The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday announced the extension of the current phase two of eased lockdown by one week.
With the extension, the phase which was initially scheduled to end on July 29, will now end on August 6.
The chairman of the task force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, disclosed this at the PTF press briefing on Monday in Abuja.
Mustapha said, “The PTF has continued to evaluate the developments, as well as the level of compliance nationwide, and has regrettably come to the inevitable conclusion that majority of Nigerians, irrespective of status, creed and level of education, continue to live in denial on the virulent nature of the virus and consistently breach the guidelines and non-pharmaceutical measures put in place.
“We informed you two weeks ago that the process of submitting the 6th interim report and recommendations for next steps had commenced. The PTF has reached advanced stages of the process.
“It has also considered that due to the upcoming Sallah (Eid El-Kabir) festivities which coincide with the expiration of the current phase, it would be prudent to extend by one week, from July 29, 2020 till Thursday, August 6, 2020.
“It has accordingly secured permission to retain the existing guidelines till that date.”
FG working with stakeholders to resume international flights
Mustapha added that the PTF and the aviation sector were working hard to fast-track reopening of international airspace.
He explained that arrival protocols for passengers on in-bound flights are being firmed up for seamless testing and detection while relevant MDAs will be holding further consultations.
While noting the increasing number of states that had shelved Eid-el-kabir activities, he urged others yet to do so to follow suit.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said 60 PCR laboratories were active in Nigeria, which together should be in a position to address testing capacity challenges and ramp up utilisation if only the logistics could be improved.
The minister added that it was government’s desire to reduce the fatality rate, and expand treatment capacity to ensure that the health system was not overwhelmed.
Ehanire said, “I enjoin all persons not to forget prescribed precautions and to reduce the risk of transmission even as we celebrate (Sallah). Wear your face mask at all times, especially when out of your homes; wash hands regularly; use sanitisers, practice distancing.”
PTF regulates prayers, gatherings for Sallah
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, said the task force had modified its safety guidelines for the purpose of Eid-el-Kabir which holds on Friday.
Aliyu said, “The PTF understands that Eid-el-Kabir is a major celebration for Muslims globally. We will nevertheless want to remind us all that the safety guidelines for the second phase of the ease of lockdown is still in place for the purpose of public safety.
“For this reason, the PTF strongly advises against mass public gatherings in any form. Safety is important. Infection control measures must be observed in public places at all times. We urge states and religious bodies to make specific determination and recommendations regarding Eid gatherings in their respective states.”
Aliyu said the PTF recommends holding outdoor prayers if possible and if the weather permits.
Only about five COVID-19 patients on ventilators
Responding to a question, Aliyu said only about five COVID-19 patients were on ventilators in the country.
He said the country had 250 bed spaces with ventilators, hence no deficit of ventilators in the country.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, also admonished Nigerians to wear face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.
He said, “Wearing a face mask may seem very cumbersome, but it is less cumbersome than being on a ventilator.”
Nigeria closes UK evacuation
Meanwhile, the Nigerian High Commission has announced the closure of Air Peace evacuation flight from the United Kingdom scheduled for August 8, as all seats have been fully booked.
The High Commission, in a statement on Monday, said, “Further to the notice of July 25, 2020, the High Commission wishes to inform that the evacuation flight scheduled for August 8, 2020 is now fully booked and seats are no longer available.
“In this regard, all prospective evacuees who have not already made payments for the flight are strongly advised not to do so.
“The Mission will endeavour to make necessary arrangements to schedule another flight, details of which will be communicated in due course,” the commission stated.