The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19 Mr Boss Mustapha said Monday that the wave of nationwide protests by the promoters of #ENDSARS campaign may escalate the rate of coronavirus infections in the country.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, the SGF said measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and use of sanitizers were not being observed at gatherings of the protesters.
He said the recent reopening of schools, aviation sector and the directive that civil servants across all cadres should resume work call for more caution and vigilance.
While acknowledging that the country was winning the battle against the coronavirus, the SGF said the disease remains very virulent, deadly and dangerous.
“This statistical review becomes very relevant when we remember that over the same period, quite a number of large gathering events, particularly the protests across the country have been taking place.
“It becomes more pertinent because of the fact that measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and use of sanitizers were never observed.
“Similarly-important is the fact that the education sector has joined aviation in the gradual but safe reopening process. While we continue to monitor the process, the need for constant reminders and engagement with communities, proprietors, parents, teachers, etc cannot be over emphasized.
“Civil Servants on all grade levels have been allowed to return to work for the first time since March. This also calls for caution, vigilance and effective preparation and leadership by Permanent Secretaries and CEOs of Agencies of Government. It is strongly advised that alternate days of attendance are worked out to avoid overcrowding in the various offices.
“It will not be out of place for the PTF to, in consideration of the foregoing, remind all Nigerians that we are in the middle of a global pandemic. The virus remains very virulent, deadly and dangerous.
“It is an unseen enemy which thrives when people lower their guard. While we use this medium to join other voices of reason, to appeal to the youths to harken to the invitation to dialogue, we also emphasize that non-compliance with the NPIs are very risky adventures that must be avoided. We cannot afford to lose momentum and risk a second wave that might overwhelm our health systems.
“The PTF has on account of these developments, accelerated its plans for the National Testing Week and shall continue to monitor developments in all areas of the economy that have reopened and where new mass gathering events are taking place over the next three weeks for signs of spike in numbers.
“We urge every one who has been exposed unduly to large gathering to get tested and/or report any signs of the symptoms of COVID-19,” he said.
He said the number of global infections have crossed the 40 million mark while the United States of America has also crossed the eight million mark.
He said the global cases rose by a record of 400,000 cases on October 16 with 43% of all the cases occurring in Europe, especially United Kingdom and France.
He said the top five countries in new cases reported in the last 24 hours are India (55,511); USA (44,941); France (29,837); UK (16,982) and Russia (15,099).
“It is important to take precaution when planning to travel or receive travelers from these countries,” he said.