How Increased Travels, Religious Activities, Others Triggered Hike In COVID-19 Cases – PTF

A file photo of the SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, addressing reporters at the PTF briefing in Abuja.

 

​The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has highlighted the factors that led to the increased figures of coronavirus recorded in the country since November 2020.

Addressing reporters on Monday in Abuja, the PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, revealed that increased local and international travels were among the major factors.

He listed the others to include increased business and religious activities, reopening of schools without strict compliance with COIVID-19 safety measures.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), faulted the attitude of some state authorities to the management of the disease.

According to him, no state in Nigeria is immune to the pandemic even if reports are not coming out of such states.

The PTF chairman urged the people to stay away from activities that can expose them to the virus as the nation’s tally crossed 100,000.

He announced that the government has concluded plans to roll out the pilot exercise on the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test-Kits (RDTs) ​next week in five tertiary health institutions in Abuja.

Read the full text of the SGF at the briefing below:

REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 FOR MONDAY, 11TH JANUARY 2021

​I welcome you all to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for today, Monday, 11th January 2021.

​Reports coming in from all over the world show that the COVID-19 pandemic is still wreaking huge havoc on humanity, economies, and systems.

The Situation Report as of Sunday, 10th January point in the following direction:

On 8th January 2021: 833,496 cases were recorded. This represented the highest ever since the pandemic started

The three days preceding the 8th, each recorded over 700,000 cases

Global cases have now reached the 90,676,320 mark

Global fatality count is fast approaching the two million mark

The global CFR has declined from 2.2 to 2.1%

The CFR for Africa has also declined from 2.3 to 2.2%; and

The WHO African region crossed the two million case mark on Wednesday, 6th January 2020.

​In Nigeria, we have crossed the 100,000 cases mark and now rank second in the number of new cases, the 4th in cumulative cases in Africa, and 5th in cumulative deaths.

Last week, Nigeria recorded over 9,000 cases. Realistically, if we estimate the numbers missed, we would be in a much higher region.

There is no state in Nigeria that is immune to this pandemic even if reports are not coming out of such states. The Hon. Minister of State for Health and the DG NCDC will expand on the statistics during this briefing.

​It is, however, very instructive to stress that factors that have contributed to rise in numbers from late November 2020 included increased local and international travels, business and religious activities, reopening of schools without strict compliance with COIVID-19 safety measures.

​The full import of the fore-going is to press further on the need for us all to elevate the level of our vigilance and compliance with the recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions.

The current wave of infections is swift and virulent, and we do not know how long it will last. Besides, the facilities available for the treatment of critical cases remain very limited and we do not wish to be overwhelmed.

Your best bet, therefore, is to avoid infections completely. The PTF has continued to receive inquiries about the issue of testing before travelling out of Nigeria.

For the avoidance of doubts, the protocol in Nigeria requires inbound passengers to test, not more than 96 hours, before boarding flights to Nigeria.

However, for passengers leaving Nigeria, it remains the responsibility of travellers to confirm the requirements of the country of destination and that of the carrier of choice. The National Coordinator will clarify the extant protocol and the policy position.

For in-bound travellers, a new protocol on pre-boarding has been released and compliance is still strongly recommended. The additional requirements for passengers coming from the United Kingdom and South Africa also remain in force. The NC will also speak on this during the briefing.

​Next week the pilot exercise on the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test-Kits (RDTs) will be rolled out in 5 tertiary health institutions in Abuja. The DG NCDC will expand on this.

​The isolation of different strains of the virus is being vigorously pursued. In this regard, the PTF is working with the Africa CDC and the NCDC on the sequencing of the COVID strains circulating in Nigeria. We shall keep Nigerians informed as the exercise progresses.

​As part of measures to deepen community engagement and enforcement of protocols, the PTF met with the Nigerian Governors Forum last week and will be meeting with key religious and traditional leaders soon. It will similarly meet with security agencies.

​The third stream of NYSC members will resume on 18th January and the PTF is working closely with the management to ensure that participants are tested, and protocols are complied with.

​Finally, the PTF has advanced the preparation for the management of all aspects of the vaccines discuss.

Particularly, lessons are being drawn from other jurisdictions on the successes and challenges of the vaccine administration. The Executive Director of the NPHCDA will elaborate on this.

​I now invite the Honourable Minister of State for Health, the DG (NCDC), and the National Coordinator to brief you from the technical perspectives.

​I thank you all for listening.

UPDATED: Nigerian Govt To Review Resumption Date For Schools, Says Education Minister

A file photo of the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu.

 

The Nigerian government says it is currently reviewing the January 18 resumption date for schools across the country, following the rise in COVID-19 cases.

