The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 on Thursday extended the second phase of the easing of lockdown by four weeks to help curb the spread of the virus in the country.
The Chairman of PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha said in Abuja that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the extension on Wednesday.
He said: “I am pleased to inform you that the PTF team met with the President on Wednesday 5th August, 2020 to apprise him of the situation on COVID-19 and the next steps.
“Suffice it to state that the recommendations made to the President have been borne out of diligent evaluation of the situation in Nigeria as well as regional and global experiences.
“The virulence and novelty of the virus has made it compelling for humanity to work together to put in place strategies to contain its spread and ensure that the delicate balance between dealing with the pandemic as a public health concern and guaranteeing livelihood is maintained.
“After due consideration of the recommendations, Mr. President approved the following:
“Maintaining the current phase of the National Response to COVID-19 for another four weeks in line with the modifications reflected in the Report;
“Partnering with States and Local Governments to improve community sensitisation and engagement to the COVID-19 response;
“Mandating State authorities and the FCT, to enforce non-pharmaceutical guidelines, primarily the use of face masks in public appearance and places;
“Encouraging State Governments to collaborate with Local Government Authorities to intensify necessary measures such as contact tracing, grassroots mobilisation and risk communication; and
“Strengthening of collaboration with other mandate groups at Federal/State levels to harmonise the country’s COVID-19 response, on the short, medium and long-term basis”.
He explained that “our assessment has also revealed that the foregoing accomplishments and plans notwithstanding, the following challenges continue to pose considerable concern:
“Increased non-compliance with non-pharmaceutical prevention measures;
“Lack of enforcement of necessary guidelines issued to preserve lives; Insufficient engagement by some states with the national response; and a lingering concern about the gap between identified cases and the actual burden of disease.
“Apathy, fatigue and disbelief combining to challenge public enlightenment, compliance and behaviour change”.
Mustapha said that to address these challenges, the PTF decided that it was important to ensure that restrictions were not completely relaxed in order to control transmission.