The federal government has raised the alarm over the speed at which confirmed cases of coronavirus is increasing in Nigeria by the day, warning that the virus was real and spreading like wildfire across the country.
The secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who stated government’s position yesterday during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, said the astronomical rise in confirmed cases is an indication that community spread is taking place in the country.
The SGF who is chairman of the PTF also attributed the increase of confirmed cases to the expansion of testing capacity and activities.
“This pandemic is real and is spreading like wildfire. We must all arise to fight this potent and invisible common enemy by adhering to the guidelines and protocols for COVID-19, which includes personal hygiene, social distancing, wear of masks in public places, obeying the stay-at-home order and reporting unusual illness to the authorities for investigation”, Mustapha cautioned.
The SGF expressed worry over the rising cases of the virus in Kano, noting that the situation the state has continued to be of concern, even as he assured however that the PTF was working in close contact with the state government to arrest the situation.
On how testing capacity and community spread is aiding the rapid spread of the virus in the country, Mustapha further said, “As we are gradually moving towards the end of week four of the lockdown for Lagos, Ogun as well as FCT, the PTF has intensified its all-round assessment of the impact on the stated objectives, the state of readiness and next steps to take. As we speak, the DG, NCDC and WHO representative are expected back in Abuja later today with their reports.
“The PTF notes that the number of cases has risen generally. This is attributable to expansion of our testing capacity and activities as well as evidence that community spread is taking place.
“Considering the dynamic nature of the response plan, the strategy for testing has been modified and door-to-door testing is now taking place in some communities in Lagos and Abuja. Testing, detection, isolation, care and case management remain central to our success in this fight”.
On the upcoming Ramadan, he thanked the Sultan of Sokoto and president-general of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs for issuing a statement on the conduct of the Ummah during the Ramadan.
The SGF said, “It is anticipated that by Friday 24th, the Ramadan shall commence. I want to use this medium to thank His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and president-general of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs for endorsing the recommendations of the Emergency Fatwah Committee by issuing a statement guiding the conduct of the Ummah during the Ramadan.
“The statement has directed the Ummah on the suspension of obligatory religious activities such as Jumaat, congregational and other sessions during the month of Ramadan to prevent the spread of COVID 19.
“It similarly encouraged scholars and organisations to use all other means of communication and broadcast to disseminate information and conduct programmes. Our Prayer is that the Almighty shall accept our collective supplication and show mercy”.
Commending the application of these directives in the states, he implored all state sovernors to consider the directives before taking further decisions.
Mustapha further hinted that in a rare show of magnanimity and concern for all categories of employees, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate payment of the withheld February and March 2020 salaries of lecturers not registered on the IPPIS platform.
He said the payment was to cushion the deleterious effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lecturers and members of their families.
He, however, said all vice chancellors are to revalidate the BVN of affected lecturers before the accountant general of the federation can carry out the payments.
“The PTF remains committed to leading the fight against COVID-19 and crave your support, understanding and cooperation,” he added.