Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has said that decline in reported cases of infection and fatalities indicated that the country may have been winning her fight against the disease.
PTF chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who made this disclosure, also warned that the ongoing strike by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) may jeopardize the gains already made in the fight against the virus just as he appealed to the union to suspend the industrial action and return to negotiation with the government.
The PTF also announced the reopening of all airports in the country for domestic operations. It, however, placed six months travel ban on Nigerian passengers who dodge the mandatory second COVID- 19 test on arrival from overseas.
While reiterating that people living with underlying conditions are more likely to contact the disease, the PTF boss pleaded with health workers not to deny them treatment on the ground of contacting COVID- 19 infections.
Commenting on the implications of the continuous drop in reported cases of COVID-19 in the country, Mustapha said: “Nigeria continues to progressively witness declining confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a record low number of 79 cases on Sunday,
September 13, 2020. While this suggests that we are winning this war, the reality is that we need to improve on our commitment to eliminate the virus completely by abiding with the protocols so that we can return to a semblance of what was our normal life.
“One critical element we must not lose sight of is the fact that our cautious approach has tremendously helped in our containment efforts. Therefore, we should avoid complacency at all cost. Our focus should go beyond flattening the curve and ridding our land of this virus just as we did with the polio virus.”
While appreciating the contributions of the health workers to the gains made so far, particularly the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) for calling off their strike action, Mustapha said: “The PTF, however, views the recent declaration of industrial action by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) as rather unfortunate and capable of reducing our gains and endangering more loss of lives.
We, therefore, call on JOHESU to stand up to be counted at this critical moment because a continuation of the strike could jeopardize the small gains made in the fight against the virus and the efforts to transform our health systems.”
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his comments, warned that decline in reported cases of the disease may not necessarily mean that the country has flattened the curve. He noted that many states are not testing enough. According to him,
“Though we continue to record declining positivity rates every day, we are reluctant to conclude that we are halting the spread of disease, because some states have not sustained the testing rate that would give us more assurance. “Only 13 states, for example, reported their figures in the past 24 hours.
This can be better. Until all parts of the country can sustain a certain testing rate, it would seem presumptuous to conclude that we are flattening the curve,” he said. Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, in his remarks, announced that all the nation’s airports have been reopened for domestic flights. Sirika also stated that talks were ongoing to reopen Nigeria’s airspace to some of the banned airlines and countries.