The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic has announced a four-week extension of the suspension imposed on air travels in the country.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF Mr Boss Mustapha disclosed this during Wednesday’s edition of the daily press briefing by the task force.
The PTF also raised the alarm over the observed abandonment of care by the population, with regards to warnings against crowding and observation of various protective measures, noting that all indications pointed at dangers ahead.
On the reason for extending ban on flights for four more weeks, Mustapha said the decision was informed by the assessments made and advice provided by aviation industry experts.
“Tomorrow marks the last day for the enforcement of the closure of Nigeria’s airspace to flights. We have assessed the situation in the aviation industry and have come to the conclusion that given the facts available to us and based on the advice of experts, the ban on all flights will be extended for an additional four weeks”, he said.
He also warned of grave dangers ahead as a result of the manner Nigerians had responded to the ease of lockdown, whic took effect from Monday, calling on all stakeholders, especially community and religious leaders to help government in changing the tides.
He also charged all Nigerians to be ready, more than ever before, to take responsibility for their individual safety, as well as those of their loved ones, warning again that COVID-19 was a deadline outbreak, which should be taken seriously.
“The overall assessment of compliance with the measures and outcomes of modelling we have developed, point in the direction of danger ahead. We therefore need personal discipline, increased awareness and enforcement.
“The PTF calls on community, religious and traditional leaders to take up this challenge. Similarly, we call on, trade associations, professional bodies and organizations to compliment the efforts of government. The PTF appreciates your current efforts but it has become very obvious that more needs to be done, together.
“Increased level of inter-state movements worsened by the dubious concealment of people in food carrying vehicles; Unhygienic and ill-advised use and sharing of masks especially multiple fittings before buying from vendors;
Once again, we appeal to the Governors to please align their plan for the movement of Almajiris with the ban imposed by the President. We shall intensify our dialogue on this matter.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to re-iterate the fact that our individual and collective safety is in our hands and I re-echo my call and appeal to Nigerians to demonstrate our duty to ourselves and loved ones by minimizing the risk of getting infected by the virus”, he warned.
He also observed that indeed people had faced challenges in the last few weeks, but warned “as we continue to push the frontiers of risk communication, I wish to appeal to all Nigerians to be vigilant and desist from taking undue risks. The PTF recognises the challenges earlier encountered at the bank. We however assure you that the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as the Bankers’ Committee have put in place strategies that would reduce such re-occurrence.
“I, therefore plead with Nigerians to be patient and schedule their physical appearances at banks. On the other hand, I wish to repeat my call to the Banks to also quickly address issues related to difficulty with using their on-line platforms, especially re-validating expired ATM cards amongst others”, he said.
He also raised the concerns of President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the PTF, of increasing cases of infection of medical doctors and other health sector frontline workers, adding that the government would continue to renew efforts at training frontline personnel.
He also spoke specifically about the situation at the isolation centres in Gombe State, where concerns of lack of care had been raised in viral online videos.
He said “we have investigated and I wish to assure you that the NCDC team is on ground in Gombe to support the State EOC. Similarly, I can confirm that the testing laboratory in Gombe will be activated soon”.
He called on transportation managers, as well as leaders of various transport unions of across the country to enlighten drivers of commercial vehicles on managing crowds, especially as it had become clear that public transportation had become a major clustering points.
He further said the PTF had continued to interface with state governments and other sub-national entities on various effective strategies to manage the health crisis.
“We have continued to interface with the Governors and I am pleased to inform you that the NCDC will be visiting the Kogi and Cross Rivers States to provide support to the State EOCs. This is a giant leap in the dialogue and collaboration process. We are also retooling all Federal Medical Institutions as part of the overall support to the States.
“We have received a boost in the isolation facilities available in Abuja with the completion of the Abuja Thisday Dome. This facility will be inaugurated on Tuesday 12th May, 2020”, he said.