Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The upcoming Sallah (Eid el-Kabir) festivities which coincides with the expiration of the current phase of the eased federal lockdown has forced the Federal Government to extend the lockdown by one week, from July 29 to August 6.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF), Boss Mustapha, made the disclosure at Monday’s briefing in Abuja.
He said: ‘We informed you two weeks ago that the process of submitting the 6th Interim Report and recommendations for next steps had commenced. The PTF has reached advanced stages of the process. It has also considered that due to the upcoming Sallah (Eid el-Kabir) festivities which coincides with the expiration of the current phase, it would be prudent to extend by one week, from 29th July 2020 till Thursday 6th August 2020. It has accordingly secured permission to retain the existing guidelines until that date.’
He appealed to Islamic faithful and Nigerians as a whole to continue to observe all measures during the Eid el-Kabir celebration.
He said: ‘We note with delight, the increasing number of States that have shelved activities during the Eid el-Kabir and we still urge others yet to do so, to follow suit. WHO has also issued Safe Eid practices in the context of COVID-19 and I urge us all to access and disseminate.
‘Similarly, the PTF appreciates the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), who has always been a great champion in the fight against the pandemic for advising Muslims to avoid massive gatherings at Eid grounds and pray at Area Mosques under prescribed protocols.’
The PTF chairman regretted that continuous evaluation of COVID-19 developments as well as the level of compliance nationwide revealed that ‘majority of Nigerians irrespective of status, creed and level of education continue to live in denial on the virulent nature of the virus and consistently breach the guidelines and non-pharmaceutical measures put in place.’
Mustapha restated that COVID-19 remains very virulent and very dangerous.
He reeled out current statistics show the following: Global Cases Recorded:16,380,397 cases from 215 countries, Global Deaths: 651,198, Global Recoveries:10,093,403.
Africa: – Cases: 848,771, Deaths 17,791 and Recoveries: 495,660.
Nigeria: – Cases: 40,532, Deaths: 858 and Recoveries: 17,374.
‘WHO statistics show that on 24th July 2020 the world recorded 284,000 confirmed cases and 9,750 deaths. Both were records in terms of the spike in daily numbers and they represent a red flag to all nations.
‘Our analysis has shown that people over 50 years of age especially those with underlying factors remain most at risk. This position is backed by the fact that 65 per cent of fatalities recorded in Nigeria are in this category. That brings me to the need to appeal to Nigerians on the need for a change of behaviour and compliance with guidelines and measures put in place. If you do not need to go outside your home, please stay indoors. Avoid large gatherings and observe all the measures.
‘In recent times, our risk communication teams have developed messages aimed at resonating very well with different demographic groups. The common string is the message for compliance and the proper wearing of face masks and coverings in public spaces. The National Coordinator will be elaborating further on this.’