The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, has disclosed that without the quick intervention of the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), the country’s response to the pandemic would have been worse.
Aliyu said this on Thursday, in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
He appealed to CACOVID not to allow the unfortunate incident of looting of palliatives following the recent #ENDSARS event to dampen their morale, noting that before the looting of the warehouses of COVID-19 palliatives in different parts of the country, 95 percent of CACOVID donations had been distributed across the states.
He said CACOVID, a private sector partnership, that had donated resources towards government’s efforts to combat the pandemic in the country, “has kept careful and transparent records of the distribution process.”
Aliyu noted that the palliatives were looted under the state governments who, he said, were responsible for the distribution to the citizens.
He added: “We can confirm that the donation initiative is currently 95 per cent complete, even though we have seen a lot of looting of some of the warehouses under the state governments.
“Even though the delivery is 97 per cent complete for states in Phase 1 and 2. There are three phases. States in Phase 3 have received 90 per cent of their supply. State governments that have received their donations are responsible for the distribution of these palliatives to their local government areas.
“We ask beneficiaries to please cooperate with their state and their local governments and we welcome the plan by CACOVID to provide detailed information on the resources that they have put in, the donations they have made to government and other parts of the COVID response.”
The coordinator, however, said that the morale of the private sector had to be boosted to continue their support when airports would be reopened fully to both domestic and international flights which have been slowed.
“What has happened over the last few weeks has been most unfortunate. We have a situation where an organization with the very best of intentions had put tremendous resources to assist government and the public in alleviating the difficulties seen since the lockdown.
“The message to CACOVID is that they have done a good job and we very much appreciate it and value the partnership we have with them,” he said.
He also said for the purpose of clarity, CACOVID had been possibly the most important private sector partnership seen when it comes to contributing and tackling the health crisis.
CACOVID had provided health facilities equipment in every state across the country. They have provided test kits, ventilators, equipment, they have continued to a large extent in supporting the technical side of the PTF role.
“When it came to reopening of the international airports, they played a significant role and have continued to play a significant role.
“They are responsible for ensuring the operation of the payment portal and we wouldn’t have been able to open the airports at the time we did if not for the contribution of CACOVID.
“They have put in tremendous amount of resources into the palliatives response. They have provided drugs and food items to every state in the country.
“This is no doubt a massive exercise which requires a lot of logistics and arrangements and had to be done in phases in other to avoid pushing the price of food and pushing inflation rate higher.
“They have handed most of these food stuff to the state governments before the unfortunate event happened,” he said.
Aliyu noted that as far as the PTF was concerned, CACOVID will not be discouraged, rather they will continue to work with the task force to ensure that the commitments that had made were delivered to the states and distributed to those that need them most.
He disclosed that 12,500 out of the 66,000 prospective youth corps members for the 2020 Batch B mobilisation had so far undergone tests for the virus.
“We have commenced the process of testing corps members. In fact, we have already tested more than 12,500 NYSC corps members so far using Rapid Diagnostic Test Kit tests with confirmatory PCR,” he said.
He reminded international graduates who would be travelling into the country for the exercise of the need to undergo the seven days’ compulsory self-isolation before going into the NYSC orientation camp, saying that resumption at the NYSC orientation camp would be done “in three phases extending into January 2021.
“As mentioned by DG NCDC, we are strongly discouraging passengers from travelling or embarking on non-essential travels. We know that we are going into the Christmas period. The PTF is already looking at steps to minimise the surge in passenger numbers associated with this period.
“But this will primarily be by discouraging people from non-essential travels. If you do not need to travel, remain in the country during the period.
He said Nigeria could not afford another wave of COVID-19 as being seen in Europe and the Americas, while warning about the risks associated with indiscriminate non-essential international travels.
Aliyu recalled that of the first 5,000 plus passengers tested on arrival into the country after international flights resumed, about 105 of them tested positive to the virus.
He said with about 5,000 to 7,000 passengers arriving the country everyday “the potential is that we could have up to 150 new cases being introduced into the country everyday”.
Aliyu debunked claims in an audio recording being shared online that the Federal Government had cancelled payment for repeat PCR test by international travellers.
“The PTF guideline is very clear. If you are abroad and coming into Nigeria, you must get the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), test of COVID-19 within five days of departure.
Before departure, you must register on the Nigeria travel portal which is nitp.ncdc.gov.ng and book for your repeat PCR test after you have provided information on your health status and uploaded the COVID-19 PCR result.
“You book and select the lab that you will like to have the test. We now have labs across the country to provide test for international travellers and you pay for the test to be done seven days after. The tests are paid for by passengers,” he said.