By George Samuel, Abuja
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari is expected to address the nation on today on new procedures in the national response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was briefed on Sunday at the State House by members of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control.
PTF Chairman, who doubles as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, gave the hint after his team’s visit to the President in Abuja.
The President expressed satisfaction with the progress recorded in Nigeria’s campaign against COVID-19, given available resources and facilities.
The PTF chairman was accompanied Health Minister Osagie Ehanire, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director-General Chikwe Ihekweazu and the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu.
According to Mustapha, the PTF opposed the idea of reopening congregation centres.
He told reporters that the next line of action from President Buhari will be to outline new procedures and guidelines for the next phase of the national response, especially as the first two weeks of the phased post-lockdown protocol would be ending today.
The SGF said: “From the 4th of May to date is about 13 days, tomorrow (Monday) we should expect new processes to be put in place. But we have to give him all the material details will help us in preparing for the future. So that is why we are here.
“Because, we are in for the long hurl, this is not a short distance race, it’s a marathon and we have to keep everything in perspective. But remember on the 27th of April, he addressed the nation and in place the easing down of the lockdown effective from the 4th of May.
“This is part of a routine exercise. I think this is about the third time that we have had cause to submit an interim report to him on our activities as task force and also to update him on preparation for the other phases of engagement. And we have supplied him with all the materials that is required to look at the issues.”
Speaking on the reactions of Nigerians and compliance level to the instructions and guidelines issued by government, Mustapha lamented that despite the fact that about 99 per cent of the population had acknowledged the existence of COVID-19, many still held dangerous beliefs that will make winning the war difficult.
Noting that COVID-19 will not go away very soon, the PTF chair spoke of the need for all to take responsibility for the fight, not just for themselves as individuals, but for their loved ones and the communities they belong to.
He said: “COVID-19 is not going to go away in the next one or two months, whoever tells you that is not being realistic. No vaccine is in the horizon, we are talking about 18 months to two years before vaccines would be confirm for human use as far as COVID-19. And unless we get there, it means is that it will remain.
“It might have cycles, after the first cycle of pandemic, there might be a relief, there can be a resurgence and that is evidenced all over the world. It has happened before as is the nature of infections. So, I believe that what we are going to do now as a taskforce is to come down to the level of having the communities take ownership of the response.
“We have developed a national response which has been cascaded to the states but the communities must plug into the national response. Where we have primary healthcare centres all over the country, they can be used as stations of reporting of surveillance within a particular community, of tracing, of tracking so that we can take out those that we suspect have exhibited symptoms or have come in contact with people who have exhibited symptoms for testing and isolation. That way you pluck them out of the community and reduce the risk of transmission. That is basically what we are working on”.