Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has conducted a mid-term review of National Response Strategy on the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak in the country.
Mr Boss Mustapha, the PTF Chairman, Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), made this known on Monday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Mid-term review was attended by legislators, Chairmen of relevant Committees on Health in the Senate and House of Representatives, the Office of the Vice President, Ministers, Diplomatic Community and development partners.
Mustapha said that the objectives were to review the PTF’s achievements, challenges and opportunities for improvement of COVID-19 response efforts from its inception to June 30.
He said that the med-review was also to engage key stakeholders in developing the way forward on COVID-19 in the PTF’s response efforts.
The SGF said it was expected that at the end of the two-day meeting, key resolutions would have been taken covering actions PTF intended to take in the areas like focussing on having enough oxygen nationwide as the numbers of hospitalised people increased.
“Establishing one sample collection centre per Local Government Area (LGA) and focussing on high burden LGAs with precision interventions, including increased risk communication.
“Increase community engagement, including religious leaders and state ownership by increasing state engagement and collaboration, as well as strengthening ownership at the state and local government levels.
“Institutionalise IPC policies in healthcare facilities and take step to increase compliance of non-pharmaceutical measures (use of face masks, hand sanitisers and physical distancing).
“Increase engagement with the private sector, industrial development as a gain from the pandemic and support local production of PPE and other critical supplies.
“Communicating that anyone above 60 years or persons with morbidities (such as hypertension, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, cancers etc.), should stay at home and avoid social events as they are at highest risk of infection and mortality.
“Government meetings/Board meetings should be conducted virtually until further notice and all unnecessary travels for meetings by government officials should be suspended till further notice,” he said.
Mustapha said that the task force would also develop an exit strategy beyond September 2020, the life of PTF.
He said that an enhanced Risk Communication Strategy would be designed to educate the citizenry on the virulence of the virus, individual and collective roles, but more importantly, to tackle the deliberate mis-information being bandied around, especially in the social media.
“An enhanced Risk Communication strategy becomes inevitable when we realise that within the last 24 hours, the world witnessed the largest single day cases of 230,370, while in Nigeria, last week we recorded the highest weekly fatality of 70 deaths.
“The rising fatalities in Nigeria is not unconnected with denial and delay in seeking help,” he said.
The SGF supported the foregoing position with an insightful quote from Dr Michael Ryan, WHO Executive Director of Health Emergencies Programmes, on the rhetorics of denial and the need to take responsibility.
“Every person needs to look at your own risk. You need to be aware of what is the local transmission.
“You need to know what the transmission in your area is. We do this, everyday in our lives as human beings. We manage risks, we decide when we cross the road.
”We decide when we fly. We decide when we have an operation or not have an operation.
“Why we need is information to make those risk based decisions. We need to gain the knowledge to be able to make good decisions. We decide on our proximity to other individuals.
“We decide on the intensity of our social engagement. We decide on how long we stay in that environment.
“We can be advised by government. We can be advised by science, but in the end, it comes down to personal motivation and personal choice.
“But in the end, it comes down to individuals and it comes down to communities. If it does not feel safe, it is not safe for you,” he said.
Mustapha noted that PTF was also encouraged by the compliance messages that had gone viral on the social media.
He said: “One of those that caught attention gave three major reasons why COVID-19 is spreading fast.
“They are: My colleagues, So, I can speak without a Mask. They are my close friends, so I can speak without a Mask. They are my relations, so, I can speak without a masks.”
According to him, this message is so poignant that if we juxtapose it with the fact that crowded places and closed spaces create environment for the spread, we should behave more responsibly.
He, however, thanked the author of the above and other related messages.