COVID-19: Nigeria not ready for full-scale re-opening of economy — PTF



The Federal Government said on Thursday that the country “is not ready for full-scale re-opening of the economy.”

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who is also the Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 said this  at the 63rd joint national briefing of the taskforce held at the International wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The SGF expressed the PTF’s belief that while Nigeria is not ready for a full re-opening of the economy, there has been sufficient progress to warrant further relaxation of restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the virus.

“Based on the foregoing, the PTF today submitted its 7th Interim Report to President Muhammadu Buhari for his consideration and approval.

“The main thrust of the recommendation is that Nigeria advances to the third phase of eased restrictions with further amendments, to address economic, socio-political, and health concerns.

“This will last till a time when the epidemic is sufficiently controlled in Nigeria,” he said.

Mustapha said that President Buhari had considered and approved transition into the third phase of the National Response to the pandemic for a period of four weeks, with effect from 12.01am on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020 in line with amendments to address economic, socio-political, and health considerations reflected in the implementation guidelines.

He said that the President had considered the fact that the six-month mandate of the PTF would expire in September and had extended it till the end of December.

Mustapha noted that the global response had continued to witness huge deployment of resources and collaborative efforts to combat the pandemic and that the global statistics depicted the virulent nature of the virus.

According to him, the globally confirmed cases of the virus have exceeded 25 million (25,917,000 as of Sept. 2, and that since hitting the 15 million mark, numbers have been increasing by one million cases every three to four days.

“The countries that top the global disease burden include: United States (6,257,9380), Brazil (3,952,790), India (3,769,523), and Russia (1,005,000).

“South Africa still has the highest case count in Africa but (this) has fallen from the fifth to the sixth position in the world.

“In Ethiopia, the numbers have been on the increase. Both South Africa and Ethiopia are of interest to Nigeria in view of the passenger traffic between Nigeria and the two countries and our plans to reopen the international air space,” the SGF said.

Speaking on global efforts on vaccine development and production, he said that the global community had made appreciable progress in that sphere and that as of Aug. 28, a total of 173 candidate vaccines had undergone evaluation.

He said that 33 candidate vaccines were under clinical evaluation (with eight in phase three trials), while 143 candidate vaccines were undergoing pre-clinical evaluation.

“The PTF continues to monitor developments so that the country can benefit from the emergence of an effective vaccine,” he said.

Speaking on testing for the virus in the country, Mustapha said, “The PTF is particularly disturbed by the low level of sample collection because of what it portends for the strategy of testing, detection, tracing, isolation, and treatment.

“For example, in July, seven states reported lower number of samples collected than in the preceding month.

“But in August this number rose to 32 states. This illustrates that in spite of the increased diagnostic capacity and improved access to testing, the demand remains low with not enough samples being collected.

“Therefore, the recent reduction in cases in some states can be attributed to low testing.”

According to him, the taskforce has  continued to assess developments in the country preparatory to the determination of the next steps to be taken.

He said that as of Sept. 2, the number of confirmed cases in Nigeria was 54,463, with 1,027 recorded deaths.

He also said that between August and September, the number of states with more than 1,000 confirmed cases had increased from 10 to 12, and the FCT.

He added that the Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) had consistently remained at 1.9 per cent, indicating improved case management, resulting in fewer COVID-19 deaths.

“Similarly, the cumulative Test Positivity Ratio (TPR) which shows how many per cent of our total tests are positive, has reduced from 15.2 per cent  at the end of July to 13.3 per cent  at the end of August,” he said.

According to Mustapha, Nigeria now has  68 laboratories in the COVID-19 network, spread across 34 states and the FCT,

He said that the remaining two states – Kebbi and Niger – were  in the pipeline for coverage in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, the number of cumulative samples tested has exceeded 400,000.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the  taskforce held the briefing at the Abuja airport where the SGF, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika; Health Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed; and Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, among other top government officials, took a tour of facilities put in place at the airport to assess the level of preparedness for Saturday’s reopening of the country’s to international air travels.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

Mushroom production can earn Nigeria more foreign exchange – NEPC COVID-19: FG receives 3 ‘Smart Walk-Through Booths’ to enhance sample collection FG distributes food items, diapers to FCT women Lack of competition taking toll on basketball players, Air Warriors coach says House of Reps C’ttee calls for upgrade of Calabar depot facilities COVID-19: China donates $2.9m medical supplies to Namibia Court grants trader custody of twin children over wife’s mental illness Aisha Buhari urges Nigerians to support victims of flood Assembly to scale up malnutrition management centres Car dealers bemoan eviction notice in Kaduna COVID-19 delays completion of water project in Bauchi as residents raise health issues NOA pleads with labour to suspend planned protest, dialogue with FG COVID-19: UNICEF donates 450,000 communications materials to Kano State Reps. spokesman commends Buhari for approving N12.8bn for Abia road Nigeria @ 60: Enugu residents want functional railway transportation Sports events can be held without vaccines, IOC President says Due process ignored in payment of N359m, witness alleges   China’s COVID-19 vaccine shows “no side effects”, says Russian pharma coy NAN to collaborate with group to promote national unity, cohesion Jimoh Aliu’s death, blow to Nigeria’s theatre industry – Ooni Flood cuts off Lokoja-Ajaokuta road, sacks more residents Former Thai minister to serve 50 years prison sentence for fraud Ondo election: Sensitive materials to arrive Akure Oct. 5 – INEC Yobe SIEC postpones LG elections Fans itch to see live action as UEFA allows spectators Kenya’s WTO candidate says she will focus on climate change if selected Ogun lawmaker donates 2 boreholes to communities in Obafemi Owode LG  Bauchi NGO attributes raping, kidnapping, to collapse of marriage institution Senate President mourns victims of Lokoja fuel tanker explosion 38 killed, 2 missing in Indian residential building collapse as rescue operations end Court remands trader over alleged defilement of neighbour’s 14-year-old Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong arrested in connection with protests Lebanese official says “dangerous” containers still at Beirut’s port Sales rep. bags 1 year imprisonment for cheating, escaping from custody Public servant in court for allegedly buying stolen Toyota Corolla Boko Haram Commander, family surrender to troops in Borno  FCT Police Command gets new spokesperson Lagos APPEALS Project empowers farmers to boost poultry, fish production France, Egypt, Jordan urge Israelis and Palestinians to tackle Middle-East conflict via two-state solution Businessman in court for allegedly buying stolen car Social counsellor advocates for female education in FCT communities Kogi Govt declares two-day mourning for victims of tanker explosion Court sentences tenant to 2 weeks imprisonment over contempt Businessman in court for allegedly setting his wife’s property on fire Man in court over alleged N770,000 fraud Woods to defend Zozo Championship title next month Betting agent in court over alleged theft of N74, 200 Woods to defend Zozo Championship title next month Flooding: Ebonyi SEMA urges residents in prone communities to relocate COVID-19: No cause for alarm, UNILORIN institute assures students