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, stated this on Monday at the resumed briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

On his part, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, spoke about the ongoing enrolment exercise being conducted by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

He noted that only the President has the power to issue any order to alter the subsisting one regarding the National Identity Number (NIN) registration.

Mamora’s comment was in reaction to his earlier comment where he suggested that the NIN registration may be suspended due to the increased breach in COVID-19 guidelines at the NIMC offices.

For the PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani aliyu, the security agencies will continue to enforce compliance with the non-pharmaceutical interventions within states.

He explained that in spite of a ‘no lockdown policy’, the PTF would review the existing protocols including a review of the curfew hours.

Aliyu added that a permit to travel would be enforced, particularly for travellers from the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Before the task force members took turns to give their updates, the PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, gave the opening remarks.

He outlined the factors that led to the increased figures of coronavirus recorded in the country since November 2020.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), revealed that increased local and international travels were among the major factors.

He listed the others to include increased business and religious activities, reopening of schools without strict compliance with COIVID-19 safety measures.

According to the PTF chairman, no state in Nigeria is immune to the pandemic even if reports are not coming out of such states.

He urged the people to stay away from activities that can expose them to the virus as the nation’s tally crossed 100,000.

COVID-19 Protocols: 33 Things Travellers Must Know Before Arriving In Nigeria

 

In a bid to properly tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus and its variants, the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has released guidelines for travellers who will be arriving in Nigeria.  

Below are 20 things every air passenger coming into Nigeria must do before and after arriving.

The PTF in its communique noted that a breach in these regulations will attract punishments.

READ ALSO: 1358 Deaths Recorded As Nigeria’s COVID-19 Cases Exceed 100,000

1.  Passengers MUST perform a COVID-19 PCR test not more than 4 days (96 hours) before boarding.  PCR tests done more than 96 hours before departure are not valid and persons will not be allowed to board.

2.  All intending passengers (including diplomats and children less than 10 years old) MUST register via an online national travel portal (Nigeria International Travel Portal – https://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng) and proceed to fill in the online Health Declaration/Self-Reporting form located on the portal.

They should ensure that the information/contact details provided on the form are correct and verifiable.

3. Passengers MUST be reachable via the phone number, email, and residential address they have provided and must also inform Port Health officials on arrival of any change in their health circumstances since completion of the Health Declaration/Self-Reporting Form.

Passengers who falsify their status as diplomats will face prosecution.

4. After filling the online Health Declaration/ Self-Reporting Form, passengers will be directed to upload their negative COVID-19 PCR test on to the portal. Once this is successfully done, they will proceed to the payment section of the travel portal.

5. Passengers are advised to still bring along an electronic or hard copy of their COVID-19 PCR test for presentation at the airport.

6. On reaching the payment section of the portal, passengers will be requested to select their preferred Laboratory/Sample Collection Centre based on where they will be self-isolating at Day-7 of arrival in Nigeria.

(A list of accredited private laboratory providers/Sample Collection Centers across the country are available on the payment platform. The next stage is to choose a bank payment gateway and then proceed to pay for the Day-7 in-country COVID-19 PCR test. Please note that passengers paying with naira should use cards issued by a Nigerian bank.

Diplomats and children less than 10 years old are exempted from payment for the repeat COVID-19 test).

7. Following successful payment, passengers should download the Permit to Travel Certificate/ QR Code using the “Get Permit to Travel” button visible at the top right corner of the portal, save and print the form for presentation at the point of boarding.

The Permit to Travel Certificate/QR code will have a “PAID” label if payment is successful and “UNPAID” label if payment has not gone through yet or is unsuccessful.

A copy of the Permit to Travel Certificate/ QR Code will also be sent to the email address provided by the passenger.

8. Prior to boarding for Nigeria, passengers MUST present TWO documents at their point of departure to be allowed to board and these documents are a negative COVID-19 PCR test administered within 4 days (96 hours) of departure.

Airlines have been directed not to board passengers with non-PCR COVID-19 tests (such as antigen/or antibody tests), a positive COVID-19 PCR test result, or tests performed beyond 96 hours of boarding.

The second required document is the Permit to Travel Certificate/QR Code – generated from the Nigeria International Travel Portal on completion of a health questionnaire, uploading of a negative COVID-19 PCR result and payment for the repeat Day-7 COVID-19 PCR test at Day-7 of arrival in Nigeria.

9. Passengers failing to show a Permit to Travel Certificate/QR Code will not be allowed to board.

10. Passengers departing from the United Kingdom and Republic of South Africa MUST show evidence of having paid for their post-arrival Day-7 COVID-19 PCR test prior to boarding.

11. Airlines that board passengers without any of the TWO documents (a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken not more than 96 hours prior to boarding and a Permit to Travel Certificate/QR code), shall be sanctioned.

