LOCKDOWN PHASE: FG maintains the current phase and prepares for the complete reopening of the economy

By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah, FESTUS OKOROMADU, Nkechi Isaac, Tunde Oguntola and PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA, Abuja

Yesterday, the federal government extended phase one of the gradual easing of the blockade ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari across the country on April 27 for another two weeks.

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He said that the additional 14 days to the first phase of the eased restrictions will testify to stricter enforcement and persuasion measures, preparatory to the total reopening of the country's economy.

“The measures, exemptions, notices and scope of entities authorized to reopen in phase one of the locked ones will be maintained throughout the federation for another two weeks, starting at 12:00 midnight today (May 18, 2020 to 1st June 2020), ”The federation's government secretary (SGF), Chief Mustapha, declared during the task force's daily briefing in Abuja.

The two-week extension of phase one of the easing restriction, he explained, should also allow other segments of the economy to adequately prepare for compliance with the guidelines before reopening in the coming weeks.

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LEADERSHIP had exclusively informed yesterday that critical sectors of the economy were groaning under a severe business operating environment, which forced companies and individuals to adopt cost reduction measures by firing some employees, among others, leading to the closure of thousands of micro, small and medium-sized companies. Companies (MSMEs) most likely to follow suit if the situation under the blockade remains unshakable.

But, suggesting the federal government's plan to fully reopen the economy, the SGF, which is also president of the PTF, said the reality on the ground is that, despite the modest progress made, the country was not yet ready for the full reopening of the economy.

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On April 27, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a "gradual and gradual easing" of the blockade in Abuja, as well as in the Lagos and Ogun states, from May 4.

The president also ordered a ban on all interstate movements, even when he imposed a curfew across the country from 8 pm to 6 pm daily.

Announcing the extension yesterday, Mustapha pointed out that, during the initial phase of the gradual easing of the blockade, “while some goals were achieved, the PTF assessment showed that non-compliance was rampant, but the PTF continued to persuade the population through messages and daily information about the need to take responsibility ”.

He continued: “The reality is that, despite the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for the full opening of the economy and difficult decisions need to be made for the good of the larger majority.

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“Any relaxation will only portend a grave danger to our population. It is recommended that the current phase of facilitated restriction be maintained for another two weeks, during which more stringent measures of application and persuasion will be adopted ”.

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He listed other PTF recommendations approved by President Buhari to include: "Stepping up efforts to" count (communicate), track (identify) and handle (manage) cases; raise the level of community ownership of non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“Keep the blockade order in Kano for another two weeks; Imposition of precision blocking in states, or in metropolitan / high-burden LGAs, which are reporting an increasing number of cases when necessary.

“This would be complemented by the provision of palliative care and the continuous re-evaluation of the impact of interventions. Aggressive expansion of efforts to ensure that communities are informed, engaged and participate in the response with greater public awareness in high-risk states ”.

For the sustainability of the gains recorded, the SGF said that the PTF will continue to support the states, developing guidelines to shape decision-making for future steps in the response and aggressively intensifying efforts to ensure effective information from the community.

According to him, it is believed that these measures will help to consolidate the gains achieved so far and to position the country to effectively overcome the pandemic.

“In the interest of our nation, the role of states and local governments remains critical to success. PTF must be involved with States in the effective implementation of these guidelines, ”he added.

The SGF also noted that the level of compliance has also been revised and a specific directive has been issued to security agencies to strictly enforce the execution of all measures.

These, he said, include a nationwide curfew from 8 pm to 6 pm, a ban on interstate travel and the use of masks / covers in public.

SGF, however, warned security officers to be aware of citizens' human rights, while citizens are also urged to recognize the dangers they pose to themselves, their loved ones and the entire community, if they do not assume the responsibility. responsibility.

While categorically maintaining that the exemptions allowed in the first phase were still in effect, he noted that the government was aware of the fact that “we are in the rainy season and agricultural activities are essential for food and national security. Therefore, it should not be prevented ”.

