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Presidential task force briefs Buhari on COVID-19, Kano deaths

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Sunday briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the latest developments on the coronavirus and the reported mysterious deaths in Kano State.

Ehanire, who spoke to State House correspondents on the outcome of the closed-door meeting in Abuja, said they briefed the president on the activities and overall positions of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

The briefing of President Buhari by the minister and the NCDC chief came barely 24 hours to the expiration of the government’s extension of the lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun States.

The president had on April 13 announced a 14-day extension to a lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states in a bid to check the spread of the virus.

The minister said the PTF presented to the president its advice and recommendations on the way forward in the ongoing fight against the spread of the deadly virus in the country.

He said: “We also brought the overall summary apposition of the Presidential Task Force which as you know comprises of not only the health ministry but other ministries.

“We have aggregated the opinions that we have, weighing the health and the socio-economic factors and everything, to present our own opinion and recommendations to Mr. President.”

Ehanire believed that the nation was winning the fight against the pandemic as all relevant health institutions had agreed to work together to achieve the desired goal of defeating the coronavirus.

He added: “The fight is going on very well. As I said, all countries have continued with the struggle against Coronavirus, using the strategies that they have developed for their own countries.

“We have developed a strong strategy as we are working with other expert groups like the NCDC and relevant health organisations.

“So, we are also working with the states and the governors.’’

The minister, who also spoke on the reported mysterious deaths in Kano, said his ministry had been communicating with relevant agencies including Kano State Government with a view to addressing the problem.

Ihekweazu, who also spoke to the correspondents, advised Nigerians against wasting their meagre resources on the procurement of what he described as uncertified Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits.

He said: “We will continue to build up our testing strategies. At the moment 14 testing centres have been activated across the country.

“We want to bring the test closer to every state. Everybody is working very hard to solve this problem.

“I can see that some people are already procuring Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits. They don’t work as far as we know.

“So, I will really recommend that we all stick to the National Strategy, build on it, support its expansion and together we will get on top of the pandemic.’’

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