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.

PTF Disburses N1bn Each To 32 States

PTF Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu speaks during a briefing in Abuja.

 

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has disbursed N1billion each to 32 states in the country amid the pandemic.

PTF Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu announced the disbursement of the sum on Monday during a briefing in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“We have released money to the state governments recently, to 32 state governments. Each state government was given a billion naira.

“This is for the purpose of driving their COVID responses and we are asking them to prioritise testing in addition to surveillance activities linked to COVID-19,”  he said.

Decline In Cases

On his part, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, lamented the decline in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

Ihekweazu, who briefed reporters earlier today in the nation’s capital, said the Federal Government observed a decline of 36 per cent in the infections recorded in August compared to those reported in July.

He, however, explained that the government cannot celebrate yet, adding that testing in many states is very low.

“The number of reported cases daily has declined nationally in the last few weeks. We have seen a 36 per cent decline in August compared to July on national figures.

“Unfortunately, we cannot celebrate this until we test sufficient figures in every state,” the NCDC boss maintained.

Call For Greater Vigilance

Speaking also, PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) called for greater vigilance both on the part of the government and the citizens.

He explained that the call is important because the country’s economy has been devastated by the global pandemic.

The SGF stressed that President Muhammad Buhari administration as a serious government is pushing through with reforms that will help the nation’s economy recover from the effect of the virus.

“The call for greater vigilance is underscored by the fact that our economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic and we are pushing through with home-grown economic recovery strategies to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic,” he said.

While cautioning Nigerians on the need to observe all protocol stipulated by health authorities, he regretted that the masses no longer wear facemasks.

Edo/Ondo Elections: No Face Masks, No Voting, Says INEC Chairman

 

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has mandated the use of face masks for individuals before they can exercise their franchise in the forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo states.

This is part of measures by the Commission to ensure the safety of voters ahead of the Edo, and Ondo governorship polls amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is mandatory for every voter to wear a face mask or face covering without which the voter would not be allowed to vote,” the Chairman of the electoral body, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed  at a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, Thursday.

The INEC boss while giving insight into the nature of face masks to be worn during the elections, explained that the electorates do not need surgical masks to cast their ballots.

He stated that “a face covering will be sufficient for a voter to be accredited to vote.”

‘Two Queues’

To ensure physical distance during the elections, Professor Mahmood said INEC is introducing two queues in the polling areas.

“One outside the polling area and the other, inside the polling area,” Professor Mahmood added while stressing that “within the inner queue, voters must maintain the mandatory two-meter or six feet distance and we clearly marked this in one of the by-elections we conducted recently.”

In the polling units, voters must also avoid touching surfaces or leaning on walls, the INEC boss added.

‘Obeying All Directions’

For voters who have a high temperature, cough, or are sneezing, the former Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) said there is a protocol by the body.

“They must obey all directions from officials to stop other voters from getting infected,” said the INEC Chairman noted.

‘Procedure For Evacuation’

File photo: INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, addressing a press conference in Abuja on February 14, 2020. Photos: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

In case of emergencies, INEC also has a “procedure for evacuation” and will be collaborating with health officials in the different states, according to the former lecturer.

“In Edo State, for instance, we are working with the State Response team,” he explained.

The Edo Governorship election will take place September 19th, 2020 while that of Ondo State is billed for the 10th of October.

 

 

 

COVID-19: Nationwide Curfew Now From Midnight To 4am – FG

 

The Federal Government has adjusted the curfew from 12 midnight through 4am, as it continues the gradual easing of lockdown measures imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this on Thursday during a briefing in Abuja.

In June, the PTF adjusted the initial nationwide curfew of 8:00 pm – 6:00 am to 10:00 pm – 4:00 am in a bid to limit social interactions and, reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

READ ALSO: PMS Price: ‘Deregulation Policy Will Be Difficult But Better In The Long Run’ – Timipre Sylva

The PTF boss, however, explained that people on essential service and travellers returning from abroad are exempted from the curfew.

“We are modifying the curfew to commence from 12 midnight to 4am nationwide, effective from 12:00 tonight.

“This does not apply to people on essential services and international travellers that might be returning from abroad.”

He also stated that all limitations to land travels have been lifted and markets across the country can now open and operate all day.

Similarly, the PTF national coordinated also stated that cinemas and amusement parks can also operate, with the exception of bars and night clubs, which he said, will remain closed.

Meanwhile, Mr Mustapha urged States considering reopening their schools to conduct risks assessment before doing so, to enable the safety of all vulnerable groups.