… Says 57% of Nigerians support easing of the blockade

The federal government also said that 57% of Nigerians support the government's decision to ease the blockade in some states as a way to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this at the PTF daily briefing yesterday, said that a survey by West Africa's number one research services, NOI Polls, showed that „57% support easing of the announced blockade in April, while 29% did not support it as a way to fight the pandemic. "

Mohammed lamented that stigmatization remains a major concern, noting that while 81% of the March survey said they were willing to work with people recovering from COVID-19, the number has dropped to 78% in the current survey.

He said: „Stigmatization remains a concern. In the March survey, 81% said they were willing to work with people who recover from Covid-19. That number dropped to 78% in the current survey.

„The level of awareness across the country about Covid-19 is now over 99%, which means that almost all Nigerians are aware of the disease. While 28% of respondents said they believed they were immune to Covid-19 in March, the number has now dropped to 26%. "

The minister said that 91% of respondents said they knew the different preventive measures of COVID-19.

“Hand washing is now at 87%, an increase of 10%. The use of facial masks is 85%, an increase of 22% – social distance is 55%, an increase of 43% ”, he said.

In the risk communication, the minister hinted that 95% said they had seen or heard publicity, publicity or any other type of government information about COVID-19, while 71% said they feel they are getting the necessary information about the government . COVID-19".

We are examining claims about COVID-19 cure – UN

Meanwhile, Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said yesterday that his ministry has initiated requests for verification for the cure of Covid-19.

He made this known at the quarterly management meeting of the ministry and its agencies in Abuja.

The Ministry offered the sum of N36 million to scientists and innovators who volunteered to find a cure for COVID-19 and Lassa fever.

UN said all submissions for the cure of COVID-19 were directed to the Academy of Sciences for verification, saying they would give their recommendations to the ministry after the exercise, adding that the ministry was working hard to develop homemade solutions to help manage the pandemic. of COVID-19.

He assured that the encouraging results had been presented and, in a short time, the details of the submissions would be released to the country.

UN said that for Nigeria to have increased its gains abroad, the country must seek solutions to its problems and export the same to other countries.

In their statements, the Ministry of State at the Ministry, Mohammed Abdullahi, said that the two ministers are working to obtain large grants to support research and development efforts in the science and technology sector.

He asked ministry directors and DGs to show more commitment in their work in order to fulfill the ministry's mandate.

Previously, the ministry's permanent secretary, Dr. Mohammed Bello Umar, warned the DGs of the ministry agencies to highlight priority areas in the preparation and execution of their budget.

Lagos, Kano, Borno account for 52% of deaths; 60% of confirmed cases between 21 and 50 years old – Mamora

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora, announced yesterday that Lagos, kano and Borno States account for 52% of the 182 deaths of COVID-19 recorded in the country in 26 states and in the FCT.

Speaking at the presidential task force briefing at COVID-19, Mamora also said that about 60% of all confirmed cases in the country were between 21 and 50 years old.

He noted, however, that the increase in daily logging is due in large part to increased tracking and testing capacity, mainly due to increased community mobilization and awareness.

The minister also revealed that the Nigeria Disease Control Center (NCDC) was collaborating with development partners to involve influential religious leaders in the states of Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara, to complement the community mobilization activities. health workers.

He said: „They will also facilitate awareness of COVID-19 in rural communities, in addition to supporting our efforts to accelerate testing in the community. In addition, we started infection prevention and control (IPC) training specifically for the Almajirai in Kano

“A high-level technical meeting was held on the results of the national mid-term review of COVID-19. The results of this meeting will provide guidance to strengthen our response and develop strategies to reach more communities.

A ministerial team of experts was sent to Calabar on a scope mission to engage with state officials and determine material and technical needs.

“Sokoto's mission was successful and the team is currently in Maiduguri to support the state. A curious discovery in Sokoto is the COVID-19 case set in just one area of ​​the local government. The number of deaths has fallen and we are beginning to see a decline in positive cases in the state, ”he explained.

