Nigerians picking face masks from dump sites, PTF cries out

Nigerians picking face masks from dump sites, PTF cries out

Nigerians picking face masks from dump sites, PTF cries out

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has raised the alarm over an unhealthy practice of some Nigerians who pick face masks from rubbish dumps and sell them.

The  Chairman of the task force and  Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who raised the alarm at the PTF press briefing in Abuja, warned that such a practice would worsen the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

He also said northern state governments, which had been evacuating the Quranic school pupils, popularly known as Almajirai, to their states of origin should suspend it.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, also at the press briefing, said pathologists from Sokoto, Bauchi, Jigawa, Katsina and Kano had been trained, adding that they were investigating deaths in the states.

The task force, shortly after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in his national broadcast on April 27 ordered gradual reopening of the economy, gave guidelines that would assist in flattening the COVID-19 curve in the country.

Among the guidelines are the compulsory use of face masks and maintaining social distance in public places. The government also banned a gathering of over 20 people and interstate movements.

Nigerians picking disposed face masks, PTF raises the alarm

Reviewing Nigerians’ adherence to the guidelines, Mustapha noted that people were still sharing face masks.

He said, “The unhealthy practice of picking disposed masks for whatever purpose is harmful to both the individual picking them and whoever procures them later.

“The PTF has become aware of the ongoing practice of sharing masks and picking of masks for recycling from dump sites. This places a lot of responsibility on all of us to be self-educated and to educate others.

“The following points are emphasised: ​Except for fabric masks, every disposable used mask is a​ hazardous medical waste and should be disposed of properly, preferably by burning.

“It is very risky to share masks as the virus is capable of remaining on surfaces for several hours and you could get infected.”

Suspend interstate movements of Almajirai, FG tells govs

The PTF also advised governors to suspend interstate movements of Almajirai so as not to frustrate efforts to combat the pandemic.

Northern Governors’ Forum, in a statement issued after its meeting on April 21 unanimously decided to ban the Almajirai system of education. They decided that the children should be sent back to their parents or states of origin.

States, which have been repatriating the Almajirai back to their states of origin include  Kano and Nasarawa.

But some of the children have been diagnosed with COVID-19. For example, On May 2, the Kaduna State Government said 21 out of  61 Almajirai deported to the state from Kano tested positive for the virus.

Besides, some of the children are being hidden in vehicles carrying food and brought to the South, a development southern states have frowned upon.

Expressing concern about the development, the SGF said, “This is not the time for movement of Almajirai because of interstate lockdown. If you say  interstate movements  are banned, I don’t think that movements of Almajirai are essential movements.”

Mustapha urged state governments to align their actions and enforcement with the guidelines provided by the PTF.

“The virus does not respect boundaries neither does it respect status. All state governments are, therefore, urged to strengthen their monitoring and enforcement machinery in collaboration with the security agencies,” he stated.

You should be ready to go through validation, PTF tells researchers

The SGF urged researchers to come up with home grown drugs and vaccines for the treatment of COVID-19.

He, however, said they must be patient to go through the validation process to establish safety of their drugs and avoid litigation

He said, “Since the recording of the index case, Nigerians have clamoured for research into home grown solutions to COVID-19.

“The PTF, as part of its mandate, has continued to promote research and wishes to repeat its appeal to all our researchers to go through the validation process so as to enable humanity to benefit from their hard work and they in turn benefit from the intellectual property rights associated with such research.”

‘COVID-19 vaccine won’t be ready until 2021’

He urged Nigerians to abide by the PTF guidelines to fight the virus.

Mustapha said, “Ordinarily, from the little literature I have read on COVID 19,  we are not expecting any vaccine to be on the shelves until towards the end of 2021. That is for industries that have perfected the processes of manufacturing of this vaccine.”

The SGF also challenged the private sector to continue to support government in order to fortify the health system and infrastructure against present and future pandemics.

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