‘COVID-19 Is Still Potent’, PTF Calls For Caution Amid Declining Cases

PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, addressing reporters in Abuja on August 31, 2020.

 

Barely 24 hours after Nigeria reported its lowest number of coronavirus cases in four months, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has warned Nigerians to remain vigilant.

PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, gave the caution on Monday at the briefing of the task force in Abuja.

He said, “For us in Nigeria, the last three weeks have shown a slowdown in the number of confirmed cases. Indeed, in the last four months of testing, the lowest daily figure of confirmed cases (138) was reported on August 30.

“The PTF still urges caution and vigilance on the declining numbers because the virus is still potent and very dangerous.”

According to the SGF, this position is informed by the fact that despite the nation’s enhanced testing capacity, the number of samples collected for testing have not been encouraging.

In line with efforts at intensifying Nigeria’s targeted testing strategy, he urged states to expand the scope of their sample collection.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Records Lowest COVID-19 Cases In Four Months

 

Reopening Of Schools

Mustapha, however, noted that the last seven days have shown a consistently greater number of discharges than confirmed cases.

He also congratulated the Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Professor Akin Abayomi, and many other Nigerians who recovered from COVID-19 recently.

The PTF chairman said as authorities plan to re-open more sectors, it was important for the people to stick with the winning strategy anchored on the ability of the health institutions to contain the virus.

He urged Nigerians to wear their masks properly, stay away from crowded places, avoid mass gatherings, maintain simple hygienic practices, and as much as possible protect the elderly and most vulnerable to the virus.

Mustapha also cautioned authorities, especially those in the education sector against being in a hurry to reopen schools for students across the country.

He explained that while the PTF was not against the preparations for the reopening of schools in various states, the caution was necessary to prevent a situation where such decisions would be rescinded abruptly.

“Whilst the PTF does not discourage making such preparations, we need to be guided by experiences from countries such as Germany, France, the United States and the UK where the opening of schools in some cities led to an increase in confirmed cases and fatalities,” the SGF said.

COVID-19: PTF To Launch Transparency Initiative Dashboards

PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, briefing reporters in Abuja on August 27, 2020.

 

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has revealed plans to launch the Transparency Initiative Dashboards to monitor the infections in the country.

PTF Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, made the disclosure while briefing reporters on Thursday in Abuja.

“This is a significant milestone because it puts valuable information at the disposal of every Nigerians,” he said.

According to Mustapha, who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), this explains the presence of the development partners in the effort to curtail the spread of the disease in Nigeria.

He noted that it was exactly six months ago that the Minister of Health broke the news of Nigeria’s index case of coronavirus.

The PTF chairman added that the Federal Government had immediately put in place containment measures to help meet the challenge that had started crippling economies and exposed inadequacies even in the best healthcare systems.

He also stated that Lagos, Kano and Ogun states were the initial epicentres and then Oyo at a time, saying this has shifted to Plateau State.

Read the full text of the SGF’s remarks at the PTF briefing below:

REMARKS BY THE SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION/CHAIRMAN OF THE PTF-COVID-19 AT THE NATIONAL PRESS BRIEFING OF THURSDAY 27th AUGUST, 2020

I welcome you all to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for Thursday, 27th August 2020.

Exactly six months ago, on February 27, 2020, the Honourable Minister of Health broke the news of Nigeria’s index case of coronavirus from Ogun State.

Immediately after that announcement, knowing our parlous state of health facilities, the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari started putting in place containment measures to help meet the challenge that had started crippling economies and exposed inadequacies even in the best health systems.

It is with all sense of modesty that I wish to state that Nigeria has done remarkably well but could do exceedingly better as captured in Mr President’s speech during the World Health Certification-Free status for the African continent when he expressed optimism on our fight against the pandemic I quote “At a time when the global community is battling the COVID-19 pandemic….this achievement ( eradication of the polio virus) strengthens my conviction that with the requisite political will, investments and strategies, as well as citizens’ commitment, we will flatten the curve”.

As we enter the last week of this extended eased lock-down phase and note the impressively declining fatality ratio and reduction of confirmed cases, the PTF would also like to draw our attention to a subtle change in epicentre of the virus.

We all recall that Lagos, Kano and Ogun states were the initial epicentres and this to Oyo at a time, and now Plateau State.

As mentioned by the Lagos State Commissioner of Health and a notable COVID-19 warrior, Professor Akin Abayomi, Lagos has passed its peak, but we call for vigilance and cautious optimism because the scourge is not over yet. Our strategic objective still remains, to test samples in high numbers across the entire nation.

