The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of the Presidential Task Force on the Control of COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, has expressed concerns over harassment of frontline health workers by some people believed to be carriers of the novel coronavirus.
Addressing journalists at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force, the SGF said the development was demeaning and unacceptable.
He said it was inhuman for COVID-19 patients to engage in acts of locking health workers up and making demands that the frontline health workers do not have the capacity to address.
“The PTF has continued to receive, rather sadly, reports about challenges facing the frontline health workers. They have received threat to lives, experienced detention by patients they are actually nursing to health and suffered other forms of harassment.
“Let me underscore the fact that these frontline workers constantly put their lives on the line to make sure persons infected are provided with the best care possible to enable them become healthy citizens again.
“It is therefore inhuman and unacceptable that patients engage in acts of locking them up and making demands that these frontline officers, most of the time do not have the capacity to address. The PTF COVID 19 views such behavior as reprehensible and should be deprecated. We call on all State governments to take this up appropriately,” he said.
He said the first week of the relaxation of lockdown witnessed an increase in the number of positive cases across the country due to expanded capacity for testing with the opening up of more testing centres and laboratories.
He said as of Monday, there are 21 laboratories nationwide including the ones being operated by private facilities, stressing that government would continue to engage more private laboratories.
He also called on state governments to set up isolation centres, wards (including ICU) with a minimum of 300 beds each to address the increased number of cases, especially levels one and two.
“With the increase in numbers, we are beginning to experience a shortage of bed spaces in the isolation centres, especially in the high burden areas.”We are conscious of the need to take care of different categories of persons e.g. People living with disabilities, terminal conditions and other underlying factors / co-morbidities.
“We have also been able to complete the evacuation of two batches of Nigerians from the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America. We would continue working with our Missions overseas and other relevant partners to ensure the evacuation of others with clearly defined rules of engagement.
“The PTF has continued to review the relevant policy and protocols so that our actions and decisions are most effective and the nation can properly take COVID-19 positive cases out of circulation to avoid the spread of the virus.
“We have recognized a significant role for community ownership, guidance, acceptance and implementation and the PTF will introduce appropriate inclusive policies in the coming weeks. You will all be apprised of developments on this in due course,” he said.
The SGF said the Catholic Bishops Conference has volunteered all its 425 hospitals and clinics nationwide for use as isolation centres.
“Governors are encouraged to please approach Catholic Bishops in their states to access these facilities,” he said.
He said members of the Nigeria Institute of Architects have also pledged to provide pro bono services fir all COVID-19 related projects nationwide.