumulative cases and 689 out of the 774 local government areas (LGAs) have reported at least one case.

The PTF chairman decried that 85 LGAs in 20 states remain with no testing done and no case reported while 50 per cent of all the cases were in 20 per cent of the nation’s LGAs.

He insisted that Nigeria has yet to reach the peak of the pandemic but noted that the PTF was happy that many survivors were telling their stories and sharing them on social media.

 

Mustapha believes the stories of those who he said doubted the existence of the virus and became infected and are now expressing appreciation for the timely intervention of the case management team, have provided compelling proof that the virus is real.

He, therefore, called on the people to continue to observe all existing measures towards curbing the further spread of the disease in the country.

Read the full remarks by the PTF chairman at the briefing below:

REMARKS BY THE SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION/CHAIRMAN OF THE PTF-COVID-19 AT THE NATIONAL PRESS BRIEFING OF MONDAY, 10th AUGUST, 2020

​I welcome you all to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for Monday, 10th August 2020.

On Thursday 6th August 2020, the PTF intimated Nigerians with the new direction of further easing the lockdown in our National Response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we progress in this new phase of the eased lockdown, continual monitoring of global and national science and data remains the basis for strengthening our efforts to contain the virus.

​Key sectors that the PTF will be watching in addition to the general level of compliance are the education and transportation sectors.

Schools are gradually reopening with the commencement of preparations for critical examinations. Guidelines have already been issued by the Federal Ministry of Education to all stakeholders.

For the transportation sector, the PTF continues to follow the developments in railway and air transportation respectively.

Nigerians and sector stakeholders are admonished to ensure compliance with the various non-pharmaceutical measures already in place.  The PTF and the Federal Ministry of Aviation are working rapidly towards reopening of the international flights.

​The PTF will also be looking closely at the issue of Risk Communication and Community Engagement.

Messaging and consultations shall be intensified to drive the level of awareness and compliance to the wider population using mediums and platforms that are most effective generally and specifically.

Today, the global numbers of confirmed cases surpassed 20 million and 750,000 deaths. These statistics remain serious warning signals accompanied by pains and anguish to families and friends that have lost loved ones.

Africa’s confirmed cases have surpassed one million mark which is a landmark. The challenge however is that the true numbers could be higher because we suspect strongly that for every reported case, up to seven might have been missed.

Ladies and gentlemen, the numbers are surging, community spread has taken root and expanded beyond the urban areas. The watchword is vigilance and taking extra care.

​Nigeria, with 46,577 confirmed cases and 945 cumulative deaths, remains respectively the third and fourth highest in these parameters. As we emphasized at the last briefing, Nigeria is yet to reach the peak of the pandemic.

Therefore, the low test/ case confirmation numbers coming out daily should not be misinterpreted to mean that we have overcome. We have over time ramped up testing but more needs to be done to raise the quantum of test per million. Our analysis has however shown that:

(i)  five (5) States still account for 60% of cumulative cases;

(ii) 689 out of 774 LGAs have reported a case;

(iii) 85 LGAs in 20 States still remain with no testing done and no case

Reported; and

(iv)  50% of all cases are in 20% LGAs

The PTF is happy to note that many survivors are telling their stories and sharing them in the social media.

The stories of those who doubted the existence of the virus and became unfortunately infected and are now expressing appreciation for timely intervention of the case management team provide compelling proof that the virus is real.

I am also happy to note that the electronic media has taken up our challenge of joining the risk communication as depicted over the weekend with the face to face interview conducted by the Arise News team.

​It is also important I inform you that Nigeria continues to play its role in supporting the fight against COVID-19 on the West Africa Sub-Region.

Last week, men and women of the Nigerian Airforce distributed PPEs and medical supplies donated by the West African Health Organisation and other partners to our neighbors.

However, to show true leadership against the pandemic, we, as a people and country need to contain the virus by doing all we can to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the country at large.

I now call on the Honourable Minister of Health, DG, NCDC and the National Coordinator to provide us with their briefs.

​I thank you so much for your attention and have a good evening.