The Federal Government says some religious organisations are indirectly encouraging the spread of COVID-19 as their actions of holding large gatherings events continue to sabotage the national response to the pandemic in the country.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 , Mr Boss Mustapha, stated this on Thursday in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the task force.
“We have observed, rather sadly, that Nigerians, particularly some faith-based organisations, have continued to hold events of large gatherings capable of spreading the virus.
“The PTF urges all sub-national entities that signed the protocols with these organisations, and have primary responsibility for enforcing the protocols, to step up their roles of enforcement,” Mustapha said.
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According to him, the PTF had continued to engage with relevant stakeholders on issues arising from the impact of COVID-19, including mental health, drug use and gender-based violence.
He noted that as the nation approaches the end of the year and several competing governance related activities had made it impossible for the taskforce to regularly brief as it desired, the work of the PTF never stopped during such moments, instead it had persisted with deepening risk communication, community engagement, surveillance, testing and pursuit of a viable strategy on access to vaccines, in a safe and effective manner.
The SGF said: “It is true that family economies have collapsed, jobs lost, mental health issues have arisen, some persons have taken to drugs and rape has escalated. The solution is to exercise enormous self-restraint, vigilance, and the PTF urges all citizens to take advantage of the mental health programmes nearest to them.
“In Abuja, for example, the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, is the facility to visit.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has persisted in the disruption of human activities. We have just received a Report that one of the annual events of a critical security agency has ended abruptly out of abundance of caution, due to detection of an infected personnel.
“The significance of this occurrence is that testing is critical to the success of our National Response. We, therefore, urge Nigerians and organisers of events to vigorously pursue the path of testing, especially for delegates attending the events,” Mustapha said.
The SGF said that while government was working towards rolling out a safe and effective vaccine, Nigerians must continue the essential laid down public health actions to suppress transmission and reduce mortality, in addition to any other measures put in place to ensure that everyone was protected.
“The pandemic still has a long a way to run and decisions made by leaders and citizens in the coming days will determine the course of the next days and months; and in addition, and in line with the guidance on the use of face masks, we need to discourage the practice of removing masks to speak.
“The PTF has observed, rather sadly, the activities of unscrupulous citizens who do everything to frustrate the transparency infused into the processes of our national response.
”The first is the report on social media, relating to the procurement of fake COVID PCR certificates. I am pleased to inform you that this is being investigated and technology backed measures have been taken to limit such activities,” he said.
In the next two weeks, the SGF said the PTF would be submitting its report to President Muhammadu Buhari, even though that would not be the end of the assignment because the virus had not gone away.
“Similarly, there is the significant issue of vaccine, to be addressed in the coming months and years. In recognition of this fact, a suitable transition programme that will take into consideration, a multi-sectoral approach will be recommended.
“The PTF wishes to appeal to all Nigerians to seriously consider putting on hold, all non-essential trips and avoid large social gatherings during the Christmas and New Year festivities,” Mustapha said.