The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 says Nigerian authorities are aware of the calls to restrict international travels due to the discovery of new strains of coronavirus in some countries.
PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, stated this on Monday while briefing reporters in Abuja.
He explained that the task force, as well as aviation and health authorities, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), were assessing the situation closely.
Mustapha gave an assurance that the government would take a position as soon as a cogent scientific basis was established.
According to him, the protection of Nigerians remains the primary concern of the government and it will not relent in its resolve.
A Harder Than Necessary Hit
The SGF revealed that the PTF would submit its end of the year report to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, adding that Nigerians would be kept abreast of developments in that regard.
Calls to restrict international travels were triggered by the report of another variant of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Among the concerned voices was that of a former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.
In a statement on Sunday, Atiku explained that the reason Nigeria took “a harder than necessary hit” during the first wave of COVID-19 was that the government failed to heed the warnings of well-meaning Nigerians to shut down the nation’s borders as soon as the virus became a pandemic.
The new variant of coronavirus in the UK and South Africa is said to be more infectious than the original virus.
Following its emergence, dozens of countries, including France and other nations of the European Union have suspended flights from the UK.
The Virus Can Be Stopped
But the United Nations health agency – WHO – has allayed the fears attributed to the new coronavirus variant.
Despite having a higher transmission rate, WHO’s emergencies chief, Michael Ryan, told reporters on Monday that the new strain was not yet out of control and could be contained using existing measures.
He noted that the world has had a much higher contamination rate at different points in the pandemic and they were brought under control.
“So, this situation is not in that sense out of control. But it cannot be left to its own devices. The measures we currently have in place are the correct measures,” Ryan said.
He added, “We need to do what we have been doing, we may just have to do it with a little more intensity and for a little longer to make sure we can bring this virus under control.
“In some senses, it means we have to work harder … even if the virus has become a little bit more efficient in spreading, the virus can be stopped.”