It is, therefore, in the above context that the PTF re-emphasises her often repeated calls to every citizen to take responsibility by complying with all guidelines and non-pharmaceutical measures, including wearing of masks properly, maintaining social distances, avoiding large gatherings, maintaining regular hygienic practices and most important staying at home for the most vulnerable.

As we keep to these simple protocols, our individual and collective efforts at balancing lives and livelihoods would achieve its intended benefits, especially now that we have opened a lot of sectors and opening more sectors.

Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics released the Q2 2020 performance of the economy. It showed that the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) slumped to -6.10% due to the impact of the COVID-19 on the oil market.

This underscores the impact of the pandemic on the global economy. As we have often repeated, the pandemic also presents us with opportunities and impetus for innovation, creativity and industrial development.

For existing businesses of different sizes, we wish to remind you that the government has approved an Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) containing stimulus packages for businesses to access.

As we prepare to reopen the international airspace, therefore, we are optimistic that the economy will continue to improve along the value chain, as goods, services and passengers move across borders.

The aviation sector, no doubt, provides a window to the world and a shutdown of 23 straight weeks obviously impacted negatively on the economy.

Today’s briefing has been packaged to underscore the level of transparency with which the resources deployed for the fight against COVID-19 have been used.

As part of this briefing, the PTF Transparency Initiative Dashboards will be launched and that explains the presence of our development partners. This is a significant milestone because it puts valuable information at the disposal of every Nigerians.

The PTF wishes to use this opportunity to thank the increasing number of discharged persons who have been sharing their experiences, the print and electronic media that have been supporting our Risk Communication and Community Engagement strategies, as well as the numerous partners that are sustaining the messaging.

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

Immediately after the technical updates, the launch of the Transparency Portals shall take place before we take your questions.

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

Ramp Up COVID-19 Tests, Declare Results Appropriately, PTF Tells States

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

 

The Nigerian Government has called on authorities in various states to appropriately declare the results of coronavirus (COVID-19) tests conducted as quickly as possible.

Mr Boss Mustapha made the call on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The PTF Chairman explained that the call was necessary to ensure early detection which he said would ultimately translate to treatment and levelling of the curve of the virus in the country.

He acknowledged that the nation’s sample collection was low and advised authorities in the states to ramp up their testing.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, noted that Nigeria now has 52,227 confirmed cases, with 1,002 deaths and 38,945 recoveries.

He added that the country has remained the fourth nation with highest cumulative cases in Africa, while the global cases have increased from 22.5 million to 23.5 million in about four days.

Despite crossing the 1,000 mark on Sunday, the PTF chairman insisted that the country has continued to record a steady decline in its Case Fatality Rate (CFR) over the last few months.

He stated that the death toll was ​3 per cent on April 30, 2.8 per cent on ​May 31, 2.3 per cent ​June 30, 2 per cent on ​July 31, and ​1.92 per cent as of August 22.

The SGF noted that the Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who he said has been foremost in the fight against COVID-19, had tested positive for the disease.

He wished the commissioner and all other frontline workers that have risked their lives but contracted the virus in the process, safe and speedy recovery.

According to Mustapha, this is a grim reminder that COVID-19 is no respecter of persons or the positions they hold and everyone is at risk and must take responsibility.

 

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

REMARKS BY THE SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION/CHAIRMAN OF THE PTF-COVID-19 AT THE NATIONAL PRESS BRIEFING OF MONDAY 24th AUGUST, 2020

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

2.​ Last week Thursday, we informed you that Nigeria had crossed the 50,000 mark of confirmed cases. Yesterday Sunday, 23rd August, we reached the unenviable record of 1,000 fatalities.

We wish to restate that these records are not just numbers as they vividly remind us of the dangers that we still face. May the souls of all those that have lost the battle against COVID-19 rest in peace.

3.​ The PTF has however continued to study the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) and we note that it has been on a steady decline over the last few months.

​April 30: 3%

​May 31: 2.8%

​June 30: 2.3%

​July 31: 2.0%

​Aug 22: 1.92%

We are, however, convinced that our sample collection is still low. We, therefore, encourage states to ramp up their testing and to declare correct results because early detection will ultimately translate to treatment and ultimately levelling of the curve.

4.​ With our statistics standing at CASES: 52,227, FATALITIES: 1,002, and RECOVERIES: 38,945, however, Nigeria maintains the 4th highest cumulative cases in the continent. Sadly, the global cases have increased by another one million from 22.5 million on 19th to the current 23.5 million in about 4 days.

