From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government on Monday declared that with Nigeria now experiencing a more virulent second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, which has increased the number of COVID-19 related deaths from 1,173 on November 29, 2020, to 1,578 on January 31, 2021, nobody is safe except everybody is vaccinated.
The Chairman of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, made the remark in Abuja at a sensitisation meeting on COVID-19 vaccine introduction with leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and scholars.
Mustapha noted that the COVID-19 death rate has increased to 34 per cent, adding that the number of infections has also gone up tremendously.
The PTF chairman explained that the arrival of vaccines has given hope that the solution had been found.
‘As a nation, our national response has been very robust with significant positive results because we deployed non-pharmaceutical interventions, testing, detection and treatment as a strategy. For risk communication, the PTF mounted its outreach using several channels including the faith-based organisations such as the CAN,’ Mustapha said.
‘Unfortunately, Nigeria, like the rest of the world, is now experiencing a more virulent second wave which has increased the number of COVID-19 related deaths from 1173 on November 29, 2020, to 1,578 on January 31, 2021. An increase of 34%. The number of infections has also grown tremendously.
‘The arrival of vaccines has however given hope to humanity that a solution had been found. This does not however mean that the NPIs would be discarded. Going forward it shall be NPIs + vaccines for everyone to completely get over the pandemic.
‘I wish to make it abundantly clear that nobody is safe around the world until everyone is vaccinated. That is why we are now gathered here today, to sensitise you and seek your inputs on the strategy to be jointly adopted and the role you will play in carrying the message on vaccines to all adherents of the Christian faith.’
Mustapha, soliciting the cooperation of the CAN leadership, listed the challenges the PTF was facing to include: ‘Scepticism about the virus; Lack of compliance with the NPIs even among Church leaders; Very low testing which limits detection; The dangers associated with those infected but were never detected(for every one detected, we probably missed ten); Low-risk perception and awareness which we continue to address; Rising daily numbers occasioned by the second wave; Disruption in socio-economic activities including the way we worship and opening of our schools; Increasing number of deceased loved ones, friends and Church members; and Vaccine hesitancy across all strata of life.’
He assured that the PTF will continue to push the frontiers of compliance with the NPIs through all means including the collaboration with the sub-national entities, faith-based organisations, community engagement and through legal instruments such as the recently issued Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Health Protection Regulations 2021, the role of the Church in the escalation of the awareness on COVID-19, vaccines and minimisation of resistance and hesitancy to it, can never be overemphasised.
‘As we interact over all these issues and challenges today, I urge us to be frank, innovative and adopt common objectives of collaboration and determination to overcome the pandemic by reaching out to all adherents of our faith on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. Every Christian should be an advocate for the vaccines,’ he stated.