12. Passengers, who are Non-Nigerians, will be refused entry and returned to the point of embarkation at a cost to the airline if they do not have the required documents.

13.  Passengers who are Nigerians and holders of permanent resident permit will be allowed entry, but subjected to a mandatory quarantine of 8-14 days (depending on results of COVID-19 PCR test done from Day-7 of arrival) at a facility approved by the government
and at cost to the passenger(s)/airline.

14.  Airlines shall be fined USD 3,500 per passenger for failure to comply with any of the preboarding requirements.

15. Airlines who fail to comply with the above requirements may be banned from coming to Nigeria.

16. At the time of boarding, travellers will be required to undergo temperature screening and be asked about COVID-19 symptoms.

17. Passengers with temperature greater than 38C and other COVID-19 related signs and symptoms shall not be allowed to board the flight.

18. On arrival in Nigeria, all passengers are advised to strictly adhere to instructions given by Port Health Services at the
arrival terminal. Passengers who fail to adhere to instructions may be sanctioned by relevant security personnel.

19. All passengers arriving in Nigeria will be required to go through the routine Port Health screening and present electronic or print-out evidence of preboarding COVID-19 PCR test and the Permit to Travel Certificate/QR Code.

20. All passengers will present their international passports for clearance through the Nigerian Immigration Service System’s Migrants Identification Data Analysis System (MIDAS).

The Nigerian Immigration Service will not retain passports.

21. Once allowed into the country, passengers must proceed on mandatory 7 days self-isolation/quarantine in their selected place of abode; self-isolation in the city of port of entry is not mandatory.

22. Passengers are advised to avoid physical interactions during self-isolation; interaction with friends, family, colleagues, and other members of the public should be avoided.

23. Passengers should check their emails/text messages regularly for updates regarding the arrangement for their repeat COVID-19 PCR test from the laboratory of their choice.

24. Passengers are to present themselves at the laboratory/sample collection centers on the 7th day of arrival. Samples will be taken, and a COVID-19 PCR test done.

The selected private laboratory provider will send a reminder text message, email, or phone call to the passenger a day before the appointment.

25. Passengers who fail to submit themselves at the sample collection centers on Day-7 of arrival will be sent text reminders and their details forwarded to the State Public Health Department teams and NCDC for active follow-up

26. Private laboratories will forward details of passengers who decline or do not show up for repeat PCR test by Day-14 of arrival. These passengers will face travel restrictions on their passports
for 6 months and will not be able to travel abroad for this period.

Non-Nigerian passport holders will have their visas revoked.

27. Test results will be ready within 72 hours and the State Public Health Department teams & Nigeria Center for Disease Control will be informed accordingly; persons who test POSITIVE for COVID-19 will be managed based on National Guidelines for COVID-19 treatment while persons who test NEGATIVE for COVID-19 after 7 days shall end self-isolation on receipt of their result but must continue to self-monitor for symptoms until Day-14.

28. Travellers reporting or developing symptoms of COVID-19 on arrival in Nigeria, or during screening will not be allowed to self-quarantine and will be placed in institutional quarantine.

29.  For deportees, if one person tests positive for COVID-19, all close primary contacts will be required to undergo enhanced screening and a follow-up PCR test if necessary.

30. Public Health Officers will monitor passengers during the period of self –isolation/quarantine. For this reason, passengers MUST provide a functional/valid telephone number on their online registration forms.

31. Persons who develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 during the isolation period will immediately be tested for COVID-19. If positive, they will be managed based on National Guidelines for COVID-19 treatment.

32. Persons who test positive for COVID-19 after the post-arrival Day-7 test shall be managed based on national guidelines for COVID-19 treatment.

33. Persons who test negative for COVID-19 after 7 days of self-isolation/quarantine will be allowed to exit self-isolation on receipt of their result.

‘Two COVID-19 Tests, Seven-Day Isolation’: FG Releases Guidelines For Travellers Arriving In Nigeria

PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, addressing reporters at a briefing in Abuja on August 24, 2020.

 

The federal government on Sunday released a ‘provisional quarantine protocol’ for travellers arriving into Nigeria amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nigeria, currently battling the pandemic’s second wave, crossed the 100,000-mark for COVID-19 infections late Sunday, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

With more cases expected to be imported from abroad, the federal government is seeking to tighten the nation’s borders.

READ ALSO: WHO Scientists To Visit China For Investigations Into COVID-19 Origins

The protocol, signed by Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF), requires travellers to perform a COVID-19 test not more than four days before boarding their flight into Nigeria.

