Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The presidential task force on COVID-19 chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on Tuesday cancelled an earlier scheduled press conference.
No reason was given for the cancellation.
Journalists were advised not to hang around in adherence with social distancing directives but be ready to be called upon at short notice.
Journalists covering the office of the SGF were invited via text message at 6:39 am for a joint press conference between the SGF and the Chinese government, but at about 9:40 am, the journalists were excused, saying that the task force was going into a closed-door meeting.
At about 12:26 pm, another text message came that the press conference will now hold at 1:30 pm. But by 12:59 pm another message came that the briefing had been cancelled.
When asked why, the Director (Information) Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey, replied: “It’s a sign of the time!”
No official source has confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari has tested negative for coronavirus (COVID-19) following a test carried out by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Neither has that of his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, been confirmed or denied.
All those who have spoken have done so on the condition of anonymity.
One of the sources, while confirming that Kyari had tested positive said that: “The chief of staff is in self-isolation, monitored by NCDC. His case is not fatal yet and his staff have been asked to self-isolate. No plan to conduct any test on any of them until they are showing symptoms of COVID-19.”
Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika had Monday said the task force was the only authority allowed to release information on COVID-19. According to him, “in an emergency situation there cannot he multiple sources of information.”
President Buhari had last week appointed Dr Sani Aliyu as National Coordinator for the fight against COVID19.
Aliyu is a member of the presidential task force for the control of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Their terms of reference include to: strengthen national response strategy particularly in the area of testing, containment and the management of COVID 19; strengthen collaboration with all tiers of government, private sector faith-based organisations, civil society, donors and partners and beam awareness among the populace.
The task force is also to direct the deployment of any relevant national asset when necessary; lay a foundation for scientific and medical research to address all emerging infectious diseases and advise government on the declaration of national emergency as part of the containment measures when necessary.
Other members are Minister of Health, Minister of Interior, Minister of Aviation, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and Minister of Education.
Others are Minister of Information and Culture, Minister of Environment, Director General, Department of Security Service, Director General Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and World Health Organisation Country Representative.