From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
As Nigeria continues to record rising cases of the novel coronavirus, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic (PTF) has confirmed recorded cases of the B117 variant strain, first reported in the United Kingdom, in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who made the disclosure at a media briefing on Monday, said three of these cases were identified in travellers out of Nigeria and another a resident.
Mr Mustapha appealed strongly to Nigerians to take responsibility and stay safe. He reminded everyone with underlying factors and also school proprietors that all precautionary measures must be taken at home and in the schools when managing the pupils and students.
Mustapha also said that Nigeria is currently working with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the deportation of 600 Nigerians. He said the deportees are expected to arrive in two batches on January 28 and 29, respectively, and that all necessary arrangements to ensure that these Nigerians are properly received are being put in place.
He also disclosed that upon arrival in the country, they will be quarantined for 14 days.
The daily statistics for Nigeria as at January 24, were stated as follows:
Active Cases: 22,834 -19.4%
He said in the last seven days 58,974 tests have been done, 11,179 cases recorded, 19.0% have tested positive, 62 deaths recorded, case fatality ratio starts at 0.6%, there are 23,568 active cases, Active: 19.4%.
‘All these numbers represent increases from the previous seven days and we are looking at taking further public health containment measures in Local Government Areas that are considered a high burden,’ Mustapha said.
‘Closely associated with the trend above are several measures already taken by the PTF to ensure that the pace of the spread is slowed down. These measures, by way of reminder, include Advisory to the sub-national entities to enforce adherence to non-pharmaceutical initiatives already well-publicised; sanctions against international passengers that failed to show up for day-seven post-arrival testing; implementation of the National Testing Week Strategy (450/774 Tests); Sustaining the hours of curfew; and the decision to direct government employees on GL 12 and below to work from home till the end of January.
‘The PTF, therefore, wishes to appeal strongly to all Nigerians to take responsibility and stay very safe. In this regard, I also wish to remind all parents, grandparents, everyone with underlying factors and particularly school proprietors that all precautionary measures must be taken at home and in the schools when managing the pupils and students. The PTF will continue to work with the Federal Ministry of Education around the reopening of schools
‘The management of cases is gradually improving with the availability of medical oxygen. Government is also fast-tracking the rehabilitation of existing plants and construction of new ones as approved by the President.
‘The PTF has advanced in the deployment of resources for the national testing week and continues to review the bottlenecks affecting the turn around time for testing.
‘The PTF is improving on the International Travel Portal to minimise the challenges passengers keep encountering. Similarly, it is reviewing the guidelines on the implementation of phase three of the eased lockdown which is due to expire today. In view of the fact that our numbers are not abating, all extant measures prescribed in these guidelines are (subject to some modifications) extended by a period of ONE MONTH with effect from Tuesday 26th January 2020. The NIM will elaborate on this.
‘The effort to access and deploy vaccines is progressing and as already announced by COVAX, the initial 100,000 doses Nigeria is expecting will now arrive in the early weeks of February.
‘We wish to assure all Nigerians that the vaccines will be safe and effective when eventually it is deployed. We enjoin everyone to join in the campaign to eliminate vaccine hesitancy.
‘I have to however advise all Nigerians that the only source of vaccines that is safe and effective in Nigeria is through the channels of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). Please do not patronise anyone hawking or marketing vaccines. The Hon Minister of Health and the ED-NPHCDA will elaborate on the vaccines issue.’