The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, has said that one in every five persons tested last week for the virus in Nigeria returned positive.
Mustapha disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja. He said South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Algeria and Kenya now account for 76 per cent of all cases in the African region.
Nigeria, according to him, has moved up to the third position in the highest cumulative caseload, but remains second for new cases and fifth highest in cumulative deaths in the World Health Organisation African region.
Mustapha said from the latest results, testing has proven to have become more significant in the nation’s response, adding that the PTF still urges State Governments to enable their Emergency Operation Centres to step up on sample collection and maximise the capacities of the PCR Laboratories already established in their States.
He further disclosed that the PTF has authorised the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to as a matter of urgency implement the 450 tests per LGA plan nationwide, beginning with states that are in the forefront of resourcing and infrastructure.
He reemphasised the need for all segments of the society to get involved in risk communication and community engagement.
He added that in the PTF’s continued collaboration with religious and traditional rulers, the task force aligns with the statements issued by the Christian Association of Nigeria guiding the sick and the elderly on the need to avoid large gatherings by staying at home.
Regarding the positive news about vaccines, Mustapha assured Nigerians that the PTF will ensure that the vaccines to be approved will be safe and effective.
He said, “We must however work together as foot soldiers in the vaccine advocacy so that we can eliminate the pandemic.
“The PTF wishes to emphasise that the success of our national response shall not depend on vaccines alone.
“Rather, compliance with the non-pharmaceutical protocols must remain top on our individual priorities.”
Mustapha said the nation is making progress with case management under its national response.
He said, “The national response continues to receive the support of the private sector in the delivery of medical oxygen to the various facilities.
“At the same time, funds for the rehabilitation of existing oxygen facilities have been released to the various institutions.
“There is also a process in motion to ensure the construction of at least one oxygen facility in each state.”
While reminding Nigerians that the pandemic is raging, Mustapha noted that all tiers of Government and citizens must keep their hands on deck.
He said, “We are in a difficult situation in which a balance must continue to be struck between lives and livelihood.
“We are considering all options, while hoping that broad cooperation will be received.
“We must do everything possible to avoid the second lockdown in Nigeria.”
The PTF boss said the task force is proceeding with the next phase of the approved Presidential sanction against all in-bound international travellers that failed to undergo the Day 7 post-arrival test.
According to him, the PTF will publish the next list of 100 defaulters very soon.