  1. ​The PTF has already informed you about the plans to reopen the international airspace for flights in a manner that will promote safety, security and economic recovery. The National Coordinator will be updating you on the protocols during this briefing. We have been working with other sectors to develop appropriate protocols.

6.​ Prior to the reopening of the airspace, the PTF had put in place Point of Entry Protocols to minimise importation. Unfortunately, the validation process for the pre-boarding PCR test has shown that 64% of the recent spike in the number of confirmed cases in Lagos (404) on Saturday 22nd August came from the evacuees.

7.​ Over the weekend, 252 additional Nigerians were evacuated from the United Arab Emirates which has brought the total number of Nigerians that have returned home to 4,984. We shall intensify the validation process for the PCR tests to minimise risks.

  1. ​The WHO has provided guidance on the use of masks for children 11 years and above in the context of COVID-19 as it relates to the community. However, Children with immune-compromised conditions are advised to wear mask irrespective of age.

This guidance is strongly recommended for observance and the PTF shall update you as soon as it is revised by the WHO.

  1. ​This morning we received the unfortunate news of the positive status of Prof. Akin Abayomi, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health. This has saddened the PTF as the Commissioner has been foremost in the fight against COVID-19.

We wish him and all other frontline workers that have risked their lives but contracted the virus in the process, safe and speedy recovery.

  1. ​This unexpected news is a grim reminder that the virus is no respecter of persons or the positions they hold. Everyone is at risk and we must take responsibility.

What the announcement of Prof. Abayomi has shown is that stigmatisation has no place in our national response and that COVID-19 is not a death sentence. We, therefore, thank all those that have come out to announce their status and/or tell their stories and we urge Nigerians to take a queue to eliminate disbelief and scepticism.

  1. ​Let’s keep arming the unbreakable Nigerian spirit to win this war and drive the virus out of our land. Join the hashtag #MaskOnNaija National awareness campaign.
  2. ​I now call on the Honourable Minister of Health, DG, NCDC, and the National Coordinator to provide us with necessary updates.

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

School Resumption: Bear With Us A Little More, Education Minister Tells Students

File photo: Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba gives an update on the COVID-19 situation in the country on April 21, 2020.

 

The Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba wants students to exercise more patience as Nigeria mulls the reopening of schools after months of forced closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Nwajiuba who praised the students for their patience since schools were shut down in the country,  gave an assurance that the Federal Ministry of Education is working with stakeholders for the safe reopening of the education centres.

“I urge our students who have actually exercised a lot of patience along with their parents … I urge you to bear with us a little bit more. The rioting needs to stop; there is nothing to riot about,” the minister stated during Monday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

 

File photo: Students under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Students during a protest to demand the reopening of Tertiary Institutions by the Nigerian Government amid the coronavirus lockdown in Abuja on Wednesday 19th August 2020. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/ Channels Television

 

READ ALSO: One Reported Killed As Gunmen Abduct JSS3 Students In Kaduna

Nwajiuba disclosed that there have been moves to safely reopen schools, noting that the guidelines for such have been given to higher institutions, with a number of them already expressing their commitment to adhere to the protocols.

He expressed confidence that relevant authorities would soon give a nod to the resumption of classes.

“We don’t want to bandy around dates,” he said, “We remain positive.”

According to the Minister, the Federal Government is also in negotiation with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), reiterating that every player in the education sector is engaged on the reopening of schools.

“The PTF profiles for us a national response and everyone can tee off from there,” he added.

Wearing face-masks, final year students of Government Secondary School, Zone 3, Abuja, sit in a classroom as they write their West African Examinations Council exams, following the ease of COVID-19 lockdown order on Monday August 17, 2020. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television.
File photo: Wearing face-masks, final year students of Government Secondary School, Zone 3, Abuja, sit in a classroom as they write their West African Examinations Council exams, following the ease of COVID-19 lockdown order on Monday, August 17, 2020. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television.

 

As part of measures to contain the spread of the pandemic in the country, the Federal Ministry of Education on March 19, 2020, ordered the immediate closure of tertiary institutions, secondary as well as primary schools nationwide.

252 More Nigerians Evacuated As Returnees From UAE Hit 4,984

evacuees-dubai
The aircraft that evacuated the returnees. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

More Nigerians stranded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have continued to return home following the evacuation of 252 persons from the Arab country on Saturday.

Disclosing this in a tweet on its official handle, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) said the evacuees landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos via an Emirates Airline flight.