SGF applauds NNPC for planned medical facilities across the country

Meanwhile, the federation government secretary and chairman of the COVID-19 presidential task force, Boss Mustapha, applauded the National Petroleum Corporation of Nigeria (NNPC) for what he described as the company's unwavering support and various medical interventions aimed at for providing a lasting solution to the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The gesture, according to him, describes the corporation as the registered trademark of a National Petroleum Company.

Mustapha gave the compliment when receiving from NNPC fans 20 donated by Ocea S.A, a company based in France, to reinforce the fight against COVID-19 in Abuja.

Mystrose Defense Systems Limited presented the donation to NNPC on behalf of Ocea S.A. to reinforce the fight against COVID-19 in Abuja.

A statement by the general manager of the NNPC Group, the Group's Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, quoted the PTF president as saying that the NNPC and its partners, almost weekly, donated medical supplies or ordered medical infrastructure across the country. fight against COVID-19.

“This is a registered trademark of a national institution that, at this very challenging moment in COVID-19, is filling the gap in providing the kind of things the nation requires; the facilities we need to install, ”said Mustapha.

Mustapha guaranteed that the 20 ventilators would be used for the benefit of Nigerians, arguing that COVID-19 was a major challenge that required everyone to support the federal government to fight and defeat the pandemic.

He said that after COVID-19, the country's health institutions would receive the kind of rebirth that the Federal Government wants, emphasizing that, with medical facilities in place, the country would be able to fight any epidemic or pandemic from So.

Previously, the managing director of the NNPC group, Mallam Mele Kyari, said the company was pleased to have doubled the 20 fans donated by Ocea S.A through Mystrose Defense Systems Limited to the federal government.

For his part, the medical director of NNPC Medical Services Limited, Dr. Mohammed Zango, said that donations from the French company Ocea SA were a sure step in the right direction, adding that the corporation, as a responsible organization and strategic partner in the space of maritime safety, transmits fans to PTF in support of the federal government's effort to combat COVID-19.

Zango explained that the company identified the NNPC as a respectable National Petroleum Company, through which the fans could be safely delivered to the PTF at COVID-19.

Kunle Aluko, who made the donations on behalf of Mystrose Defense Systems Limited, praised PTF for its unwavering efforts to combat the pandemic, ensuring its company's availability to support the federal government during difficult times.

C & # 39; River at the top of the COVID-19 fight, says NCDC

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday described the state of Cross River as deserving of its COVID-19 free status.

The leader of the NCDC team, Dr. Omobolanle Olowu, who declared this during a verification visit to the state, praised the state governor, Sir Ben Ayade, for his strong leadership in the battle against the pandemic, keeping it away from the state.

She said: “The federal government strongly commends the governor of action for the governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, and his energetic team that initiated the response in January, when others were still living in denial. They (Cross River) still deserve to be without a case of COVID-19.

"The governor was proactive in closing the borders, examining visitors and suspicious cases and starting the campaign without mask-without-movement in Nigeria."

She also expressed satisfaction at the level of compliance with the government's non-mask-non-movement policy.

Expressing disbelief, she said: “I can't believe I didn't see a person without a face mask from the airport for this office. I think that explains the results at Cross River State. I commend the state for the excellent work done. We never knew all of this in Abuja. We will tell the President everything we have seen.

“From what I saw, this is a great response in Nigeria. Cross River did honestly well. There is much to learn from Cross River as a best practice for Nigeria. Nigeria is to praise Cross River State for producing face masks, Face Shield, PPE at its clothing factory. "

She said the NCDC was also satisfied with the contact tracking, surveillance and testing conducted so far by the state, while encouraging the state to do more in this regard.

“We are happy that the state has a great working relationship with the University Hospital of Calabar. This is commendable. Governor Ben Ayade woke up even before the rest of the country. He has closed his borders and has been working on the front lines. Your governor is a man of foresight who believes in his people and wants to save his people, ”noted the NCDC leader.

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