PTF mulls over second lockdown as COVI-19 cases skyrocket


By Kayode Tokede

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 said it is considering another lockdown as new cases of virus in the country continued to increase significantly since December.

PTF Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), on Thursday expressed worry at a briefing in Abuja.

Nigeria on Wednesday recorded 1,664 single day cases on Wednesday and 1,354 cases of COVI-19 infections on Tuesday.

The chairman said the PTF is concerned about the increasing daily number of COVID-19 positive cases in the country.

According to him, “This is yet another all-time high in Nigeria, and we must all take full responsibility through compliance and vigilance. It is better to wear a face mask than to be on  a ventilator.

“We have consistently appealed to all Nigerians to stay safe and act in most defensive and protective ways by complying with the non-pharmaceutical interventions already prescribed,” Mustapha said.

He urged Nigerians to be their brothers’ keepers by observing COVID-19 prevention protocols.

“Remind your neighbour to do the right thing in view of the imminent danger facing us as a country and the world in general.

“Our records show that our test per million is at 4,695, our test positivity rate at 9.6 per cent and our case fatality rate increased to three per cent as we have recorded 1,324 deaths,” he said.

Mustapha said that the figures were not encouraging.

He said that Nigeria just crossed the one million mark for testing, adding that testing remained a key strategy for national response.

“The PTF urges the sub-nationals to revamp testing and contact tracing in a bid to curb the menace of this dreaded virus.

“It is only through testing that we can know our status and treat early if infected.

“This will provide among other things, evidence for effective feedback and experience  sharing, as well as optimise documentation systems for future reference,” he said.

The chairman said that efforts were being made to increase oxygen supply  to health facilities across the country.

He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved establishment of at least one new oxygen plant in each state of the federation, while the existing ones would be made fully functional.

“We continue to thank the Private Sector Initiative  and the Nigerian Air Force for their continued support.

“As the government is working round the clock to secure safe and right vaccines for the country, we call on the media, traditional, religious and community leaders to pass the right message to their followers so that together, we can win the war against this virus.

“To overcome some of these challenges, the PTF will intensify risk communication and community engagement to create awareness.

“The level of doubts about the virus is alarming, and I call on every one to become an advocate in support of national response.”

The chairman said that the  PTF was working to develop new health protection regulations to support existing COVID-19 protocols.

Mustapha said that the PTF was aware that the world was at a critical phase of COVID-19 infection and was constantly reviewing its strategies especially in risk communication and vaccine hesitancy.

Also, the PTF National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu  said, “ We are saying is that if these numbers continued to go up and we start having significant death, we have no option and if we don’t want to lockdown, now is the time to follow the pharmaceutical intervention.”