REMARKS BY THE SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION/CHAIRMAN OF THE PTF ON COVID-19 AT THE NATIONAL BRIEFING OF TUESDAY 12TH MAY, 2020

REMARKS BY THE SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION/CHAIRMAN OF THE PTF ON COVID-19 AT THE NATIONAL BRIEFING OF TUESDAY 12TH MAY, 2020

​ I welcome you to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for Tuesday, 12th May, 2020.

2.​Today, the PTF participated in the commissioning of 300 bed treatment and isolation Centre along with a 54gene laboratory in Abuja. The facility was powered by a consortium of like-minded partners. On behalf of the PTF and the entire nation, I say a very big thank you to the Sahara Energy Group, the ThisDay Media and Technology Group, CA-COVID, AFC, CCECC, NNPC and the CBN.

3.​The world is in the midst of a dangerous pandemic and one key solution to it is collaboration and partnership. The power and benefits of partnerships have been vividly demonstrated in the Jack ma support, the UN One Basket Fund, the interface with Other nations, the intervention by individuals and corporate citizens within and outside Nigeria. The list is endless. And we say thank you to all of these partners.

4.​As we continue to learn the lessons from COVID-19 by fortifying our health systems and infrastructure against present and future pandemics, I wish to remind Nigerians that there is still a lot to be done and investment to make. The PTF mentioned at the briefing on Monday 11th May, 2020 that it had commenced focus on community ownership, guidance, acceptance and implementation in the control of COVID-19. This certainly requires a great deal of investment in strengthening our primary health care system, the manpower and the infrastructure. I therefore call on other corporate citizens and public-spirited individuals to play significant roles by injecting the much-needed investment into the rural health infrastructure. Given the impact of the COVID-19 on global economy and our national income, it has become obvious that government alone cannot bear this burden.

5.​Since the recording of the index case, Nigerians have clamored for research into home grown solution to COVID-19. The PTF, as part of its mandate, has continued to promote research and wishes to repeat its appeal to all our researchers to go through the validation process so as to enable humanity benefit from their hard work and they in turn benefit from the intellectual property rights associated with such research.

6.​The PTF COVID-19 at virtually all its national briefings, consistently pleaded with Nigerians for their support and understanding, especially in complying with the advisories and guidelines issued. We also shared our assessment of the level of compliance and the risks associated with non-compliance. I wish to use this medium to once again underscore the imperative of collective survival because the lack of compliance by any person or group of persons poses a threat to all of us.

7.​Particularly, the PTF has become aware of the on-going practice of sharing masks and picking of masks for recycling from dump sites. This places a lot of responsibilities on all of us to be self-educated and to educate others. The following points are emphasized:

​(i) With the exception of fabric masks, every disposable used mask is a​hazardous medical waste and should be disposed of properly, preferably by ​ burning;

(ii) It is very risky to share masks as the virus is capable of remaining on surfaces for several hours and you could get infected;

(iii) The unhealthy practice of picking up disposed masks for whatever purpose is harmful to both the individual picking it and whoever procures it later.

Particularly, it will be helpful for high risk people such as the elderly and those with comorbidities, to wear masks or face covering and avoid crowded places. As we reminded you earlier, please keep grandchildren away from their grandparents to avoid any transmission. Most importantly, emphatically say no to stigmatization.

8.​Let me say once more that the primary responsibility of government is to protect the lives and property of all citizens. On the other hand, citizens have a duty to collaborate with government by shunning risks and actions capable of jeopardizing the protection provided. We shall continue to put in place strategies and measures targeted at flattening the curve of this coronavirus while at the same time urging and persuading you to comply. Our messages are being delivered in different languages and through multiple medium.

9.​The PTF continues to urge State governments to align their actions and enforcement with the guidelines provided. The virus does not respect boundaries neither does it respect status. All State Governments are therefore urged to strengthen their monitoring and enforcement machineries in collaboration with the security agencies. Let me emphasize that we have seen visuals on the social media depicting total disregard for physical distancing in some locations. This is a dangerous journey towards uninhibited spread if not checked. The PTF is consulting with the authorities of the identified areas to review their strategies.

10.​You will recall that the guidelines on the reopening of offices directed the management of such offices to take certain steps and put in place policies that would ensure the safety of their staff. Let me remind the leadership of various offices to make such provisions including infra-red temperature guns at entrances, sanitizers, handwashing facilities, social distancing arrangements and ensuring that masks are worn always. This is particularly critical for government offices in high concentration areas such as the Federal Secretariat complex. We similarly admonish individual staff to cultivate the habit of personal safety first, before depending on the general provision.

11.​I now call on the Hon. Minister of Health, and the National Coordinator to update the nation.

12.​I thank you for listening.