COVID-19: PTF includes farming in essential service, plots return of total lockdown


The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19 Mr Boss Mustapha said Thursday that the federal government may be forced to re-introduce total lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Kano and other parts of the country.
Addressing journalists at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force in Abuja, the SGF said the level of compliance to the safety rules outlined by government to curtail the spread of the coronavirus across the country is unsatisfactory.
He said even though about 1,070 Nigerians who contracted the virus have been discharged from various isolation centres, a lot needs to be done to stop spread of COVID-19 in the country.

He said Nigerians who returned from United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States of America appear to be the worst culprits in breaching the quarantine measures put in place by government.

“In the past two days, the PTF has briefed the topmost decision-making bodies of the country on progress, challenges and planned course of action. The objective was to seek further guidance and fresh ideas to improve the fight against COVID-19. The briefing was robust and very helpful in bringing renewed cohesion into the efforts of government.

“We will continue our assessment of the level of compliance with the guidelines and the impact on slowing down the spread of COVID 19. In due course, we shall make further recommendations before the second phase commences.

“I must, however, state that our initial evaluation point firmly in the direction of a high level of non-compliance which, as we have often warned, portend grave self-inflicted danger. This fact has made it imperative for me to re-echo our call for taking personal responsibility.
“The PTF reported the progress made with the evacuation of some Nigerians from the UAE, UK & USA. We also informed you about the mandatory quarantine protocol. Nigerians have in recent days been served with different audio-visual clips by some of these returnees.

“The PTF is saddened by the conduct of some of the returnees who fail to adhere to the conditions attached to their quarantine. I strongly urge them to obey the rules in the facilities and also urge their friends and relations to recognize the contagious nature of the disease by desisting from visiting them. Complying is in the interest of the visiting relation and in the overall public interest.

“You must abide with the guidelines (wash your hands as frequently as necessary; use hand sanitizers; maintain social distancing, use a face mask or covering in public places). In addition, you must comply with the ban on inter-state travels, avoid crowded places, observe the curfew and do all you can to stay home and stay safe,” he said.

The SGF said food security was now a paramount issue, stressing that farmers have now been included in the list of essential service providers, and should be given unhindered access to their farming locations.
“You will recall that when the new measures were rolled out and published, we ensured that certain economic activities pertaining to food production and distribution were exempted.
“This, for the avoidance of doubts includes farming activities. We recognize the fact that we are in the planting season and the nation cannot afford to prevent our hardworking farmers from going to their farms.

“We therefore use this medium to reemphasize that farmers fall within the list of exemptions and urge State Governors, Local Government Authorities and security agencies to please allow them to carry out their activities. Our food security is critical to our national security,” he said.

On the increase on the rate of infection and discharge made so far, the SGF said the statistics on COVID-19 have continued to come out daily and the indications are that the testing strategy is yielding results.
“The PTF wishes to congratulate all our frontline health workers that havecollectively nursed back to health, a total of 1,071 Nigerians already discharged from the various isolation treatment centres. These health workers have put in all, even beyond the call of duty, to save lives.

“We also congratulate all those that have been discharged and urge them to come out and tell their stories. We need to tell Nigerians that COVID-19 is real, that it is deadly and that prevention is better than cure. There is no better convincing and compelling evidence of the reality of the dangers than your experience,” he said.

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