By Williams Anuku, Abuja
The Federal Government has said declining cases of coronavirus infections suggests that the country is gradually winning the war against the virus, but warned that citizens should not be complacent in adhering to preventive measures.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID- 19, Boss Mustapha stated this on Monday at the usual briefing sessions in Abuja.
He said despite these gains, a reliable vaccine for the virus will not be available until first quarter of 2021.
He said, “Nigeria continues to progressively witness declining confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a record low number of 79 cases on Sunday, September 13, 2020. While this suggests that we are winning this war, the reality is that we need to improve on our commitment to eliminate the virus completely by abiding with the protocols so that we can return to a semblance of what was our normal life.
“In a very modest way, therefore, we could say that our National Response, under the guidance of Mr. President, is achieving impressive results and this has been commended by our development partners. The PTF wishes to use this opportunity to also thank our development partners as their support has contributed in no small measures to the successes so far recorded and we count on their continued support as we progress in tackling this pandemic.
“One critical element we must not loose sight of is the fact that our cautious approach has tremendously helped in our containment efforts.
“Therefore, we should avoid complacency at all cost. Our focus should go beyond flattening the curve and ridding our land of this virus just as we did with the polio virus”.
Reacting to the industrial action embarked upon by the Joint Health Sector Unions JOHESU, on Monday, Boss described the action as unfortunate, insisting that they have been critical factor in the gains achieved so far.
“Similarly, the contribution of our health workers has no doubt contributed to our gains. In this regard, the PTF wishes to appreciate the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) for calling off their strike action.
“The PTF, however, views the recent declaration of industrial action by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) as rather unfortunate and capable of reducing our gains and endangering more loss of lives. We, therefore, call on JOHESU to stand up to be counted at this critical moment because a continuation of the strike could jeopardize the small gains made in the fight against the virus and the efforts to transform our health systems.
” The Hon. Minister of Labour & Employment has assured that every effort is being made to resolve all issues and have JOHESU call its members back to work, “he noted.
Regarding the roll out of an effective vaccine, the PTF chairman assured that once it is ready, Nigeria would not be left out in accessing the drugs.
His words,” That the world still awaits is the arrival of an effective vaccine. The PTF updated you last week about the progress made with candidate vaccines and the phases of the trials. We also assured you that Nigeria will not be left out when eventually access is needed for a safe and effective vaccine certified by global public health authorities.
“Given this timeline, however, we do not expect vaccines to be available for countries till the second half of 2021.
“What this means is that we need to, more than ever before, adhere to the prescribed NPIs and diligently avoid contracting the virus”.