President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the transformation of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 into a new Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) with modified responsibilities.
This followed the terminal report of the PTF submitted to the president in March at the end of its initial tenure.
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Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this Tuesday during a media briefing in Abuja.
He said the president considered the report and approved that the PTF will transition to a PSC on COVID-19, effective from 1 April 2021, with a modified mandate to reflect the non-emergent status of COVID-19 as a potentially long-term pandemic.
The structure of the PSC will reflect the new focus of the response with a targeted approach on vaccine oversight, risk communication, international travel quarantine processes and sub-national engagement.
Its tenure will last till 31st December 2021.
The PSC will maintain the present constitution, functions and strategies of the PTF and be supported by a slim technical and administrative structure, he added.
He also said the current National Incident Manager, Dr Mukhtar Mohammed, will formally take over from the National Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu and function as the Head (Technical Secretariat) and member of the PSC.
The SGF said as at April 5, 2021, 963,802 persons in Nigeria had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The overarching objective is to vaccinate 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population between 2021 and 2022,” Mustapha said.
Mustapha warned that the global hope offered by the arrival of vaccines has, however, been threatened by the detection of variants of concern as described by the WHO (B.1.1.7; B.1.351; P.1).
Meanwhile, the federal government has explained why it asked states administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to stop the exercise the moment they used half of the doses allocated to them.
Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, said the directive became necessary since the country was not sure when the second batch of the vaccine would arrive the country.
“This is in order for those who have received their first jab to be able to complete their vaccination,” he said.
The Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, assured that the centre was investigating the reported blood clotting in some individuals that have taken the first jab of AstraZeneca vaccine.
The chief executive officer of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, clarified that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and Johnson and Johnson vaccine cannot be taken together by the same individual.
Boss Mustapha, said civil servants in GL12 and below would continue to work from home because there are certain red flags that need to be interrogated further.