 

“Out of this number,” NIDCOM said, “180 of them had their tickets paid for by the UAE govt, for those who claimed they couldn’t afford a return ticket.

“In total, 18 flights have so far evacuated 4,984 Nigerians from Dubai. Out of which the UAE government paid for 517 Nigerians on 3 Fly Dubai flights and 380 Nigerians on Emirates Airline.”

READ MORE: We Are Expecting Pardoned Convicted Nigerians From US, UAE, Others – PTF

More evacuees – 174 – are expected to return to the country from the UAE on the 25th of August, 2020, according to the agency, with their flight paid for by the government of the Asian nation.

“This will bring the total number of Nigerians evacuated gratis by Dubai authorities to 1,071,” the statement added.

All evacuees, prior to their departure, NIDCOM said, had tested negative to COVID-19 but will be undergoing self-isolation in line with guidelines set by the Federal Government and other relevant health agencies.

The UAE is one of the countries where a good number of Nigerians have been repatriated since the outbreak of the pandemic halted international flights.

On August 12th, two hundred and ninety-two Nigerians returned from the country.

Ending Evacuation

During a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Monday, August 13th, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha had, however, said evacuation flights would end on the 25th of the month.

He noted that the decision was to enable international airline operators to prepare for the resumption of international flights which was halted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

COVID-19: Our Biggest Challenge Has Been The Attitude Of Nigerians – Boss Mustapha

 

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, on Thursday, ripped into the attitude of Nigerians, placing the blame for the country’s failure to halt the spread of the pandemic on them.

In an impassioned speech during the briefing of the PTF, Mustapha who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation said everything was put in place to stop the pandemic from spreading as much as it has in the country. The only thing missing was the right attitude.

“Our biggest challenge has been the attitude of Nigeria; that is our biggest challenge,” he said, reflecting on the fact that confirmed cases in the country have exceeded 50,000 with the death toll just 15 cases shy of 1,000.

A visibly upset Mustapha suggested that rather than follow guidelines, Nigerians thought only about their rights, failing to realise that the rights came with “correspondent responsibilities”.

“We would have flattened the curve. We would have dampened this ravaging virus by now if we had just complied with the simple instructions,” he lamented.

Another area Mustapha took up issues with Nigerians is in testing.
Since the first case of the pandemic was confirmed in Nigeria on February 27 and as Nigeria struggled to contain the spread, there have been concerns about the country’s testing capacity.

Although the country has ramped up its testing capacity, the PTF Chairman is unsatisfied with the attitude of Nigerians towards getting tested.

 

COVID-19 figures in Nigeria as of 19th, August 2020. Photo: Channels TV/Benjamin Oluwatoyin.

 

He said, “In terms of even testing, we have ramped up our testing capacity from two to 64 (testing centres) within a period of three to four months. As a matter of fact, right now, the testing capacity in terms of volume is that we can test up to 15,000 samples in a day. But how many are we testing on a daily basis? So our major challenge as a Presidential Task Force has been the attitude.”

 

File photo: A health worker takes a swab from a woman during a community COVID-19 coronavirus testing campaign in Abuja on April 15, 2020. Kola Sulaimon / AFP

 

Nigeria with a population estimated at over 200 million has not tested up to 500,000 samples while South Africa with a population of 57 million has tested more than three million people.

Apart from the attitude, Mustapha doesn’t see any major problem with Nigeria’s response.

For him, money wasn’t really the problem. Neither was it the absence of a plan.

“Everything to fight COVID-19 has been placed at our disposal. We arrested the 2020 Budget and got it revised – all in an attempt to deal with the financial needs of fighting COVID-19,” he said.

Although COVID-19 disrupted life, shut down economies, and forced billions across the world to stay indoors as part of the scramble to halt the pandemic, the PTF Chairman said Nigeria received a lot of financial support.

 

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP
File photo: World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP

 

“We received a great deal of support from the UN (COVID-19) Basket Fund, from the European Union, from West African Health Organisation, from the World Health Organisation, from friendly countries like China,” he said.

“I just reported to you that even the Federal Republic of Germany gave their modest support to ensure that our industries begin to prepare and even manufacture PPEs locally.”

Apart from the support received externally and the revision of the 2020 Budget, Mustapha explained that Nigeria had a strong plan and backing from the private sector and prominent Nigerians.

“We are not short of any resources to fight COVID-19,” he declared. “We’ve coordinated a response, nationally, that pulled in everybody that mattered in this country: the corporate world through the CACOVID has assembled a huge war chest of resources – they are all over the place; private individuals giving up their resources to ensure that we reengineer and equip our health care infrastructure.”

