Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of the current phase of eased restriction for another two weeks.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, made this disclosure at the daily briefing in Abuja, yesterday.
“Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority. Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace,” he said.
The government also extended a full lockdown in Kano State, which has the second highest number of confirmed cases in the country behind Lagos, and where authorities are investigating a spate of mysterious deaths.
The Federal Government had planned to completely ease coronavirus lockdowns in those states over a six-week period from May 4.
Mustapha said measures put in place in the first phase yielded sufficient progress that requires consolidation to ensure that the health system and economy are in a position to adequately respond to any potential outcomes in the future – including a secondary outbreak.
“The two weeks extension of Phase one of the eased restriction is also to enable other segments of the economy prepare adequately for compliance with the guidelines, preparatory to reopening in the coming weeks. For the PTF, we share your pains but our future is in the hands of every Nigerian and future decisions will depend greatly on our compliance.
He listed steps approved by Buhari as follows:
“The measures, exemptions, advisories and scope of entities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased locked down, shall be maintained across the federation for another two weeks effective from 12 00 midnight today (18th May, 2020 to 1st June, 2020).
“Intensifying efforts to “tell (communicate), trace (identify) and treat (manage)’ cases;
“Elevating the level of community ownership of non-pharmaceutical interventions;
“Maintain the existing lockdown order in Kano for an additional two weeks;
“Imposition of precision lockdown in states, or in metropolitan/high-burden LGAs, that are reporting a rapidly increasing number of cases, when the need arises. This would be complemented with the provision of palliatives and continued re-evaluation of the impact of the interventions; and
“Aggressive scale up of efforts to ensure that communities are informed, engaged and participating in the response with enhanced public awareness in high risk states.”
“Specific implementation guidelines would be communicated by the National Coordinator during this press briefing and would be circulated through the conventional and social media.
“For sustainability of the gains recorded, the PTF shall continue to support states by developing guidelines to shape decision-making for future steps in the response and aggressively scale up efforts to ensure effective community information.
“It is believed that these steps will help consolidate the gains made so far, and position the country to effectively overcome the pandemic. In the interest of our nation, the role of the states and local governments remain critical to success. The PTF shall engage with the states on the effective implementation of these guidelines.”
He said the exemptions allowed under the phase one were still in place.
“Particularly, government remains conscious of the fact that we are in the rainy season and farming activities is critical to food and national security. It should therefore, not be hindered.”
FG quarantines pilots of seized British aircraft
The Federal Government said the pilots of the impounded aircraft owned by a British company, Flairjet, have been quarantined for 14 days.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who made the disclosure, apologised for referring to the airline involved as Flairjet as against Flair Aviation that he tweeted on Sunday.
“There is a company called Flairjet. I want to apologise that I tweeted in the afternoon (on Sunday) when the fasting was biting harder and we verified this as Flair Aviation. The correct name is Flairjet and it is a UK registered company.
“They have an aircraft, Legacy 600, and the registration number of the aircraft is GPRFX. Their business address is Business Aviation Centre, Terminal Road, Birmingham International Airport, West Midlands and their code is B26QN.
“This company applied severally as to operate humanitarian flights and we did approve. It is very clear at the beginning of this exercise that we defined what those flights should be: essential flights basically – cargo, medical evacuation, medical supplies, and so on and so forth.
“Unfortunately, this company decided to become commercial in their service, charging money and flying people in and out.
“In the first place, the whole essence of a lockdown is to ensure there is no movement of persons freely because this COVID-19 we are all spending sleepless nights for happened because somebody travelled abroad. So, we believe this shouldn’t happen.
“Current status, we are investigating the matter right now, it would finish very soon. The crew is British nationals. The pilots are subjected to 14 days quarantine at the moment while the investigation goes on. Whatever is there in our laws will be applied to the fullest.”
Sirika also said thre has been slight change in the procedure as regards flights approval.
“This time around once we receive any requests for a flight, we are to get in touch quickly with the full purpose of the point of entry to see whether quarantine space available before that flight is given approval, those details I’m sure will come in the briefing by the national coordinator, but this will be done electronically as usual through WhatsApp or email and they need to be a speedy as it is to be certainly don’t have any significant time lost.”