The Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 has warned states against re-opening of schools and other places where people can gather in large numbers, as it is not yet safe to do so.
This is just as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said the lockdown was eased to save lives.
Chairman of PTF/Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who gave the warning yesterday in Abuja, said the task force received reports that some states were contemplating the re-opening of schools, television viewing centres, sports stadia and other public places.
He said, “The PTF re-emphasises that it is not yet safe to do so and that utmost caution should be exercised. The PTF guideline should still be complied with while considering decision of this nature.”
Mustapha disclosed that in the course of monitoring compliance across the nation, PTF observed an escalation of the level of non-compliance to keep physical distance, wear masks in public places, sanitation and hygiene, especially in markets, motor parks and some places of worship.
According to him, PTF has already issued guidelines for mode of operations at places of worship, urging state’s to embark on community testing.
His words, “We wish to re-emphasise that all relaxed measures are still subject to review and advisories issued are for personal and public safety purposes. The breach of the ban on inter-state travels is also a point of concern.
“The PTF appeals to state governments to embark on wider community testing, enforce rules on social distancing, step up community engagement and risk communication as well as pay attention to places of large gatherings. We also appeal to security agencies to enforce the ban on inter-state travels very strictly.”
The SGF noted that in line with the revised protocols, the evacuation of Nigerians stranded abroad had resumed, adding that the country received 269 Nigerians from India and 102 from Egypt.
All the evacuees tested negative before boarding the plane and would be re-tested within 72-hours of arrival in Nigeria, he added.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, observed that “COVID-19 would be with us for a long time,” adding that the ministry had developed a Health Sector Response Plan to cover the next three years divided into near, medium and long term.
On his part, Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, lamented that the PTF has seen increase in “high risk behaviour that leads to increase in cases.”
He added, “We eased the lockdown not because we wanted to, but to save lives. But we need to take responsibility. We need to make personal sacrifice and hard choices.”