The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, has expressed concern over the rise in Coronavirus cases across the globe.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, the SGF said within four days, the global cases of the virus hit the 31 million mark.
He said complacency has set in too soon among Nigerians, stressing that citizens were returning to the pre-COVID-19 era, while protective face masks are now more of a fashion statement mostly worn on the chin.
He also commended health professionals under the auspices of Joint Health Sector Unions JOHESU for suspending the nationwide strike.
“The PTF has very often repeated that being a new virus, the world and our scientists continue to learn more about it daily. Over the last one week, the scientific community have tried to explain some new manifestation of its spread and we continue to observe a reversal of gains in the battle mostly in countries around Europe which has prompted the WHO to express some concerns due to the fact that weekly cases have now exceeded those reported in March 2020 when the pandemic peaked in Europe.
“Israel, has re-introduced a three-week lock down, the United Kingdom is considering another lock-down phase, Spain is enforcing a partial lockdown in Madrid, and France – amidst protests by its citizens.
“They have also introduced stricter measures to contain the virus. Similar stories are coming from South Korea, Iran and the number of fatalities is approaching 200,000 in the USA. The WHO has, thus, advised that everybody should learn from lessons of the first wave especially as “no one is safe until everyone is safe.
“Let me share with you a global picture to buttress the foregoing. Over the last three days, the global cases passed the 31 million mark and it took only four days to get there from the 30th million.
“The USA crossed 7 million cases and continues to report a high daily caseload of over 30, 000 daily. We continue to see the highest daily numbers from India.
“More specifically, the lesson for us in Nigeria, is that in spite of appreciable progress recorded, we should be vigilant more than ever before, because we have opened our air spaces to international travels, we have relaxed a number of restrictions in opening up more sectors of the economy and schools are beginning to open in varying degrees.
“The call for greater vigilance is underscored by the fact that our economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic and we are pushing through our home-grown economic recovery strategies to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic. Also, our health systems, in-spite of its fragility, have been able to withstand and contain cases resulting from COVID-19 infection, where those of more advanced countries have been overwhelmed.
“This call is made more pertinent in view of the noticeably increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven very successful. Face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era.
“The PTF will continue to work with our partners from the private sector to fine tune the protocols for international travellers, especially those arriving in Nigeria. We urge all travellers to ensure that they complete all pre-boarding and post-arrival processes, especially on the portal to facilitate seamless arrivals at the airports. “We cannot afford the importation of the virus. We appeal strongly to all Nigerians to persuade their relatives arriving in Nigeria to self-isolate upon arrival, as required and test on day seven as prescribed.
“On Friday, 18th September, 2020 the PTF met with the Ambassadors of the European Union to discuss the ban on flights. The conversation was very robust and it promises to deepen the collaboration between the EU and Nigeria. The National Coordinator will elaborate on the outcome of this meeting.
“Last week the PTF called on the leadership of the Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Health Care Professionals (JOHESU) to reconsider its decision to go on strike at this critical period of our national life. We are pleased to note that the strike has been suspended and all workers have returned to work. We however wish the strike is called off permanently. This gesture would help sustain efforts aimed at strengthening our health systems in the fight against the coronavirus. I also call on all sub-national governments to support our health professionals in carrying out their duties.
“I wish to underscore the need to overcome fatigue in this fight against the virus. We simply cannot afford it. This is the time to test more, detect more, isolate more and treat more,” he said.