REMARKS BY THE SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION/CHAIRMAN OF THE PTF-COVID-19 AT THE NATIONAL PRESS BRIEFING OF THURSDAY, 2nd JULY, 2020
I welcome you all to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for Thursday, 2nd July, 2020.
- The global community continues to struggle with the pandemic in terms of spread, impact and national response. In all science and data continue to point the way especially in the urgent search for a vaccine and cure.
- Developments around the world over the last few days have been quite instructive and they further underscore the need for compliance and for caution. The WHO announced on Wednesday that 60% of all COVID-19 cases globally have been reported in the last one month. It was further noted that for the past week, the number of new cases have exceeded 160,000 on every single day.
- This update comes as the United States of America is reporting around 45,000 new cases a day while two known European nations (Italy & Spain) hitherto considered epicenters of the pandemic were reporting 10,000 and 6,500 new cases per day, at their respective peaks.
At the last comprehensive briefing on Monday, the PTF shared three vital statistics with Nigerians (Refer to the Screen for projection of statistics).click here
- Particularly, we gave you a comparison between the numbers as at 28th May, 2020 and 28th June 2020 to underscore the jump in the figures for the world, across Africa and in Nigeria. In the presentation, you were also taken through daily recorded cases for ten consecutive days preceding the briefing and informed that there was a rising trend on all measurement scales. Yesterday, Wednesday July 1, 2020 Nigeria reached another daily milestone with our new daily cases reaching 790.
- We join the whole world in emphasizing that the best way to manage this pandemic is the comprehensive approach. While we ask you to play your part by observing physical distancing, keeping personal hygiene, wearing face mask, avoiding large gathering and staying at home if you should. The PTF and collaborating agencies shall continue to work on finding, isolating, testing, tracing every contact, communicating and treating. For our health workers, we shall equip and train them while our communities will be empowered to protect themselves. It is a combined approach that will work for us all.
- One significant observation the PTF wishes to make is that new rise in cases are to be expected as nations start to ease restrictions. We shall however proceed with caution and we shall not hesitate to change course when the need arises. What this means is that Nigerians should never mistake the relaxation by government as a signal that the COVID-19 battle had been concluded.
- Following the announcement of the extension of phase two and some new measures on Monday, the Aviation sector has announced 8th, 11th and 15th of July as dates for the gradual resumption of domestic flights. We thank Nigerians for their patience and understanding and we urge that they should strictly abide with the new airport protocols. In the aviation industry, safety and security are paramount and there is only one global aviation standard.
- The PTF similarly announced some limited measures for the education sector. Specifically, we pointed out that it was still not safe to reopen schools. However, in order not to truncate the progression of pupils and students in critical examination classes, the President approved that arrangements be made for them to resume for those who need revision before the commencement of examinations. This aspect has been subjected to several interpretations and misinterpretations.
- For the avoidance of doubts, schools have not resumed. Only critical examination classes will be allowed to resume for those who need revision before examinations. As we have informed you, the Federal Ministry of education will consult further with stakeholders before issuing guidelines that will lead to full resumption. We appeal to Nigerians to continue to show understanding and to ensure that their wards take full advantage of electronic platforms provided for learning.
- In the briefing for Monday, mention was also made about Government offices. Without prejudice to the additional guidelines that will be issued by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, the following generally applicable guidelines are to be observed:
i. As much as practicable, virtual meetings should be encouraged to minimise congregation of officials; and
ii. Government offices should restrict visits by those who are not on very essential businesses, to their premises;
- As you are aware, a number of countries set aside one day in the year as a National Doctors’ Day. That was instructive for us as a nation. The PTF salutes all medical workers and thank them for the selfless, high risk job they are handling for humanity. We remain proud of all of you and we assure you once more of the nation’s support.
- The PTF also uses this opportunity to appeal to all health workers and authorities of health care facilities to help reduce avoidable fatalities occurring from non-COVID-19 related conditions, by attending to all patients while still observing the COVID-19 protocols.
- The PTF has received with great concern, reports about the attack on the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, Kogi State by some hoodlums. The PTF is particularly distressed and regrets the trauma to which medical workers, patients and others who went on their legitimate businesses were subjected. I wish to assure you that security agencies have been tasked with the responsibility for fishing out the criminal elements behind it and they will be brought to justice. We thank law abiding Nigerians for reporting the occurrence promptly.
- Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the early days of the extension of second phase of eased lockdown and we shall always remind ourselves of the reason for these uncommon times facing humanity. This is the time to comply with the guidelines, it is the time to be vigilant and to take responsibility.
- It is for this reason that I shall repeat my admonition of Monday, June 29th 2020 that “there is presently no known vaccine for the virus and that all over the world non-pharmaceutical measures still remain the most effective fighting opportunity we have for overcoming this pandemic”.
- In furtherance of the synergy being built, the Co-Chairmen of the Nigerian Inter Religious Council (NIREC), His Eminence Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, the Sultan of Sokoto/President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and His Eminence Rev. Dr. Samson O. A. Ayokunle, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), have informed the PTF of the upcoming three-day national fasting and prayer to seek divine intervention in the challenges facing the nation and humanity. This is a welcome development and the leadership of the NIREC will announce the details soon. The PTF urges all Nigerians to participate in this important exercise.
- Finally, we shall continue to work with the States and other stakeholders regarding the precision measures to be deployed in the high burden Local Government Areas.
- I now call on the Honourable Minister of Health, DG (NCDC) and the National Coordinator to provide relevant updates.
- I thank you for listening.