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COVID-19: We’re studying new strain of virus -FG

..urges state governments not to close down treatment centres

The Federal Government said it has started studying the new and deadly strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and shall take appropriate measures.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha said this on Thursday in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the taskforce.

This is as he also urged the state governments not to close down their treatment centres.

“The PTF is aware of the global conversation on the new strain of virus discovered in the UK. We had assured Nigerians that our experts working with the WHO are studying the variant strain and shall make a statement at the appropriate time.

“In 2021, its vaccines plus non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). As we make progress on this NPIs +Vaccines phase, I urge the State Government not to close down their treatment centers,” Mustapha said.

He urged Nigerians to adhere to President Muhammadu Buhari’s advised in his address to the PTF on Tuesday and shelve all non-essential travels during this period and avoid large gatherings.

According to him, as a follow up to this development, the PTF met with the select team of Governors on the platform of the National Economic Council and by extension, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), where governors shared their experiences on the implementation of these measures and pledged to push it further.

Mustapha said that the successes recorded by the PTF in managing the control of the pandemic since March 2020 could never have been possible without the support of all the partners and the media that took the message to Nigerians.

He assured, “As we commence the process of adding vaccines to the task, we wish to reaffirm that all aspects of the pronouncement of the President will be approached with the seriousness it deserves.”

“Similarly, the PTF is aware of the global conversation on the new strain of virus discovered in the UK. We had assured Nigerians that our experts working with the WHO are studying the variant strain and shall make a statement at the appropriate time.”

International travel ban on UK, others

On the international travels especially from the UK, South Africa and some very high burden areas, Mustapha said that government will continue to evaluate the actions taken by various countries.

He said that some of the countries that initially banned flights have now adopted the requirement already in place in Nigeria.

“We have also weighed the security, economic and social implications of a full ban especially when we consider the situation in our neighboring countries and the ECOWAS as a whole.

“The PTF shall increase measures pertaining to those high burden countries to scale down the possibilities of importation,” Mustapha said.

The SGF said that the PTF is working assiduously on the turn around time for receiving test results.

He said that the taskforce is working with the NCDC to improve on this and that Nigerians should expect improvement very soon.

“Rising cases worrisome”

On his part, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire expressed concern about the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country.

According to him, on Wednesday, Nigeria recorded 1,133 confirmed cases and five deaths bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria to 80, 922 from 912,114 Samples tested, while 1236 people have lost their lives to the disease.

“We are also recording an increase in the number of passengers coming into the country. Last week, the number of inbound passengers increased to 20,208 against 15,805 the previous week.

“270 passengers tested positive after 7 days against 129 the week before. This represents more than 100% increase from the previous week.

“Our record shows that only about 60 percent of those due for testing present themselves for test. The implication of this is that many who have the virus could spread it in the community without knowing it,” Ehanire said.

He therefore urged all those who arrive the country to isolate and present themselves for test on the seventh day.

“You will be saving a lot of lives. The life you save may be that of your own loved one,” Ehanire said.

He added that government held a strategic review workshop to review activities and reports of supportive supervision as part of the response to strengthen case management of COVID-19 cases.

He said that the government shall ensure standards are maintained the operations and activities at Isolation centres including training, logistics and supplies and Data management.

He urged Nigerians to celebrate Christmas and New Year with utmost cautions to contain further spread of the pandemic in the country.