The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has asked students with symptoms of COVID-19 to stay at home as the resumption of the Senior Secondary School 3 begins this week nationwide.
The PTF faulted state governments asking students to produce results of their COVID-19 tests before resumption.
It said instead of compulsory test, which would only be valid for the period the test was conducted, students already showing symptoms of the virus should be asked to stay away.
The task force’s national coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, said these at the PTF press briefing in Abuja.
In preparation for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, the SSS3 students in Ogun and Benue would resume today, while their counterparts in Kano and Ekiti will resume on August 10.
Before it made a U-turn on Monday, the Ogun State Government had last week asked all boarding students to go for a compulsory COVID-19 test.
Parents, whose children are in private schools, on Sunday protested against the N25,000, which their children were asked to pay for the test.
But Aliyu while responding to a question on the issue pointed out that the status of somebody could only be confirmed as of the time the test was conducted.
He said, “It is only valid for that period of time; for that point in time when you had the swab taken. The next day, you could have a positive result, especially if you are in an incubation period.
“It is far more important to monitor for symptoms and check for temperature, and make sure that students that have symptoms of cough or any other respiratory symptoms are told to stay back at home and seek medical attention.
“This is far more useful than doing COVID-19 test before they resume. It is safer as well to monitor the students rather than test them at a particular point in time.”
Aliyu also announced that the PTF would on Thursday release new protocols in the next phase of efforts to curtail further spread of coronavirus in the country.
“I will like to also remind us all of the safety guidelines for the eased lockdown phase two, which we are currently in and this will continue to be in place until Thursday, August 6, when we will announce a new protocol for the third phase.”
Aliyu also noted that more countries were recording a second wave of the pandemic, forcing them back into lockdown.
He said, “The PTF will like to appeal to state governments and religious bodies to proactively prevent transmission of the virus by continuing to advocate and practise the approved preventive measures and guidelines. Specifically, we urge businesses that are reopening to align themselves to our efforts by establishing and practising COVID-sensitive business precautionary measures.”
Corroborating Aliyu, the Chairman of the task force, Boss Mustapha, said the new protocols would be released during the next briefing of the task force on Thursday after its sixth interim report must have been submitted to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
“As mentioned during our last press briefing of Monday, July 27, 2020, the PTF will submit its sixth interim report to Mr President and subject to his approval, we hope to present the way forward to Nigerians at the next briefing on Thursday, August 6, 2020,” Mustapha said.
For Nigerians who still harbour scepticism about the existence and the danger posed by the virus, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation urged all to imbibe a change of behaviour by complying with the non-pharmaceutical measures prescribed.
Mustapha said the PTF was also concluding discussions with the Independent National Electoral Commission on appropriate guidelines to be adopted for elections beginning with the August 8 bye-election in Nasarawa State to be followed by governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states in September and October respectively.”
The SGF also announced that as the ECOWAS Champion on the Containment of COVID-19 in West Africa, Buhari made a donation of N67m worth of PPE and medical supplies to Sao Tome and Principe.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, urged Nigerians not to forget all the measures put in place to protect themselves.
He said government’s objective was to reduce case fatalities to less than one per cent from the present two per cent while also working on innovative interventions with prospects of improving survival chances, especially for the elderly and those with co-morbidities.
He said, “We will work with state governments to prepare necessary space and human resources at the General Hospitals or PHCs, to be trained for setting up at least one sample collection site at every LGA in due course, with efficient sample retrieval logistics to convey samples to laboratories.
“For patients with significant clinical symptoms, we also plan the designation of holding rooms at General Hospitals, with facilities for oxygen administration, such as oxygen concentrators or from oxygen cylinders.
The minister said it was too early to draw conclusions from recent figures of confirmed cases.
He said measures had been put in place to check expected spike in the cases of coronavirus as educational and business activities picked up.
The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, while responding to a question on whether it was proper for private schools to charge fees for the third term, said, “It is important that you appreciate that private school owners are entitled to charge fees for the work they do.
“The person that runs a school may be a very passionate person about education. But they will still charge fees.”
In a related development, the Kano State Commissioner of Education, Sanusi Kiru, in an interview on Monday, said 11,046 SS3 students were expected to write the WASSCE.