FG imposes 8-6am nation wide 2-week curfew, says COVID-19 efforts yielding fruits.
By Ojo Akinjide, Abuja
The Federal Government today reinforced a nationwide efforts at halting the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the broadcast by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, from midnight today, a new nationwide curfew that includes ban on inter-state travels will be imposed on Nigerians.
The SGF Boss Mustapha said “Some manufacturing, construction and allied sectors also resumed. All these sectors ensured that adequate infection mitigation measures were put in place.
He observed that in recognition of the global impact of COVID-19 on economies and the need to stimulate and positively turn around our economy, the Federal Government has been implementing various stimulus packages offered to businesses and state Governments through the CBN. These include:
i. Reduction of interest rates from 9 percent to 5 percent for all CBN intervention facilities;
ii. Restructuring of loans to longer tenors for all companies whose businesses are adversely impacted by COVID-19;
iii. N50billion facilities to household and businesses adversely impacted by COVID-19 through NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank;
iv. N100bn facility to Pharmaceutical and health sectors companies to retool their businesses;
v. N1 trillion facility to Agric and Manufacturing companies to expand and set up new factories; and
vi. Suspension of repayment of all state government loans for one year to give states ample financing room to pay salaries.
He said further “Within the two weeks of phase One of the eased lockdown, gains were recorded
including increase in the number of laboratories in the COVID-19 network from 15 to 26, additional 15,558 tests were conducted in the country (with a cumulative total of 35,098 tests and the number of tests per million increasing from 50 to 154, ncrease in the number of trained personnel to 11,409 health workers thereby boosting capacity for case management; procurement and distribution of additional personal protective equipment and ventilators across the country.
Others he listed include doubling time of the virus which has slowed down from 7 days to 11 days; the number of beds available for isolation and case management increased from 3500 to 5000 beds nationwide and the efficiency of the identification, testing, evacuation, and isolation process for confirmed cases has increased; and
viii. progressive improvement in capacity of the health system to respond to the outbreak.
According to him mobilising all sectors and communities to take individual and collective responsibility in the fight against the pandemic in our National Response, the PTF-COVID-19 remains highly appreciative of the efforts of the private sector, public spirited Nigerians, corporate organisations, the armed forces, intelligence and security community, the media, as well as the International Community for their unquantifiable support in the battle against the COVID-19. He said the response has been overwhelming and encouraging.
He observed that last week, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation introduced the transparency dimensions in the management of certain components of financial donations by publishing the receipts in the newspapers. I, in addition, explained the processes for other components so that Nigerians can be assured that accountability remains the hallmark of this administration and the PTF.
Mustapha said all monies donated are safe and secure and would be judiciously utilised and accounted for.
He listed some of the achievments of the government to include putting the transmission of the virus under control.
He said measures put in place have collectively slowed down the transmission of the Virus e.g. elongating the doubling time which has changed from 7 to 11 days;
while the health care system equipped to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every person who came in contact with a positive case. He said the health care system has been better equipped to detect, test, isolate and treat every case, and trace every person who came into contact with a positive case with the increase in the number of laboratories from 15 to 26; ramping up of testing to a cumulative total of 35,098.
Other issues raised by the Chairman of the task force are:
iii. Are outbreaks minimized in special settings like health facilities and Nursing homes: Though we have recorded infection of a number of medical personnel in our facilities, which is not peculiar to Nigeria, we have increased their training in care management and provided additional Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE);
iv. Are there measures in workplaces and schools to prevent the spread of the virus: With the gradual reopening of workplaces, markets, schools, etc, prescriptions have been made for the prevention of infection and spread of the virus;
v. Are the risks of importing more cases from outside the country being managed: The risks associated with importation has been seriously minimised with the ban flights, closure of borders and the mandatory 14 days quarantine for any one arriving Nigeria; and
vi. Are local communities educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the ‘new norm’: Engagement with communities and other stakeholders has now become the new focus of our strategy.
The inevitable conclusion of the PTF, is that the fight against COVID-19 is long term as the virus is not likely to go away very soon. This is further underscored by the fact that no vaccine is expected till around the end of 2021. Nigeria is not where we wish to be in terms of control, ownership, infrastructure and change of behavior. We must do more.
He said last week we hinted about the refocusing of our policy on community ownership. Going forward, we shall intensify the mobilization of individuals, especially the communities to take ownership of this fight. This will be accompanied by a corresponding development of infrastructure and other Public health measures to be undertaken in every community and at every phase of the response. These include: surveillance, case finding, testing, isolation, tracing and quarantining contacts.
He said in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority. “Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace,” he said.