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Presidential Task Force laments VIPs’ disregard for COVID-19 guidelines, alerts of fake, unregistered hand sanitizers

  • Mourns Lovett Lawson, late Professor of Medicine and chairman of Zankli Hospital, Abuja, who died of COVID-19 complications

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Thursday criticized Nigerian elites for flouting regulations aimed at curtailing the spread of the virus, alerting that most of the sanitizers on sale in parts of the country were not registered and therefore could be of sub-standard quality.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the PTF, Mr Boss Mustapha, at a media briefing in Abuja, mourned a renowned Professor of Infectious Diseases, Lovett Lawson, who died of COVID-19 complications. Lawson was Chairman, Board of Directors, Zankli Medical Centre, Abuja, who died in quarantine at the National Hospital, Abuja, on Monday

Mustapha decried the disregard for COVID-19 safety regulations by highly placed Nigerians. According to him, “you will all recall that the Aviation sector reopened domestic operations on 8th July, 2020. Dry runs were carried out and guidelines meant to protect all travelers were issued. You also recall that we identified and pleaded even before now, with certain classes of persons, particularly VIPs, to desist from flouting such guidelines.

“Unfortunately, we have received reports about violations by some dignitaries who failed to follow the protocols at our airports. We believe leaders must lead by example. In truth, as leaders and followers, we must change our behavior if we must overcome the pandemic. This virus does not discriminate by status, age, tribe, creed or color. All we require is diligent compliance and vigilance.”

In apparent reference the behavior of the VIPs, the PTF Chairman warned that severe restrictions that have been relaxed could be restored.

Said he, “let me emphasise that the reasons for extending phase two of the eased lockdown are still present and that we need to change our behavior. As we continue to monitor compliance, we emphasise that all restrictions that have been eased remain subject to review.”

On the sanitizer problem, Mustapha said that “as part of the non-pharmaceutical measures, we recommended, in line with global practice, the use of hand sanitizers. Ordinarily, that ought to stimulate local production because of increased demand.

“We regret to inform you that following a survey conducted by the Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) to check the influx of substandard goods into the market, it was revealed that 63% of alcohol-based sanitizers in Abuja do not have NAFDAC registration numbers.

“There could also be similar situations around the country. The Honourable Minister of Health has consequently issued an advisory to the general public to procure their sanitizers and other pharmaceutical products from credible sources. The PTF equally appeals to the patriotic spirit of Nigerians and request that they should desist from manufacturing sub-standard goods which could further endanger other unsuspecting Nigerians who innocently purchase them.

“​Ladies and gentlemen, now is the time to turn adversity into victory by growing our entrepreneurial skills and industrial base. Let us find growth at the end of the pandemic. Today, we have been compelled to add the fight against fake products to our national response.”

The SGF mourned the late Professor of Medicine saying, “today, we sympathise with the medical profession over the loss of one of its top professionals who has been in the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.

“The demise of Professor Lawson of the Zankli Hospital Abuja as a result of COVID-19 underscores the risk faced by our medical workers who were hitherto our front liners but have now become our last line of defense”, Mustapha stated.

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