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.

FG Imposes New COVID-19 Restrictions, Shuts Down Nightclubs, Recreational Centres

PTF Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, announces new COVID-19 measures at a briefing in Abuja on December 21, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has imposed new restrictions amid the rising cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in various parts of the country.

Mr Boss Mustapha, who is the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, announced this on Monday at the briefing of the task force in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He explained that the directives were advisories issued to state authorities for implementation in the next five weeks.

The new restrictions include the closure of all bars, nightclubs, pubs and event centres, as well as recreational venues in all states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

All restaurants were also directed to close, except those providing services to hotel residents, takeaways, home deliveries, and drive-ins.

Similarly, all informal and formal festivity events, including weddings, conferences, congresses, office parties, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, end of year events, have been restricted to not more than 50 people.

The government also limited all gatherings linked to religious events to less than 50 per cent of the capacity of the facility of use which physical distancing and use of face masks should be strictly enforced.

According to Mr Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), events where more than 50 people are attending should be held outdoors only.

He added that public transportation systems should carry passengers not more than 50 per cent of their capacity, in compliance with social distancing rules.

Read the SGF’s full speech at the briefing below:

REMARKS OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PTF FOR THE NATIONAL BRIEFING OF MONDAY, 21ST DECEMBER, 2020

​I welcome you all to the National Briefing for Monday 21st December 2020

​Over the past four briefings, the PTF has been raising the alert flag on the rising number of infections in the country and the possibility of a second wave arriving at our shores.

​Recent Epidemiology records confirm to the PTF 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.

Particularly, Lagos, Kaduna and the FCT have emerged as the new epicentres during this period, with over 70% of all confirmed cases.

Two major indicators highlight the current increase in cases and transmission across Nigeria. These are:

Notwithstanding the fact that our testing numbers are fast approaching the peak recorded in July 2020, the number of cases being reported are disproportionately higher.

For example, in the FCT, despite recording an increase of 85% in tests conducted over the last week, the number of confirmed cases increased by 285% during the same time period; and

These trends point to a higher Test Positivity Rate (TPR) – the number of positive cases detected as a proportion of all tests).

The TPR was below 5% through September and October and we recorded a low point of 3% nationally in late October 2020. However, recent trends in cases have seen this number increase to 10% in the second week of December.

These high numbers are further reflected in the increase of admissions to COVID-19 treatment centres and fatalities, particularly in the three epicentre states.

​The result of the analysis carried out by the PTF further indicate that the current pattern of spread and the surge is likely to be driven by the following factors:

The lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions – particularly the disregard for mask use in public, large gatherings as a result of events linked to the yuletide season and recent civil demonstrations,

Further disregard for other public health preventive measures, such as hand hygiene and physical distance requirements,

The activities and assumptions of our youthful population which has resulted in an increase in the infection rate among young people, who are subsequently infecting older and more vulnerable family members.

​From our assessment, the current situation are clearly the consequences of certain occurrences and events of the last few weeks. These include:

Sudden increase in social gatherings involving large congregations from different parts of the country, and the world, at events such as weddings, religious activities, political rallies, conferences and end of year celebrations,

These events, classified globally as ‘supers-spreader events’, make the risk of a single infection causing a large outbreak among attendees significantly higher,

Furthermore, as we reopened the economy, we experienced increased economic, social and religious gatherings and activities all of which have combined to play a part in viral transmissions. These include:

The opening of the international airspace in September 2020 – while the average number of daily imported infections into the country in the last 90 days is estimated to be about seven cases, compared to 100-150 reported new infections in the community since the beginning of community transmission, the test positivity rate in travellers arriving Lagos has recently doubled to 6.3%,

The resumption of schools – outbreaks have been reported in schools following the resumption of physical classes,

The resumption of NYSC orientation camps – this risk has been mitigated by ensuring that all NYSC members were screened for COVID-19 prior to admission to camp, but confirmed cases have still been identified through tests carried out,

The full opening of offices with the return to work of government workers from GL. 12 and below – outbreaks have also been reported in public offices, most likely linked to overcrowding, poor ventilation and the lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions, and,

The opening of the economy with progressive relaxation of restrictions in congregational areas such as places of worship, restaurants, bars, lounges, shopping, and event centres.

You will also recall that the PTF established the Nigeria International Travel Portal for the control of possible importation of the virus.