 

 

We Are Expecting Pardoned Convicted Nigerians From US, UAE, Others – PTF

PTF chairman, Boss Mustapha, briefs reporters in Abuja on August 17, 2020.

 

Nigeria is expecting the return of some of its citizens who have been convicted and pardoned in various countries around the world.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this on Monday at a press briefing in Abuja.

He listed some of the countries that were planning to repatriate such Nigerians to include the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Mustapha said, “A number of countries have signified intention to repatriate Nigerians convicted and pardoned and paroled in those countries.

“They include the UAE, Egypt and the United States of America. Coming in the midst of our National Response to COVID-19, all relevant agencies of government are taking multi-sectoral steps to ensure that the process remains within acceptable international protocols and in line with bilateral agreements.”

He stressed that the repatriation of the convicted Nigerians was quite different from the government’s regular evacuation flights.

The PTF chairman announced that the evacuation flights would end on August 25, to allow airports sufficient time to prepare for the resumption of international flights.

He noted the decline in COVID-19 fatalities, high discharge rates, and consistent under-500 daily cases for the past four weeks.

Mustapha, who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), stressed that this was in spite of the huge jump in the nation’s testing capacity and increased daily tests conducted.

He, however, informed Nigerians that the country has yet to attain the desired level that would enable authorities to make conclusive statements on the rate of infection in Nigeria.

The PTF chairman asked Nigerians to keep doing that which was giving the country record improvements and desist from actions capable of undermining the successes.

According to him, the country is fully in the community spread phase and one of the major measures that should be taken is to keep testing to detect and treat.

Nigeria Confirms 417 New COVID-19 Cases, Set To Resume International Flights

Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Africa. Channels TV/Benjamin Oluwatoyin.

 

 

Nigeria on Monday confirmed 417 fresh COVID-19 cases as the country announced the date for the resumption of international flights.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed the new infections in a tweet on its official handle.

The new infections were reported in 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, taking Nigeria’s total COVID-19 pandemic figure to 49,485. 

READ ALSO: Evacuation Flights To End On August 25 – PTF

The NCDC data showed that Lagos state, the COVID-19 hotbed in the West African country had 207 new cases – the highest for the day; Kaduna – 44; Ondo – 38; Abia-28; Anambra – 21 and Plateau – 20.

 

Bauchi confirmed 13 fresh cases; Oyo – 9; Ebonyi – 9; Delta – 7; Edo – 7; Enugu – 6; Niger – 3; Gombe – 2; Ogun – 1; FCT – 1 and Kano -1.

Although 36,834 persons who contracted the disease have been discharged after successful treatment,  977 deaths have so far been reported from the pandemic in Nigeria.

International Flights To Resume

Despite the increasing number of infections, the Federal Government had on Monday announced a new date for the resumption of international flights.

During a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed that international flights will resume in the country from the 29th of August.

A file photo of passengers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on July 8, 2020.

 

“We are very glad today to announce that international flights will resume from August 29, 2020,” he said.

The Minister, however, said, “what we have become used to – physical distancing, wearing of masks, washing of hands, temperature taking, etc will continue.”

 

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announces the date for resumption of international flights at the PTF briefing in Abuja on August 17, 2020.

 

Sirika explained that the restart of international flights will follow the same pattern as that of the domestic flights resumption.

“Just like we did with the domestic (flights resumption), it will start with Lagos and Abuja,” he added. “The protocols, procedures, and processes, will be announced in due course.”

Worldwide View

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 770,429 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Monday.

At least 21,719,870 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 13,399,500 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases.

On Sunday, 4,222 new deaths and 225,457 new cases were recorded worldwide. Based on the latest reports, the countries with the newest deaths were India with 941 new deaths, followed by Brazil with 620, and the United States with 596.

The United States is the worst-hit country with 170,052 deaths from 5,404,115 cases. At least 1,833,067 people have been declared recovered.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 107,852 deaths from 3,340,197 cases, Mexico with 56,757 deaths from 522,162 cases, India with 50,921 deaths from 2,647,663 cases, and the United Kingdom with 41,366 deaths from 318,484 cases.

The country with the highest number of deaths compared to its population is Belgium with 86 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Peru (80), Spain 61, United Kingdom 61, and Italy 59.

China — excluding Hong Kong and Macau — has to date declared 84,849 cases (22 new since Sunday), including 4,634 deaths and 79,603 recoveries.