The Federal Government called for more vigilance on the imminent outbreak of the pandemic of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which would lead to another lockdown by several states on the reopening of schools.
Reports has it that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, made this known on Monday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, at the joint national briefing of the taskforce.
The PTF chairman said the appreciable progress recorded may be eroded, especially in the opening of the air spaces to international travel, relaxation of a number of restrictions and opening up more sectors of the economy.
Mustapha said over the last one week, the scientific community have tried to explain some new manifestation of its spread and that the nation continues to observe a reversal of gains in the battle mostly in countries around Europe which have prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to express some concerns due to the fact that weekly cases have now exceeded those reported in March 2020 when the pandemic peaked in Europe.
According to him, Israel has re-introduced a three-week lockdown, the United Kingdom is considering another lock-down phase, Spain is enforcing a partial lockdown in Madrid, and France, amidst protests by its citizens apart from other stricter measures they introduced to contain the virus.
“Similar stories are coming from South Korea, Iran and the number of fatalities is approaching 200,000 in the USA. The WHO has, thus, advised that everybody should learn from lessons of the first wave especially as “no one is safe until everyone is safe,” he said.
Speaking further, Mustapha added that on the global picture to buttress his point over the last three days, the global cases passed the 31 million mark and it took only four days to get there from the 30th million; with the USA crossed seven million cases and continues to report a high daily caseload of over 30, 000 daily and that this is apart from highest daily numbers from India.
“More specifically, the lesson for us in Nigeria, is that in spite of appreciable progress recorded, we should be vigilant more than ever before because we have opened our air spaces to international travels, we have relaxed a number of restrictions in opening up more sectors of the economy and schools are beginning to open in varying degrees.
“The call for greater vigilance is underscored by the fact that our economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic and we are pushing through our home-grown economic recovery strategies to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Also, our health systems, in spite of its fragility, have been able to withstand and contain cases resulting from COVID-19 infection, where those of more advanced countries have been overwhelmed,” Mustapha said.
The SGF warned that the call became more pertinent in view of the noticeably increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven very successful, lamenting that face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era.
Mustapha, however, assured that the PTF will continue to work with other partners from the private sector to fine-tune the protocols for international travellers, especially those arriving in Nigeria.
The PTF Chairman urged all travellers to ensure that they complete all pre-boarding and post-arrival processes, especially on the portal to facilitate seamless arrivals at the airports.
“We cannot afford the importation of the virus. We appeal strongly to all Nigerians to persuade their relations arriving Nigeria to self-isolate upon arrival, as required and test on day seven as prescribed,” he said.