FG: Data will Determine Reopening of Tertiary Institutions


Says youths account for 46% of COVID-19 cases Eight states, FCT account for 70% of tests

By Olawale Ajimotokan and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government through the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Emeka Nwajiuba has said the decision on the full reopening of tertiary institutions and others, will be reached after the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 evaluates all the necessary data presented before it.

This is coming as the government has also said that 46 per cent of those that have tested positive to the pandemic in the country are the youths, just as only eight states of the federation and the FCT accounted for 70 per cent of the tests carried out so far, with Lagos State accounting for 25 per cent of the 70 per cent tests.

Nwajiuba made this clarification yesterday when the members of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 addressed the media.

The minister said he held a meeting with some owners of private universities yesterday in relation to the reopening of the tertiary institutions.

He also reiterated the appeal which some stakeholders had made to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to place a moratorium on strike actions for the next three years, in order to allow the Nigerian university system to rebuild itself before they start further agitations.

“We are working with science and data and when the country is ready to reopen, I do not believe that ASUU will be unreasonable or illogical about resuming. They have over 10, 000 professors out of nearly 65, 000 lecturers and I am almost confident that they would know as well as we do that the children need to go back to school as long as we are ready,” Nwajiuba said. The eight states accounting for the 75 per cent COVID-19 tests alongside the FCT, include, Lagos, Kano, Plateau, Oyo, Kaduna, Edo, Ogun and Rivers.

The federal government said that it is currently investigating healthcare-associated infection in a health facility in Kaduna State.

Speaking during the media briefing, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said that COVID-19 has had significant impact oN the young people.

He said: “As at yesterday, (Wednesday) 46 per cent of positive cases in the country are young people between of ages 21-40”.

Ehanire also expressed concern over the resurgence of infection among healthcare workers.

He said that in a bid to sustain the gains the country has made in reducing the rate of infection among the health workers, the ministry has embarked training and retraining of health workers on infection prevention and control.

In Abia state, Ehanire said the ministry has concluded the training of 594 healthcare workers from private and public health facilities on infection prevention and control. “We are currently investigating healthcare associated infection in a health facility in Kaduna State. Lessons learnt from this will be used to improve service delivery.

Ehanire spoke of the plan to carry out tests on at least one percentage of the country’s over 200 million population.

“Our target remains to test one per cent of our population across the country. As of today, more than 70 per cent of all the tests conducted have been in nine states including Lagos, Kano, FCT, Plateau, Oyo, Kaduna, Edo Ogun Rivers with 25 per cent of the tests in Lagos alone.

We shall continue to work with state governments to ramp up case findings and sample collection activities,” he said.

Also speaking, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama said he could not explain how he contracted COVID-19.

The minister, who tested positive for the virus three weeks ago, attended the PTF meeting and media briefing yesterday, after he had recovered and tested negative to the virus.

He said he caught the virus despite adhering to all the safety protocols.

He expressed gratitude to the PTF Chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha and other members for keeping his moral high while in isolation.

In his speech, Mustapha also confirmed that 684 out of the 14,906 Nigerians who were evacuated from other parts of the world in the heat of the pandemic tested positive for COVID-19.

He also said that close to 80 per cent of those evacuated were youths.