Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has said being conscious of the significant contributions of air travels to economic growth, it has began plans to push for a safe resumption of international flights.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, made the disclosure at Thursday’s briefing in Abuja.
He explained that the Aviation sector has been working assiduously to develop the protocols for the resumption of international air services.
The SGF added that aviation regulators are to engage with other stakeholders to facilitate an integrated and seamless resumption of international flights.
Mustapha said: “This PTF remains conscious of the significant contributions of air travels to economic growth and shall continue to push for a safe resumption. The next phase is for aviation regulators to engage with other stakeholders to facilitate an integrated and seamless resumption of international flights. I plead with all Nigerians to await authentic information from the aviation authorities and discountenance fake news and speculation on dates.”
He said high profile persons testing positive to the virus confirms its no respecter of persons.
“For the first time since the PTF commenced the regular briefing, we had to postpone the briefing for Monday 20th July, 2020. On Sunday 19th July, 2020, the dangers that our frontline workers face on a daily basis was forcefully brought to our consciousness, when the tweet from the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs who is a member of the PTF, went viral. That singular piece of information in the public space is sufficient proof to Nigerians that the virus is real and does not discriminate.”
He assured that the regular testing of members of the PTF for COVID-19 would be sustained, adding “We will however not lower our guards for any reason because the nation cannot afford to shut down its response.”
The SGF said the PTF might consider restructuring the mode of delivering some of its activities, relying more on technology, to minimize the risks associated with unavoidable physical contacts.
He said: “Since the last time we briefed the nation, global and national developments continue to yield statistics that point at the fact that the virus is still very potent and spreading faster than human efforts can speed to stop it. WHO statistics show that India has joined the United States of America and Brazil in the category of countries that have recorded over one million cases. Cumulatively, 15,403,120 cases have been recorded from 215 countries and territories.
“On the African continent, the cumulative total for Africa has risen to 773, 804 including 16,448 fatalities. Nigeria, with 38,344 cases account for about 5% of the Africa’s numbers. Similarly, Nigeria, with 813 deaths accounts for 5% of fatalities in the continent.
“The message of hope is that the world continues to close its ranks in the search for a vaccine in a manner designed to guarantee rapid, fair, and equitable access worldwide. Back home, there has been a lot of debate on finding a local cure. “While this is a plausible expectation, the PTF, other relevant institutions of government and the private sector working with our partners shall pursue the path of research relentlessly. As we have often said, only a well-developed partnership will save humanity.”
Mustapha reiterated that, its the duty of Nigerians to change their behaviour and scale up their compliance with non-pharmaceutical measures. The best option is to totally avoid contracting the virus by staying safe.”
Mustapha also hinted that the task force will be submitting a set of recommendations at the end of the second week of eased lockdown.
He said: “As we approach the last five days to the end of this eased lock down phase, the PTF shall rigorously evaluate the developments on the basis of emerging data, evolving science, strengthened best practices and improvements in our Risk Communication Strategy. All these will help us form an opinion upon which the next set of recommendations to Mr. President will be based.
“We also have cause to begin to advise Nigerians on the upcoming Eid-El Kabir Festival. This naturally comes with lots of mass gatherings but we must not forget that the guidelines are still in existence and the virus is very potent. We urge all State Governments to ensure that guidelines are adhered to and citizens should not indulge in activities that would allow for the spread of the virus and lives are endangered. We are encouraged by State Governments that have announced ban on Sallah Festivities and hope it will be upheld and replicated by other States.