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COVID-19: There may be another lockdown, FG warns

The Federal gov't also ordered the NCDC to test 348,000 nationwide

The Federal Government has warned that there may be a second national lockdown over the rising cases of the COVID-19 in the country.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, gave the warning on Monday in Abuja, at the joint national briefing of the taskforce.

According to him, “the nation is in a very difficult position and must do everything to avoid a second national lockdown.

“Let me remind you that the pandemic is raging and all tiers of Government and citizens must keep their hands-on-deck. We are in a difficult situation in which a balance must continue to be struck between lives and livelihood.

“We are considering all options while hoping that broad cooperation will be received. We must do everything possible to avoid a second lockdown in Nigeria,” Mustapha said.

He also said that the nation was making progress with the case management under the national response, as it continues to receive the support of the private sector in the delivery of medical oxygen to the various facilities.

He added that “the PTF is proceeding with the next phase of the approved Presidential sanction against all in-bound international travellers that failed to undergo the day-7 post arrival test.

Mustapha who said that the PTF will publish the next list of 100 defaulters very soon, stressed that, “there is a strong multi-sectoral approach to the activities, decisions and engagement of the PTF with institutions of government and the public sector.

“Consequently, all steps being taken are outcomes of in-depth consultations and review before they are made public,” he said.

Orders NCDC to test 348,000 nationwide

The SGF also said that the PTF has authorised the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to immediately implement the 450 tests per Local Government Area (LGAs) plan, nationwide.

“The PTF has also authorized the NCDC to immediately implement the 450 tests per LGA plan, nationwide, immediately. We are aware that states are not on the same pedestal in the area of testing and we shall begin with States that are in the forefront of resourcing and infrastructure,” Mustapha said.

He said that the PTF had been informed of the schools’ resumption nationwide and that this would be reviewed due to rising daily numbers of infections and the challenges of case management especially the shortage of oxygen.

“While we note that several states have proceeded with the resumption of schools, the PTF recommends strongly that very strict adherence to Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) should be enforced by the states to avoid the escalation of cases.

“The PTF will continue to dialogue with the governors and the Federal Ministry of Education to closely monitor the situation,” Mustapha said.

According to him, the snapshot of the nation as at 17 January, 2021 which ought to guide the national decisions and approach stands at 110,387 cases; with active cases being 22,156 (20.34 percent); those discharged, 89,317 (78.36 percent); with 1,435 (1.30 percent) deaths while 1,172,234 have been tested so far.

“On the African Continent, South Africa and Nigeria continue to report highest daily count, while South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Algeria and Kenya account for 76 percent of all cases in the region. Nigeria has moved up to third position in highest cumulative case load but remains 2nd for new cases and 5th highest in cumulative deaths on the WHO African region.

“​From the foregoing, testing has proven to have become more significant in our national response. The PTF still urges the state governments to enable their EOCs to step up on sample collection and to maximise the capacities of the PCR Laboratories already established in their states,” Mustapha said.

Assures on safe vaccines

The SGF said that the positive news about vaccines remains high in the ranking of discussions nationwide.

He assured Nigerians that the PTF will ensure that the vaccines to be approved will be safe and effective.

“We must however work together as foot soldiers in the vaccine advocacy so that we can eliminate the pandemic. The PTF wishes to emphasise that the success of our national response shall not depend on vaccines alone. Rather, compliance with the non-pharmaceutical protocols must remain top on our individual priorities.