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 effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the country is going through a challenging time because of the second wave of the virus, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the pandemic and Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, has said.

Speaking at the media briefing of the task force in Abuja, on Tuesday, he remarked that week 52 has seen the highest recorded cases of confirmed infection in the country.

He said the PTF is working on critical issues including oxygen supply and case management taking into consideration the increasing number of infections and hospitalisation.

Mustapha said: “Our National Response is passing through a challenging phase due to the seriousness of the second wave of infections in Nigeria. Week 52 has so far given us the highest number of infections, in a single week, to date. Our TPR analysis shows that 16 out of every 100 tests carried out are positive.

“We are also seeing increasing transmission among younger people and this is not considered good and safe. We must therefore exercise utmost restraint by taking responsibility.

“The PTF, this afternoon, discussed two very critical issues namely (i) Oxygen supply and (ii) Case Management. With the increasing number of infections and hospitalization, our objectives are to: ensure that infection, prevention and control (IPC) is properly instituted to minimise spread and exposure of health care workers to the virus; ensure that those who require hospitalization are well managed; those requiring medical attention for other ailments gain access to Treatment at medical facilities; and critical care is available and deployed especially where oxygen is needed. The situation in Abuja and its environs has been of concern to the PTF.”

The SGF revealed that during a conversation with health authorities including the CMDs of Federal Tertiary Institutions in Abuja: – National Hospital; Jabi and Gwagwalada on Tuesday, the PTF directed that the level of Infections, Prevention and Control as well as case management should be prioritized immediately.

He maintained that as the New Year (2021) is just a few days away, citizens should, in addition to the Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPIs) and the hope given by the arrival of vaccines, be committed to personal survival and compliance with protocols, which he said will remain critical.

He, therefore, urged Nigerians to make this part of their New Year resolutions.

While noting that protocols recently issued to states are actively being implemented by many, he urged those who are yet to do so to begin to them to practice.

Mustapha stated: “You will recall that we recently issued some protocols to States to which a number of states have been actively implementing. We thank these States and urge others to follow suit.

“Closely related to these protocols, is the fact that the strategy of testing to detect and treat remains central to the role Sates are expected to play. Data shows that despite the resources already made available to sub-national entities, testing is very low across States in varying degrees. This is not helping our National Response. Indeed, some States have not reported any infections in several weeks.

“Reports received also point to the fact that laboratories recently established in the States are not working optimally. You will recall that we moved from two laboratories to about ninety (Public & Private) located in all states of the Federation. Their inability to function optimally has resulted in unacceptable levels of delay in receiving results and pressure on the National Reference Labs.

“We wish to urge all States to reopen all laboratories and ensure that testing is expanded and turnaround time for results is substantially reduced. In the same vein, States should please keep their Isolation/Treatment Centres open because of the rising cases of infection nationwide.”

On travels, Mustapha remarked that the PTF has worked out additional quarantine protocols to be observed by travelers arriving from the UK and South Africa.

According to him, this is in keeping with the task force’s determination to minimize any possibility of importation of the virus.

He said the new policy, which started from Monday, December 28, 2020, include: requirement for passengers for two additional documents; permit to travel/QR code obtained from the travel portal after payment for the day seven post-arrival test; and Covid 19 PCR negative test with a validity now shortened to 96 hours or 4 days

“The PTF shall remain vigilant on this matter and our relevant agencies are also working on the sequencing to determine the strain found,” Mustapha declared.

He reiterated that with effect from 1st January, 2021 the passports of the first 100. passengers that failed to take their day seven post-arrival PCR test will be published in the national dailies. The passports, as a deterrence, will also be suspended till June 2021.

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