NIGERIA’S presidential task force (PTF) on Covid-19 has warned that it may be forced to introduce another national lockdown to combat the spread of the virus as the current limited measures are not working due to the nonchalance of the members of the public.
As of today, Nigeria has 29,286 cases of coronavirus of which there have been 654 fatalities but despite that the figures are relatively low, the numbers are rising. Over recent weeks, the government has eased most of the restrictions, allowing inter-state travel and re-opening airports but this was on the condition that members of the public would observe certain guidelines including social distancing and wearing facemasks in public.
However, the vast majority of Nigerians have ignored the guidelines and go about their business as if Covid-19 never existed. Exasperated with the total disregard for all the health warnings, Boss Mustapha, the secretary to the federal government and chairman of the presidential task force on Covid-19, has warned that a fresh national lockdown might be necessary.
Mr Mustapha said the increasing rate of Covid-19 cases among people in government was directly impacting on governance and security in the country. He advised prominent Nigerians to take Covid-19 protocols seriously, pointing out the virus does not respect status.
Recently governors David Umahi of Ebonyi, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State have contracted the virus and had to go into isolation. According to Mr Mustapha, if this trend continues over coming weeks, the PTF may have no choice but to consider another national lockdown.
Mr Mustapha said: “Of recent, we have witnessed a high rate of positive cases especially among people in authority, which has a direct impact on governance and security of our nation. We urge that vigilance and care should be exhibited by all Nigerians, irrespective of status as this virus does not discriminate and the PTF shall keep sustaining its sensitisation messaging.
“We will not speculate on what will happen in future but we will protect the lives of Nigerians. To achieve that, if it means to lock down again, we will not shy away from that responsibility and we will recommend to the president who will look at the report and take a decision on our recommendation.”
Earlier this week, the PTF met with heads of security agencies to discuss how to enforce compliance with guidelines among other issues. Also, health minister Ehanire Osagie, said his ministry planned to boost overall Covid-19 sample collection by preparing all eligible public and private hospitals nationwide to become collection sites.