By Idowu Abdullahi,
The Federal Government has announced the extension of the gradual ease of lockdown in the country for additional period of two weeks, saying the nation is not yet ripe for total reopening of the economy and lifting of all lockdown protocols.
It explained that the need to maintain a delicate balance between health safety of the citizens and economic survival of country had necessitated the extension to further asses the government efforts and restrategize on measures to adopt for full reopening.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, had during his nationwide broadcast of 27th April, 2020, announced a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory along with additional nationwide measures aimed at ensuring that the country’s economy continued to function within the limiting constraints posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, revealed that will remain in force for another two weeks to consolidate on the success recorded in the first two weeks while ensuring that the health system alongside economy were in position to adequately respond to any potential effect or secondary outbreak.
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, disclosed this at the daily briefing of the task force in Abuja, on Monday, saying the ban on all inter-state movements will still be maintained while strict enforcement of curfew will commence with the extension.
“Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace.Advisedly, the current phase of eased restriction will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures will be pursued.
“The two weeks extension of Phase One of the eased restriction is also to enable other segments of the economy to prepare adequately for compliance with the guidelines, preparatory to reopening in the coming weeks.
“Mr President has approved the following: (i) The measures, exemptions, advisories, and scope of entities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased locked down, shall be maintained across the federation for another two weeks effective from 12 00 midnight today (18th May, 2020 to 1st June, 2020);
“(ii) intensifying efforts to ‘tell (communicate), trace (identify) and treat (manage)’ cases;
“(iii) elevating the level of community ownership of non-pharmaceutical interventions;
“(iv) Maintain the existing lockdown order in Kano for an additional two weeks;
“(v) Imposition of precision lockdown in states, or in metropolitan/high-burden LGAs, that are reporting a rapidly increasing number of cases, when the need arises. This would be complemented with the provision of palliatives and continued re-evaluation of the impact of the interventions; and
“(vi) Aggressive scale-up of efforts to ensure that communities are informed, engaged and participating in the response with enhanced public awareness in high-risk states,” he said.
According to him, the PTF will continue to support states by developing guidelines to shape decision-making for future steps in the response against the deadly respiratory disease and ensure the people are duly informed of the government efforts toward gaining control against the virus.
The steps, he said, will help consolidate the gains recorded by the governments, and position the country to effectively overcome the pandemic within its borders.