PTF updates Buhari as COVID-19 cases reach 10,162 with 287 deaths


President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday received updates on developments surrounding the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Presidential Task Force (PTF). The PTF recommended to the President to allow states to decide on the reopening of schools, businesses and worship centres shut since March as part of the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. The recommendation was among a raft of others, the PTF made to the president at a meeting yesterday at the State House ahead of his decision today on the next phase of action to take as the two-week extension of the easing of restrictions on socio-economic activities, which expires today.


The briefing came as Nigeria recorded 307 new cases of COVID-19, bringing to 10,162 the number of confirmed cases in the country. It also recorded 14 COVID-19 related deaths, taking the toll from 273 to 287 in a single day, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). NCDC said Lagos recorded 188 new cases, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) 44, Ogun 19, Kaduna 14, Oyo 12, Bayelsa nine, Gombe five, Kano and Delta three each, Imo, Rivers, Niger and Bauchi two each, while Plateau and Kwara recorded one each. It said: “Nigeria has recorded 10,162 cases of COVID-19. 3007 persons have been discharged while 287 have lost their lives.


The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, had last last week informed Nigerians that the Task Force would brief the President on how the national response had so far progressed in its assignment. Mustapha led the team comprising the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehinare, Director General of Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, and National Coordinator of the PTF on COVID-19 Dr Aliyu Sani, to the Presidential villa, Abuja.


Fielding question from newsmen, Mustapha said what the committee did was to “submit the fourth interim report to him (President) and to appraise him of the progress that has been achieved in the course of the last two weeks of the extension of the eased phase one of the lockdown and also discuss some of the challenges that we’ve had and suggested what we need to put in place, going forward.


“We also discussed the issue of compliance and he said we should continue to appeal to Nigerians and drive home the point that it’s a personal responsibility for each and every Nigerian to undertake to ensure that he keeps himself safe and by extension keeping his family, loved ones and community safe.


He said the PTF was doing everything to ensure that the entire nation was on the same page with one response, adding: “it is very important that we realise that no state is an island unto itself, when you deal with public health matters. Whatever happens in a particular locality has the consequences of spilling off to other constituencies. That is the message that we’ll continue to drive in our pursuit of getting everybody to be on board and I can assure you that there’s no island that exists as far as COVID-19 is concerned in this country.”


On whether Nigeria was winning the fight against COVID-19, considering the rate of infections, the SGF said, “We are winning. As a matter of fact, you juxtapose the rate of cases with our mortality rate, which is basically about 3%, in other countries and other climes, it’s over 10%, but the most important thing that you will realize, when we started this exercise, we had only five testing stations, now we’ve ramped it up to 28, without correspondent increase in the number of deaths. We’ve gone beyond 60,000 now, that reflects in the number of confirmed cases


“We’ve not reached the peak yet and I won’t want to fool Nigerians by telling them that we are out of the woods. No, we are not out of the woods. As we even open up and accommodate more enterprises, because we are trying to have a balance between livelihoods and life, there’s a likelihood of increase in transmission in cases.


On whether there was hope of opening the economy soon, Mustapha said, “We have started, even in the first phase and the extension that came with it. Essential parts of the economy was opening up by way of allowing agricultural production, people that produce fertilizers. The oil and gas industry was never closed for one day and some aspects of the financial sector were opened.