The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic has raised the alarm that Nigerians had started stockpiling unprescribed chloroquine in large quantities.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF, Mr Boss Mustapha, who raised the alarm on Thursday during the daily media briefing by the task force in Abuja, however, warned that this development was another danger on its own.
The SGF noted that the drug had not been certified for the treatment of COVID-19, even as he warned that self-medication of any kind, especially in the case with the COVID-19 disease, could only increase casualties numbers.
The Chairman of the task force also advised state governors to be careful how the breach the guidelines issued by the PTF, especially with regards to allowing large gatherings, warning that gatherings crowds larger that 20 persons in one place remained prohibited.
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“Through the surveillance system set up by the PTF, we have received reports that Nigerians have been purchasing Hydrxoychloroquine in large quantities. We wish to reiterate that this drug has not being certified for use in treating COVID-19 in Nigeria by the relevant health and pharmaceutical authorities.
“Self-medication of any kind, is fraught with the danger of increasing risks of avoidable casualties. We, therefore strongly warn against self-medication. If you are sick, please seek medical advice and if you are confirmed positive, kindly self-isolate in an approved facility. The COVID-19 is highly infectious and dangerous”, he said.
On the action of some state governors , who had been making proclamations in breach of PTF’s guidelines, especially with respect to mass gatherings, he warned that such actions were capable of jeopardising progresses so far made in the national response to the health crisis.
“Similarly emphasized is the need for states to diligently implement and enforce compliance. Particularly, I underscored the need for the Governors to provide personal and strong leadership, carry the policy of community ownership to the grass roots and create deeper awareness.
“Governors were also advised on the decision taken by some of their colleagues to permit large gatherings as such decisions could inadvertently endanger the elderly, the sick and those with underlying factors during such gatherings. The strong advisory from the PTF is that large gatherings beyond twenty persons remains prohibited and should be adhered to”, warned.
The SGF also announced that the PTF would be working with the National Assembly, especially as the House of Representatives, in its bid to further emphasise the seriousness government attached to the fight against COVID-19, inaugurated an Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19.
“The PTF on COVID-19 is pleased to inform you that in order to underscore the seriousness attached to this COVID-19 pandemic, the House of Representatives has set up an Ad-Hoc COVID-19 Committee.
“In deepening the existing collaborative spirit, we shall work together with the legislature to be more productive and add value to the overall delivery of service to Nigerians on behalf of whom we hold our responsibility in trust”, he said.
He noted that the PTF had consistently answered questions and provided explanations on the categories of persons and services exempted from some aspects of these guidelines particularly as it relates to restrictions on inter- state movement and curfew.
According to him, for the avoidance of doubt, essential workers including medical personnel, journalists, fire service personnel, telecommunications workers, are all exempted.
He said the Inspector General of Police has further clarified the categories of essential workers in alignment with the guidelines and has issued instructions to security agents to work on the approved exemptions.
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“With this clarification, we sincerely hope that the persistent complaints of harassment by these categories of essential workers, especially medical personnel and journalists would be put to rest so that we can harmoniously work in battling this pandemic.
“The PTF COVID-19 urges all essential workers to go about their legitimate businesses carrying with them valid means of identification and to exercise courtesy in approaching security personnel. I sincerely apologise for the inconveniences”, he said.
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