Statistics show that a good percentage of in-bound travellers have breached the travel protocols thereby making surveillance and testing suffer undue setbacks.

The following statistics will be of interest:

As at date, 163,818 inbound travellers have been captured on the portal,

Out of this number, 77,025 (47%) made payment for post-arrival testing,

64,405 (84%) of the number are due for post-arrival test,

Out of 44,189 (69%) that were due for post-arrival test, 44,189 representing (59%) of those tested, and,

20,216 (31%) have not shown up for post-arrival test thereby endangering members of the community and breaching the protocols they signed up to.

​The PTF has concluded arrangements with the Nigeria Immigration Service to impose sanctions on these defaulters for breaching the public health protocols, within the ambit of the law.

​The PTF has surveyed developments and actions taken by governments around the world, assessed our domestic environment and has accordingly submitted its recommendations to Mr President on immediate measures to be taken.

​Accordingly, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has authorised the PTF to engage with the States and the FCT 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.

​In line with the authorisation, the PTF wishes to issue the following advisories to sub-national entities for implementation over the next five weeks because these activities are considered super spreader events:

Close all bars, night clubs, pubs and event centres, and recreational venues,

Close all restaurants except those providing services to hotel residents; takeaways, home deliveries and drive-ins shall remain closed,

Restrict all informal and formal festivity events including weddings, conferences, congresses, office parties, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, end of year events shall be restricted to not more than 50 persons,

Limit all gatherings linked to religious events to less than 50% capacity of the facility of use during which physical distancing; mandatory use of face masks shall be strictly enforced,

Where more than 50 persons are attending, any such events, the gathering should be held outdoors only,

Public transportation systems are to carry passengers not more than 50% of their capacity in compliance with social distancing rules.

Enforce compliance with NPI protocols, especially the advisory on wearing of face masks in public spaces,

To reduce overcrowding in public spaces, markets, shopping centres, offices and schools, states are advised to implement the following:

Encourage virtual meetings in government offices. The leadership of such offices are to ensure that all offices are well-ventilated offices, and encourage staff to work from home where possible,

All government staff on GL.12 and below are to stay at home for the next 5 weeks; Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executives are to be held accountable for enforcing NPI rules in their domains with frequent spot checks,

The PTF on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Education expects that schools would have vacated from the 18th December 2020 and remain closed till at least the 18th of January 2021 to enable the measures introduced to take effect,

All persons above the age of 60yrs and/or with comorbidities are to be encouraged to stay at home and avoid crowds,

All non-essential travels – both domestic and international during the holiday season are seriously discouraged,

To strengthen risk communication and community engagement activities over the next five weeks, states are encouraged to:

Engage community and religious leaders, arrange town hall meetings (ideally set outdoors) to address concerns,

Intensify public messaging activities, leveraging on existing government and partner assets,

Reach out to youths and younger adults with health promotion activities,

Invest in local face mask purchase and distribution to the general public to encourage use.

Where applicable, the PTF shall also implement these authorisations.

For example, it shall work with the Nigeria Immigration Service to impose sanctions on all in-bound travellers who violated the travel protocols and endangered the lives of their loved ones and other citizens by refusing to take the post-arrival test.

The PTF will similarly work with the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to implement aspects related to the Public Service.

​A lot of discussions is still going on around the calls for the restriction of international travels due to the discovery of new strains of the virus in certain countries.

The PTF, Aviation and health authorities including the WHO, are assessing the situation closely and would take a position as soon as a cogent scientific basis are established.

The protection of Nigerians remains our primary concern and we reassure Nigerians of our resolve not to relent.

​Tomorrow, Tuesday 22nd December 2020 at 3.00pm, the PTF shall be submitting its end of the year (2020) Report to Mr President and Nigerians shall be kept abreast of developments in this regard.

​I now call on the Hon. Minister of Health, the Director-General (NCDC) and the National Coordinator to update you on the technical developments.

​I thank you for listening.

COVID-19: What Nigeria Is Doing About Calls To Ban Flights From UK, Others – PTF

A file photo of passengers at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja following the resumption of international flights on September 7, 2020. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/ Channels Television.

 

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 says Nigerian authorities are aware of the calls to restrict international travels due to the discovery of new strains of coronavirus in some countries.

PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, stated this on Monday while briefing reporters in Abuja.

He explained that the task force, as well as aviation and health authorities, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), were assessing the situation closely.

Mustapha gave an assurance that the government would take a position as soon as a cogent scientific basis was established.

According to him, the protection of Nigerians remains the primary concern of the government and it will not relent in its resolve.

READ ALSO: FG Imposes New COVID-19 Restrictions, Shuts Down Nightclubs, Recreational Centres

 

A Harder Than Necessary Hit

The SGF revealed that the PTF would submit its end of the year report to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, adding that Nigerians would be kept abreast of developments in that regard.

Calls to restrict international travels were triggered by the report of another variant of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

PTF Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, announces new COVID-19 measures at a briefing in Abuja on December 21, 2020.

 

Among the concerned voices was that of a former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.

In a statement on Sunday, Atiku explained that the reason Nigeria took “a harder than necessary hit” during the first wave of COVID-19 was that the government failed to heed the warnings of well-meaning Nigerians to shut down the nation’s borders as soon as the virus became a pandemic.

The new variant of coronavirus in the UK and South Africa is said to be more infectious than the original virus.

Following its emergence, dozens of countries, including France and other nations of the European Union have suspended flights from the UK.

 

The Virus Can Be Stopped

But the United Nations health agency – WHO – has allayed the fears attributed to the new coronavirus variant.

Despite having a higher transmission rate, WHO’s emergencies chief, Michael Ryan, told reporters on Monday that the new strain was not yet out of control and could be contained using existing measures.

He noted that the world has had a much higher contamination rate at different points in the pandemic and they were brought under control.

“So, this situation is not in that sense out of control. But it cannot be left to its own devices. The measures we currently have in place are the correct measures,” Ryan said.

He added, “We need to do what we have been doing, we may just have to do it with a little more intensity and for a little longer to make sure we can bring this virus under control.

“In some senses, it means we have to work harder … even if the virus has become a little bit more efficient in spreading, the virus can be stopped.”

SGF, Wife In Isolation As Household Members Test Positive For COVID-19

A file photo of the SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, addressing reporters at a PTF briefing in Abuja on July 27, 2020.

 

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, and his wife have gone into isolation after some members of their household tested positive for COVID-19.

Mustapha, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, confirmed this in a statement on Sunday.

Although he did not specify who the infected persons are, he noted that their health status was confirmed on Saturday evening after the results of the tests carried out on their samples collected were received.

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The SGF, however, stated that they were asymptomatic and have been isolated at one of the government’s treatment centres where they were receiving care.

He added that he took the test along with his wife and the results came back negative but would remain in self-isolation according to protocols by the health authorities.

Mustapha sought the prayers of Nigerians for his family and urged them to be mindful that the nation was already witnessing an increase in COVID-19 cases across many states.

Read the full statement of the SGF below:

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION

PRESS RELEASE

SOME MEMBERS OF SGF’S HOUSEHOLD TEST POSITIVE TO COVID-19.

I would like to inform the general public that some members of my household tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday evening.

Although they are currently asymptomatic, they have been isolated and are receiving care in one of the government treatment centres.

My wife and I tested negative but will remain in self-isolation and work from home according to protocols by the health authorities.

I would like to remind all Nigerians that COVID-19 is real. As the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced last week, we are recording an increase in cases across several states.

Please stay safe and protect yourself. Adhere to all public health and safety measures so that we do not lose the gains we have made in the fight against COVID-19.

As a family, we covet your prayers.

Please Take Responsibility for yourself and to protect our country!

SIGN

Boss Mustapha

Secretary To The Government of The Federation /Chairman PTF on Covid-19

13th December, 2020.

Nigeria Working Closely With WHO To Access COVID-19 Vaccines, Says PTF

A file photo of PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, at a press briefing in Abuja.

 

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 says Nigerian authorities are working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to access vaccines as soon as they are available.

PTF Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this on Monday at the weekly briefing of the task force in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He explained why the briefing failed to hold last week, adding that some flights from Europe resumed operations into Nigeria in the previous week.

Mustapha, who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), noted that this made it necessary to review some of the testing protocols.

He, however, urged Nigerians against travelling during the yuletide, stating that COVID-19 infection rate was increasing.