Travellers must also ensure to register via an online national travel portal (Nigeria International Travel Portal – https://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng), where they are required to fill a questionnaire and pay for a second COVID-19 test to be carried out seven days after arriving in Nigeria.

Non-Nigerian travellers who flout any of the protocols will be refused entry into the country and returned to “the point of embarkation at a cost to the airline.”

Nigerians and holders of a permanent residence permit who do not comply will be subjected to “a mandatory quarantine of 8-14 days (depending on results of
COVID-19 PCR test done from Day-7 of arrival) at a facility approved by the government and at a cost to the passenger(s)/airline.”

On arrival in Nigeria, travellers are expected to self-isolate for seven days, during which they are expected “to avoid physical interaction with friends, family, colleagues, and other members of the public.”

 

DOWNLOAD AND READ THE FULL PROTOCOL HERE

 

 

731 Corps Members Test Positive For COVID-19 – PTF

(File Photo) Members of the National Youth Service Corps depart an Orientation Camp. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun / Channels TV

 

Seven hundred and thirty-seven corps members from the Batch B have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force On COVID-19, Boss Mustapha disclosed this on Tuesday.

According to him, the cases were recorded from all states across the country.

“In continuation of the NYSC engagement, the PTF has conducted the testing of Batch B Corpers using RDTs,” he said.

“Out of the 35,419 in the Batch B, 731 tested positive compared to 108 recorded during the Batch A.

“It is on record that cases were recorded from Corps Members from every State of the Federation”.

See the full speech of the PTF Chairman below.

REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 FOR TUESDAY, 5th JANUARY, 2021

I welcome you all to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for today, Tuesday, 5th January, 2021.

2.Let me on behalf of the PTF welcome all Nigerians to the year 2021. The PTF wishes everyone a happy, prosperous and healthy New Year.

3.At the last briefing to close 2020, we appealed to all Nigerians to stay safe and act in most defensive and protective ways by complying with the NPIs already prescribed. We do hope that at individual levels you took the expected responsibility.

4. Closely associated with that is the increasing daily numbers that we are recording. Yesterday 4th January, 2021, we recorded 1,204 infections. This was the highest daily number ever recorded since we commenced the national response. From our analysis, we are beginning to see the effect of activities carried out during the Christmas festivities. We can only hope that numbers will not escalate beyond control. We however, still appeal to all citizens to take full responsibility through compliance and vigilance.

5.As at date, the statistics for Nigeria shows the following:

✓ Cumulative cases: 91,351
✓ Cumulative Tests: 958,911
✓ Deaths: 1,318
✓ Week 53 recorded 57 deaths which is the highest for any single week since we started.

✓ There is also a rising rate of infections among health care workers and this calls for the escalation of surveillance.

✓ In Africa, Nigeria has joined South Africa in reporting the highest daily infection cases.

6.As we have always maintained, testing is a key strategy under the national response. To this end we can report that there are about 100 laboratories across the country. These are 71 public labs; 22 private labs and 7 corporate labs. Collectively, they are to help improve testing in the country.

7.Regrettably, however, there is still very low testing in a number of states. For clarity, the DG NCDC will elaborate on the spheres of responsibility in testing and the Federal Government has sufficiently supported the States to enable them support surveillance and IPC.

8.To overcome some of these challenges, the PTF will intensify the risk communication and community engagement to create awareness. The share level of doubts about the virus is alarming and I call on everyone to become advocates in support of the National Response.

9.In continuation of the NYSC engagement, the PTF has conducted the testing of batch B Corpers using RDTs. Out of the 35,419 in the Batch B, 731 tested positive compared to 108 recorded during the Batch A. It is on record that cases were recorded from Corps Members from every State of the Federation.

10. In the last two weeks, a lot has been discussed on case management and in particular, the availability of oxygen to save lives. We are pleased to inform you that the private sector – CACOVID has commenced supporting our response with 100 oxygen cylinders per day till the end of March, 2021, for distribution to critical care centres in Abuja.

11. Furthermore, approval has been given to rehabilitate five oxygen plants across various tertiary health institutions in Abuja. The President has also approved that at least one oxygen plant should be established in each state of the federation immediately. The National Coordinator will elaborate on this during this briefing.

12. The PTF is progressing on the issue of accessing vaccines for Nigerians. Additional information will be provided to Nigerians on accelerated vaccines introduction and deployment plan.

13.What is currently confronting us is a critical phase of infections globally. We are constantly reviewing our strategy to emerging situations especially in risk communication, vaccine hesitancy, fake news/disinformation.

14.Finally, I wish to confirm that the PTF has commenced the sanctions on passengers who defaulted on day-7 post-arrival tests. Their passport numbers have been published and travel restriction imposed for a period of six months effective 1st January, 2021.

