President Muhammed Buhari has approved the reopening of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camps and schools nationwide.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, at a press briefing yesterday in Abuja, said the resumption of the NYSC camps was one of the major changes proposed by the PTF in its eighth interim report approved by Buhari to enable the national response against the pandemic to proceed to the next phase.
The NYSC orientation camps are to reopen on November 10 after they were locked down seven months ago in order to curb to spread of COVID-19.
Also approved by the president is the removal of the limitation on civil servants allowed to come to work.
With the approval, civil servants below Grade Level 12 are to report to duty from Monday.
The federal government has also approved the restart of sporting leagues, in particular all outdoor activities such as football and sustaining the midnight to 4 a.m. curfew on movement nationwide.
Mustapha said the PTF had concluded arrangements to test additional 100,000 persons at the various NYSC orientation camps nationwide, upon resumption while full COVID-19 protocols would be observed.
He added that guidelines have been designed in conjunction with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in conjunction with NYSC for preparation for the reopening of the orientation camps.
According to him, all youth corps members are to be tested for COVID-19 prior to commencement of orientation programmes.
Mustapha also said the president had approved the extension of the third phase of the national response to COVID-19 for a period of four weeks.
The extension is with effect from 00.01 am on Monday and is in line with amendments to address economic, socio-political and health considerations.
Buhari also gave the PTF the nod to continue engagement with states and local government areas to improve community sensitisation and sample collection while monitoring the impact of school re-opening and the commencement of international travel and enforcing compliance with the protocols set out for the safe resumption of schools.
The PTF has also concluded arrangements to execute the National Testing Week as part of the arrangements to ramp up testing.
Mustapha said over 27,000 international passengers had arrived in Nigeria since the resumption of international flights.
He said: ”The PTF, however, noted the huge challenge posed to our national response by states as a result of poor engagement, which manifests strongly in the form of low level of sample collection across the country.
“As at date, only the FCT and Lagos have achieved the target of testing one per cent of its population followed by three states that have crossed 50% (Plateau, Gombe and Rivers).
“Twenty-six others are yet to measure up to 25 per cent. This is considered a serious problem which is further compounded by the increasing general apathy and disbelief about the risk of COVID-19 in Nigeria.”
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, also said the level of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions did not support a complete relaxation and easing of restrictions.
He said sustained reduction in new cases nationwide, reduction in death rate to less than one per cent, reduction of case positivity rate to less than five per cent and placing of measures to manage potential secondary outbreaks were used to evaluate the success of the current phase of the response.
Aliyu said the lifting of restriction on outdoor sporting activities, including football, was in line with earlier consultation with the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development and NCDC, adding that mass gathering is still restricted from football as it is an opportunity for the virus to spread.