The national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has moved into the third phase of the eased lockdown, after three extension of the second phase by the Presidential Task Force.
This was anounced by the Chaiman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustaph who said the extension of the lifespan of the task force is till December ending by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking on Thursday during the PTF’s news briefing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the SGF said the third phase of the eased lockdown would be sustained till a time when the epidemic is sufficiently controlled and noted that Nigeria’s Economy is not fully ready for reopening.
The objective of the extension was to sustain a robust multi-sectoral national response and to ensure that the nation successfully navigate the community spread stage of the pandemic.
“Accordingly, Mr. President has considered and approved the following: transition into the third phase of the National Response to COVID-19 for a period of four weeks with effect from 12.01 am on Friday, September 4, 2020, in line with amendments to address economic, socio-political and health considerations reflected in the implementation guidelines,” he said.
The PTF Chairman added that the body would keep engaging with states and local governments to improve community sensitisation on the response and maintaining the current non-pharmaceutical interventions nationwide.
The task force, he added, would work with the state governments and local government authorities in each state to intensify the necessary measures such as contact tracing, grassroots engagement and risk communication as well as strengthening the collaboration between the Federal and state organs to harmonise the country’s COVID-19 response, in the short, medium and long-term basis.
It will also ensure “introduction of sanctions, including the suspension of passports or denial of foreign travels for violation of current provisional travel-related quarantine protocols”.
“Mr. President has similarly considered the fact that the six-month mandate of the PTF will expire this month and has therefore extended it till the end of December, 2020.
Mustapha said the PTF believes that while Nigeria is not ready for a full re-opening of the economy, there has been sufficient progress to warrant significant further relaxation of the restrictions applied.
“Based on the foregoing, the PTF today submitted its 7th Interim Report to Mr. President for his consideration and approval.
“The main thrust of the recommendation is that Nigeria advances to the third phase of eased restrictions with further amendments, to address economic, socio-political and health concerns. This will last till a time when the epidemic is sufficiently controlled in Nigeria,” he said.
Mustapha noted the low number of sample collection sites, the rate of sample collection and declining level of compliance with non-pharmaceutical prevention measures.