The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control has cautioned against the closure of isolation centres.
Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire warned states against taking the drop in the number of cases on admission and apparent decline in the number of active COVID-19 cases for an end to infections.
He advised them to maintain some of the isolation centres in readiness for a possible surge in cases and a second wave of the pandemic, as evident in other countries across the globe.
Dr. Ehanire, who spoke during the PTF briefing in Abuja on Monday, said: “With the decline in the number of active cases and the number of cases on admission drops, some isolation centres in the country are already making arrangements to rationalise the number of frontline health personnel into the reserve pool or redeployed. This would be done in a manner that will allow easy re-mobilisation where necessary.
“We, however, advise states and relevant stakeholders not to completely close all isolation centres due to consistent lack of patients but some centres should rather be maintained. This is to ensure promptness and readiness against any surge as part of l preparation against possible second wave.
“We are taking advantage of the low active cases to carry out appraisal and reappraisal of activities at the isolation centres. This is necessary to assess and understand areas of strengths, weaknesses, available opportunities as well as dangers. Such activities will consolidate gains while taking measures to prevent re-occurrence of errors as well as deployment of appropriate resources.
“We are also making arrangements for stock taking and repurposing of equipment earlier deployed to temporary isolation centres with a view to using the opportunity provided by the resource mobilisation for the COVID-19 response for health systems strengthening.”
The minister cautioned protesting youths against attacking medical stores and warehouses belonging to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
According to him, the drugs and other medical consumables in such warehouses are stored under controlled environmental conditions, warning that the destruction of the items would impact negatively on our response to the pandemic.
He said: “The NCDC warehouse in Idu is used for the storage of medical and laboratory consumables and equipment. Destruction of these items will impact negatively on our response to this pandemic.
“I also call on all who are in possession of vaccines, medicine and other equipment and consumables to please return them. Those that can still be salvaged will be used and those that cannot will be disposed off properly.”
PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, said the nation has been negatively impacted by the looting and arson triggered by the #EndSARS protests.
Mustapha, who pointed out that the virus had kept its speed across the globe, noted that though Nigeria had yet to experience a second wave of the virus, the ongoing unrest and escalating criminal activities had further stretched the national economy.
He said: “The PTF still wishes to appeal to all Nigerians to remain law abiding and collaborate with law enforcement agencies to restore normalcy to our dear country.
“Humanity has been traumatized by COVID-19. Our nation is not experiencing a second wave but has been impacted negatively by the looting and arson.”
Speaking on the invasion of palliative warehouses, the PTF chair clarified the mode of distribution of palliatives, noting that the supply provided by the private sector initiative, under the umbrella of CACOVID, was affected.
He said: “Of particular concern to the PTF, is the issue of palliatives found and looted from various warehouses around the country. It is important to make the following clarifications.
“The Federal Government palliatives consisted largely of the 70MT of grains released from the Strategic Grain Reserves as well as rice secured from the Nigerian Customs Service. The share for each state was handed over to the state governments for onward distribution to the citizens.”
The NCDC said Nigerians cannot run away from the consequences of mass gatherings, especially as a result of protests, religious activities that have taken place over the past weeks.
It further said that as a result of the curfew placed by some state governments to maintain peace in their domains was slowing down testing in COVID-19 testing laboratories.
Its Director-General Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said: “The outbreak is escalating around the world literally. We have held things down because of our proactive measures – the very effective airport screening which was put in place to limit the re-introduction of cases from countries where the outbreak is escalating.
“This virus does not know the reason why people are congregating – whether you are congregating for religious purposes, protest, partying, etc. This virus takes opportunity of people coming together.
“We cannot afford to let down our guards irrespective of what our anger is at the moment. As we move into the next two weeks, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that we have to watch the numbers very carefully.
“The reasons are obvious – we have gathered in our masses for whatever reason, and now we have to keep our eyes open to face the potential consequences. But those consequences are not inevitable. We can still do our part to prevent them.”