The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday expressed concerns over the rise in COVID-19-related deaths, saying the country recorded 34 percent increase in less than three months.
PTF Chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who is also Secretary to the Government of the Federation, stated this during a sensitisation meeting on COVID-19 vaccine with leaders of Christian Association of Nigeria and scholars in Abuja.
According to Mustapha, the COVID-19 pandemic is the most significant global public health emergency of this generation, stressing that humanity has been under the siege of the virus since its outbreak in 2019.
He said, “Unfortunately, Nigeria, like the rest of the world, is now experiencing a more virulent second wave which has increased the number of COVID-19-related deaths from 1,173 on November 29, 2020 to 1,578 on January 31, 2021.
“This is an increase of 34 percent. The number of infections have also grown tremendously.
“The arrival of vaccines has, however, given hope to humanity that a solution had been found. This does not, however, mean that the non-pharmaceutical interventions would be discarded.
“Going forward, it shall be NPIs plus vaccines for everyone to completely get over the pandemic.
“I wish to make it abundantly clear that nobody is safe around the world until everyone is vaccinated.
“That is why we are now gathered here today, to sensitise you and seek your inputs on the strategy to be jointly adopted and the role you will play in carrying the message on vaccines to all adherents of the Christian faith.”
The SGF said the fight against COVID-19 in the country was faced with combined challenges including skepticism about the virus; lack of compliance with the the NPIs even among church leaders; very low testing which limits detection; low risk perception and rising daily numbers occasioned by the second wave.
Others are disruption in socio-economic activities, increasing number of deceased loved ones and vaccine hesitancy across all strata of life.
The PTF chairman noted, ” While we continue to push the frontiers of compliance with the NPIs through all means including the collaboration with the sub-national entities, faith based organisations, community engagement and through legal instruments such as the recently issued Coranavirus Disease (COVID-19) Health Protection Regulations 2021, the role of the church in the escalation of the awareness on COVID-19, vaccines and minimisation of resistance and hesitancy to it, can never be over emphasised.
“As we interact over all these issues and challenges today, I urge us to be frank, innovative and adopt common objectives of collaboration and determination to overcome the pandemic by reaching out to all adherents of our faith on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.
“Every Christian should be an advocate for the vaccines.
Recall that the Federal Government had, on January 5, said it was expecting 100,000 doses of free Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, who disclosed this, said the country would, later in the year, receive 42 million free doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, had, earlier on December 22, 2020, told the Senate that the Federal Government would need about N40bn to vaccinate 70 percent of Nigerians.
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, the country has so far recorded over 131,000 COVID-19 cases with more than 104,000 recoveries and over 1,500 fatalities.
The health agency says so far, 1,302,410 people have been tested since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was recorded on February 27, 2020 in the country.
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