President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday approved the country’s advancement to the third phase of eased restrictions in order to address the economic, socio-political and health concerns occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.
The third phase would last till a time when the epidemic is sufficiently controlled in Nigeria, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, said at a briefing in Abuja.
He said the president has also extended the mandate of the Presidential Task Force from September 17 to end of December 2020.
“Nigerians will all recall that at the onset of the eased lockdown, the PTF drafted a three-phase strategy of easing the restrictions, ahead of a full reopening of the society and economy.
“In determining what phase of the strategy to move to, the PTF tried to balance the public health and economic considerations alongside data analysis. 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. “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 4th September, 2020 in line with amendments to address economic, socio-political and health considerations reflected in the implementation guidelines; Continued engagement with States and Local Governments to improve community sensitisation on the response; Maintaining the current non-pharmaceutical interventions nationwide; Urging the State governments to work with Local Government authorities in their states to intensify necessary measures such as contact tracing, grassroots engagement and risk communication; 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; and Introduction of sanctions including the suspension of passports or denial of foreign travels for violation of current provisional travel related quarantine protocols,” he said.
He said that the mandate of the Presidential Task Force was extended by the president to sustain a robust multi-sectoral national response, ensure that that the country successfully navigates the community spread stage of the pandemic, and strengthen health system and other socio-economic infrastructure to enable them meet national aspirations.
He said as Nigeria opens up its sky to international flights on September 5, 2020, the Presidential Task Force is concerned about the rising number of cases in South Africa and Ethiopia, as concerns stem from the volume of passengers from the two countries into Nigeria.“South Africa still has the highest case count in Africa but has fallen from the fifth to the sixth position in the world. In Ethiopia, the numbers have been on the increase. Both South Africa and Ethiopia are of interest to Nigeria in view of the passenger traffic between Nigeria and the two countries and our plans to reopen the international air space,” he said.