15.Let me categorically state that the PTF has generated over 20,000 inbound passengers that have also defaulted. The publication will continue weekly till it is exhausted.

16.Nigerians should be aware that every defaulter is a threat to public health which is unacceptable to us and represent a drawback to the National Response. We have a duty to advise our relations, friends, associates to comply with laid down rules. The DG (NCDC) and the National Coordinator will update you on this.

17. I now invite the Hon. Minister of State for Health, the DG (NCDC) and the National Coordinator to brief you from the technical perspectives.

18.I thank you all for listening.

FG Won’t Force People To Take COVID-19 Vaccine – PTF

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 says it is important for Nigerians to get immunised against COVID-19 when the vaccines are available.

PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, stated this when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

He noted that the Federal Government would ensure as many Nigerians as possible get the vaccines, but that would be done at the individual’s will.

“Government will not press you down and inject you with the vaccine, no; it is going to be voluntary but it will be free and it will be initially for a specific group of people.

“We are going to prioritise healthcare workers; we are going to prioritise the elderly – those above the age of 60… because these are the set of people that are most likely to have severe COVID-19 infection,” the PTF coordinator revealed.

He added, “We look forward to having the vaccine in the coming four weeks and hopefully the first batch will arrive by the end of January, and those people who don’t want to vaccinate, we will try as much as we can to convince them.”

 

‘My Family Will Take The Vaccine’

Aliyu advised Nigerians to come out and get vaccinated when they are available, especially those who plan to travel out of the country for one reason or the other.

According to him, those who do not receive the vaccines may be stuck when countries begin to demand a certificate before granting travellers entry in the next six months to a year.

For the PTF coordinator, the implication will be that such person will be unable to travel to Saudi Arabia for hajj, or for Christian pilgrimage in Israel, or on holiday and business trips to Dubai, China, and South Africa, among other countries.

“If the vaccine was available today in this country, I will have it, and my family will have it, and I am very sure that vast majority of Nigerians will accept the vaccine because the vaccine, together with the non-pharmaceutical interventions, is the only way we can get on top of this epidemic,” he said.

Aliyu also faulted the insinuations that COVID-19 was not real, saying more than two dozens of people lost the battle to the virus in the last one week.

He advised those spreading such news to desist from it, stressing that the country reported alarming figures of confirmed cases in the previous week.

The PTF coordinator said, “All I can say is (that) 33 people died of COVID-19 in the last one week, are we saying that those people died for nothing? COVID-19 exists, anybody who says COVID-19 does not exist is probably living in a completely different world.

“The international community, they are not stupid enough to introduce something that will harm their people; these vaccines have been tried.”

COVID-19: FG Releases Passport Details Of 100 Banned Passengers

PTF Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, briefing reporters in Abuja on December 29, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has published the passport numbers of 100 travellers, who failed to undergo the mandatory COVID-19 test after their return to Nigeria.

Details of the passports were published by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Saturday.

“Based on Presidental authority, travel restrictions are placed on the following passports due to non-compliance to the mandatory Day 7 post-arrival COVID-19 test,” the communique read.

It said the restrictions started from January 1, 2021, and would last till June 30, 2021.

The PTF also confirmed that the affected passengers have been notified and will be prevented from out of the country during the period.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had earlier in the week said the affected travellers would be published before the end of the week.

Nigeria has recorded over 85,000 COVID infections including more than 1,200 associated fatalities, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Reopen All Labs And Keep Isolation Centres Open, PTF Tells States

COVID-19: Reopen All Labs And Keep Isolation Centres Open, PTF Tells States

PTF Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, briefing reporters in Abuja on December 29, 2020.

 

Authorities in all 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been asked to reopen all laboratories and scale up the testing for COVID-19.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, made the appeal on Tuesday at a briefing in Abuja.

“We wish to urge all states to reopen all laboratories and ensure that testing is expanded and turnaround time for results is substantially reduced.

“In the same vein, states should please keep their Isolation and Treatment Centres open because of the rising cases of infection nationwide,” he told reporters at the briefing.

Nigeria has tested 937,712 samples, out of which 84,811 infections have been confirmed, 12,190 cases are active, 71,357 people have been discharged, and 1,264 fatalities recorded – as of 7pm on December 29, 2020.

This data is according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)’s micro-website dedicated to monitoring the outbreak in the country.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), added, “Reports received also point to the fact that laboratories recently established in the states are not working optimally.

“You will recall that we moved from two laboratories to about ninety (public and private) located in all states of the Federation. Their inability to function optimally has resulted in unacceptable levels of delay in receiving results and pressure on the national reference labs.”

A screenshot taken on December 29, 2020, shows Nigeria’s COVID-19 data.

