The Federal Government, on Monday, said it was working with the Aviation Sector to fasttrack the reopening of the international airspace which was closed over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said this in Abuja at the 53rd joint national briefing of the taskforce.
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This is as he also tasked Nigerians, especially Muslims to continue to adhere strictly to the government protocols to curb the spread of the virus, during the forthcoming Eid-el-kabir celebration.
According to him, most importantly, the arrival protocols for passengers on in-bound flights are being firmed up for seamless testing and detection; and that relevant MDAs will be holding further consultations.
He recalled that the PTF briefed the nation on 29 June, 2020 sequel to the approval of Mr. President for the extension of phase two of the eased lockdown by another four weeks and that the extension is due to expire on Wednesday 29th July, 2020 having commenced on June 30th 2020.
“The PTF has continued to evaluate the developments as well as the level of compliance nationwide and has regrettably come to the inevitable conclusion 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,” he lamented.
He cited example of his unscheduled visit to Kuje and Karu/Jikwoyi areas, where he said the people were not wearing their facemasks and continue to act as if there is no COVID-19 around.
One week extension of ease of lockdown
He said that the process of submitting the 6th Interim Report and recommendations of the taskforce for next steps had commenced and that 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 till that date,” Mustapha said.
He said, COVID-19 remains virulent and dangerous with current statistics showing that the global record being 16,380,397 cases from 215 countries; 651,198 deaths; 10,093,403 recoveries.
He also said that record in Africa showed 848,771 cases; 17,791 deaths and 495,660 recoveries.
He added that Nigeria cases was 40,532; 858 deaths and 17,374 recoveries.
Mustapha said, “Our analysis has shown that people who are over 50 years of age especially those with underlying factors remain most at risk.
“This position is backed by the fact that 65 percent 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 behavior 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.”
Muslims urged to obey protocols
Speaking on the forthcoming Sallah celebration, the SGF said, “As we prepare for the Eid-el-Kabir celebration, we also want to urge all our Muslim brothers and sisters and indeed all Nigerians to continue to observe all measures.
“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.
“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.”
He added that the PTF is making steady progress in bringing more states within the national network and reporting system, saying that this will greatly enhance the outcome of the COVID-19 national response and will be more beneficial to the citizens of those states and the country in general