The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, has said the task force would not shy from advising President Muhammadu Buhari to lock down the country once again should the country require such a measure.
Mustapha noted that while a lockdown might not be a necessary course of action, its imposition will be determined by the increase in COVID-19 infections across the country in the preceding weeks.
He said the PTF would on Thursday hold a review of the national response to the pandemic having crossed the three months threshold of its lifespan.
The body will also prepare its mid-term report.
The SGF noted that the government decided to relax the lockdown in order to restart the economy and balance life in the light of the projection by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the economy will shrink by 5.4 per cent by the end of the year as a result of the effect of the pandemic on global economy.
He noted that Madagascar, in spite of the much-touted potency of its herbal mixture for the cure of COVID-19 has imposed a lockdown likewise the 39 states in the United States, which have begun to see an explosion in infections after they rushed to reopen their economies after the first wave of infection.
He also cited the Galicia region, a province of 70,000 people in Catalonia, Spain, which locked down and isolated after a spike in COVID- 19 cases and in 11 local government areas in Nigeria.
” Whether I will advise the president on another lockdown will depend on the experience of what is happening globally where the fatalities have shown that the virus is not relaxing. We should not allow the experience of 1918 to repeat itself.
“During the Spanish Flu, which lasted for two years, 500 million people were infected with about 50 million fatalities. The danger of the flu came about in the second phase when the government relaxed quarantine and the people jumped onto the streets. The recklessness led to more deaths until a vaccine was discovered.
”We are yet to peak and will not peak until September. We are in the thick of war and COVID-19 has not relaxed; it is still virulent and dangerous,” Mustapha said.
He added that it is not within the powers of the task force to enforce at the national level the use of face masks in the public or criminalise the failure of members of the public to use it.
However, the members of the PTF held a meeting yesterday with the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to discuss the enforcement as well as the public apathy to the use of face masks as a precaution for the spread of the virus.
Mustapha, however, conceded that it is the duty of the state governments and the FCT to enforce the use of face masks having set up mobile courts to prosecute violators as well as being signatories to the quarantine law.
Meanwhile the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Ms. Sadiya Farouk Umar, has flayed the report by the UN Habitat on the flight of internally displaced persons in North-east.
Umar described the report as quite alarming and worrisome as the federal government had made the provision of monthly food ration to the IDPs a priority in order to mitigate the condition they have found themselves.