The Federal Government of Nigeria has ordered the closure of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants throughout the country. FG also decreased the number of guest at weddings, conferences, amongst others, to 50 based on the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19.
This was disclosed by Boss Mustapha, Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19, at a briefing in Abuja on Monday.
According to him, these were part of the new measures approved by President Muhammadu Buhari to curtail the further spread of COVID-19 across the country.
Boss Mustapha said: “The PTF has surveyed developments and actions taken by governments around the world, assessed our domestic environment and has, accordingly, submitted its recommendations to Mr. President on immediate measures to be taken.
“Accordingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has authorised the PTF to engage with the states and the FCT to assume full ownership of this stage of the response by deploying legal structures and resources, including enforcement to manage the pandemic within their jurisdictions.
“In line with the authorisation, the PTF wishes to issue the following advisories to sub-national entities for implementation over the next five weeks because these activities are considered super spreader events:
“Close all bars, night clubs, pubs and event centres, and recreational venues; close all restaurants except those providing services to hotel residents, takeaways, home deliveries and drive-ins shall remain closed;
“Restrict all informal and formal festivity events including weddings, conferences, congresses, office parties, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, end of year events shall be restricted to not more than 50 persons;
“Limit All gatherings linked to religious events to less than 50% capacity of the facility of use during which physical distancing; mandatory use of face masks shall be strictly enforced, and “Where more than 50 persons are attending, any such events, the gathering should be held outdoors only.”
The Federal Government also issued fresh guidelines to control the rising cases of COVID-19 lamenting “Lagos, Kaduna, and the FCT have emerged as the new epicentres during this period, with over 70% of all confirmed cases.”
According to Mustapha “Two major indicators highlight the current increase in cases and transmission across Nigeria. These are: “Notwithstanding the fact that our testing numbers were fast approaching the peak recorded in July, the number of cases being reported is disproportionately higher.
“For example, in the FCT, despite recording an increase of 85% in tests conducted over the last week, the number of confirmed cases increased by 285% during the same time period; and “These trends point to a higher Test Positivity Rate (TPR- the number of positive cases detected as a proportion of all tests).
The TPR was below 5% through September and October and we recorded a low point of 3% nationally in late October 2020. However, recent trends in cases have seen this number increase to 10% in the second week of December.
Other recommendations issued by the PTF include “Public transportation systems are to carry passengers not more than 50% of their capacity in compliance with social distancing rules.
“Enforce compliance with NPI protocols especially the advisory on wearing of face masks in public spaces;
“To reduce overcrowding in public spaces, markets, shopping centres, offices, and schools States are advised to implement the following:
“Encourage virtual meetings in government offices. The leadership of such offices is to ensure that all offices are well-ventilated offices, and encourage staff to work from home where possible;
“All government staff on GL.12 and below are to stay at home for the next 5 weeks; Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executives are to be held accountable for enforcing NPI rules in their domains with frequent spot checks;
“The PTF on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Education expects that schools would have vacated from the 18th December 2020 and remain closed till at least the 18th of January, 2021 to enable the measures introduced to take effect;
“All persons above the age of 60yrs and/or with comorbidities are to be encouraged to stay at home and avoid crowds;
By: Ifunanya Ikueze