Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The National Coordinator of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, has disclosed that without the quick intervention of the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), the country’s response to the pandemic would have been worse.
This is even as it he has appealed to CACOVID not to allow the unfortunate incident of looting of palliatives following the recent #ENDSARS event to dampen their morale.
Speaking about the looting of the warehouses of COVID-19 palliatives in different parts of the country during the #EndSARS protests, Aliyu said the donation by CACOVID had reached 95 per cent before the incident.
He said CACOVID, a private sector partnership which donates resources towards government’s efforts to combat the pandemic in the country, “has kept careful and transparent records of the distribution process.”
Aliyu noted that the palliatives were looted under the state governments which he said were responsible for their distributions to the citizens.
He said, “We can confirm that the donation initiative is currently 95 per cent complete, even though we have seen a lot of looting of some of the warehouses under the state governments. Even though delivery is 97 per cent complete for states in Phase 1 and 2. There are three phases. States in Phase 3 have received 90 per cent of their supply. State governments that have received their donations are responsible for the distribution of these palliatives to their local govt areas.
“We ask beneficiaries to please cooperate with their state and their local govts and we welcome the plan by CACOVID to provide detailed information on the resources that they have put in, not only for the palliative exercise but also for the donations they have made to government and other parts of the COVID response.”
Aliyu while responding to a question on level of engagement that was ongoing to boost the morale of the private sector to continue their support, said the reopening of the airports to both domestic and international flights would have been slower but for their intervention.
He said: “On the issue of low morale on the part of CACOVID, there is no doubt that what has happened over the last few weeks has been most unfortunate. We have a situation where an organization with the very best of intentions had put tremendous resources to assist government and the public in alleviating the difficulties seen since during the lockdown.
“The message to CACOVID is that they have done a good job and we are very much appreciate and value the partnership we have with them.
“For the purpose of clarity, CACOVID has been possibly the most important private sector partnership we have seen when it comes to contributing to tackling the health crisis. CACOVID had provided health facilities equipment in every state across the country. They have provided test kits, ventilators, equipment, they have continued to a large extent in supporting the technical side of the PTF role.
“When it came to reopening the international airports, they played a significant role and have continued to play a significant role. They are responsible for ensuring the operation of the payment portal and we wouldn’t have been able to open the airports at the time we did if not for the contribution of CACOVID.
“When it comes to palliatives, they have put in tremendous amount of resources into the palliatives response. They have provided food and food items to every state in the country. This is no doubt a massive exercise which requires a lot of logistics and arrangements and had to be done in phases in other to avoid pushing the price of food and pushing inflation rate.They have handed most of these food stuff to the state governments before the unfortunate event happened.
“So as far as the PTF is concerned, we strongly believe CACOVID will not be discouraged, they will continue to work with us to make ensure that the commitments that they have put in place are delivered and to make sure that palliatives handed over to the states are distributed to those that need them most and the PTF will continue to support them in this regard.”
Meanwhile, the PTF said that 12,5000 out of the 66,000 prospective corps members for the 2020 Batch B mobilisation had so far undergone test for the disease.
According to Aliyu, “We have commenced the process of testing corps members. In fact, we have already tested more than 12,5000 NYSC corps members so far using Rapid Diagnostic Test Kit test with confirmatory PCR,” he said.
Aliyu reminded international graduates who would be travelling into the country for the exercise of the need to undergo the seven days compulsory self-isolation before going into the NYSC orientation camp.
He also said the resumption to the NYSC orientation camp would be “in three phases extending into January 2021”.
He said, “As mentioned by DG NCDC, we are strongly discouraging passengers from travelling or embarking on non-essential travels.
“We know that we are going into the Christmas period. The PTF is already looking at steps to minimise the surge in passengers numbers we see during this period.
“But this will primarily be by discouraging people from non-essential travels. If you do not need to travel, remain in the country during the period.
“If you are outside the country, now is not the time to start coming in on holiday. If you do have to come into the country on holiday, be aware that you have to do the mandatory seven days isolation before you show yourself anywhere within the country and you have to be tested and confirmed to be negative in order to exit self-isolation.
“We will not be relaxing the rules simply because it is holiday season.”
He said Nigeria could not afford another wave of COVID-19 as being seen in Europe and the Americas.
Warning about the risks associated with indiscriminate non-essential international travels, Aliyu recalled that of the first 5,000 plus passengers tested on arrival into the country after international flights resumed, about 105 of them tested positive to the virus.
He said with about 5,000 to 7,000 passengers arriving the country everyday “the potential is that we could have up to 150 new cases being introduced into the country everyday”.
He also debunked claims in an audio recording being shared online that the Federal Government had canceled payment for repeat PCR test by international travelers.
He said, “The Federal Government has not at any point, cancelled the mandatory payment for test at Day 7 for international travelers.
“The PTF guideline is very clear. If you are abroad and coming into Nigeria, you must get the PCR test of COVID 19 within five days of departure. Before departure, you must register on the Nigeria travel portal which is nitp.ncdc.gov.ng and book for your repeat PCR test after you have provided information on your health status and uploaded the COVID -19 PCR result.
“You book and select the lab that you will like to have the test. We now have labs across the country to provide test for international travelers and you pay for the test to be done seven days after. The tests are paid for by passengers.”