• Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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FG alarmed by gross violation of rules on lock-down easing


The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Coronavirus pandemic on Monday raised alarm over what it saw as gross violation of guidelines it had announced on ease of lockdown across the country, promising to prosecute and apply tough sanctions against offenders.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and Chairman of the PTF COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, while noting that there has been large scale violation of the regulations, particularly on use of face masks and observing social distance, said the PTF has been monitoring the level of compliance with some of the measures. “Early observations showed lack of compliance with social distancing and wearing of masks,” Mustapha stated at the daily briefing of the committee in Abuja.

This is just Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria has indicated interest to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be part of the global solidarity trial of medicines being made to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

He lamented the particularly chaotic scenes around the banks and other financial institutions on the first day of implementation of the guidelines, and reminded Nigerians  that “the danger of infection is not over, adding that “individual actions will contribute to the success or failure of our measures”

He therefore, urged citizens to minimize the risk of getting infected while trying to transact in the banks.

Mustapha similarly, urged the “banks to ensure that their ATMs and online banking systems are in good order and stocked regularly to avoid convergence of customers in their premises”

He disclosed that “State Governments and Security agencies have however, been advised to enforce the measures rigidly and violators will be prosecuted

“Let me remind you, once more, that this easing up is in phases and those who are permitted to open have clearly been defined. Our admonition to Nigerians is that it is still desirable to stay at home if there is no compelling reason to go out and to comply with the measures always, whether at home or not.

“The determination of government to enforce this policy is not in doubt and as we progress, we believe that proper alignment with the directives of Mr. President would be pursued.

The SGF also noted a very noticeable relocation of Almajiris from one state to another, adding that the PTF would engage with the respective State Governments on how to achieve their objectives.

“It is imperative that I re-iterate the importance of adherence to the guidelines more so that preliminary reports indicate that there is observable high level of breaches by the citizenry.

He however assured that the rights of Nigerians, as well as their lives and property will be protected, while also passionately appealing to Nigerians to desist from attacking security personnel in the discharge of their duties and not recourse to taking the laws into their hands.

Mustapha who stated that the PTF has also received reports about medical facilities and doctors turning back sick patients for fear of their illnesses being COVID-19 related, appealed to these facilities especially public hospitals not to neglect treatment of other ailments because such actions have resulted in avoidable deaths.

Ehanire said efforts are also on to conduct research in Nigeria on Covid-19 drugs.

According to him, other drugs can be added to the trials based on emerging evidence but in all this, the authorities will ensure the maintenance of ethical standards and safety of the Nigerian people.

He stated that the Federal Ministry of Health is strengthening its support for Kano State Ministry of Health with service delivery and training, in consultation with the Governor to curb the alarming spread of the killer virus in the Nigeria’s Center of Commerce.

“NPHCDA is working with the State primary health/community health workforce to sensitize the population on covid-19, at grassroots level and expand our testing capacity. I again call on all citizens to cooperate with health workers and for those testing positive to comply with invitations to enter Isolation care”.

Ehanire restated that the country is in community transmission mode and the strategy is to take all persons who test positive to Isolation, even if they have no symptoms, so that they do not risk infecting others, who may be more vulnerable, due to other diseases.

Speaking on the ease lockdown, the Health Minister reminded citizens that this phase comes with added responsibility to be extra vigilant and compliant with the accompanying measures and  guidelines that are meant to assure that the country does not lose the health gains made so far, while cautiously opening options for citizens to rebuild their livelihoods.

He said since the country’s COVID-19 statistics are of considerable concern, attention has also been drawn to the fact that countries which eased or lifted restrictions, suffered an increase in new cases. Although Nigeria’s projection already features increasing number of cases, even with the lockdown,  he believed that redoubling efforts to adhere to government directives, can keep figures within control range of the COVID-19.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also expressed dismay over compliance to the ease of lockdown guidelines rolled out by the federal government to mitigate transmission of Covid-19.

The DG regretted that more infections will be recorded today and tomorrow due to the failure of Nigerians and even corporate Organizations across the country to adhere to the guidelines, especially banks which were allowed to commence operations today.

Ihekweazu warned that if the trend continues, there will be an explosion of infection and the Nigerian government will have to send Nigerians back to their homes.

“Today some of the measures are being teased, initial reports are not to pleasing across the country.

“In easing the lockdown, banks were allowed to open, many banks have limited the number of branches opened, there is a benefit to that, but when you limit the number of branches opened everybody goes to the one branch that is open and that becomes counter-productive.

“We will have infections because of what happened today no doubt about that. We knew today will be a problem and tomorrow. But, what we don’t want is an explosion of new infections. If we do have that explosion there will be no choice from the leadership of the country, than to ask everyone to go back to their homes.

“Today, we might forgive a little, because it was the first day, we can learn from today’s mistake.  The challenge for us is how to organise ourselves to mitigate the risk and limit transmission form each other,” the DG said

He therefore appealed to everyone across the country, to take responsibility and work with government to mitigate the risk and limit transmission so that Nigeria can come out of the outbreak even without a vaccine.

The DG said earlier that government is now focusing its attention and resources on Kano. He however noted that Lagos will continue to get the needed support, which still has the largest number of covid-19 cases.

According to him, Lagos has about 50 percent of all the cases in Nigeria.

The DG said the NCDC team is in the reactivated Laboratories in Kano to ensure that things are working well so the last situation where some staff tested positive to the Virus does not repeat.

“We do have a long-term plan for the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Laboratory to become centre of excellence for molecular Laboratory testing in the country,” Ihekweazu said.

He noted that the short-term challenge in Kano is the need to test more and the long-term challenge is to build up Kano laboratory diagnostic capacity now and in the future.

The DG explained that the recent spike in number of cases is because more samples are being tested. He however said Nigeria is not yet utilising fully its texting capacity.

He said the centre is working hard to reduce turnaround time, which is aa challenge for covid-19 testing.

Minister of Environment, Muhammad Mahmoud, in his remark said plans are on  to initiate programs on disinfecting schools ahead of the re-opening.

“We are initiating programmes to disinfect our schools before they re-open. I believe we will get to the point of opening schools as we have been liaising with the federal ministry of education to make sure we have the need data to map out the exercise”.