Surge in COVID-19 cases among VIPs worries Federal Govt.

The Federal Government has expressed concern over the high rate of positive cases of the coronavirus disease, especially among top government officials.

Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, raised this concern at the 49th joint national briefing of the taskforce on Monday in Abuja.

According to Mustapha, this has a direct impact on the governance and security of the nation.

“We urge that vigilance and care should be exhibited by all Nigerians, irrespective of status.

“This virus does not discriminate and the PTF shall keep sustaining its sensitisation messaging,’’ he said.

The SGF said that as the nation progresses into the second phase of the eased lockdown, the national response continues to escalate its level of vigilance and monitoring, especially as government ease restrictions in more sectors, including those with potentials for large gatherings and/or interactions between groups of people.

“We are conscious of the fact that this could be misinterpreted to mean that the war against COVID-19 is over.

“Let me emphasise that decision for further relaxation was cautiously taken by government to balance lives and livelihood.’’

He noted that the rising global and domestic statistics of cases and fatalities have shown that COVID-19 had not given any relaxation, thus the nation could not afford to slow down and must never compromise.

“Let us continue to learn from the history of pandemics by avoiding the mistakes of 1918.

“The PTF calls on all Nigerians to also remain vigilant and this call is underscored by global and national developments in the last one week, especially throughout the week-end.

“In the last one week, we have witnessed a resurgence in countries that were noted as having successfully contained or containing the spread of the virus.

“The situation in Beijing and the United States should inform our individual and collective actions.

“Of course, such resurgence has led to the reintroduction of precision/location-specific lockdown in some areas such as parts of Galicia region, Catalonia and Spain,’’ Mustapha said.

According to him, the PTF, on Monday, met with the heads of security and defence agencies to review and chart a refined course in view of the fact that COVID-19 is a global health, socio-economic and security issue.

Nigeria, the SGF said, must continue to evolve new strategies peculiar to her environment, even while working within global prescriptions.

He said that the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) organised national prayers for both Muslims and Christians to seek divine intervention on COVID-19 and several other problems confronting the nation and humanity.

He said that some additional benefits derivable from the intervention of NIREC include awareness on the evils of gender violence, benefits of peaceful co-existence, religious tolerance and deepening the impact of community engagement and risk communication programmes of the PTF.

Mustapha also said that on Thursday and Friday, the PTF would be carrying out its mid-term review, having crossed the three months or half time threshold of its life span.

According to him, this will involve a comprehensive examination of the steps taken, the challenges and charting the way forward.

The SGF said that COVID-19 was not a death sentence, but it becomes dangerous when, “we fail to detect, test, isolate and treat.

“We can avoid contracting it by complying with non-pharmaceutical interventions of wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing, hand-washing, staying and working from home if practicable.

“Similarly, we can achieve more if we stop stigmatisation’’.

He noted that capacity and opportunities for testing have been expanded, with the opening of 40 laboratories and the creation of more testing centres, including some certified private sector medical facilities across the country.

Mustapha, therefore, urged all Nigerians to get tested to enable all fight the pandemic.

“The handling of the Ebola virus, Lassa fever, our becoming a polio-free country and successful exit from other communicable diseases over the years should give us comfort that COVID-19 would also be put behind us,’’ he said.

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