[UPDATED] COVID-19: Buhari may extend lockdown or not ― Presidential taskforce boss

..Says Nigeria on course to stopping COVID-19

..Hails Sanwo-Olu, team on quick response

COVID-19: Buhari may extend lockdown if - Presidential taskforce boss
COVID-19: Buhari may extend lockdown if - Presidential taskforce boss
Boss Mustapha

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, has said only President Muhammadu Buhari can decide if the lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, on Coronavirus, pandemic will be extended or not depending on experts advice.

Recall that Buhari had a week ago ordered a total lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and FCT for 14 days in the first instance to checkmate the spread of Coronavirus. The lockdown will be day 9, running on Wednesday, April 8, 2020.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, made the remarks on Tuesday, while briefing state House Correspondents in Lagos House, Marina, after an inspection of Isolation facilities in different parts of the state.

The taskforce, accompanied by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu had earlier inspected isolation facilities at Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos Island, Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital, IDH, Yaba, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi-Araba and Gbagada General Hospital, Isolation Centre, Gbagada.

Also in the entourage was Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire and Minister of Interior Affairs Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, among other key government functionaries

Mustapha said, “Basically, this is part of the consultation, we are looking at the objectives that were set when the lockdown and quarantine declaration, 2020, was signed by the president and subsequently by other state.

“Before the end of the week we will do an evaluation and see how the objective that were set are being met.

‘’At the end of that exercise we will have the responsibility of reporting back to Mr. President. The President did say the declaration was on the advice of Minister of Health and experts that informed his decision in signing of the quarantine declaration 2020.

“At the end of our valuation, our advice and recommendation will be presented to Mr. President and at that point he and he alone can take that decision when the lockdown would either be extended or it will stop at the expiration of 14 days.

“In his address to the nation he did say 14 days in the first instance, so it is open, it is based on what has happened within this 14 days, have they been met, have they satisfied the objectives, has it gone in the direction we wanted it go.

“If that has been achieved, he will look at all the information available to him as the president of Nigeria and i can assure you that he will take a decision that is in the best interest of the people of Nigeria”, Mustapha said.

Earlier, Mustapha in a briefing, said the taskforce was in Lagos to inspect facilities put in place by the government for the control of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

He assured all Nigerians of the unwavering commitment of Buhari to this war against COVID-19 and his readiness to mobilize resources to achieve national objectives.

He stated that it was not the desire of government to punish its citizen by restricting their movement, but rather out of the abundance of caution, that difficult decision was taken to save lives by preventing spread.

“Reports have been received on the general level of satisfactory compliance in Lagos with the lockdown order and we have similarly received reports of violations. In this case, I commend the instant action taken by the Lagos State Government by prosecuting and convicting notable violators, which shows that nobody should be above the law.

“In recognition of the impact of the lockdown order on the poor, physically challenged, the elderly and the vulnerable, Mr. President approved the release of 70,000 metric tons of grains from the strategic grains reserve. Out of this, about 6,800 will be distributed in Lagos, Ogun and FCT while the rest will be distributed to the 13 frontline states that have recorded cases of the COVID-19 disease. I assure you that the distribution of the Lagos state share will commence shortly.

“Mr. President has similarly approved the payment of 2 months Conditional Cash Transfer to 2.6 million poor and vulnerable already registered in the social safety net program. On behalf of Mr. President, I wish to commend the government of Lagos State magnificently controlling the pandemic and for putting in place isolation centers, ICU facilities as well as establishing a wide network of contact tracing,” he said.

Mustapha stressed that the nation was at war with an unseen but very potent enemy and that to successfully prosecute the war, “we must own it, we must participate in it, we must create awareness, we must obey rules and regulations, we must stay at home when ordered and we must not conceal any information from the medical and disease control authorities.

“One person who is infected in a community can endanger the entire community regardless of its size and status or position of the people living there. Coronavirus is real and dangerous. Let me appeal to Lagosians, indeed, all Nigerians to play our roles in defeating Coronavirus.

“To win the war, we must abide by instructions to stay-at-home, maintain social distancing, personal hygiene and report all suspected cases to the designated health authorities.”

On arrival at the Lagos State House, Mustapha, had expressed optimism that the current challenge of the ravaging COVID-19 in Nigeria would soon be over in view of sustained efforts to curtail it in the country.

He however, commanded efforts of the Lagos State Government towards curtailing the ravaging pandemic, saying, “Lagos is doing a great job” on containment.

Mustapha, therefore, urged residents of the state to continue to give government necessary support in the fight against COVID-19 inorder to kick it out of the country.

He continued, “Thank you for the great job that you’re doing in supporting the work that is being undertaken by His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State and his team.

“We’ve just taken a tour of this facilities that is very important place in anticipation that we’ll have to receive patients here.

“So far, I think Lagos State is doing a great job. From what I’ve seen here, they’re putting up a first class and a world class facility that will help us in the management of those that are affected with COVID-19.

“I think we are on course and the basic strategy of the national response is containment, try as much as possible to reduce spreads to tracking of those that have already been infected so that we minimize the the case of community transmission.”

Mustapha, charged the media to continue to broadcast to the people on the need to “maintain social distances, we need to maintain personal hygiene and we need to report anybody within the community who has shown symptoms of the infection, so that as quickly as possible, the help that is desired can be extended to those persons. So thank you very much.”

Also speaking, Governor Sanwo-Olu commended the taskforce for coming to the state to inspect the facilities, saying efforts were being intensified to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic is defeated.

Vanguard Nigeria News

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