Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Taskforce on coronavirus (COVID-19), has warned of the danger in the practice of sharing masks, saying “It is very risky to share masks.”
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, gave the warning Tuesday’s briefing of the Taskforce, made this disclosure.
He said: “The PTF COVID-19 at virtually all its national briefings, consistently pleaded with Nigerians for their support and understanding, especially in complying with the advisories and guidelines issued. We also shared our assessment of the level of compliance and the risks associated with non-compliance.
“I wish to use this medium to once again underscore the imperative of collective survival because the lack of compliance by any person or group of persons poses a threat to all of us.
“Particularly, the PTF has become aware of the on-going practice of sharing masks and picking of masks for recycling from dump sites. This places a lot of responsibilities on all of us to be self-educated and to educate others.
“The following points are emphasized: With the exception of fabric masks, every disposable used mask is a hazardous medical waste and should be disposed of properly, preferably by burning; It is very risky to share masks as the virus is capable of remaining on surfaces for several hours and you could get infected; The unhealthy practice of picking up disposed masks for whatever purpose is harmful to both the individual picking it and whoever procures it later.
“Particularly, it will be helpful for high risk people such as the elderly and those with comorbidities, to wear masks or face covering and avoid crowded places. As we reminded you earlier, please keep grandchildren away from their grandparents to avoid any transmission. Most importantly, emphatically say no to stigmatization.”
The SGF reiterated that the PTF commenced focus on community ownership, guidance, acceptance and implementation in the control of COVID-19, noting that it requires a great deal of investment in strengthening the nations primary health care system, the manpower and the infrastructure.
He therefore urged other corporate citizens and public-spirited individuals to play significant roles by injecting the much-needed investment into the rural health infrastructure.
He said that given the impact of the COVID-19 on global economy and the nation’s national income, it has become obvious that government alone cannot bear this bburden.
He said that since the recording of the index case, Nigerians have clamored for research into home grown solution to COVID-19 and that the PTF, as part of its mandate, has continued to promote research and wishes to repeat its appeal to all researchers to go through the validation process so as to enable humanity benefit from their hard work and they in turn benefit from the intellectual property rights associated with such research.
He added, “The primary responsibility of government is to protect the lives and property of all citizens. On the other hand, citizens have a duty to collaborate with government by shunning risks and actions capable of jeopardizing the protection provided. We shall continue to put in place strategies and measures targeted at flattening the curve of this coronavirus while at the same time urging and persuading you to comply.
“The PTF continues to urge state governments to align their actions and enforcement with the guidelines provided. The virus does not respect boundaries neither does it respect status. All state governments are therefore urged to strengthen their monitoring and enforcement machineries in collaboration with the security agencies.
“Let me emphasize that we have seen visuals on social media depicting total disregard for physical distancing in some locations. This is a dangerous journey towards uninhibited spread if not checked. The PTF is consulting with the authorities of the identified areas to review their strategies,” he added.
While recalling that the guidelines on the reopening of offices directed the management of such offices to take certain steps and put in place policies that would ensure the safety of their staff, he said the leadership of various offices should make such provisions including infra-red temperature guns at entrances, sanitizers, handwashing facilities, social distancing arrangements and ensuring that masks are worn always.
He said that this is particularly critical for government offices in high concentration areas like the Federal Secretariat complex and also admonish individual staff to cultivate the habit of personal safety first, before depending on the general provision.