- Says sporting activities can’t resume now
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has ruled out the possibility of imposing another lockdown on the country to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
The Chairman of Presidential Task Force of COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, gave this assurance Thursday in Abuja during the task force’s press briefing.
The clarification was in response to a question seeking to know if the federal government might be contemplating another review of the total lockdown, which was imposed on Lagos and Ogun States and the FCT for about six weeks at the beginning of the pandemic in the light of the exponential daily increase in the number of coronavirus cases across the country.
Mustapha said another lockdown might not be necessary while the federal government in terms of strategic implementation of its policy would not be looking towards that direction as the country” cannot be moving forward and begin to move backward again”.
Rather he said what the federal government would be looking at was how to strengthen what it had put in place, as well as to ensure compliance with all other non-pharmaceutical interventions already developed.
”I have indicated in my first address on this subject that we will study the situation, look at it and see how we are going. And if there is need for review that such will be advised by data, by science, by experiences of other jurisdictions and by the peculiarities of our environment.
”To go back to a total lockdown must be taken into context of what we do desire to achieve after we locked down for about four or five weeks and see how we fare. So the issue of review might not have that in contemplation because you can’t move forward and begin to move backward again.
”In terms of strategic implementation of our policy we might not be looking towards that direction but we might be looking at how to strengthen what we have put in place, how to ensure compliance and all other non-pharmaceutical interventions we have put in place,” Mustapha said.
The SGF also declared that the country has got to the state where every Nigerian must take responsibility and take ownership of how to navigate the pandemic to stay alive and survive it.
He said government is now working with community and religious leaders and all forms of informal leaderships, to cede the ownership of fighting the virus to the people.
He also admitted he was scared by the projection by the Director US Centre of Disease of Control, Dr Mike Faucci, projecting 200,000 Americans to die from COVID-19 by September this year.
The PTF chairman said Nigerians should be concerned about the projection, which goes to say that coronavirus is real.
”September is just down the road. We are talking about three months. I am worried if as a people and as a nation we don’t see this. The truth about this is that there is much government can do but the responsibility has now been ceded to the Nigerian people”.
Sporting Activities Cant Resume for Now
The SGF also said sporting activities particularly the Nigerian Premier Football League (NPFL) would remain suspended.
Sporting activities in the country have remained banned in spite of the easing of the restrictions on other activities, that have allowed places of worship, markets, banking transaction and operation of small and medium enterprises among others, that were restricted at the beginning of the spread of the virus to be allowed to operate.
Mustapha noted that government was not too particularly excited about opening up for sporting activities especially football, which attracts large crowd and which if allowed, will contravene the PTF’s protocol that forbids all gatherings from exceeding 20 people except in places of work.
”I don’t see the excitement that will be achieved if we allow sporting activities or the Football League to resume in an empty stadium.
A lot of European countries where this is a big business are thinking of opening in a deliberate manner and in a slow pace manner. And many countries are saying when they finally resume, it would be teams playing in empty stadia. We will get there too, but now we are concerned with the few activities that we have allowed to resume and we have given ourselves one month within which we are to do a thorough assessment and see how we fare,” Mustapha said.