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COVID-19: PTF cautions State Govts against reopening of schools

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The Presidential Task Force PTF on COVID-19 has called for caution against re-opening of the education sector as some Sub-nationals making preparations for it, while there is need for them to be guided by experiences from countries such as Germany, France, the United States and the United Kingdom, where opening of schools in some cities led to increase in COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

The Chairman of PTF, Boss Mustapha made this warning at the Press Conference in Abuja on Monday, he said the global number of confirmed cases has exceeded 25million mark as this is attributable to resurgence in countries hitherto considered to have effectively contained the virus while a good number of countries that have relaxed restriction measures are others actually re-introducing such, which in some cases are being made more stringent on the basis of lessons learned.

According to him, “As we plan to re-open more sectors, we must stay the course and stick with our winning strategy which is anchored on the ability of our health institutions to contain the virus while we as citizens wear our masks properly, stay away from crowded places, avoid mass gatherings, maintain simple hygienic practices and as much as possible protect the elderly and most vulnerable to this pandemic.

“Equally important for us in Nigeria is that we are seeing a gradual shift in areas of high infection burden with Plateau State reporting the highest number of confirmed cases. Of course, this could be related to increased testing by citizens of the state. However, we also need to look at the flip side that there are a number of highly undetected cases lying around which we need to discover and deal with early”, he said.

He added that the PTF is studying the manifestation of the virus in Nigeria, other countries and continents in order to understand the nature. “This should ordinarily give us encouragement that we are winning the war against the COVID-19 pandemic but unfortunately, the science, data and experience from other parts of the world indicate that such data should be viewed with extreme caution, as it is prone to be very deceptive and could be misleading if we let down our guards and be influenced to deviate from our strategy of cautious optimism that have brought Nigeria this far.

“Nigerians will recall that, at the outbreak of the pandemic, it was predicted that the African continent (with its weak health infrastructure and propensity to high disease burden) would be the worst hit. A recent publication by the Weekly Science Review has indicated that despite having 17% of the global population, Africa has accounted for just 5% of global confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3% of deaths”, he explained.

He noted that the last seven days have showed a consistently greater number of discharges than confirmed cases. “Particularly, we note with delight, the report that Prof. Akin Abayomi, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, like many other Nigerians, has recovered from the infection. He congratulated those that have recovered and urged them to tell their stories. “The PTF also urges that the best choice to make is to avoid contracting the virus by strictly observing the non-pharmaceutical measures and all other guidelines issued.

“As we end this phase, the would be submitting the Seventh Interim Report to Mr. President and would be guided by his directives on the next phase. The decisions and approval would be transmitted at the national briefing on Thursday 3rd September, 2020”, he said.


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