THE Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has admitted to making mistakes during the burial of Abba Kyari, late Chief of Staff (CoS) to President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday.
Images and video clips from the burial of the late Kyari showed that there was a violation of public health guidelines against Covid-19 especially social distancing rule as hundreds of sympathisers attended the burial.
Mustapha Boss, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Task Force in a statement issued on Monday explained that the non-observance of physical distancing and the flouting of mass gathering measures and mass gathering restrictions at the cemetery were due to the failure of crowd control measures.
“The burial of the late Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, on 18 April 2020, has attracted a lot of concerns from Nigerians over the non-adherence to the physical distancing measures and mass gathering restrictions at the Gudu Cemetery,” Boss said.
“The nonobservance of physical distancing and the flouting of mass gathering restrictions at the cemetery were due to the failure of crowd control measures.
While acknowledging that errors were made, Boss said lessons were also learnt.
“We acknowledge that mistakes were made, we have learnt from these mistakes and would ensure that future events are adequately regulated in accordance with the Presidential Task Force and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) protocols,” he said.
He however pointed out that “the body of the late Chief of Staff, who died on 17 April, 2020, was prepared for burial in line with the NCDC interim guidelines for the safe management of a deceased person with COVID-19 infection.”
“As a matter of fact, the body of anyone who dies from COVID-19 infection will not be released for burial without following these guidelines.”
He further stated that the body of the late Chief of Staff was thoroughly decontaminated, put in a body bag and then a sealed coffin in Lagos before being flown to Abuja.
Boss added that on arrival in Abuja, all safety measures required to protect those handling the body were strictly adhered to, from the plane to the burial ground. At no time was the body openly exposed to the environment.
“It is worth noting that while COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is significantly less infectious when compared to Ebola or Lassa fever, the protocols for safe burial must still be strictly followed,” he said.
“The incidents that were recorded after the burial, which may have compromised due safety procedures, have been duly recognized and correct steps taken to limit any risk to the public.”