Job Osazuwa and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The compulsory use of face mask directed by the Federal Government as part of measures to flatten the Coronavirus pandemic curve takes affect today.
This followed the pronouncement of President Muhammadu Buhari in a broadcast of April 27, in which he directed the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to provide implementation guidelines on the new measures to control the pandemic.
President Buhari had on March 30 declared a two-week lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja as part of measures to contain the spread. The president later extended the lockdown for another two-weeks, which elapsed on April 27.
In a broadcast last Monday, he announced that there will be a gradual easing of the lockdown spanning six weeks in the affected areas with effect from tomorrow.
A statement by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, at the weekend, reiterated that effective from today, there would be mandatory use of non-medical face mask/covering for all persons while in public spaces. He clarified that latex hand gloves should not be worn except for specific medical purposes.
The guideline also prescribes the mandatory provision of handwashing facilities/sanitizers in all public places.
It added: “Mass gathering of more than 20 people outside of a workplace is prohibited; there will be controlled access to markets and locations of economic activities; and mandatory temperature checks will be conducted in public spaces.
“Social distancing of two metres must be maintained between people in workplaces and other public spaces; retention of the ban on all passenger flights; religious gatherings are still restricted; and mandatory supervised isolation of person(s) arriving from outside the country for at least 14 days.”
In other areas, he said: “Anyone who presents a temperature of above 38oC will be mandated to return home and call Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for evaluation; anyone without a face mask/covering will be asked to return home and will be prosecuted; and anyone violating the curfew in a non-emergency situation will be prosecuted.
“Anyone attending a gathering of more than 20 people will be prosecuted; institutions that fail to comply with these protocols and guidelines will be prosecuted and any member of the public who violates the ban on inter-state movement as outlined in this guideline will be prosecuted.
“Persons above age of 65 years and those with underlying chronic illness, e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure are advised to remain at home.”
The guideline also suspended the use of recreational parks, communal sports, concerts, social parties and movie theatres until further notice.
“Schools are encouraged to continue with e-learning and visual teaching.”
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, accused the Federal Government of mismanaging the country’s COVID-19 crisis.
The PDP in a statement by its National Secretary Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the Presidency allegedly failed to engage indigenous medical experts and manufacturers for home grown solutions “in therapeutics, test kits and ventilators.”
The opposition party noted that the development gave rise to an “avoidable” spike in COVID -19 infections in the country.
It urged Nigerians not to get carried away by the easing of the lockdown imposed in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun states, but to continue to obey the hygiene protocols and other regulations provided by international and local authorities.
Similarly, PDP caucus in the House of Representatives, in a statement by its leader, Kingsley Chinda, expressed worry over the increase in COVID-19 infections across the country in the past few days.
The PDP lawmakers stated that the paramount responsibility of government should be the protection of lives.