PTF says compliance with directives on COVID-19 lockdown ease “poor”

Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF)

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 says it has observed poor compliance to physical distancing and use of face masks as ease of five weeks lockdown on Lagos, FCT and Ogun states began on Monday.

Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and PTF Chairman, made the observation at the PTF daily briefing on COVID-19, on Monday in Abuja.

Mustapha, who decried the chaotic scenes around banks and other financial institutions, reiterated that the danger of infection was not over and that individual actions would contribute to the success or failure of the measures.

He urged citizens to minimise the risks of getting infected while trying to transact businesses in the banks.

Mustapha also urged banks to ensure that their ATMs and online banking systems were in good order and stocked regularly to avoid convergence of customers in their premises.

He said the PTF fully understood the desire of Nigerians to come out to continue their lives after  five weeks of lockdown, but added that state governments and security agencies had been advised to enforce the measures rigidly and prosecute violators.

“Let me remind you, once more, that this easing up is in phases and those who are permitted to open have clearly been defined.

“Our admonition to Nigerians is that, it is still desirable to stay at home if there is no compelling reason to go out and to comply with the measures always, whether at home or not,” he said.

The SGF said that the PTF had also received reports on the level of compliance with the nationwide ban on interstate movement.

“The objective of the ban is to slow down the spread of virus across state boundaries. Government is determined to enforce this policy,” he said. 

The PTF chairman also noted that there had  been very noticeable relocation of Quranic education pupils (Almajiri), from one state to another.

“With the ban on interstate movement, the continuation of this exercise will not be in alignment with the guidelines issued,” he warned.

He said  that the PTF would engage with the respective state governments on how to achieve their objectives.

Mustapha said that ​as the country journeyed into the new phase of measures, it was imperative to reiterate the importance of adherence to the guidelines, especially with preliminary reports indicating that there was “observable high level of breaches by the citizenry”.

He assured Nigerians of fair treatment by security agents, but warned against attacks on security personnel discharging their duties.

On the situation in Kano State, he said that teams dispatched from Abuja had continued to work with the state structure and had recorded appreciable achievements.

“We have achieved a lot in the area of manpower support, equipment deployment and usage, increased testing capacity and treatment centres.

“Efforts are also ongoing to upscale the training of medical personnel in Kano and neighbouring states on the management of infectious diseases and to provide them with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for protection.

“Private hospitals have also been advised to seek accreditation before taking up the management of infectious diseases,” he said.

Mustapha said that the federal government, in collaboration with the Kano government, was  focused on strengthening existing structures, especially for sustainability.

“The results coming out from the state is a comforting indication that efforts put in place, which are being strengthened, will yield expected results,” he said.

He said that the PTF had also received reports indicating that medical facilities and doctors were turning back sick patients over the fear that their illnesses were COVID-19-related.

He appealed to the facilities, especially public hospitals, not to neglect the treatment of other ailments because such actions had resulted in avoidable deaths.

The National Coordinator, PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, said that the PTF was working very closely with Kano state on its response to the outbreak and had also mobilised a strong team led by the Federal Ministry of Health to support case management aspect of the response.

Aliyu said that Nigerians must all wear their masks, keep washing their hands, maintain physical distancing of two meters, and observe all the other directives issued for the period of gradual and phased easing of the lockdown.

“Easing of lockdown is in no way a license or permission to return to business as usual.

“It is absolutely necessary to continue to maintain all the measures that will protect us,” he said.