COVID-19 Spike: FG Slams Five-week Restrictions As Pandemic Bites Harder

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The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, yesterday, said travel restrictions within the country and from other countries are to take effect, adding that initial restrictions in line with the established protocols will now return.

This is coming as the second wave of the pandemic hits the country with intense ferocity as it is across the world.

To this effect, state governments and the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) are expected to assume full responsibility of enforcement.

Chairman of PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, said at a news conference on Monday that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the state governments and the FCT to act immediately for five weeks, “in the first instance.”

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Mustapha was seen in public for the first time in two weeks yesterday, after he went into isolation.

Among the re-introduced restrictions and regulations are closure of most public places including religious, occupational and recreational activities.

He said: “The PTF has surveyed developments and actions taken by governments around the world, assessed our domestic environment and has accordingly submitted its recommendations to Mr. President on immediate measures to be taken.

“In line with the authorisation, the PTF wishes to issue the following advisories to sub-national entities for implementation over the next five weeks because these activities are considered super spreader events.

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“To reduce overcrowding in public spaces, markets, shopping centres, offices and schools, states are advised to implement the following: Encourage virtual meetings in government offices. The leadership of such offices should ensure that all offices are well-ventilated offices, and encourage staff to work from home where possible;

“All government staff on GL.12 and below are to stay at home for the next 5 weeks; Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executives are to be held accountable for enforcing NPI rules in their domains with frequent spot checks;

“The PTF on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Education, expects that schools would have vacated from the 18th December 2020 and remain closed till at least the 18th of January, 2021 to enable the measures introduced to take effect;

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“All persons above the age of 60yrs and/or with comorbidities are to be encouraged to stay at home and avoid crowds; All non-essential travels – both domestic and international – during the holiday season are seriously discouraged;

“To strengthen risk communication and community engagement activities over the next five weeks, states are encouraged to; engage community and religious leaders, arrange town hall meetings (ideally set outdoors) to address concerns;

“Intensify public messaging activities, leveraging existing government and partner assets; reach out to youths and younger adults with health promotion activities; Invest in local face mask purchase and distribution to the general public to encourage use”, he said.

“The PTF will work with the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to implement aspects related to the Public Service” said.

On international travels, the PTF said: “A lot of discussion is still going on around the calls for the restriction of international travels due to the discovery of new strains of the virus in certain countries.

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“The PTF, Aviation and health authorities, including the WHO, are assessing the situation closely and would take a position as soon as cogent scientific basis are established. The protection of Nigerians remains our primary concern and we reassure Nigerians of our resolve not to relent.

The PTF will today submit its end of year (2020) Report to Mr. President,” Mustapha added.

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