COVID-19  |  Nigeria Govt Says Chinese Masks Not Infected with Virus

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*Insists ‘social media  distracting our work’

By Our Reporter

The Presidential Task Force on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has cried out that fake news was distracting its work, saying it was unfortunate.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, while speaking at the briefing, stated that the purpose of the daily briefing was to get Nigerians accurately informed.

He debunked the news making round that the donations from Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, was infected  with the virus.

He said: “Fake news is distracting the fight against COVID-19 and I think this is quite unhelpful. It was trending on the social media that the equipment that we received from China, from Jack Ma, have all been infected with virus. This is not true.

“Also, I was  quoted yesterday (Wednesday) to have said that the PTF had distributed N5 billion to the most vulnerable people in the last 24 hours. That also is not correct.

“The whole idea of this daily briefing is to eliminate any disinformation or fake news because here we give you the latest developments in the fight against COVID-19 and it’s absolutely.. to go elsewhere to source for any other information. Whatever any other person in the task force does, either by appearing in television, radio shows or granting interviews is simply to amplify what we’ve given you here. So by being here, you’ll get authentic information, real time, on the fight against COVID-19”, he said.

The federal government has also urged all state governments to prepare facilities of at least 300 persons capacity in anticipation of a surge in the spread of the disease.

Chairman of the task force and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said the federal government would intensify consultations with state governments so as to better coordinate the fight against the pandemic.

Mustapha stressed warned that most of the very harsh measures that have been introduced might be amplified, noting that COVID-19, beyond posing a potential threat to humanity, is a threat to both the economy and national security of Nigeria.

On the need to work with state governments to have a coordinated response, the SGF while assuring that consultations will be intensified, said: “As we continue to assess the readiness of containment and management, we recognise strongly the importance of synergy with the states. It is important for states, whether in the frontline where cases have been reported or where cases have not been reported, to intensify the preparation of facilities that will help in the event of a surge

“Training of personnel in the management of these facilities is also a critical factor to the success of our strategy. The Presidential Task Force shall intensify consultations with the governors and other state agencies to achieve the much needed collaboration.

“In furtherance of this consultation, we are requesting that the sub-national governments should provide at least a 300 bed facility, either a hotel or any other facility that is available to them, with options, upgraded in different categories so that they provide basic nursing and earlier required procedures before patients are moved into the isolation centres or the teaching hospitals or any other facility. Those facilities, starting from 300 should be expandable as the need arises”, he said.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has said Nigeria should be prepared for more confirmed cases of COVID-19  as contact tracing and  testing capacity are being ramped up.

He plans were on the way to start producing masks and other essential items locally.

Minister of Health said: “We are working with TradeInvestNG to see how we can quickly scale up domestic production of essential items like masks etc.

National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, on his part clarified on the opening of markets in the lockdown states of Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

According to him, only neigbourhood markets and shops will be allowed to open every other day between 10am to 2pm.

He said only stores selling food, pharmaceuticals and perishable items are permitted to open.

All main and open markets remain closed.

He said all the neighborhood markets shops allowed to open must ensure that they comply with the following: Avoid mass gatherings; Make hand sanitizers available; Ensure temperature measurement of customers and that regular inspections will be carried out, defaulters will be shut.

Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola on his part explained how the 12 recently confirmed Cases in Osun State who are returning travelers were able to return to the country.

He explained that first  group was made up of Nigerian students schooling in Benin Republic, who returned through Lagos State border, and have been mandatorily isolated by Lagos State.

He said this was in line with the policy that any Nigerian who returns via Land Border will be mandatorily isolated.

According to him, “Every citizen has a right to return to their country, regardless of circumstances. In this instance the arrangement made by NCDC is to mandatorily isolate all Nigerians returning home via land borders. But we cannot deny our citizens entry to their country.”

Director-General of National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, on his part said 71 percent of all the 5-6,000 contacts tracing have been reached.

He said: “Lagos has been transformational in this area. Tracing Teams have been able to take advantage of the restrictions to move very quickly in Lagos to reach all those listed.”

On having coordinated response, the DG NCDC said: “I want to let all the States know that we are here for you, to support you. But I also want you to know that Mr. President has called on us to have one response across the country, a single coordinated response led by PTFCOVID19.”
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