The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the COVID-19 Pandemic has expressed concern that Nigerians are not showing trust in government and its agencies necessary to sustain the gains already made in the effort to contain the disease.
Chairman of the task force and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, made the assertion at its resumed press briefing in Abuja on Thursday.
He said: “Media reports have suggested that many Nigerians do not trust the government and its agencies.
“We need to continue to build mutual trust between the government and the governed if successes already recorded are to be sustained in the fight against COVID-19.”
He maintained that the situation of COVID-19 in Nigeria continues to give the PTF serious concern especially as it relates to testing.
The PTF boss affirmed that there has been an observed drop in the number of confirmed cases and a further reduction in the number of states reporting new confirmed cases, while the rest of the world continue to declare high numbers of cases and fatalities.
Mustapha pointed out that Brazil has crossed 5million confirmed cases and recorded over 150,000 fatalities while other countries like France, Israel, Italy, Britain, etc., are reintroducing more restrictions and measures to curtail the spread of the pandemic in their countries.
He said in order to ramp up testing, there will be full implementation of the national testing week.
On the African continent, he said, 10,615 cases were reported from 36 countries leading to a cumulative total case count of 1,545,099 including 37,153 deaths.
He stressed that globally, over the last few days, 5,909 deaths were reported from 102 countries and territories worldwide, with South America (Largely Brazil) accounting for 26% (1,510 deaths) of all deaths reported in the last 24 hours.
Cumulatively, 1,060,002 COVID-19 deaths have been reported worldwide. The global CFR has gradually declined to 2.9%, he said.
Mustapha added: “Although Nigeria is no longer in the top five countries by cumulative deaths in Africa, the PTF continues to urge Nigerians to change their attitude of scepticism and nonchalance to the virus.
“For the avoidance of doubts, the virus is real, ferocious and deadly. To date, Nigeria has recorded 59,738 confirmed cases and 1,113 fatalities.
“The PTF is fully conscious, but not deceived, by the fact that our recovery rate is high and very encouraging. We still urge, however, that everyone should get tested because testing is the only way to detect, isolate, trace and treat.”
On international flights, the SGF assured that the PTF and relevant agencies are working with the European Union on the issue of flights into Nigeria.
“As soon as negotiations are completed, Nigerians will be informed accordingly. For flights currently allowed into Nigeria, we are seeing a combined number of 4,500 arriving passengers per day into Lagos and Abuja,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the task force has insisted that voters without facemasks would not be allowed to vote in Saturday’s Ondo governorship election.
PTF National Coordinator stated this during his remark at the press’s briefing, saying that all voters, candidates and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would be required to honour the various anti-COVID-19 guidelines already put in place for elections.
He noted that the country could not afford anything that would reverse the gains made in the national response to the pandemic.
The National Coordinator said: “With regards to the election in Ondo, as we all know, on Saturday Ondo State will hold governorship election across 18 local government areas. We are expecting about 1.5 million eligible people to cast their votes across 3,000 polling units across the state.
“This is clearly a huge exercise. It’s a huge exercise that will also come with risks. Therefore, in order to protect the voters, the election officials and candidates in the electoral process, we urge everyone to strictly comply with the INEC guidelines that we have worked with INEC to set up with regards to safe elections.
“For clarity, these are some of the elements of the guidelines. Facemasks are mandatory across all the polling units locations. No facemask, no voting. Physical distancing must be enforced, especially in queueing and polling units. Alcohol-based sanitisers will be provided. Polls will commence at 8:30 am, to close at 2:30 pm, but anybody on the outer queue by 2:30 pm will still be allowed to vote. There will be two queues; an outer queue and an inner queue.
“Voters will be brought into the inner queue periodically from the outer queue into the inner queue in order to prevent overcrowding. Chairs, tables and workplaces will be disinfected regularly, PPE will be provided to polling staff, including infrared thermometers, for temperature monitoring and at the close of the polls, staff will ensure that materials are disinfected properly and packaged carefully.
“We encourage all 17 political candidates of the Ondo election to please lead by example. Public safety is our main priority and we urge voters, candidates and all election officials to adhere strictly to the safety measures that we have put in place with INEC.
“We must work together to ensure that the protocols issued by the NCDC, PTF, state committees on COVID-19, health authorities and INEC are observed.”
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