 

He announced that effective from January 1, 2021, the passports of the first 100 passengers that have failed to take their post-arrival PCR test would be published in the national dailies.

According to the PTF chairman, the passports of the erring returning travellers will be suspended until June 2021, to serve as a deterrent.

On the issue of oxygen availability as critical to the success of managing the outbreak, he noted that a review of the chain for the supply of medical oxygen for facilities across the country was ongoing.

COVID-19 Second Wave: Cross River Govt Asks PTF, FG To Provide More Isolation Centres

A map of Cross River, a state in south-south Nigeria.

 

The Cross River State Government has asked the Federal Government, the Presidential Task Force Team, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to urgently provide the state with COVID-19 testing and isolation centre.

This follows the second wave of the pandemic.

The appeal is followed by the looting and vandalization of the State’s owned testing and 120 beds isolation center by angry youths as a result of the aftermath of the ENDSARS protest in the State.

Addressing Journalist at the state’s Ministry of Health, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu said the need is prompt as those who vandalised the testing Center made away with COVID-19 samples, thereby putting their lives and those of others at risk.

PTF Insists 12am-4am Curfew Remains, Announces New COVID-19 Protocols

PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, briefs reporters in Abuja on December 24, 2020.

 

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has insisted that the 12am-4am curfew remains in force amid the second wave of coronavirus in the country.

Dr Sani Aliyu, who is the National Coordinator of the PTF, stated this on Thursday while briefing reporters in Abuja.

He also announced new protocols as part of measures to curb the spread of the disease, including the closure of bars and clubs in various parts of the country.

The PTF coordinator called on the security agencies to enforce the protocols on the use of face masks and physical distancing.

He echoed the directive that civil servants on Grade Level 12 and below should work from home and asked the permanent secretaries in the respective ministries to enforce the order.

READ ALSO: Don’t Close Down Your COVID-19 Treatment Centres, PTF Begs State Govts

Among other protocols, Aliyu called on state authorities to delay the resumption of schools until at least January 18, 2021.

He also gave an update on what the Federal Government was doing about the new strain of COVID-19 discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

The PTF coordinator disclosed that from Monday next week, all passengers coming in from the UK and South Africa would be compelled to provide their details on the online portal.

According to him, they will also be made to pay for PCR testing on arrival and must test negative and be presented a permit to travel before they will be allowed into Nigeria.

Aliyu noted that a register would also be opened for all passengers from the two countries and the government would ensure that they take the test after seven days.

He gave an assurance that the Federal Government would ensure that those who evade the process were severely dealt with.

The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, also gave an update on the pandemic at the press briefing.

Others who briefed reporters were the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, and the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.

Don’t Close Down Your COVID-19 Treatment Centres, PTF Begs State Govts

(FILE) PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, addressing reporters in Abuja.

 

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has appealed to authorities in various states not to close down the facilities built to treat persons infected with COVID-19.

PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, made the plea on Thursday while briefing reporters in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Instead, he wants them to keep the centres running efficiently and smoothly as the country begins to witness the second wave of the virus.

Mustapha explained that it was necessary for authorities to intensify efforts to support the public sector laboratories with critical reagents.

According to him, the PTF expects the leadership of all federal tertiary health institutions to raise their level of testing and turnaround for results.

The SGF noted that a series of advisories were issued by the PTF to state governments on ways to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country, in line with the authorisation of the President.

He revealed that as a follow-up, the PTF met with the select team of governors on the platform of the National Economic Council (NEC) and by extension, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).

The PTF chairman stated that the task force was aware of the global conversation on the new strain of COVID-19 discovered in the United Kingdom.

He said the government’s health experts were working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to study the variant strain and would make a statement at the appropriate time.

Mustapha gave an assurance that the PTF would increase measures pertaining to high burden countries to scale down the possibilities of importation of the disease.

He asked Nigerians to expect an improvement very soon on the turnaround time for receiving COVID-19 test results.

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

REMARKS OF THE SGF AT THE NATIONAL BRIEFING OF THE PTF ON COVID-19 FOR THURSDAY, 24TH DECEMBER, 2020

I welcome you all to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) for Thursday, 24th December 2020.

The PTF wishes all Nigerians a safe, COVID-free Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

As the President advised in his address to the PTF on Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, please shelve all non-essential travels during the period and avoid large gatherings.

You will recall that in line with the authorisation of the President, a number of advisories were issued to states on ways to curb the spread of the virus in Nigeria.

As a follow-up to this development, the PTF met with the select team of governors on the platform of the National Economic Council and by extension, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.

The meeting was robust, and the governors shared their experiences on the implementation of these measures and pledged to push it further.

