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Buhari eases restrictions on worship at churches and mosques, retains ban on inter-State travels, mass gatherings

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the implementation of the second national response phase of the war against Coronavirus (COVID-19) over the next four weeks (2nd – 29th June, 2020), relaxing the restriction on places of worship.

But the nationwide ban on gatherings of more than 20 people outside of a workplace still subsists.

In the same vein, the ban on inter-state travels except for movement of agricultural produce, petroleum products, manufactured goods and essential services is still in place.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, said in Abuja during the daily briefing on the pandemic that the implementation of the relaxation of restriction on places of Worship would be based on guidelines issued by the PTF and Protocols agreed by State Governments.

Other measures to be implemented under this phase include:

– Managed access to markets and locations of economic activity to limit the risk of transmission;

– Mandatory use of non-medical face masks in public places;

– Mandatory provision of handwashing facilities/sanitisers in all public places;

– Extensive temperature checks in public places;

– Maintaining two metres between people in public places;

– Strengthening infection prevention and control at healthcare facilities; and

– Isolation of vulnerable populations (elderly and those with underlying health conditions).

Other measure include the implementation of massive information and education campaigns; Deepening of collaborative efforts with the community leaders, civil society, faith-based organisations, traditional institutions, etc; Continuous mobilisation of State governments to take up greater role in the implementation of the guidelines and advisories provided by the PTF; and continued provision of support by the NCDC to States through guidelines to shape decision-making in responding to high burden LGAs and Wards; and

The Task Force also announcing the easing of the total lockdown of Kano State and introduction of Phase One of the eased lockdown in the State.

Stating that this is still a fight for life and that the advancement to phase two does not mean that COVID-19 has ended, but it is “it is still potent and highly wasteful of human lives. I implore all Nigerians and corporate citizens to take responsibility and play the expected role.”

Mr Mustapha regretted that “despite partnerships, injection of resources and collaboration, the COVID-19 has continued to ravage the world in very many ways. It has also continued to spread and claim casualties. The global figures recorded as at Sunday, 31st May 2020 had risen to 6,407,451 confirmed cases, 2,862,610 recoveries and 377,834 fatalities across 216 countries and territories of the world.

“The global epicenter of the pandemic has shifted from China to Europe, then to the United States of America and is now showing significant impact in South and Central America. This shift to South America with virtually similar climatic and demographic similarities with Africa, is a cause for concern when we consider the fact that earlier projections pointed to Africa as likely to be the worst hit continent, by the pandemic.”

​In Africa, confirmed cases stood at 146,568 while 64,080 cases had recovered and 4,222 fatalities were recorded as at Sunday, 31st may, 2020.

However, he noted that African countries have continued to record significant daily increases, capable of overwhelming our fragile healthcare systems, “if there is a consistent surge. This calls for caution, planning, multi-sectoral investment in institutional and human capacity, scientific and methodical approach as well as citizens commitment to the control of the pandemic.”

​As at midnight on the same day (Sunday, 31st May, 2020), Nigeria had recorded 10,162 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 3,007 discharges and 287 deaths. Significantly, Nigeria recorded 553 new cases on Saturday, 30th May, 2020 representing the highest single day numbers, ever.

Mustapha however noted that while Nigeria’s confirmed cases have increased in the last few days, “majority of the confirmed cases are in a handful of local governments in the country,” stating that 20 out of the 774 Local Government Areas in the country account for 60 per cent of the cases. With this, he said, the committee wold be able to concentrate efforts in these high-burden areas.

He stated that while Federal agencies and the various State Governments are working together on the promotion and utilisation of guidelines on case management, there is increased capacity to detect, test and trace those infected with the virus.

The committee boss and federal government scribe said that with the activation of 29 testing laboratories and the test count of COVID-19 cases exceeding 60,000, the new shift is towards community engagement and enhanced risk communication.

The Presidential Task Force warned Nigerians to know that the country has not reached the peak of confirmed cases, adding that “the battle against COVID-19 is a long term one.”

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