Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has again warned that any attempt to continue with business as usual by relaxing lockdown will result in dire consequences.
The chairman of Presidential Taskforce on Novel Coronavirus (PTF-COVID-19) and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, gave the warning while responding on lack of cooperation between the federal and subnational governments at the daily press briefing.
He was reacting to Kano State that went from recording one index resulting in fatality to having 21 cases confirmed.
Mustapha said: “This is not the time to relax any lockdown. A state has gone from one index case to 21, so is a serious business please. Is not a joking matter and this is not the time to play any game.
“It is only our collective resolve as a country that can help us deal with this pandemic. So, I will continue to emphasis the fact that we have one national response and scientifically proven, the only way that you can drastically reduce transmission is through the lockdown. Once people don’t come in contact with each other, we will be able trace those that have appeared on our radar as persons of interest, follow them up, track them, if need be test them, if possible take them into isolation, move them from cohabiting with other people that are not infected and give them the appropriate care.
“But as long as we allow business as usual, people getting together, partying, then we should be prepared to deal with the consequences of our actions.
“So, I will continue to make this passionate appeal that given this two weeks, I must commend the governors that have taken bold steps in locking down their states so that the needful will be done.
“The Quarantine Act signed by Mr. President has direct bearing on Abuja, Lagos and Ogun, so we have responsibility to ensure that this lockdown in these three locations are effective and geared towards producing the desired result for which the extension is granted.”
The SGF also called on garment factories to seize the opportunity and go into mass production of masks.
Mustapha said: “Let me also encourage all our garment factories and tailors all over the nation that this is the time to start producing locally, using our local fabrics, the Ankara, the leather and all other materials that we have because of advisories that as much as possible, we should wear our masks whenever we are outside our homes, that way, we’ll reduce the chances, in addition to other necessary things that you need to do, of infection or infecting others.”
Meanwhile the committee has warned that the escalation of community transmission of the disease are by those moving across state borders.
National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, particularly pointed at the mass smuggling of people out of Lagos State in trucks.
He has therefore appealed to Nigerians to take lockdown order by federal and some states seriously, noting the fight to beat back to pandemic in the country depended largely on how much attention and respect the public give to the guidelines issued by the PTF.
Aliyu also called on donors of palliative materials to observe basic health and safety protocols, asking them to rather work through local authorities so as to make processes orderly and less hazardous.
“We have noticed that community spread is now being traced to people traveling across state borders. We need to try and restrict our movements in order to stop the spread of this Coronavirus infection, this is particularly pertinent with regards to the news of people being smuggled in trucks out of Lagos.
“I’ll like to highlight the need for donors to safeguard life and basic health protocols during the distribution of palliatives within local communities.
“It is important that they maintain health and safety, the rise of aggressive behaviour and non-conformity to physical distancing is unacceptable and a major risk to our communities. It is serious public safety concern.
“I enjoin donors to work closely with local authorities and to ensure that the mass gathering restrictions and the physical distancing guidance that we have given is abided by”, he said.
Aliyu urged donors, who already had plans to support the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, of the need to work through the PTF, to ensure that items and resources being donated are relevant to needs and to be sure that goods being donated are not below standards.
He stressed the need to ensure acquisition of standard supplies by state governments, especially when it gets to the issue of procuring protective gears for the frontline healthcare workers in their states.
“Donors of palliatives should work with local authorities to ensure social order is maintained during distribution of essential items,” PTF National Coordinator added.
Aliyu said the PTF would soon come out with standard guidelines, which would derive from global and World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, for the equipment and protective gears expected to be provided for the ongoing fight.
He also encouraged survivors to be bold to come out with their story, at their own discretion, this he said would help crush the rising public stigma and discrimination, which have been noticed to be a major concern and impediment in the fight against the disease.
“I will like to appeal to survivors of COVID-19 to tell their stories, although at their own discretion,” Aliyu said.