Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
As the Federal Government continues gradual easing of lockdown, it said it is set to roll out measures to be put in place for safe re-opening of schools.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said this at the daily briefing of the Task Force, yesterday.
Federal Government had on May 4 announced it would begin decontamination of schools across the country.
However, Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, described as fake news purported reopening of the schools on June 8.
“Until we are sure that our children can go to school and return safely without taking COVID-19 home, we are not ready to take the risk of opening schools.”
He said the Federal Government will rely on the opinion of experts and the guidance of the World Health Organisation before announcing any school resumption dates.
Nwajiuba said government is working on a model to ensure that all the children did not return to their schools at the same time to ensure physical and social distancing as well as proper sanitation and hygiene.
The plan entails adopting a two-shift system and allowing those who will write exams to return earlier than others.
He urged state governments and owners of private schools to plan ahead on how to ensure maximum safety when the resumption plan is unveiled.
Earlier, Mustapha had said the government would roll out the course of action for the reopening of schools in the country.
“I wish to inform Nigerians that the Federal Ministry of Education will roll out measures for the self-reopening of schools.”
3 local drugs pass first hurdle
Three out of numerous claims of COVID-19 local cure have been validated.
Mustapha said this followed the Federal Ministry of Health virtual meeting with a number of researchers and scientists with claims to cure for COVID 19.
“As a measure of the importance attached to research and development of local capacity for finding a cure to the COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health held a virtual meeting with a number of researchers and scientists with claims to cure for COVID 19 and out of the numerous claimants, three were found to deserve further investigation and have been forwarded to the relevant authorities for appropriate review. Similarly, efforts are being made by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to subject a good number of locally manufactured COVID-19 equipment to verification and subsequent certification.”
The PTF chairman noted that the subject of research has been central to the mandate, thinking and planning of the PTF.
“Studies have shown that countries in Africa are so far experiencing a lower rate of transmission, fewer severe cases, and fewer deaths than had been predicted in previous estimates. A recent publication by WHO on risk modeling for 47 countries in the Africa Region predicts 82,000-190,000 deaths during the first year of the pandemic. However, African countries need to take measure to respond to this worst-case situation while also ensuring continuation of existing services would certainly stretch our already burdened health systems.
“Countries in the region need to progressively increase their capacity to detect cases, not just to know the extent of the outbreak, but also to identify and initiate care for people most at risk. They also need to expand capacity to mitigate the implications of widespread community transmission of COVID-19.
“Above all, more research to determine the underlying factors for the current trend in the pandemic in Africa is needed. In addition to pursuing this line of thought, the occurrences in Kano and some other cities have given us cause to launch our research initiatives using existing structures and systems in a manner that will build a legacy and also prepare Nigeria for any future pandemic.
“The PTF is happy to note that the Central Bank of Nigeria has indicated the willingness to support research efforts. This is, therefore, a call on our researchers and scientists to take up the challenge.”
Mustapha reiterated the PTF’s advisory against self-medication in treating COVID-19.
All evacuations banned till further notice
With about 1,000 already evacuated, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama has announced Federal Government’s decision to suspend all evacuations pending when new protocols on testing is in place, saying “the issue of quarantining in hotels would no longer be feasible.”
He explained that the evacuation was suspended to give room for new measures that would require citizens returning from overseas to get tested and self-isolate at home rather than in designated hotels.
“There is going to be a change in that protocol and that is going to affect the timing of any further evacuation we are going to undertake,” he said.
“Anybody that is going to be evacuated will first of all undergo a test from the countries they are leaving from, at least five days before travel and not later than nine days before.
“That will be a pre-condition for boarding the flights to Nigeria. And if they are positive, they will not be able to board the flight.
“On arrival in Nigeria, Aliko Dangote and his other partners will have in place these units where they will take samples from the passengers coming in and they will retain their passports.
“The passengers will then be able to go home and not into prescribed hotels to self-isolate. Results from those samples will then be ready within a day or two; those who are positive will then be taking in for isolation.
“The whole issue of quarantining in hotels will no longer be necessary. This can also mean more people can also come back more frequently, and it will be a lot easier than it has been up to now. What we have been asked to do is to cease or suspend all evacuations for now until this new structure is put into place.”