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COVID-19: FG Frowns at religious groups violating ban on large gatherings



ABIODUN OBA     }   

The Federal Government has frowned at religious organisations in the country violating the ban on large gatherings and urged states to ensure a reversal of the trend.

The Chairman of the Taskforce and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha gave the directive in Abuja during the briefing of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on COVID-19.

“We have observed, rather sadly, that Nigerians, particularly some faith based organisations have continued to hold events of large gatherings capable of spreading the virus. The PTF urges all sub-national entities that signed the protocols with these organisations and have primary responsibility for enforcing the protocols and NPIs to step up their roles of enforcement”, he stated.

“The COVID 19 pandemic has persisted in the disruption of human activities. We have just received a Report that one of the annual events of a critical security agency has ended abruptly out of abundance of caution, due to detection of an infected personnel. The significance of this occurrence is that testing is critical to the success of our National Response. We therefore urge Nigerian and organisers of events to vigorously pursue the path of testing especially for delegates attending events”, he stated.

The PTF advised event organisers to subject potential attendees to COVID-19 tests.

Meanwhile, the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC has been put on red alert to be ready to certify covid-19 vaccines for human usage as the agency would because whenever Nigeria gets its first consignment, they would be transferred to it.

The Chairman of the Taskforce remarked that the federal government had set up a “technical machinery” to determine the effectiveness of vaccines as they are rolled out by pharmaceutical companies.

According to Mustapha, “The PTF is fully aware of the global race and discussions around the vaccine. The country has set up technical machinery to ascertain the most effective, safe and prudent vaccine for Nigerians. One assurance we wish to give is that any vaccine that will be approved for Nigeria will be endorsed by the WHO and must be certified safe for Nigerians to use by our research and scientific bodies”

According to the PTF, the first set of candidate vaccines are ready to be rolled out in Europe and the USA, and a Technical Working Group led by the National Primary Health Development Agency is working on evaluation of prospective vaccines and Nigeria’s vaccine needs.

“We are working with the WHO and GAVI led covax facility and other stakeholders, to ensure that Nigeria will access quality vaccines, when they are deployed. We also continue to explore all avenues of getting access to additional vaccines and in that connection met with H.E. the Ambassador of the UAE to Nigeria, at the Ministry of Health, to discuss cooperation in access to vaccine technological and production. He reaffirmed the support of his country for our response to the pandemic”, the PTF stated.

In his comment, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire announced that  health workers have been placed on the alert amid rising concerns about a possible resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Ehanire, government has taken steps to reopen some isolation centres hitherto closed during the waning days of the first wave of the pandemic.

He said; “While we strive for the best, we must prepare for a possible second wave which we must ensure, does not get to be worse than what we have seen so far, judging from what we observe in other countries. The US, UK and other countries are going through very difficult times, and we do sympathize with them.

“To prepare ourselves, I have directed that all Isolation and Treatment Centres, which were hitherto closed due to reduced patient load, to be prepared for reopening and the staff complement put on alert

“The increase in infections stems certainly from rising community transmission to a large extent, but also to a less extent from travelers entering Nigeria, among whom we have recorded 87 positive cases arriving to the country, as against 59 in the previous week. This number can increase as the volume of travelers rises, especially as people return home for the Christmas and New Year holidays. To ensure that we further contain imported cases, Port health officers at Points of entry have been directed to be vigilant and diligent in screening travelers arriving Nigeria, especially from high burden countries”.

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