The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Committee on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, on Thursday said the Federal Government was encouraged that some state governments had announced ban on this year’s Eid-el-Kabir festivities.
The SGF, during the briefing of the PTF, said the Federal Government hoped that the ban would be upheld and replicated by other states.
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Kano and Jigawa states had on Wednesday announced the ban on sallah festivities.
Ahead of Eid-el-Kabir celebration holding next Friday, the SGF urged Nigerians to continue to observe the COVID-19 protocols.
According to him, there is the cause to advise Nigerians on the upcoming Eid-El Kabir.
“This naturally comes with lots of mass gatherings, but we must not forget that the guidelines are still in existence and the virus is very potent.
“We urge all state governments to ensure that guidelines are adhered to and citizens should not indulge in activities that would allow for the spread of the virus and lives are endangered,” Mustapha said.
Caution against Eid gatherings
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, also cautioned against Eid gatherings, saying “All over the world, mass gatherings have been linked with the mass infections and casualties in other countries, which we see in the media each day, and which we’re trying to avoid, in order not to overwhelm the capacity of our health system.
“Since the risk of crowding cannot be ruled out in places of worship and pose a serious hazard for COVID-19 transmission, it is very wise that persons over 60 years, the obese and those in treatment for hypertension, diabetes, cancer, HIV, among others, or have had a transplant, should stay at home pray at home. I also strongly advise that travel be avoided in this period except for a critical reason.”
The SGF said the disclosure that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a member of the PTF, had contracted coronavirus was sufficient proof to Nigerians that the virus is real and does not discriminate.
He said sequel to that development, the PTF and its secretariat immediately carried out a risk assessment and tested all members to determine their status, out of an abundance of caution.
“As we progress, however, the PTF might consider restructuring the mode of delivering some of its activities, relying more on technology to minimize the risks associated with avoidable physical contacts,” he said.
He warned that the WHO statistics showed that India had joined the USA and Brazil in the category of countries with over one million cases, and that cumulatively, 15,403,120 cases had been recorded from 215 countries and territories.
“On the African continent, the cumulative total for Africa has risen to 773, 804 including 16,448 fatalities. Nigeria, with 38,344 cases, accounts for about 5 percent of the Africa’s numbers. Similarly, Nigeria, with 813 deaths, accounts for five percent of fatalities in the continent.
“The message of hope is that the world continues to close its ranks in the search for a vaccine in a manner designed to guarantee rapid, fair, and equitable access worldwide,” he said.
He thanked India for donating to Nigeria, seven tonnes of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of patients as well as others who donated oxygen concentrators, ambulance and phones.
International flight resumption
On international flights resumption, he said the next phase was for aviation regulators to engage with other stakeholders to facilitate an integrated and seamless resumption of such flights.
“I plead with all Nigerians to await authentic information from the aviation authorities and discountenance fake news and speculation on dates,” he said.
He said as the nation approached the last five days to the end of the eased lockdown phase, the PTF would rigorously evaluate the developments on the basis of emerging data, evolving science, strengthened best practices and improvements in the Risk Communication Strategy.
He said all these would help the taskforce to form an opinion upon which the next set of recommendations to President Buhari would be based.
Madagascar COVID-19 herb
The Minister of Health said the much-talked about Madagascar herb did not show any evidence of real curative properties against COVID-19.
He said the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development had shared its final report on the evaluation of the COVID Organics from Madagascar and that the initial report had showed that its main ingredient was the same as Artemisia anua. “While the preparation at high dose showed activity in reducing the frequency of cough, it did not show any evidence that it has real curative properties against COVID-19. However, we shall continue to support all genuine efforts towards finding local covid19 cures,” he said.
Ehanire said his ministry, through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control now had 59 molecular diagnostic laboratories for COVID-19 test activated.
NCDC Director-General Chikwe Ihekweazu said over 250,000 Nigerians had so far been tested for the COVID-19.