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COVID-19 outbreak: FG imposes 5weeks partial lockdown nationwide

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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Following the spike in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria which could be described as second wave of infection experiencing across countries, the Nigerian Government has imposed 5weeks partial lockdown nationwide, as bars, restaurants others shut down and gatherings reduced to 50 people in the next five weeks.

The Chairman of Presidential Task Force PTF on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha made this known at a Press Conference in Abuja on Monday, while the surge is likely to be driven by the lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions, as a result of events linked to the yuletide season and recent civil demonstrations.

According to him, “​Recent Epidemiology records confirm to the PTF that Nigeria is now facing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide which is similar to the second wave of infections occurring in other countries across the world. Particularly, Lagos, Kaduna and the FCT have emerged as the new epicentres during this period, with over 70% of all confirmed cases.

“The result of the analysis carried out by the PTF further indicate that the current pattern of spread, and the surge is likely to be driven by the following factors: the lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions particularly the disregard for mask use in public, large gatherings as a result of events linked to the yuletide season and recent civil demonstrations.

“Further disregard for other public health preventive measures, such as hand hygiene and physical distance requirements; The activities and assumptions of our youthful population which has resulted in an increase in the infection rate among young people, who are subsequently infecting older and more vulnerable family members”, he said.

He added that President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammad Buhari has authorised the PTF to engage with the States and the FCT to assume full ownership of this stage of the response by deploying legal structures and resources, including enforcement to manage the pandemic within their jurisdictions.

“In line with the authorisation, the PTF wishes to issue the following advisories to sub-national entities for implementation over the next five weeks because these activities are considered super spreader events: Close All bars, night clubs, pubs and event centres, and recreational venues; Close all restaurants except those providing services to hotel residents; takeaways, home deliveries and drive-ins shall remain closed;

“Restrict all informal and formal festivity events including weddings, conferences, congresses, office parties, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, end of year events shall be restricted to not more than 50 persons; Limit All gatherings linked to religious events to less than 50% capacity of the facility of use during which physical distancing; mandatory use of face masks shall be strictly enforced

“Where more than 50 persons are attending, any such events, the gathering should be held outdoors only; Public transportation systems are to carry passengers not more than 50% of their capacity in compliance with social distancing rules. Enforce compliance with NPI protocols especially the advisory on wearing of face masks in public spaces;

“To reduce overcrowding in public spaces, markets, shopping centres, offices and schools States are advised to implement the following: Encourage virtual meetings in government Offices. The leadership of such offices are to ensure that all offices are well-ventilated offices, and encourage staff to work from home where possible.

“All government staff on GL.12 and below are to stay at home for the next 5 weeks; Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executives are to be held accountable for enforcing NPI rules in their domains with frequent spot checks; The PTF on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Education, expects that schools would have vacated from the 18th December 2020 and remain closed till at least the 18th of January, 2021 to enable the measures introduced to take effect.

“All persons above the age of 60yrs and/or with comorbidities are to be encouraged to stay at home and avoid crowds; All non-essential travels both domestic and international during the holiday season are seriously discouraged; To strengthen risk communication and community engagement activities over the next 5 weeks, States are encouraged to; Engage community and religious leaders, arrange town hall meetings (ideally set outdoors) to address concerns.

“Intensify public messaging activities, leveraging on existing government and partner assets; Reach out to youths and younger adults with health promotion activities; Invest in local face mask purchase and distribution to the general public to encourage use.

“Where applicable, the PTF shall also implement these authorisations. For example, it shall work with the Nigeria Immigration Service to impose sanctions on all in-bound travellers who violated the travel protocols and endangered the lives of their loved ones and other citizens by refusing to take the post-arrival test.

“The PTF will similarly work with the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to implement aspects related to the Public Service. A lot of discussion is still going on around the calls for the restriction of international travels due to the discovery of new strains of the virus in certain countries.

“The PTF, Aviation and health authorities including the WHO , are assessing the situation closely and would take a position as soon as cogent scientific basis are established. The protection of Nigerians remains our primary concern and we reassure Nigerians of our resolve not to relent”, he said.

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