1.       I welcome you all to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for Monday, 6th July, 2020.

2.      As we progress into the second phase of the eased Lockdown, the National Response continues to escalate its level of vigilance and monitoring, especially as we ease  restrictions in more sectors, including those with potentials for large gatherings and/or interactions between groups of people. We are conscious of the fact that this could be mis-interpreted to mean that the war against COVID 19 is over.

3.       Ladies and gentlemen, let me emphasise that decision for further relaxation was cautiously taken by government to balance lives and livelihood. Rising global and domestic statistics of cases and fatalities have shown that COVID-19 has not given any relaxation. Therefore, we cannot afford to slow down and we must never compromise. Let us continue to learn from history of pandemics by avoiding the mistakes of 1918.

4.      Having laid that foundation, the PTF calls on all Nigerians to also remain vigilant and this call is underscored by global and national developments in the last one week, especially throughout the week-end. In the last one week, we have witnessed a resurgence in countries that were noted as having successfully contained or containing the spread of the virus. The situation in Beijing and the United States of America should inform our individual and collective actions. Of course, such resurgence have led to reintroduction of precision/location specific lockdown in some areas such as parts of Galicia region, Catalonia, Spain.

5.      Of recent, we have witnessed a high rate of positive cases especially among people in authority. This has a direct impact on governance and security of our nation. We urge that vigilance and care should be exhibited by all Nigerians irrespective of status. This virus does not discriminate and the PTF shall keep sustaining its sensitization messaging.

6.      This morning, the PTF met with the heads of security and defence  Agencies to review and chart a refined course in view of the fact that COVID-19 is a global health, and socio-economic and security issue and Nigeria must continue to evolve new strategies peculiar to her environment , even while working within global prescriptions.

7.      Over the last weekend, the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council organized national prayers for both Muslims and Christians to seek divine intervention on COVID-19 and several other problems confronting our nation and humanity. The PTF thanks the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) under the Co-Chairmanship of  His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar who is also the Chairman of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and His Eminence, Dr. Supo Ayokunle, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN),  for dedicating three days, to seek the intervention of God by healing our land from the impact of the coronavirus.

8.      Some additional benefits derivable from the intervention of NIREC include awareness on the evils of gender violence, benefits of peaceful co-existence, religious tolerance and deepening the impact of Community Engagement and Risk Communication programmes of the PTF.

9.      We continue to receive support from kind hearted Nigerians, development partners and other interest groups. On Friday 3rd July, The Nigerians in Diaspora COVID-19 support group donated Personal Protective Equipments worth N48million which are already being distributed to all States of the Federation as prescribed by the donors. The PTF appreciates this effort and welcomes others willing to join the battle.

10.     The PTF informed you last week that new protocols will be released regarding how the aviation sector will safely reopen, bearing in mind global standards on safety and security. The Ministry of Aviation has released the protocols and shall begin to run public sensitization on it. We urge all travelers to study the protocols carefully and comply. We shall be putting in place critical measures to mitigate the risk associated with travels.

11.     Later this week, on Thursday and Friday, the PTF will be carrying out its mid-term review having crossed the three months/ half time threshold of its life span. This will involve a comprehensive examination of the steps taken, the challenges and charting the way forward.

12.    Once again, I wish to re-emphasise that COVID-19 is not a death sentence, but it becomes dangerous when we fail to detect, TEST isolate and treat. We can avoid contracting it by complying with non-pharmaceutical interventions of wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing, hand-washing, staying and working from home if practicable. Similarly, we can achieve more if we STOP STIGMATISATION.

13.     Capacity and opportunities for testing have been expanded, with the opening of 40 laboratories and creation of more testing centres including some certified private sector medical facilities. I, therefore encourage all Nigerians to get tested to enable us fight this pandemic. We have done it before and we shall do it again. The handling of the EBOLA virus, Lassa Fever, our becoming a polio-free country and successful exit from other communicable diseases over the years should give us comfort that COVID-19 would also be put behind us.

14.     I now invite the Honourable Minister of Health, the DG NCDC and the NC to present their updates briefs.

15.    I thank you for listening.

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