Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, who raised the concern on Thursday during the daily press briefing by the task force in Abuja.

The Federal Government has declared that only 85 local government areas spread across 20 states have not recorded a positive case of COVID-19, lamenting that the nation is at a very dangerous stage of community transmission.

The government which conceded that the situation could be due to the fact that tests have not been conducted in the areas, however, expressed concerns at the possibility of the virus spreading to the nation’s 774 local government areas.

Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this at Monday’s briefing of the Taskforce.

Mustapha said the taskforce is closely monitoring developments in the aviation and education sectors which only recently reopened partially.

According to him, the number of local governments with 50 per cent of the COVID-19 disease burden has now extended to 20 from the previous 11, adding that for technical reasons it has not been feasible isolating those areas for precision lockdowns.

He said; “Nigeria, with 46, 577 confirmed cases and 945 cumulative deaths, remains respectively the third and fourth highest in these parameters. As we emphasised at the last briefing, Nigeria is yet to reach the peak of the pandemic.

“Therefore, the low test/case confirmation numbers coming out daily should not be misinterpreted to mean that we have overcome. We have over time ramped up testing but more needs to be done to raise the quantum of test per million.

“Our analysis has however shown that five States still account for 60% of cumulative cases; 689 out of 774 LGAs have reported a case; 85 LGAs in 20 states still remain with no testing done and no case reported, and 50 per cent of all cases are in 20 per cent LGAs.”

He said even though the country has the capacity to test 10, 000 people daily, only about 2,000 tests are currently being conducted, urging state governments to ramp up testing in their areas of responsibility.

“I believe that these 85 local governments are not absolute. If we go out there to test now, we would find traces of COVID-19 infections,” said the SGF.

According to him, key sectors that the PTF will be watching in addition to the general level of compliance are the education and transportation sectors, adding that the task force and the Federal Ministry of Aviation are working rapidly towards reopening of international flights.

Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire on his part said the focus of the government is still to reduce fatality to less than one per cent.

Noting that the main COVID-19 symptoms include breathlessness, which responds well to oxygen supplementation as the first measure, Ehanire said the government is turning its preferences therefore to gadgets that provide oxygen, like oxygen generators to be in many facilities, including General hospitals and larger Primary Healthcare Centres PHCs.

“Solar-powered aggregates, where available, will be prioritised. Federal Health Institutions with oxygen plants should activate them as a matter of priority and ensure they can deliver to their A & E Dept.

“The other measure is the activation of the ambulance service to move patients to treatment centres. This strategy worked well in Kano and all states should prepare to set up the system. The Federal Ministry of Health will provide guidance,” he said.

Minister of State, Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, expressed delight at the level of compliance with safety measures by schools who have partially reopened in the country.

He, however, urged the students to continue to observe strict personal hygiene and containment measures, lamenting that some of them flout the rules when they get back to their dormitories.

According to Nwajiuba, the ministry has forwarded to the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN the request by private school teachers for financial support, expressing optimism that they would be considered.

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