The Presidential Task Force PTF on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic has charged Nigerians to find a way to get tested for the infection to know their status.
The task force also Advised that all government and board meetings should be restricted to the virtual, just as all unnecessary travels for meetings by government officials should be suspended until further notice.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF, Mr Boss Mustapha, who disclosed these during the task force’s media briefing on Monday in Abuja, said the call on Nigerians to get tested had become necessary.
According to Mustapha, the only way Nigeria could detect, almost accurately, the level of the spread of COVID-19 in the country would be when as many Nigerians as possible get tested.
He, however, allayed associated fears of death from being infected, noting that COVID-19 is not a death sentence, but emphasised the need for the elderly and those who terminal illnesses to be kept away from being exposed to the disease as they are the most vulnerable in society.
“As we progress in this phase and acknowledging that testing capacity has to be increased, we encourage as many Nigerians as possible to get tested, we have expanded the network of sample collection centres.
“In Abuja, a sample collection centre has been set up at THIS DAY DOME and all Government hospitals In the FCT have been designated as sample collection centres. The Honourable Minister of Health would provide details in due course.
“Getting tested is the only sure way of making sure we know the prevalence of the virus and understand how to tackle it effectively,” he said.
Mustapha recalled that the PTF had operated for three months, which marked a midterm of the six month term it has to run the national response plan, adding that a review of the national response plan was done over the weekend, from which some deductions were made, including the instruction for all government meetings be restricted to the virtual.
He, however, charged Nigerians to remain vigilant, noting that the pandemic would not go away by a wish; neither would it go away if people refuse to keep safe.
“Please let us all resolve to play our part, while Government does its best to save lives and livelihood. To this end, all government offices shall continue to hold virtual meetings in their offices especially where participants exceed four persons and suspend all unnecessary travels for meetings.
“For corporate organisations, board members, among others, the reopening of the domestic flights should not be misconstrued. The PTF strongly encourages virtual meetings as well;
“We still urge places of worship to cautiously follow the guide lines on public gatherings; and we urge members of the political class to exercise utmost circumspection in their gathering for whatever reasons,” he said.
On the controversy surrounding the schools resumption, the SGF said, “the PTF has followed with keen interest the conversation around the resumption of schools. We recognize that our children are precious and we would not do anything to compromise their safety.
“The PTF has assessed the circumstances and has put in place necessary guidelines to be followed while the managers of the sector have the responsibility for drawing up the protocols and determining the dates.
“We urge Nigerians to follow closely the critical steps being taken by the Federal Ministry of Education in conjunction with other stakeholders,” he said.