• Downplays infectiousness of victims’ corpses
• Lagos to enforce the wearing of facemask next week
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) yesterday apologised to Nigerians over the violation of social distancing rules during the funeral of the late Chief of Staff Abba Kyari.
The Coordinator of the task force and Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency Dr. SaniAliyu tendered the apology at a press conference in Abuja yesterday.
He admitted there was a failure of crowd control during the burial. He said lessons had been learnt and that the PTF would ensure that future events conform to regulations.
“The PTF will like to acknowledge and apologise for the mistakes that were made regarding the burial of the late Chief of Staff. The Gudu Cemetery had since been decontaminated and the personal protective equipment discarded at the site decontaminated and burned according to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines.”
He said the body of the deceased was properly prepared for burial according to NCDC guidelines and the Islamic faith. He noted that the dead bodies of persons with COVID-19, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, are generally not infectious, except in cases of viral haemorrhagic fever and cholera.
“To date, there’s no evidence of persons having become infected from exposure to the bodies of persons who had died of COVID-19. Therefore, we will like to further assure the public that we will continue to follow the guidelines and protocols we had produced. The NCDC guidelines are very much reflecting the WHO guidelines. We’ll also like to assure the public that the task force takes its presidential mandate seriously and is committed to executing it to the best of its ability.
“We ask for the public to continue holding us accountable for our actions. We read your comments on social media. We listen to you and also acknowledge the issues that might arise. Please, continue to do so. It is the only way we can continue to improve and fight this big challenge we have.
“The task force will like to acknowledge the prime role that the Chief of Staff played in establishing the Presidential Task Force. He fired the first shot against COVID-19. We will continue to honour his memory and we will continue to do everything possible to,” Aliyu said.
Also speaking, PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha expressed regrets over the unintentional violation of the principles of physical distancing during the funeral.
He said: “We assure all Nigerians of their safety and the determination of the PTF to combat the pandemic. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of several Nigerians and the PTF sincerely condoles with all families that have lost loved ones to this virus. Every life is precious to us and every loss challenges the efforts we have put into this fight while demanding that we do more in our response.
“On the 17th of April 2020, we lost the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari. He was fully committed to ensuring Nigeria responded effectively to the challenge of COVID-19 and he died in the line of duty. We will always remember his robust efforts, his dedication and unwavering commitment to strengthening Nigeria’s capacity to manage the impact of this pandemic. This development has renewed our resolve to remain focused on the response to COVID-19 in honour of the late Chief of Staff and those that have fallen victim to this pandemic. This is indeed not a joke but a fight that must be won.”
He said further: “The significant increase in the number of cases and distribution across states underscore the importance of remaining focused as citizens and as a nation because of the enormity of the challenges ahead. This is the time for all hands to be on deck so that the PTF can improve on its delivery. We must all come together because we face a common enemy and potential risk. We must flatten the curve at all cost and restore our country to full activity.”
In his remarks, Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyema said the Federal Government had negotiated with two airlines on the evacuation of Nigerians clamouring to return to the country.He said the exercise would commence by the end of next week.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, meanwhile, has declared that from next week, the state government will begin to enforce the wearing of facemasks in public places.
Speaking, yesterday at his seventh briefing on the pandemic, the governor said one million locally-made masks had been contracted to tailors and would be distributed during the week.
“From next week, we are going to be enforcing the wearing of face masks in public places. It’s important we do not panic. This pandemic will be over and a sizeable number of our people will get well,” he said.