From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 yesterday warned of possible third wave of the pandemic that is ravaging some foreign countries.
PTF chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, gave the warning at the joint national briefing, saying Nigerians should be weary of home-based care as there may not be enough facilities and personnel to manage patients in times of emergencies.
“It is in this vain that concerted efforts have been made to ensure that oxygen is available for patients in all the 46 facilities,” he said.
He said as at March, 14, 2021, bed occupancy had reduced to 1.22 per cent and active cases stood 13,245.
“Unfortunately, Nigeria crossed 2,000 fatalities on March, 12, 2021 and now we have 2,013 recorded deaths.”
The SGF acknowledged reports from around the world, in the last few days, focused on the safety and side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine currently being rolled out in the country.
He, however, said Nigerian authorities have tested and authorised the use of the vaccines because it was safe and efficacious.
“I wish to reassure you that the government of Nigeria shall always prioritise the health of Nigerians,” he said.
Speaking on the third wave of the pandemic despite the vaccines, Mustapha said the arrival of vaccines had in no way distracted the government from pursuing the National Response to COVID-19 as originally conceptualised – test, detect, trace, isolate and treat.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the virus is very potent and people still get infected. It is also a fact that the vaccination process has only just began. It has been reported that some countries are recording a third wave of cases. We urge all Nigerians to recognise that we are not yet out of the woods. Therefore, the PTF shall continue to emphasis and promote the strict adherence to the non-pharmaceutical interventions.”
The SGF said discussions with KLM and Emirates were on-going on the issue of pre-boarding testing for passengers whose final destination of travel is their home bases.
He said KLM agreed to resume outbound flights from Lagos yesterday without RDTs, while a letter has been written to Emirates to suspend flights with effect from midnight Wednesday, March 17.
He said discussions were on-going to resolve the matter amicably.
He also recalled that at the beginning of the ban on international and domestic travels, airports in Nigeria were locked down.
“The ban has since been lifted after necessary infrastructure,personnel and systems were put in place in Lagos and Abuja airports. In order to further energise the economies of states in the North-West, South-South and South-East, a timetable has been prepared for the reopening of Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu international airports.”