By Abujah Racheal
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 says physical distancing and other prevention measures were designed to save Nigerians from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the PTF Chairman, made this known at its daily briefing on Friday in Abuja.
Mustapha reiterated that the measures were not punitive, but meant to save lives and prevent uncontrolled spread of the COVID -19 within the communities.
“We recognise the existence of multi-faceted challenges, and shall keep emphasising these in our daily briefings and through our information, education and communication media,” he said.
He called on the mass media and other key stakeholders to step up awareness creation efforts.
According to him, Nigeria is at the community transmission phase of the pandemic at the moment.
He noted that the country on Thursday, recorded 381 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the highest number so far in a day.
“This can be considered worrisome but for the fact that this rise is associated with increase testing capacity, which has provided opportunity to detect hitherto hidden cases.
“This increased testing does not translate to higher fatality rates. As in the last few days, we have witnessed a good number of discharges and continually reduce daily fatality rate,” he said.
Mustapha disclosed that the PTF had also received reports from states, suggesting that treatment centres were running out of bed spaces.
“As we assess the situation, the PTF shall also begin to examine peculiar circumstances, modify the strategies for care management and consider viable alternatives, where necessary.
“At the appropriate time, the guidelines and protocols shall be unfolded,” the SGF said.
He further said that the PTF had been consulting with security agencies and concluded that strict enforcement shall be adopted in other to curtail the COVID-19 spread.
“As part of the conclusion of the meeting with security chiefs, the following were also agreed to strengthen enforcement in collaboration with the states:
”All exempted persons, including journalists and medical personnel should always carry verifiable and authentic means of identification.
“Security agencies should improve monitoring of their personnel and interaction with the citizenry.
”Citizens should respect the sacrificial role of security agencies and desist from assaulting personnel and damaging security infrastructure.
“Appropriate PPE and related protective gears will be provided for security personnel; security agencies should always respect the fundamental rights of citizens during enforcement.
“Enlightenment and awareness should be intensified,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mustapha has announced that the PTF is liaising with the Task Force on Movement of Agricultural Produce under the leadership of the minister of agriculture and rural development to ensure that food scarcity is not experienced in any part of the country.
He said that another objective of the collaboration was also to minimise abuse of the exemption granted for movement of goods.
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, said at the briefing that it appeared Nigeria was going to the exponential phase of the virus.
Aliyu advised that safety should be the watchword of every Nigerian.
The coordinator appealed to Nigerians to stay within their communities to limit transmission of the virus. (NAN)