COVID-19: FCTA to Enforce Compulsory Use of Facemasks as Second Wave Spreads

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•Lagos can’t afford fresh lockdown, says Sanwo-Olu
•El-Rufai tests negative, seeks residents’ cooperation to halt spread

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has issued new COVID-19 guidelines to regulate social gatherings, workplaces and markets as parts of measures to curb further spread of the virus within the territory; top amongst which is compulsory use of facemasks in public.

This is as the Edo State government has urged caution and compliance with safety measures as part of collective effort to curb the spread of the virus amid rising cases.

Also, from Kaduna State, the result of test conducted on Governor Nasir El-Rufai for COVID-19 on Wednesday came out negative, even as the governor has sought the cooperation of residents in halting the spread of the coronavirus.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, read the guidelines, when he reactivated the Enforcement Task Force on COVID-19.

He stated that enforcement team would be on the streets in Abuja to ensure compliance and enforce the compulsory use of facemasks and mandatory temperature checks in public places and business premises.
He explained that the FCTA would ensure strict enforcement of the guidelines.

He also stated that the FCTA would be working closely with the judiciary through the mobile courts system under existing approved laws.
The minister described as unacceptable the high figures of COVID-19 cases recorded in the FCT in the last three weeks, stressing that there was an urgent need to contain it from escalating.

He noted that it was mandatory for all staff members, including visitors and customers entering workplaces, shops and business premises to wear facemasks that should cover their mouths and noses.
“No mask, no entry, no service. All office and business premises must have handwashing station with running water and soap or hand sanitiser.

“Employees, who are feeling unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms, should notify their supervisor immediately, or stay at home and seek medical attention to confirm diagnosis by doing a COVD-19-test.

“While the above guidelines regulate formal workplace and business environment, the holiday season demands that we also place special emphasis on market places, places of worship and entertainment as well as recreational centres, which traditionally attract large gatherings during this period,” he said.

He further noted that all extant regulations issued as conditions for reopening of places of worship on June 4, 2020 subsisted, while urging heads of various congregations to ensure compliance.

Similarly, he said all extant regulations guiding the operations of entertainment and recreational centres were still in place while he enjoined operators to ensure strict compliance.
The minister urged public transportation facilities such as buses, taxis and tricycles to also obey the already established protocols.

Chairman of the FCT Ministerial Task Team on Enforcement of COVID-19 Protocols, Mr. Ikharo Attah, said team would visit offices and businesses to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 protocols.

Edo Govt Urges Caution, Compliance with Safety Guidelines

The Edo State Government has charged residents to be cautious and observe precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus amid rise in the number of cases in the second wave of the pandemic.
Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, in a statement, reiterated the need for Edo people to, during the yuletide season, observe all precautionary measures against the spread of the pandemic in order to remain safe and healthy.

“It is a known fact that we have not seen the end of the COVID-19 pandemic as the entire country is already seeing an uprise in the numbers of confirmed cases of the infection. On Friday, the country recorded the first 1000 cases in a day, with 1,145 new confirmed cases and 1 death reported in 24 states. Edo state recorded 8 new cases.

“Today, Saturday, December 18, 2020, Nigeria recorded another 806 new confirmed cases and 11 deaths, which now leaves the country with a total of 77,013 confirmed cases and 1,212 deaths. This calls for serious concern and caution by all residents to remain safe and healthy.

“As we go about with the Christmas and New Year celebrations, we urge you to protect yourself and others especially, the elderly who are most affected by the virus by observing physical distancing, wearing facemasks and regularly washing your hands as well as other safety precautions,” he said.

Ogie, however, reassured the people that the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration would continue to rev up strategies and intensify efforts aimed at containing the pandemic and protecting the lives of Edo people.

“We recognise this has been an extremely difficult year for us all, but we can’t afford to give up now. We urge residents to support the government’s efforts at containing the pandemic by complying with all guidelines as we cannot afford a reversal of the gains we have made against the pandemic,” he said.

El-Rufai Tests Negative for COVID-19, Begs Resident to Cooperate

Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has tested negative for COVID-19, following the outcome of the tested conducted on him last week, when persons close to him tested positive.
The governor, who was on self-isolation for five days, spoke with some local radio stations in Kaduna at the Government House, and claimed lab result confirmed he was negative.

He said he was tested on Sunday last week but the result came out on Wednesday.
“I was tested on Sunday but we could not get the result until today (Wednesday), because there were many samples that were taken. However, when the result came out, it was confirmed that I was negative.”
The governor disclosed that there were many government officials including commissioners, who were self-isolation.

“Many top government officials are in self isolation. Some are waiting to be tested, some have been tested and they were confirmed positive and are being treated. Thank God I am out after five days in self-isolation. There are some members of my family, who are taking medication for Coronavirus,” the governor said.
According to him, the disease is back and it is a serious threat to all, noting that it is killing many people in some countries, but due to prayers from Nigerians, God has been merciful.

“Some days ago, my friend, Sam Nda Isaiah (Publisher of Leadership newspapers) died as a result of this infection,” he noted, even as he called on residents of the state to cooperate with the government to contain the increasing rate of COVID-19 infections.
He assured the people that there would be no further lockdown of the state unless it becomes compellingly necessary to do so.

“We are calling on all our citizens to join us to fight Covid-19 and save lives without having a lockdown. We think there are lots of simpler things citizens and businesses can do that can help reduce the spread of the disease,” the governor said.

He said the government expected voluntary compliance with COVID-19 prevention protocols so that livelihoods could be pursued in safety.

“We are counting on the cooperation of our citizens, religious leaders, the business community, transporters and other stakeholders in a collective effort to stop COVID-19. We can do it by voluntary compliance,” he said.
The governor, however, directed that all residents of the state must wear facemasks when leaving their homes, warning that security agents would enforce compliance and mobile courts would try offenders.
He said mass compliance was preferable to a lockdown, which would disrupt peoples’ means of livelihoods and inconvenience residents of the state.

He but warned that the government might impose a lockdown if it became necessary to save lives and prevent the collapse of the healthcare system.
Kaduna is among the states with high rates of the COVID-19 infections.