Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force on coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, has declared that it will no longer tolerate flouting of eased lockdown guidelines, saying it will not sit back and allow public safety to be endangered by a few people.
PTF Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, stated this at Thursday briefing of the task force.
He said the PTF was concerned about the many reports on the flouting of the COVID-19 guidelines.
Aliyu said the relaxed the lockdown was done not because COVID-19 has gone but to ensure the economy does not collapse.
Aliyu said: “My theme for today is the issue of enforcement of our protocols. The PTF continues to be very concerned about the issue of compliance. As you are aware, we are here to push for the containment of COVID-19 in the country through data-driven medical advisories.
“The fact that we are receiving many reports on the flouting of the guidelines, the hint by individuals, groups and organizations is simply unacceptable.
“As I said in the past, COVID-19 is far from over globally , neither is it over in Nigeria.
“There’s no doubt that a lot of community transmission is happening and it continues to increase across the states.
“Now more than ever before, if you go out you’re more likely to get COVID than before.
“Your risk of acquiring COVID because of the numbers we have now is more than three, four weeks or five weeks ago when we had a lockdown, so there really isn’t any room or relaxation at this point.
“The reason why we had to relax the lockdown was in order to sustain the livelihood of Nigerians particularly those who depend on a daily income for survival as well as to sustain our economy, but it wasn’t because COVID has gone and it wasn’t because we should be more relaxed in terms of our prevention measures.
“In order to balance the issue of livelihoods with Public Safety we issued advisories, we issued protocols that will guide the relaxation of the lockdown in order to mitigate the high risk of transmission of the virus among us and to also ensure Public Safety.
“We have noticed that a lot of people do not wear masks in public spaces. It is mandatory for masks be worn in public spaces. Masks are supposed to cover your nose and mouth, they are not meant to cover your chin.
“There are also concerns about physical distancing and the issue of mass gatherings.
“I will particularly note the issue of social Gathering and organizations going for concerts against the lockdown protocols by the federal government.
“We are working with the security agencies to put in place enforcement when it comes to organizations that flout these guidelines.
“We will not sit back and allow Public Safety to be endangered by a few.
“While we are very much aware of the challenges that people continue to have because of the guidelines that we have issued but these guidelines are there for a specific reason they are there to protect us at that protect Public Safety.
“We know that some businesses have been fined or even closed due to non-compliance. There have also been various levels of enforcement using the police mobile force and in some cases charges being brought against parties.
“It is easier to change behaviour if you do so voluntarily and this is why we are increasing our level of risk communication and Community engagement pushing public awareness activities right down to the grass root level.
“We are aware that times are challenging but this is the new normal or COVID. It is the new normal that we really have to abide by and the question we should really be asking ourselves repeatedly is do we want to be the next COVID victim? If the answer is no, then we definitely owe it to ourselves, to our communities, to our loved ones to adhere to the safety measures provided.
“The PTF will do whatever we can to stop further transmission of the virus and to save lives but to do so, we also need to accept personal and Collective responsibility for our actions.
“We plead with the public to please understand with measures and to personally challenge those that continue to put us, our loved ones or our communities at risk of COVID infection.”