The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, on Monday frowned at the large crowds that attended political campaign rallies in Edo State for the September 19 governorship election in the state, and the mammoth crowd that attended the burial of Senator Buruji Kashamu on Sunday.
The PTF, which expressed disappointment at the developments, also blamed governors, traditional and religious leaders for allowing crowds to gather and break safety protocols in the two states.
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu stated this at the daily press briefing of the task force in Abuja.
Kashamu, a member of the 8th Senate, died on Saturday at the First Cardiology Consultants Hospital, Lagos, from COVID-19 complications. He was buried on Sunday in his Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State home, while the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party have also held campaign rallies in Edo State ahead of the September 19 governorship election.
Aliyu said: “I must say that we are dismayed with the level of compliance, when it comes to some of these activities.
“The issue is; we know that COVID-19 does not act like a proper pandemic. If you have a proper pandemic like Ebola, as I have always said, you will have dead bodies on the streets, people bleeding to death; that sharp factor is there and we do not need to do anything further to convince people to protect themselves and to do the right thing.
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“We are faced with a pandemic that is an invisible enemy; we are faced with a pandemic where the majority of us would probably not have come across somebody with COVID-19.”
Aliyu said leaders in the respective states failed to ensure compliance with protocols at the events, urging them to ensure more enforcement of safety guidelines.
“When it comes to wearing of (face) mask for instance; when you wear a mask, it is actually an act of kindness and caring. What you are saying is that you care about the people that you will meet; you don’t want to infect them with COVID-19.
“The same thing applies when it comes to social distancing. It is much easier to be proactive. It is much easier for civil authorities, leaders and governors to make sure that those situations that pose a risk of mass gathering are avoided”, Aliyu said.
According to the PTF coordinator, Nigeria was lucky that it had not recorded the high number of deaths that other countries had recorded.
Aliyu stated: “Nevertheless, a lot of people have died – close to a thousand Nigerians have died – that would have still been with us today if not for COVID-19.
“We certainly have to continue to engage Nigerians, enlighten them and encourage them to take those simple steps that are necessary to protect ourselves and our loved ones”, adding that the PTF would continue to urge the states to step up their enforcement of safety protocols and guidelines, especially those who had established mobile courts to try offenders.
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