READ ALSO: 34,785 Tested For COVID-19 Across NYSC Camps, 138 Positive – NCDC Boss

The PTF chairman stressed that restrictions on large gatherings remain in force during the festivities and decried the low responses to testing.

He observed that while the number appeared low, it has witnessed a steady rise recently.

On the economic situation in the country, Mustapha was worried that the recession could affect national response to the pandemic.

He decried that some travellers were involved in presenting fake testing documents, but the PTF was working closely with relevant agencies of government and legal authorities to impose the necessary sanctions on in-country travellers who evade testing or present fake documents.

This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. Handout / Russian Direct Investment Fund / AFP
(FILE) A handout picture taken on August 6, 2020, shows COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. AFP

 

As of 9am on Monday, Nigeria has tested a total of 743,298 samples collected from all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Of the samples collected, 66,383 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed with 62,076 people successfully treated and discharged.

One thousand one hundred and sixty-seven people have lost the fight to coronavirus while 3,140 cases are active.

We Need To Scale Up Surveillance To Prevent Surge In COVID-19 Cases – Ehanire

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire.

 

The Federal Government has raised concern over the possible surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Speaking during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Tuesday in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, warned that Nigeria might have increased infections if surveillance is not followed.

“As business and schools begin to open and as travels begin to pick up, we fear that we may have a surge in the number of cases unless we scale up surveillance and review our response plan to integrate new ways to deal with the disease,” he said.

“In line with this, the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research has developed a molecular test for COVID-19 that can give results in less than 40 minutes. It is the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA) which can be performed by low skilled personnel with minimum training.

“This test which is ten times cheaper than the PCR, can be deployed for point of care detection and surveillance.

“The technique which was developed by Dr. Chika Onwuamah will be deployed for use as soon as it is validated by the relevant agencies of the Ministry for specificity and Sensitivity.”

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

PRESS BRIEFING BY HONOURABLE MINISTER OF HEALTH, DR. OSAGIE EHANIRE AT THE PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 ON THURSDAY 29TH  SEPTEMBER, 2020

Protocol

A total of 58,460 confirmed cases have been recorded as at today, 29th September, 2020 with 49,895 cases treated and discharged.  This result is from a total of 509,555 persons tested for COVID-19. Sadly, the number of deaths as a result of the disease has since crossed the 1100 mark with 1111 deaths recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. We currently have 7,454 active cases which are being managed at home or are in treatment centres with about half of them in Lagos State.

2.            The number of active cases has continued to drop as we revise our discharge criteria in line with new knowledge of the disease even as we continue to strengthen our case management pillar to provide effective and efficient quality care to all those who test positive whether they are in our facilities or home care.

3.            As business and schools begin to open and as travels begin to pick up, we fear that we may have a surge in the number of cases unless we scale up surveillance and review our response plan to integrate new ways to deal with the disease.

4.            In line with this, the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research has developed a molecular test for COVID-19 that can give results in less than 40 minutes. It is the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA) which can be performed by low skilled personnel with minimum training. This test which is ten times cheaper than the PCR can be deployed for point of care detection and surveillance. The technique which was developed by Dr. Chika Onwuamah will be deployed for use as soon as it is validated by the relevant agencies of the Ministry for specificity and Sensitivity.

5.            I commend the Management of NIMR led by prof. Salako and particularly Dr. Onwuamah for this laudable breakthrough. I also extend the appreciation of Government to the FATE Philanthropy Coalition for COVID-19 (FPCC) Support Fund for funding the project. Government will continue to support every genuine initiative that contribute to our response plan.

6.            On Friday, 25 September, 2020, I had the privilege of performing the   commissioning and hand over of the Infectious Disease Centre at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital which is a purpose-built infectious disease treatment centre as part of the commitment of the Federal Government to providing the necessary infrastructure and resources for infectious disease management. It will go a long way towards improving our capacity to respond to all infectious diseases.

7.            It is a fall back facility which we do not have to put to use if we observe all necessary preventive measures such as wearing of face masks, observing respiratory hygiene, and physical distancing. In addition, we also need to ensure that we test and isolate all those with symptoms which suggest COVID-19. 

