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COVID-19: FG, NMA decry relaxation of restriction protocols, warn of impending danger

The Federal Government and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has decried the relaxation of movement on restriction protocols by some State governments, warning that it may reverse the gains recorded against the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The warning followed the relaxation of the measures against Coronavirus spread in some states, to allow the residents to celebrate Easter as well as for Friday’s Ju’mat service.

The relaxation on movement protocols by the State governments came despite warnings from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that Africa, especially Nigeria, could become the new epicentre of the global pandemic.

Specifically, Katsina State allowed Friday Jumat prayers for its Muslims but quickly cancelled that of Sunday Christian services after reporting three new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Ondo State also lifted restrictions, allowing its residents to attend Easter Sunday church services.

In the same vein, Imo, Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Abia and Kogi States all relaxed their shutdown measures. It was such that an exasperated Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, redirected all Police Commands to enforce the restrictions during the Easter celebrations, urging all worshippers to observe prayers and worship programmes in their homes.

National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, told journalists that it is imperative that both the federal and State governments work on the same plan as regards the restriction order.

Decrying the relaxation of measures earlier put in place to curtail the spread of Coronavirus, Dr Aliyu said: “This is really not the right time to do so – partly because we still have an ongoing pandemic which is global. It is also not the right time to do so because we could end up having real recrudescence of infections.”

Reiterating that the pandemic is not just about the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun States, he appealed “to our local community leaders, religious and traditional leaders, as well as the state authorities to continue to support and encourage the public to maintain those protective measures that are important in getting on top of this infection.

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, also appealed “to all subnational entities to recognize the serious nature of this situation and to synergize, so that together we can win the war. We have one national response. It is expected that each and every sub-national response should fit into the national response so that we can collectively deploy our resources, strategies and our personnel to directly deal with this unseen and uncommon enemy.”

The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), in a statement jointly signed by the President and Secretary General, Drs Francis Faduyile and Olumuyiwa Odusote, called on the Nigerian Police to ensure that large gatherings are not allowed in the States in order to protect lives.

“Of particular concern are the moratorium on the lockdown to allow mass gathering in mosques and churches starting from Friday to Sunday. While appreciating the prime place of religion in our national lives and especially the value Christians place on Easter, we place on record that there is now the evidence of community transmission of COVID-19. As such, relaxing any guideline that promotes mass gatherings in any part of our nation now can only heighten and not flatten the curve of transmission dynamics.”

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