The federal government yesterday warned of another lockdown if Nigerians continue to disregard non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19.
It also cautioned schools against demanding COVID-19 test results as a prerequisite for allowing in students, who resumed studies yesterday.
The resumption of schools was, however, characterised by low compliance with COVID-19 protocols in many states,
Also, as the nation grapples with the outbreak of the second wave of COVID-19, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has issued a health advisory to all churches in the country to check the rising infection rate.
At its briefing yesterday in Abuja, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 urged Nigerians to do everything possible to avoid a second lockdown in Nigeria by ensuring strict compliance with the NPIs.
The Chairman of PTF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said this can be done by complying with the protocols released by the government.
He said: “Let me remind you that the pandemic is raging and all tiers of government and citizens must keep their hands on deck.
“We are in a difficult situation in which a balance must continue to be struck between lives and livelihood.
“We are considering all options while hoping that broad cooperation will be received.
“We must do everything possible to avoid a second lockdown in Nigeria.”
Mustapha raised the alarm that South Africa and Nigeria have continued to report highest daily count on the African continent, adding that South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Algeria and Kenya accounted for 76 per cent of all cases on the continent.
Mustapha said one in every five persons tested last week was positive for the virus.
He added that Nigeria has moved up to the third position in the highest cumulative case load while it remains second for new cases and fifth highest in cumulative deaths on the WHO African region.
Also speaking at the PTF briefing, the Coordinator of PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said the federal government was ramping up testing for COVID-19 nationwide with a directive to all the 774 local government areas of the federation to test between 400 and 500 samples within the next three weeks.
Aliyu, represented by the National Incident Manager, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Mukhtar Muhammed, stated that the federal government is working with state governors to ensure that funding and logistics arrangements are put in place for the exercise.
He added that though the task force has noticed substantial improvement in the level of compliance with the airport travel protocol by international travellers arriving in the country, the PFT will publish the list of another 100 persons who have defaulted by failing to book their second test.
“With regard to airport travel protocol, the PTF was forced to sanction defaulters of established protocols by placing them on a six-month travel restriction as a standard practice that public notices are issued by arms of government on important issues. The PTF after consultation with relevant agencies published the names of the first 100 defaulters and subsequently reached out to a large number of those affected with a view to resolving their complaints.
“We have started noticing a great improvement in compliance and testing following the sanctions that have been published. We will be publishing the list of another 100 persons who have defaulted. This time, these are people who have failed to book their second tests in the laboratories,” Aliyu said.
He added that the federal government has commenced activities in the maritime sector in order to have better control and containment in that area.
A special Task Team on COVID-19 for the Niger Delta and the maritime sector has been inaugurated to develop a protocol for implementation in both the formal and informal waterways.
The team includes all the states in the Niger Delta and the riverine areas. The membership includes Rivers, Delta, Edo, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ondo and Bayelsa States.
It will be supported by government agencies including, NIMASA, NNPC, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Nigeria Navy Operations Delta Safe.
“With the implementation of these protocols, we hope to implement more testing on the waterway corridors with a view to identifying people who are coming without PCR test and to offer them the opportunity to test and to also have isolation,” he said.