Remarks by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation/Chairman, Presidential Task Force On COVID-19 at the National Briefing of Tuesday, June 2, 2020

SGF at the PTF on COVID-19 Press Briefing
SGF at the PTF on COVID-19 Press Briefing

I welcome you all to the National Briefing for Tuesday 2nd June, 2020.

2. Today, Tuesday, 2nd June, 2020 marks the commencement of phase two of eased lockdown as approved by the President and announced by the PTF.
It must be underscored that the decisions of the President and the guidelines providing the details are both products of a coordinated effort, designed to enable us achieve a sustainable balance between lives and livelihoods.

3.The PTF is conscious of the fact there is a high possibility of members of the public seeing the easing as a signal that COVID is gone. On the contrary, COVID-19 is still virulent, dangerous and infectious. Our lives have changed for good and will never revert to what we used to know. That is why we have urged all the employers, employees and leaders of sectors allowed to re-open to diligently comply with non-pharmaceutical measures prescribed in the guidelines and the protocols agreed by State governments.

4.As we have always maintained, the fight against this pandemic is not a joke and because the science, data and experiences that drive our National Response are constantly evolving, we urge all citizens to religiously implement applicable guidelines at specific phases of the battle,

5.It is also important to stress that the PTF shall continue to monitor the progress and keep the option of a review open should the need arise. I therefore urge all sub-national entities with which we have been collaborating to expeditiously factor the guidelines into their decisions and resultant protocols that would be agreed to. I further urge them to strengthen their enforcement and monitoring mechanisms so as to ensure that the desired results are achieved.

6.As the PTF focuses on community engagement and risk communication, I wish to re-emphasize that State Governments now have the responsibility to shape and drive the process. It must also be understood that every individual has a stake and a role to play. We must take responsibility. We must be accountable to self and community on our actions. We must adhere to the guidelines issued.

7.Shortly after the briefing of 1st June, 2020 (yesterday), the social media was trending with the photograph of two children wearing discarded PPEs (although it is not certain if the photograph was taken in Nigeria). Significantly, that photograph represents a dangerous development. It underscores the need for more risk communication, community engagement and diligence in the disposal of used PPEs on the part of our frontline workers and the administrators. It also underscores the need to broaden the theme and messages in our communication strategy. Above all, the photograph has left us to imagine what the impact would be, if schools were to be open and they attended school after being exposed so dangerously. Those three children represent a clear danger to themselves, family and the immediate community.

8.While we take remedial measures to reach out to medical institutions on this, I use this opportunity to call on all our health authorities to make sure that waste disposal is done in such a way that would not create opportunities for increasing the chances of spreading the virus.

9.This afternoon, in addition to the updates from the Ministers, the DG (NCDC) and the National Coordinator shall re-educate on the protocols guiding the use and disposal of PPEs so that the communities and particularly parents will understand the danger.

10.Ladies and gentlemen, there is a lot of work to be done and enough for everybody. We must all overcome this challenge together. You must take responsibility.

11.Finally, let me thank the gentlemen of the press for quickly digesting and disseminating the critical information contained in yesterday’s briefing. We still have to do more to uplift the knowledge of our compatriots.

12.I now call on the Honourable Minister of Health, DG NCDC and the National Coordinator to update you, before we take the questions.

13.I thank you for listening.