In his speech, the President made several pronouncements including:

Further extension of the mandate of the PTF till March 2020;

Authorisation to ensure that violators of the travel protocols are sanctioned;

The plan for a comprehensive health sector reform; and

The determination of the government to pursue the issue of vaccines in a safe, effective and cost-friendly manner.

For us on the PTF, we thank Mr President for the confidence he has in our ability to deliver on the mandate and we rededicate ourselves to more work.

The successes recorded by the PTF in managing the control of the pandemic since March 2020 could never have been possible without the support of our partners being the media that took the message to Nigerians.

We also thank the National Assembly, the sub-national entities, the private sector coalition, the international community, development partners, well-meaning Nigerians, security agencies, and our frontline workers. The list is endless.

As we commence the process of adding vaccines to the task, we wish to reaffirm that all aspects of the pronouncement of the President will be approached with the seriousness it deserves.

New guidelines have been developed and will be unveiled by the National Coordinator. The task is huge, but our will is stronger this time.

Accordingly, the PTF is working with the relevant MDAs on regulatory and certification issues before we go further, on the subject of vaccines.

In 2021, its vaccines plus NPIs. As we make progress on this NPIs +Vaccines phase, I urge the state governments not to close down their treatment centres.

Rather they should keep them running efficiently and smoothly because the cases of infections are rising and we must intensify our efforts to support the public sector laboratories with critical reagents and the PTF expects the leadership of all Federal Tertiary Health Institutions to raise their level of testing and turnaround for results. The DG NCDC will elaborate on this during this briefing.

Similarly, the PTF is aware of the global conversation on the new strain of virus discovered in the UK.

We had assured Nigerians that our experts working with the WHO are studying the variant strain and shall make a statement at the appropriate time. The WHO Rep will elaborate on this.

On international travel, especially from the UK, South Africa, and some very high burden areas, we continue to evaluate the actions taken by various countries.

We note that some of the countries that initially banned flights have now adopted the requirement already in place in Nigeria.

We have also weighed the security, economic and social implications of a full ban, especially when we consider the situation in our neighbouring countries and the ECOWAS as a whole.

The PTF shall increase measures pertaining to those high burden countries to scale down the possibilities of importation. The National Coordinator will elaborate on this.

The PTF is working assiduously on the turnaround time for receiving test results. We are working with the NCDC to improve on this. Nigerians should expect improvement very soon.

I now invite the Hon. Minister of State for Health, the DG NCDC, and the National Coordinator to update you on technical developments.

I thank you for listening and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Remember, COVID-19 is not going on holiday. Stay Safe, always.

Buhari Extends PTF Mandate Till March 2021

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the mandate of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 until March 2021.

He gave the approval on Tuesday at a meeting with members of the task force at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

At the meeting, President Buhari received the end-of-year report of the task force led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha.

He noted that the mandate of the PTF was extended for a further period of three months, bearing in mind the new surge in the number of cases and the bid for vaccines.

According to the President, recent reports have indicated that Nigeria is facing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases, a situation that is similar to the second wave of infections recorded in other countries.

He added that new epicentres have been identified and Nigeria cannot afford to lose the gains of the last nine months.

President Muhammadu Buhari receives the end-of-year report of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 from the PTF Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, in Abuja on December 22, 2020.

 

President Buhari said that he has critically evaluated the situation and remained convinced that urgent measures needed to be taken to curb the spread and the attendant fatalities.

He explained that this necessitated the need to speedily and strategically access and administer the COVID-19 vaccine in a safe, effective, and timely manner.

The president informed the PTF members that this has become an important obligation that the government owed Nigerians in the new year and it must be carried out through efficient machinery.

President Muhammadu Buhari at a meeting with members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and others in Abuja on December 22, 2020.

 

Read the full text of President Buhari’s address at the meeting below:

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE PRESENTATION OF THE END-OF-YEAR REPORT OF THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID 19 AT THE STATE HOUSE, PRESIDENTIAL VILLA, ABUJA ON TUESDAY, 22ND DECEMBER, 2020.

PROTOCOLS:

The year 2020 has been most challenging for the whole of humanity as a result of the havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 on lives, livelihoods, global and national economies, governance structures, health, social welfare, and other systems.

It has consumed an inordinate amount of resources deployed to address it by countries of the world, without abating.

Sadly, the COVID 19 pandemic has also taken and keeps taking, precious lives of our loved ones, leaving several homes, families, and associates to mourn. May the Almighty God grant all those that have lost their lives to this deadly virus eternal rest.

Over the last nine months, I received a total of eight Interim Reports along with one Mid-Term Report, apprising me progressively of developments on the COVID-19 pandemic, from the Presidential Task Force.

I similarly approved several far-reaching measures recommended to support the achievement of the objectives of our National Response. I have been in constant touch about the pandemic in all corners of our country.

