The federal government has approved the extension of phase two eased lockdown by four weeks in order in order to control transmission of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Control of COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, said this at a briefing in Abuja Thursday.
He said the federal government deemed it necessary to ensure that restrictions were not completely relaxed in order to control transmission of the virus.
The SGF said the President Muhammadu Buhari has approved major changes in the revised guidelines including gradual re-opening of international air flights within established parameters, re-opening of rail transportation within established parameters, granting permission to exit classes to resume ahead of examinations, allowing civil servants from Grade Level 12 to resume work, and opening of recreational parks for supervised exercises.
He said assessment by the PTF revealed that despite the guidelines, there is an increased non-compliance with non-pharmaceutical prevention measures, lack of enforcement of necessary guidelines issued to preserve lives, and insufficient engagement by some states with the national response.
He said other issues include a lingering concern about the gap between identified cases and the actual burden of disease, and an apathy, fatigue and disbelief combining to challenge public enlightenment, compliance and behaviour change.
“To address these challenges and continue improving our National Response to eventually win the fight against the pandemic, the PTF reached the conclusion that for Nigeria, it is important to ensure that restrictions are not completely relaxed in order to control transmission. It is also important that at this Community Transmission Phase of the pandemic, sub-national governments step up to take more responsibilities by owning the response.
“To sustain gains already made, therefore, the PTF recommended to the President, the retention of the current phase of the response with minor changes to address economic, socio-political and health concerns. These measures are further outlined in the guidelines to be elaborated upon by the National Coordinator.
“It is however important to inform you that the major changes being proposed are aimed at achieving the following: Gradual re-opening of international air flights within established parameters; Re-opening of rail transportation within established parameters; Granting permission to exit classes to resume ahead of examinations; Allowing civil servants from Grade Level 12 to resume work; and Opening recreational parks for supervised exercises.
“After due consideration of the recommendations, Mr. President approved the following: Maintaining the current phase of the National Response to COVID-19 for another four weeks in line with the modifications reflected in the Report; Partnering with States and Local Governments to improve community sensitisation and engagement to the COVID-19 response; Mandating State authorities and the FCT, to enforce non-pharmaceutical guidelines, primarily the use of face masks in public appearance and places; Encouraging State Governments to collaborate with local government authorities to intensify necessary measures such as contact tracing, grassroots mobilisation and risk communication; and Strengthening of collaboration with other mandate groups at Federal/State levels to harmonise the country’s COVID-19 response, on the short, medium and long-term basis.
“This fight is for every one and that you must take responsibility. Disbelief and skepticism will further complicate our situation and we should not stigmatize anyone infected. Our Communities should own the response and educate our citizens,” he said.