COVID-19: Buhari Lifts Ban on Interstate Movement, Reopens Schools for Graduating Classes.
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government Monday lifted the ban on interstate movement with effect from July 1, but extended the Phase Two of the eased lockdown (10pm-4am curfew) by another four weeks with effect from June 30 through midnight of July 27.
The government also gave permission to safe re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes (Primary 6, Junior and Senior Secondary Schools) resume in-person in preparation for examinations.
Buhari, besides, approved the safe reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable.
Speaking in Abuja at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and task force Chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said: “I am pleased to inform you that Mr. President has carefully considered the 5th Interim Report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, the Phase Two of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020 through Midnight of Monday, 27 July, 2020.
“Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect:
“Maintaining the current phase of the national response, for another four weeks in line with modifications to be expatiated by the National Coordinator;
“Permission of movement across state borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July, 2020;
“Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by States, in particular, the use of face masks in public places;
“Safe re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations;
“Safe reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable;
“Publication of revised guidelines around the three thematic areas of general movement, industry and labour; and community activities;
“Provision of technical support for states to mobilise additional resources for the response;
“Strengthening partnerships with states, local governments, traditional rulers, community/religious leaders and civil society to ensure increased public awareness and compliance with preventive guidelines;
“Encouraging state governments to empower local government authorities to intensify contact tracing efforts and ensure stronger grassroots mobilisation to support the response;
“Encourage states and hospital authorities to ensure continuity of other health services to prevent fatalities from other life-threatening conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
“Deepening of collaboration with other mandate groups at States/Federal levels to harmonise the country’s COVID-19 response in the short, medium and long terms.”
While explaining that the task force’s National Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu, would in due course announce and publish the details of the revised guidelines, he added that relevant ministries, departments and agencies including education, transportation and aviation would respectively consult further with stakeholders and issue guidelines for their sectors.
Mustapha admitted that Nigeria’s statistics has been on the rise astronomically, explaining that for eight out of the days the daily numbers exceeded 500.
He noted that for every detected case, there’s a high possibility that up to five persons have not submitted to testing and therefore not detected.
Explaining that PTF in conjunction with sub-national entities, the organised private sector have put in places a number of measures, SGF added that the task force has also escalated its activities around risk communication to Nigerians.
He however said the task force has observed “with growing concern the non-compliances with these measures designed to prevent transmission and protect vulnerable segments of the population. We hold the strong view that if such actions do not abate, experiences of resurgence of the virus from other jurisdictions including China, the United States of America, Brazil and across Europe may emerge in Nigeria and we run the risk of erasing the gains made in the last three months.”
Mustapha added that by way of a reminder, “there is presently no known vaccine for the virus and that all over the world non-pharmaceutical measures still remain the most effective fighting opportunity we have for overcoming this pandemic.”
To further strengthen the Federal Government’s National Response, he said PTF in the intervening period vigorously built partnerships locally and internationally.
“Similarly, we fully have decentralised the National Response with state governments and communities taking ownership and more responsibility. These efforts have greatly improved our ability to maximally detect, trace, isolate and treat nationwide successfully.
“The PTF has also continued to pursue the strategic thrust of ‘telling (communicate), tracing (identify) and treating (manage)’ cases, with a stronger focus on precision interventions in high burdened local government areas within identified states of the federation. This precision intervention will be signposted by:
“Aggressive scaling up of efforts to ensure effective community protection and sensitisation; and
“Increased provision of support and guidance to states in their response to the outbreak.”
He enumerated areas of focus the state governments should concentrate on including: the spread has entered the community phase which only states and local government areas should drive; the inaction of a particular state could endanger its neighbours and compromise the entirety of the response; and sates would be encouraged to make considerable efforts to ensure a push for compliance within the guidelines issued by the PTF.
Others are: states must also take greater care in leading on public health measures in the local government areas under their jurisdiction, by working on surveillance, case finding, testing, isolation, tracing and quarantining contacts; and the Federal Government would predicate its resource deployment to states on the level of compliance and the extent of collaboration received on this public health emergency.
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