BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI, ABUJA – Taken aback by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama’s positive test for the coronavirus, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 says operational changes have become inevitable to adequately protect its members and ensure they are not susceptible to the deadly virus infection.
The PTF Chairman and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, said the disturbing development has further driven home the danger faced by frontline workers tackling the global pandemic.
Mustapha however assured the PTF will not lower its guards given that Nigeria “cannot afford to shut down its response”, adding; “As we progress, however, the PTF might consider restructuring the mode of delivering some of its activities, relying more on technology, to minimise the risks associated with avoidable physical contacts”.
Speaking at PTF’s resumed briefing on Thursday, the first since Minister Onyeama disclosed his positive test about four days ago, Mustapha said the team was forced to do routine risk assessment by testing every member to determine their current status.
According to him, the PTF will restructure its mode of operation to minimize physical contacts, adding that; “For the first time since the PTF commenced the regular briefing, we had to postpone the briefing for Monday, July 20th 2020.
“On Sunday, July 19th 2020, the dangers that our frontline workers face on a daily basis was forcefully brought to our consciousness, when the tweet from the Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs who is a member of the PTF, went viral”, he posited.
Noting that information in the public space about the Minister’s health is sufficient proof to Nigerians the virus is real and does not discriminate, Mustapha said; “Sequel to that development, the PTF and its Secretariat immediately carried out a risk assessment and tested all members to determine their status, out of an abundance of caution.
“Fortunately, as a precautionary measure, the PTF had earlier arranged that all journalists covering its activities should be tested by the NCDC.
“I am pleased to inform you that testing of members for COVID-19 has been a regular exercise for the PTF and that policy would be sustained.
“I am also pleased to inform you that have successfully taken all precautionary measures regarding safety, the normal business of the PTF has resumed.”