The Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19 said Monday that it would submit its seventh interim report to President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday for consideration.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of the Presidential Task Force, Mr Boss Mustapha, who disclosed this at a briefing in Abuja, said the president’s decision would be communicated to Nigerians afterwards.
He called for caution as some state governments across the country announced dates and plans to reopen schools.He said state governments must learn from the experiences of other countries where reopening of schools led to an increase in confirmed cases and fatalities of the coronavirus.
He said as the nation plans to re-open more sectors, everyone must stay on the course and stick with the winning strategy anchored on the ability of the health institutions to contain the spread of the virus.
He said citizens must wear facemasks properly, stay away from crowded places, avoid mass gatherings, maintain simple hygienic practices and protect the elderly and most vulnerable to this pandemic.
“It is in the above context that the PTF appreciates the on-going calls for re-opening of the education sector and indeed some sub-nationals are already making preparations for such.
“Whilst the PTF does not discourage making such preparations, we need to be guided by experiences from countries such as Germany, France, the United States and the UK where opening of schools in some cities led to an increase in confirmed cases and fatalities,” he said.
He said the number of confirmed cases has exceeded the 25 million mark globally, which is attributable to resurgence in countries hitherto considered to have effectively contained the virus.
He said while a good number of countries that have relaxed restriction measures, others were re-introducing such, stressing that, in some cases, the measures are being made more stringent on the basis of lessons learned.He said the last three weeks have shown a slowdown in the number of confirmed cases in Nigeria.
“Indeed, in the last four months of testing, the lowest daily figure of confirmed cases (138) was reported on 30th August 2020. The PTF still urges caution and vigilance on the declining numbers because the virus is still potent and very dangerous.
“This position is informed by the fact in spite of our enhanced testing capacity, the number of samples collected for testing have not been encouraging,” he said.
The SGF said that a recent publication by the Weekly Science Review has indicated that despite having 17 percent of the global population, Africa has accounted for just five percent of global confirmed COVID-19 cases and three percent of deaths.
“Furthermore, a recent study by a group of African countries, in East Africa indicates that Africa has weathered the storm of the pandemic with a death ratio of 1:10000 persons at a total of 23,000 so far.
“According to the study, far more Africans have been infected with the virus and are now resistant to it for reasons such as more exposure to variants of the coronavirus and regular exposure to malaria and other infectious diseases, which prime the African Immune system to fight new pathogens.
“The PTF is however studying the manifestation of the virus in Nigeria and in other countries and continents in order to understand its nature. This should ordinarily give us encouragement that we are winning the war against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“But unfortunately, the science, data and experience from other parts of the world indicate that such data should be viewed with extreme caution, as it is prone to be very deceptive and could be misleading if we let down our guards and be influenced to deviate from our strategy of cautious optimism that have brought Nigeria this far,” he said.
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He said Nigeria is seeing a gradual shift in areas of high infection burden with Plateau state reporting the highest number of confirmed cases and which could be related to increased testing by citizens of the state.