The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Control has assured Nigerians that vaccine will be administered in the country.
PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, gave the assurance on Monday during a media briefing in Abuja. He said the PTF would not rely on only the vaccine in its prosecution of the national response plan but will combine the solution with strong adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions.
Mustapha also charged Nigerians to make all sacrifices necessary to prevent a second lockdown, pointing out that Nigeria is in a difficult situation, which is making the government to consider all options.
“The positive news about vaccines remains high in the ranking of discussions nationwide. Nigerians are assured that the PTF will ensure that the vaccines to be approved will be safe and effective. We must however work together as foot soldiers in the vaccine advocacy so that we can eliminate the pandemic.
“We are considering all options while hoping that broad cooperation will be received. We must do everything possible to avoid a second lockdown in Nigeria”, he said.
The SGF urged state governments to ensure strict adhereance to non-pharmaceutical interventions in schools so as not to worsen the escalating spread of the virus.
“You will also recall that the PTF had informed you that the resumption of schools nationwide would be reviewed due to rising daily numbers of infections and the challenges of case management especially the shortage of oxygen so that we do not allow our facilities to be overwhelmed”, he said.
On plan by the government to speed up testing rate across the country, he said the PTF had already saddled the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to immediately commence the planned 450 tests per council area nationwide.
“The PTF has also authorised the NCDC to immediately implement the 450 tests per LGA plan, nationwide, immediately. We are aware that States are not on the same pedestal in the area of testing and we shall begin with States that are in the forefront of resourcing and infrastructure.
“?The PTF wishes to emphasise the need for all segments of the society to get involved in the risk communication and community engagement. In our continued collaboration with the religious and traditional rulers, we align with the statements issued by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) guiding the sick and the elderly on the need to avoid large gathering by staying at home. We are optimistic that other institutions will follow suit as we progress.
“We are making progress with the Case Management under our national response. 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”, he said.
Giving an update on the national response effort and the comparative developments across Africa, Mustapha re-emphasized the need for testing for the virus to be ramped up.
“On the African continent, South Africa and Nigeria continue to report the highest daily count, while South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Algeria and Kenya account for 76% of all cases in the region. Nigeria has moved up to third position in highest cumulative caseload but remains 2nd for new cases and fifth highest in cumulative deaths on the WHO African region.
From the foregoing, testing has proven to have become more significant in our national response. The PTF still urges the state governments to enable their EOCs to step up on sample collection and to maximize the capacities of the PCR Laboratories already established in their States”, he said.
He also said the 100 violators of international travellers’ COVID-19 protocols would soon be sanctioned, as approved by the President.