Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
In order to address economic, socio-political and health concerns, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday approved Nigeria’s advancement to the third phase of eased restrictions with further amendments.
The third phase will last till a time when the epidemic is sufficiently controlled in Nigeria.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, PTF on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said at Thursday’s briefing in Abuja.
The President has also extended the work of the PTF which is supposed to end on the 17th of this month to the end of December.
Mustapha said: “Nigerians will all recall that at the onset of the eased lock down, the PTF drafted a three-phase strategy of easing the restrictions, ahead of a full reopening of the society and economy. In determining what phase of the strategy to move to, the PTF tried to balance the public health and economic considerations alongside data analysis.
“The PTF believes that while Nigeria is not ready for a full re-opening of the economy, there has been sufficient progress to warrant significant further relaxation of the restrictions applied.
“Based on the foregoing, the PTF today submitted its 7th Interim Report to Mr. President for his consideration and approval. The main thrust of the recommendation is that Nigeria advances to the third phase of eased restrictions with further amendments, to address economic, socio-political and health concerns. This will last till a time when the epidemic is sufficiently controlled in Nigeria.
“Accordingly, Mr. President has considered and approved the following: Transition into the third Phase of the National Response to COVID-19 for a period of four weeks with effect from 12.01 am on Friday 4th September, 2020 in line with amendments to address economic, socio-political and health considerations reflected in the implementation guidelines;
“Continued engagement with States and Local Governments to improve community sensitisation on the response;
“Maintaining the current non-pharmaceutical interventions nationwide;
“Urging the State governments to work with Local Government authorities in their states to intensify necessary measures such as contact tracing, grassroots engagement and risk communication;
“Strengthening the collaboration between the Federal and State organs to harmonise the country’s COVID-19 response, in the short, medium and long-term basis; and Introduction of sanctions including the suspension of passports or denial of foreign travels for violation of current provisional travel related quarantine protocols.”
Mustapha said Buhari in extending the mandate of the PTF considered the fact that “the six-month mandate of the PTF will expire this month and has therefore extended it till the end of December, 2020. The objective is to: Sustain a robust multi-sectoral national response; Ensure that we successfully navigate the community spread stage of the pandemic; Strengthen our health system and other socio-economic infrastructure to enable them meet our national aspirations.”
The SGF also noted that as Nigeria opens up it’s sky to international flights on September 5th, the PTF is concerned over the rising number of cases in South Africa and Ethiopia.
He said that the concerns stems from the volume of passengers from the two countries into Nigeria.
Mustapha said: “South Africa still has the highest case count in Africa but has fallen from the fifth to the sixth position in the world. In Ethiopia, the numbers have been on the increase. Both South Africa and Ethiopia are of interest to Nigeria in view of the passenger traffic between Nigeria and the two countries and our plans to reopen the international air space.”