8.            This morning, the top management Committee of the Federal Ministry of Health played host to the Victims Support funds (VSF) who were in the Ministry to officially present some IT equipment to the federal Ministry of Health to boost the technical capacity of personnel support our response to the pandemic. The VSF has been supporting the Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19. I wish to use this opportunity to General T.Y Danjuma and the management of the VSF for the initiative. I recall that the fund has also supported the NCDC as well.

9.            I shall again renew my appeal to state government to continue to ensure that we step up case findings, sample collection and testing. It is only by testing that we can identify those with the infection for isolation and treatment. This is the only way we can truly halt the spread of the disease and confirm that we have actually contained the pandemic.

10.          Our goal is to have at least one standard Infectious Disease centre in every state. We shall therefore work with states establish purpose-built treatment centres that will ensure we are better prepared for infectious disease outbreaks in the country.

11.          Thank you

Emir Of Zazzau’s Burial: Group Laments Breach Of COVID-19 Protocols, Asks PTF To Act

 

A group called the Anap Foundation Think Tank has called on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to take urgent action against those breaching public gathering protocols.

The group in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman, Atedo N. A. Peterside CON; and Vice-Chairman, Abubakar Siddique Mohammed on Wednesday, said this in reaction to the large crowd that showed up at the burial ceremony of the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris.

The group lamented that while the outpouring of emotion evidenced by the huge crowds was understandable, it was evident that all public health rules were forgotten.

Read Also: Thousands Attend Burial Of Emir Of Zazzau In Zaria

Thousands of sympathizers attended the funeral prayers of the late Emir of Zazzau on Sunday, at his palace in Zaria, Kaduna State.

He was buried inside the palace near the graves of his predecessors, after he died at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna following a brief illness.

The Anap Foundation Think Tank, therefore, called on the PTF, the Kaduna State Government, religious and political leaders, to urgently put in place clear strategies to prevent a recurrence.

 

 

Read the full statement below.

 

Press Release 08

Lagos, Nigeria. 23rd September, 2020

BREACHING OF FUNERAL AND PUBLIC GATHERING PROTOCOLS

The Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank

(The Anap Think Tank) thanks the Almighty for the long life and reign of the revered Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris and condoles with the government and people of Kaduna State, Nigeria generally, and all his subjects, on the Emir’s passing.

The Anap Think Tank witnessed with deep concern the reports of the events surrounding the death and burial of the Emir in Zaria this week.

While the outpouring of emotion as evidenced by the huge crowds that spontaneously assembled around the palace is very understandable, given the high esteem in which the Emir was held, it was evident that all public health rules were forgotten.

This leaves room to ask what government could have done to anticipate and mitigate the risks such an assembly must raise in this period of pandemic.

The Anap Think Tank acknowledges the efforts of Kaduna State and its leadership in the area of nonmedical interventions especially in encouraging social distancing, hygiene and wearing of face coverings. We acknowledge the leadership by example set by its government.

This, however, makes the question more pertinent. If in a State where genuine efforts have been made to limit the spread of the disease in the community this dangerous event nevertheless occurred, then it highlights further the key importance of the authorities’ preparedness.

We therefore wish to flag this issue as one that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) should urgently address and put in place clear strategies to prevent such a recurrence.

The country is increasingly witnessing numerous incidences of social events where COVID-19 protocols are not being followed and a renewed clarification by the PTF would not be amiss at this time. We call on the PTF, the Kaduna State Government, and all concerned especially civic, political and religious leaders to take active steps to safely manage the crowds that are even now trooping daily to the palace for condolence visits.

As we watch the world slip in varying degrees into a steep second wave of infection, this is not the time for Nigeria to relax in her efforts at controlling disease spread. Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) is still our best remedy.

Radio jingles, posters, cartoons, information in the lorry parks, village squares, markets, schools, churches and mosques must be disseminated. The effort to achieve change in social and individual behaviour will need to be long-term and sustained.

Security and law enforcement personnel should also have regular re-training and clear guidelines on how best to anticipate and manage large social gatherings.

Nigeria is beginning to relax its lockdown further as schools resume, and public places of entertainment and worship have reopened to different extents.

This is the time to ensure that in those places and in those gatherings appropriate protocols are strictly adhered to. Covid-19 Still Has No Cure.

BCC remains our strongest weapon against COVID-19. We raise this issue now as the PTF’s continuous silence on this matter of large gatherings, such as witnessed in Zaria, is inappropriate given the need for their continued clear leadership at this present time.