Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
As confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, the Federal Government has threatened to review relaxation on the lockdown or re-opening of worship centres, should the situation warrant it, to minimise the risk of transmission.
It also expressed concerns over reports that some residents were refusing to help with contact tracing as well as go into isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.
Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, who stated this at the daily media briefing in Abuja, yesterday, said it was in the interest of everybody that contacts were traced to slow down the spread, adding that it was also in their interest to go into isolation facilities for close monitoring. Mustapha said a number of fatalities had been recorded due to changes in the condition of patients while staying outside isolation facilities.
“Our appeal is that if agents of the state get in touch with you regarding testing, contact tracing activities, please, cooperate,” he said.
The SGF, who stressed that it was important for the country to break the chain of transmission and prevent further spread, appealed to citizens that test positive to be prepared to be “quarantined and to monitor health for onset of symptoms because it is important for us to break the chain of transmission and prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in our dear country.”
He said following the red flag raised, and efforts to cut down the rate of infection among medical workers, the NCDC is stepping up training on infection, prevention and control to slow the situation down.
“We need our health workers to be healthy and available. As always, we remain very proud of you all.”
On re-opening of worship centres, Mustapha said the national guidelines have been shared with the states and the Federal Government expected that protocols would be agreed with religious leaders.
He said the PTF had received inquiries on some aspects of the guidelines, and they had been simplified as much as possible and the dissemination commenced through the electronic and print media.
“Compliance is important so as to avoid unwanted consequences that put the lives of people at risk of contracting COVID-19. We urge utmost caution at all times. The PTF will continue to monitor the overall compliance to the easing of restriction as well as evolution of the outbreak.”
He also reiterated the position that, as the nation is now in the planting season and farmers are now involved in land preparation and planting of crops, the guidelines have exempted the agricultural value chain from the restrictions put in place, to guarantee a seamless flow of agricultural activities.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has resumed clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for coronavirus.
The global health body had on May 25 suspended the trail after a study published in The Lancet medical journal suggested the drug could increase the risk of death among COVID-19 patients.
The agency had suspended the trial while awaiting the review of all safety data by the Solidarity Trial Data Safety Monitoring Committee (DSMC).
“The WHO, as part of efforts to find a cure to the COVID-19, has resumed the inclusion of patients in the hydroxychloroquine arm of the study. The PTF, however, advises against self-medication in all circumstances,” Mustapha said.