I welcome you all to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for Thursday, 27th August, 2020.

Exactly six months ago, on February 27, 2020, the Honourable Minister of Health broke the news of Nigeria’s index case of coronavirus from Ogun State. Immediately after that announcement, knowing our parlous state of health facilities, the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari started putting in place containment measures to help meet the challenge that had started crippling economies and exposed inadequacies even in the best health systems.   

It is with all sense of modesty that I wish to state that Nigeria has done remarkably well but could do exceedingly better as captured in Mr. President’s speech during the World Health Certification-Free status for the African continent when he expressed optimism on our fight against the pandemic I quote “At a time when the global community is battling the COVID-19 pandemic….this achievement ( eradication of the  polio virus) strengthens my conviction that with the requisite political will, investments and strategies, as well as citizens’ commitment, we will flatten the curve”.

As we enter the last week of this extended eased lock-down phase, and note the impressively declining fatality ratio and reduction of confirmed cases, the PTF would also like to draw our attention to a subtle change in epi-centre of the virus. We all recall that Lagos, Kano and Ogun states were the initial epi-centres and this to Oyo at a time, and now Plateau state. As mentioned by the Lagos State Commissioner of Health and a notable COVID-19 warrior, Professor Akin Abayomi, Lagos has passed its peak but we call for vigilance and cautious optimism because the scourge is not over yet. Our strategic objective still remains, to test samples in high numbers across the entire nation. 

It is, therefore, in the above context that the PTF re-emphasizes her often repeated calls to every citizen to take responsibility by complying with all guidelines and non-pharmaceutical measures, including: wearing of masks properly, maintaining social distances, avoiding large gatherings, maintaining regular hygienic practices and most important staying at home for the most vulnerable.

As we keep to these simple protocols, our individual and collective efforts at balancing lives and livelihoods would achieve its intended benefits, especially now that we have opened a lot of sectors and opening more sectors.

Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics released the Q2 2020 performance of the economy. It showed that the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) slumped to -6.10% due to the impact of the COVID-19 on oil market. This underscores the impact of the pandemic on the global economy. As we have often repeated, the pandemic also presents us with opportunities and impetus for innovation, creativity and industrial development.

For existing businesses of different sizes, we wish to remind you that government has approved an Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) containing stimulus packages for businesses to access. 

As we prepare to reopen the international airspace, therefore, we are optimistic that the economy will continue to improve along the value chain, as goods, services and passengers move across borders. The aviation sector, no doubt, provides a window to the world and a shutdown of twenty-three straight weeks obviously impacted negatively on the economy.

Today’s briefing has been packaged to underscore the level of transparency with which the resources deployed for the fight against COVID-19 have been used. As part of this briefing, the PTF Transparency Initiative Dashboards will be launched and that explains the presence of our development partners. This is a significant milestone because it puts valuable information at the disposal of every Nigerians.

The PTF wishes to use this opportunity to thank the increasing number of discharged persons who have been sharing their experiences, the print and electronic media that have been supporting our Risk Communication and Community Engagement strategies as well as the numerous partners that are sustaining the messaging.

I now call on the Honourable Minister of Health, DG, NCDC and the National Coordinator to provide us with the technical updates.

Immediately after the technical updates, the launch of the Transparency Portals shall take place before we take your questions.

I thank you so much for your attention and have a good evening.