COVID-19 Now in 536 LGAs, FG Says

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PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha

Federal government yesterday disclosed that the coronavirus is present in 536 of the 774 local government areas in the country and as a result, the ease of lockdown in Nigeria will be extended by another four weeks.

Consequently, it said the 10pm to 4pm curfew, limitation on mass gatherings and virtual holding of government meetings remained in place, and noted that in the last month, the number of states with over 1, 000 confirmed cases increased from four to 10 and the FCT.

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, who disclosed these during yesterday’s briefing of the taskforce, lamented the increased non-compliance with non-pharmaceutical prevention measures; and lack of enforcement of necessary guidelines issued to preserve lives.

He also listed insufficient engagement by some states with the national response; lingering concern about the gap between identified cases and the actual burden of disease; apathy, fatigue and disbelief as factors combining to challenge public enlightenment, compliance and behaviour change. He said: “Community transmission is increasing, as reflected in the fact that 536 Local Government Areas – 69 per cent of the total – have reported a COVID-19 case.

“To sustain gains already made, therefore, the PTF recommended to the President the retention of the current phase of the response with minor changes to address economic, socio-political and health concerns.

‘’These measures are further outlined in the guidelines to be elaborated upon by the national coordinator. It is, however, important to inform you that the major changes being proposed are aimed at achieving the following: Gradual re-opening of international air flights within established parameters.

‘’Re-opening of rail transportation within established parameters; granting permission to exit classes to resume ahead of examinations; allowing civil servants from Grade Level 12 to resume work; and opening recreational parks for supervised exercises.

“After due consideration of the recommendations, Mr. President approved the following: Maintaining the current phase of the National Response to COVID-19 for another four weeks, in line with the modifications reflected in the report; partnering with states and local governments to improve community sensitisation and engagement to the COVID-19 response.

‘’Mandating state authorities and the FCT to enforce non-pharmaceutical guidelines, primarily the use of face masks in public appearance and places; encouraging state governments to collaborate with Local Government Authorities to intensify necessary measures, such as contact-tracing, grassroots mobilisation and risk communication; and strengthening of collaboration with other mandate groups at federal/state levels to harmonise the country’s COVID-19 response on short, medium and long-term basis”

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