COVID-19: It’s too dangerous to relax current lockdown, says FG

COVID-19: It's too dangerous to relax the current lockdown, says FG
President Muhammadu Buhari

By Omeiza Ajayi

ABUJA – The Federal Government has announced an extension of the current partial lockdown of the country, saying the time is not ripe for it to relax its containment protocols against the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on Covid-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha announced this Monday in Abuja during the daily briefing of the Taskforce.

​Equally, the existing lockdown in Kano has been extended for an additional two weeks while there will be imposition of “precision lockdown” in states, or in metropolitan/high-burden local government areas, that are reporting a rapidly increasing number of cases, when the need arises.

He said; “the reality is that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority. Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace.​

“Advisedly, the current phase of eased restriction will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures will be pursued.

“The two weeks extension of Phase one of the eased restriction is also to enable other segments of the economy prepare adequately for compliance with the guidelines, preparatory to reopening in the coming weeks. For the PTF, we share your pains but our future is in the hands of every Nigerian and future decisions will depend greatly on our compliance”.

Reasons for extension

Mustapha also advanced reasons for the continued extension of the eased lockdown.

He said; “To arrive at our final recommendations to Mr. President, we objectively and frankly interrogated certain critical factors and wish to inform you as follows: Is the transmission of the virus under control: –
Measures put in place have collectively slowed down the transmission of the Virus e.g. elongating the doubling time which has changed from 7 to 11 days;

“Is the health care system equipped to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every person who came in contact with a positive case: Health care system has been better equipped to detect, test, isolate and treat every case, and trace every person who came into contact with a positive case with the increase in the number of laboratories from 15 to 26; ramping up of testing to a cumulative total of 35,098;

“Are outbreaks minimized in special settings like health facilities and Nursing homes: Though we have recorded infection of a number of medical personnel in our facilities, which is not peculiar to Nigeria, we have increased their training in care management and provided additional Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE);

“Are there measures in workplaces and schools to prevent the spread of the virus: With the gradual reopening of workplaces, markets, schools, etc, prescriptions have been made for the prevention of infection and spread of the virus;

“Are the risks of importing more cases from outside the country being managed: The risks associated with importation has been seriously minimised with the ban flights, closure of borders and the mandatory 14 days quarantine for any one arriving Nigeria; and

“Are local communities educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the ‘new norm’: Engagement with communities and other stakeholders has now become the new focus of our strategy.

“The inevitable conclusion of the PTF, is that the fight against COVID-19 is long term as the virus is not likely to go away very soon. This is further underscored by the fact that no vaccine is expected till around the end of 2021. Nigeria is not where we wish to be in terms of control, ownership, infrastructure and change of behavior. We must do more”.

Minister of State, Heath, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora on his part announced that the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control NCDC is collaborating with development partners to engage influential religious leaders in Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara states to complement the community mobilization activities of our community health workers.

“They will also facilitate awareness creation on COVID-19 in the rural communities as well as support our efforts to ramp up community testing. In addition, we have Commenced Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) training specifically for the Almajirai in Kano

“A Ministerial team of expert has been dispatched to Calabar on a scoping mission to engage with State authorities and determine material and technical needs. The mission to Sokoto was successful and the team is presently in Maiduguri to support the state. A curious finding in Sokoto is the cluster of COVID-19 cases in only one local government area”, he added.

Yar’Adua Family Supports FCTA

Meanwhile, the family of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, has donated food and personal protective gears to the Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA to support its response against the Covid-19 pandemic in the territory.

Representative of the family under the aegis of Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation, Malam Abdullahi Umaru Yar’Adua, while presenting the items to the administration commended the doggedness of all health workers, stressing that their dedication to service in these challenging times should serve as an example to other professional bodies.

Yar’Adua, also commended the efforts of the federal government, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, FCT Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on Covid-19 and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control for their diligence in service.

“My family, NGO (Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation) and I extend our deepest respect and gratitude to the government of Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Presidential Task Force on Control of Covid-19, FCT Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on Covid-19, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and to all those working in the healthcare profession for their selfless commitment and diligence as they undertake vitally important roles in our country’s fight against the ongoing pandemic.

“In difficult times, we often discover the best in ourselves, the dedication to service of doctors, nurses, lab technicians and other health workers, in these challenging times, is an example to us all,” Yar’Adua stated.

While receiving the items on behalf of the Administration, FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, commended the Yar’Adua family for the kind gesture.

She said: “We are happy to receive our former first family eminently represented by three eminent sons. This donation will no doubt go a long way to cushion the effect of Covid-19 on the residents of the territory and by extension entire Nigerians.

“To me it is special because it is exemplary. This is a way to tell others that you can move out of your comfort zone to touch lives. In touching lives, you will not know that the little gesture might go a long way also to assist other people. This is telling us that they do care in the performance of their corporate social responsibility”.

Items donated include 1000 pieces of N 95 face masks, 13,000 pieces of surgical masks, 1,800 bars of soap, 23,100 sachets of detergent, 100 cartons of macaroni, 100 bags of Semovita and 100 bags of rice.

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