By Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, has fixed December 3 as the take-off date for the second stream of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
The Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, disclosed this in his opening remarks during the task force’s media briefing in Abuja on Monday.
According to him, the date was picked following the end of the camp training for the first stream corp members, adding that the third stream would be called to camp in January 2021.
He also announced the decision to push the take-off date for the National Sports Festival, Edo 2020, to sometime in early 2021 when the measures to minimise spread of COVID-19 in the sports camp would have been put in place.
On the NYSC stream two camping, he said “we are pleased to inform you that the first stream of NYSC has concluded camping while we expect the 2nd stream to go to camp on 3rd December and the third stream would be in January 2021.
‘Necessary measures, building on the successes of the first stream, have been taken. The DG NCDC will brief you on this.’
On the sports festival scheduled to hold in Edo state, the Chairman said “over the past weeks, discussions have been held about the safety issues pertaining to the National Sports Festival scheduled to hold in Benin, Edo State.
‘New dates have been agreed upon early in 2021 before which, measures would be put in place to minimize infections. The HM Youth and Sports would have been here to brief the nation on the preparations but for other exigencies. He will be here with us in subsequent briefings,’ he said.
Mustapha also said that the Taskforce was concerned about the rise of Nigeria’s case profile in comparison with other African countries, particularly as the country rose in rank from being the eighth in cumulative caseload to fifth in both caseload and number of deaths.
‘The global number of COVID-19 infections crossed 63 million on Sunday, 29th November 2020. Similarly, the USA crossed the 13 million mark and has been recording high daily case incidence of over 130,000 for two straight weeks.
‘In Africa, Nigeria ranks 5th for both the highest cumulative cases and deaths,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the PTF has expressed sadness over the killing of rice farmers in Borno State over the weekend by Boko Haram terrorists, noting that the national response to COVID-19 and security must be prioritised as the nation cannot relaxed security, even while tackling the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
‘The members of the PTF, on a very painful note, wish to express our deepest condolences to Mr President, the Government and people of Borno State over the recent massacre of farmers by insurgents.
‘Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the victims and we pray that the Almighty God shall comfort them.
‘Humanity has been under the siege of COVID-19 and we cannot afford to relax our security even as we mount a national response,’ the SGF said.
Mustapha reiterated the call for all citizens to remain vigilant always, saying the business of safety against COVID-19 and security against insurgents and other forms of criminal activities is the business of everybody.
He said the PTF is escalating its surveillance and testing drive to ensure that the spread of the virus is effectively contained even as the nation approach the festive season.
‘We shall continue to remind Nigerians that all non-essential trips should be put off this December. This is for your safety and good health,’ Mustapha said.
Speaking on the vaccines, Mustapha said that there have been lots of positive developments around the world regarding vaccines.
‘There has been a lot of positive developments around the world regarding vaccines. This is a significant achievement. However, before it becomes available, we urge you to continue to comply with the non-pharmaceutical interventions.
‘The PTF is already working on the strategy for gaining access to the Vaccine as soon as they are available,’ he said.