Let me also add that I have religiously followed the daily national briefings by the PTF which has become the platform for communicating with Nigerians and the most authentic source of information which substantially reduced the space for fake news.

The successes recorded by the PTF in managing the control of the pandemic since March 2020 are largely attributable to the multi-sectoral approach adopted by the government, the proactive steps taken, and the commitment of its members.

I wish to acknowledge the immeasurable support received from the National Assembly, state governments, the private sector coalition, the international community, development partners, well-meaning Nigerians who donated in cash and kind and also made sacrifices, the media organisations, security agencies, and the frontline workers who toiled day and night as our last line of defence. The list is endless. Our gratitude is endless.

On behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria, I thank you one and all for your support and contributions to this National Response to a global emergency.

The impact of the COVID-19 on global and national economies cannot even now be fully assessed. No nation of the world has been spared the experience of different degrees of the economic downturn as several countries including Nigeria went into negative growth territories.

To mitigate this impact, we developed an Economic Sustainability Plan aimed at cushioning the impact at all levels and stabilizing our economy.

Family businesses, small, and medium-scale enterprises, and the manufacturing sector were all supported through various windows.

Appropriate support has also been provided through the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program, as well as the Trader and Market Moni loans.

For the very vulnerable, significant steps taken include:

Expansion of the National Social Register to 3.6 million beneficiaries across thirty-six states;

Support provided to 8, 827,129 households through the 70,000MT food grains released from the Strategic Reserve; and

Support to 1,289,405 vulnerable households that benefitted from the Conditional Cash Transfers across 34 States.

The pandemic also revealed the vulnerabilities in our health system which compelled our determination to ensure that its support is given top priority in terms of infrastructure, human and institutional capacities, legislative support, etc.

It must be emphasised that this administration recognizes that an effective and efficient health sector represents a significant component of our security and economic growth strategy.

It is in this regard that I am pleased to note the legacy improvements made in the health sector in the areas of laboratory infrastructure, treatment centres, training of health care personnel, improvement in surveillance and Port Health capacities, etc.

I must again single out and thank those private entrepreneurs who sourced and installed impressive healthcare facilities in some strategic places as their contribution to this National Emergency.

There is still more work to be done in the health sector to help us cater for our citizens and minimize the drain on our foreign exchange and trained manpower through medical tourism.

For Nigeria to enjoy a lasting legacy from the huge investment in the health sector, a comprehensive Health Sector Reform that will achieve the following amongst others must be instituted.

The objectives include to:

Build the human and institutional capacity to provide a world-class  21st century health care system, capable of responding effectively to future pandemics;

Develop a viable strategy for our primary and tertiary healthcare system;

Re-align institutional mandates and functions within the health sector for effectiveness and efficiency;

Distinguish policy and coordination from implementation responsibilities; and

Strengthen the statutory and regulatory capacities within the health sector

Recent reports reaching me indicate that Nigeria is now facing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide which is similar to the second wave of infections occurring in other countries across the world.

New epicentres have been identified and the nation cannot afford to lose the gains of the last nine months. I have critically evaluated the situation and remain convinced that urgent measures have to be taken to halt the spread and the attendant fatalities.

Closely associated with the foregoing is the need to speedily and strategically access and administer the COVID vaccine in a safe, effective, and timely manner.

This is an important obligation that we owe Nigerians as we go into the year 2021 and it must be carried out through efficient machinery.

Accordingly, I have authorised the following measures for implementation:

The extension of the mandate of the PTF for a further period till the end of March, 2021 bearing in mind the new surge in the number of cases and the bid for vaccines;

That the PTF should coordinate the process for planning and the strategy for accessing, delivery, and administration of the vaccines using the existing health structures that have worked in the past in vaccine administration;

Authorised the PTF to engage with the States for them to assume full ownership of this stage of the response by deploying legal structures and resources, including enforcement to manage the pandemic within their jurisdictions. Details of the advisory measures have already been announced; and

Authorised the PTF and the Nigeria Immigration Service to ensure that all in-bound passengers who failed to show up for post-arrival COVID-19 test are sanctioned within the ambit of the law, for breaching the public health protocols.

The nation is clearly in a perilous situation given the virulent nature of this second wave and we must act decisively to protect our people.

I, therefore, urge all sub-national entities, traditional rulers, religious and leaders of thought to collaborate with the PTF by taking up the responsibility for risk communication and community engagement at all levels. Now is the time for collective efforts to be intensified.

As the festive season approaches, I urge all Nigerians to remain vigilant and stay safe. Non-essential trips and large social gatherings should be avoided or shelved completely.

I thank you all for your commitment and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.