By Bolaji Ogundele and Moses Emorinken, Abuja,
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Pandemic has said the infection had not slowed down its deadly advance in the country.
PTF claimed that on Saturday, the country recorded the second-highest single-day death counts as 24 victims of the disease were lost to it.
Noting that the sad development was a wake-up call to Nigerians to take responsibility and comply with protocols and regulations, Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha said the task force would intensify monitoring of developments for the next two weeks to ascertain the level of the impact of last weekend’s Valentine’s Day celebration on citizens.
“On the other hand, the recorded death of 24 COVID-19 patients in the country on Saturday, 13th February, 2021, being the second-highest in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, should serve as a wake-up call for the populace to brace for more compliance.
“Yesterday was February 14 and globally it is known as Valentine’s Day. While we appreciate the message of love, we also hope that the message of safety, taking responsibility and compliance with non-pharmaceutical measures were also broadcast seriously.
“The PTF will continue to monitor developments over the next two weeks due to the nature of celebrations that took place,” he said.
On the efforts to make oxygen available for case management at treatment centres, he said the Global Fund had perfected plans to sponsor the rehabilitation of 36 oxygen plants nationwide to make the essential need for critical sufferers of the disease available and easily accessible in all parts of the country.
“The oxygen strategy we are pursuing nationwide under case management is receiving the needed support from the Global Fund. This will involve the repairs of 36 plants nationwide. The process is ongoing and you will be briefed as it progresses.
“The objective is to make sure that oxygen is available within the shortest possible travelling distance for hospitals to procure for patients. As you are aware, the President has already approved the repairs of existing plants around the country. The Minister of Health will brief you on it”, he said.
Mustapha also recalled that at the last briefing, the PTF mentioned the dialogue between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and KLM (Netherland) over the testing requirements prescribed by some airlines.
Mustapha said the government also informed that outbound airlift of passengers by these airlines have been restricted pending when the protocols are ironed out.
Also yesterday, the Federal Government urged Nigerians not relax or be too quick to interpret the recent drop in COIVID-19 cases to mean a decline in the rate of spread of the pandemic, especially in this second wave.
It, therefore, encouraged everyone to continue to observe and adhere to the non-pharmaceutical measures such as physical distancing, regular hand washing, use of hand sanitisers, observance of respiratory hygiene, avoiding crowded places and above all, wearing appropriate face masks that also cover the noses.
It further revealed that most hospitals across the country are now able to comfortably cope with the caseload of COVID-19 patients.
Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire stated these in Abuja, during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on covid-19.
He said: “We are beginning to observe what may cautiously be said to be a decline in the rate of spread of COVID-19 infection in this second wave, a trend that may seem to be global, but certainly too early to interpret as such.
“Under no condition must we let down our guard as we continue to implement our four-prong strategy of Infection Mitigation with strict implementation of Public Health measures, upgrading and refining therapeutics, maintaining routine and essential health and hospital services like routine immunization, antenatal and child care, nutrition and family planning, and deployment of vaccines, to which I shall return later.
“The past 24 hours saw 520 new covid19 cases and 5 deaths, bringing to 146,184, the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria, out of 1,441,013 tests so far. We have sadly lost 1,752 persons to the disease, with a case fatality rate of 1.2 percent.
“Reported cases last week came to 6,942 as against 8,000 recorded the previous week. We shall continue to support state governments to sustain and ramp up testing tempo.
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