Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on coronavirus (COVID-19) has described as unhealthy the abscondment from isolation centres, warning that the practice is capable of putting the lives of care managers and frontline workers at risk.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, during Thursday’s daily briefing appealed to state governments to provide adequate security around such facilities to prevent escape.
The Oyo State Government had on Wednesday announced that two of the 33 active cases being managed for COVID-19 in a State isolation centre had absconded.
“The PTF has become aware of a number of challenges associated with the management of the isolation centres. These have manifested in the form of protests over welfare, abscondment from centres and loud complaints based on the assumption by persons under observation, that drugs must be administered,” Mustapha said.
“The first two are unhealthy developments capable of undermining the containment measures and putting the lives of care managers and frontline workers at risk. Similarly, persons in isolation are encouraged to follow the direction and instructions of the experts during their stay as treatment to be administered would largely depend on the evaluation of the doctor.
“We, however, urge all state governments to continue to pay attention to the welfare of people in isolation and for security agencies to provide adequate security around such facilities to prevent escape.”
The SGF reminded Nigerians to be mindful that the current effort against COVID-19 is an ongoing war, stressing the need for all to resist attempts by a few individuals or groups to endanger the lives of everyone.
“It is important to remember that this is a war in which every Nigerian is a combatant and must resist any effort by a few individuals or groups to endanger our collective survival,” Mustapha said.
While reiterating the call for Nigerians to continue to comply with the guidelines issued under phase one of the eased restrictions, the SGF stressed that the guidelines must be sustained because “these are unusual times and the seemingly calm atmosphere should not be construed as a return to normalcy. Non-compliance is manifesting in several ways and could be costly in the future.”
He regretted that reports from various parts of the country indicate a “high level of non-compliance with the ban on inter-state travels. This resulted in a high number of vehicles finding their way across many state borders despite the curfew/border restrictions; lack of respect for timing and the curfew also resulted in heavy traffic gridlock where many motorists spent the night following the enforcement of the curfew; an increasing level of abuse of exemption granted to vehicles conveying specified goods. Reports across the country show that they continue to hide passengers with the intention of ferrying them across state boundaries, and the continual transportation of Almajiris across state borders is still evident.
“I have highlighted the foregoing as it relates to the road transportation sector to underscore the dangers inherent in the seeding of the virus across states. I, however, commend the security agencies for their vigilance in apprehending and prosecuting violators. It is worrisome, however, to note reports received about isolated cases of compromise by some security operatives. We urge the various commands of the security agencies to enhance their monitoring machinery to ensure that we do not only achieve the objective of stopping the spread of the virus but also prevent the good name of the services from being tarnished. We also implore all Nigerians to alert the security agencies whenever they witness the violation of these guidelines.
“It is important to remember that this is a war in which every Nigerian is a combatant and must resist any effort by a few individuals or groups, to endanger our collective survival.”
Mustapha also remarked on the various claims to inventions and cures related to COVID-19.
“The PTF, as part of its mandate, remains supportive of and receptive to outcomes of the research. It, however, finds it imperative to reiterate its position on the need for such discoveries to undergo the scientific validation processes. The PTF is aware that the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department of the Federal Ministry of Health has been evaluating such claims and forwarded some that have met the preliminary requirements to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.
“At the briefing of Wednesday 6th May 2020, we urged professional bodies and trade associations, community and religious bodies along with other relevant stakeholders to take up the challenge of creating awareness on COVID-19 and also project into the post-COVID 19 era.
“I am pleased to inform you that the Nigerian Institute of Architects has taken up this challenge and has, in addition, conveyed the commitment of members of the institute in all states of the Federation, to offer free Consultancy Services (design, remodelling, supervision etc) for COVID-19 related infrastructures such as isolation centres, test laboratories and upgrading of health facilities.
“While the PTF deeply appreciates this offer and looks forward to receiving such from other professional bodies, we urge all state governments to save costs by taking advantage of this offer.”