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PTF: Ignorance, scepticism fuelling spread of COVID-19

NCDC: Loss of smell, taste are COVID-19 symptoms

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has said that ignorance and scepticism were fuelling non-compliance with established protocols, thereby aiding the spread of the disease. PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, at the daily PTF briefing yesterday, said that his panel would be submitting its reports on the second phase of the ease of lockdown to President Muhammadu Buhari by the weekend. He said the evaluation of the reports by the President would determine the next course of action by the panel. He said: “The PTF also continued to assess the developments nationwide and found that non-compliance has been largely fuelled by skepticism and ignorance about the disease. “We also noted that stigmatization has further impacted on the willingness of people to come out to seek help and even tell their stories. The nature of this pandemic demands that we must detect and treat it in order to address it.

Let me emphasise, therefore, that COVID-19 is not a condition to be ashamed of as it has no respect for status, nationality, race, creed, tribe, etc. Every person infected must be treated to prevent spread and avoidable fatalities. “As we deepen the community engagement and risk communication phase of our national response, the PTF still reiterates the need for ownership, taking responsibility and expanding the scope of sensitisation, all of which combine to make our ability to maximally detect, trace, isolate and treat nationwide successful.” Meanwhile, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has disclosed that the loss of smell and taste have been recognised as COVID-19 symptoms. He advised anyone who experiences a loss in their sense of smell or taste to ensure they get tested for COVID-19 without delay.

His words: “Over the past few weeks, they have been a lot of discussions over the loss of smell and taste as symptoms of COVID-19. “These have been recognised, we believe, as symptoms of COVID-19. There are very few other diseases that would cause a sudden loss of smell and taste, especially in normally otherwise healthy people. “It is most likely this is linked with an increasing incidence of COVID-19 so we would expect that this should also lead to increased presentation at clinical facilities and increased testing. “If you feel you are losing your sense of smell or taste, you should be presenting yourself for testing in the clinical facilities to determine whether or not you have COVID-19. “I will also like to advice; face shields are great, but they should be used in addition to face masks and not in place of face masks. We are learning every day, new technologies are emerging.” On his part, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said the date for resumption of domestic flights would be announced next week. Speaking at the PTF briefing, Sirika explained that the delayed resumption of domestic flight operations was due to the need to close some gaps. The minister, who was represented by the Director- General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, announced that a dry run test would be conducted at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, and Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja as part of the preparation to commence flight operations. He said: “Since the last announcement that Sunday 21st of June is no longer feasible for the opening of the airports, we would like to report that we have had significant progress in the readiness of the industry to restart.

“The gaps have been closed, but we still have a few gaps within the aviation ecosystem and this will be closed hopefully in the next couple of days. “I have said it and I will keep saying it; we must get it right the first time both on the issues of technical safety and health safety of all stakeholders. One of the things we are going to use to close some of the gaps is a dry run test of both Lagos and Abuja airports coming up on Saturday. “After the dry runs, we will observe the gaps that might still be there and close them. After that, we will announce the date of the restart next week. “Aviation is already a very complex system on its own and by the time you add the COVID-19 pandemic to it, it complicates a very complex system. We will not take any chance. We are almost there. When we close the few remaining gaps in the aviation ecosystem, we will start.”

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