Buhari declares interstate lockdown as nationwide curfew begins Monday

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Monday ordered a nationwide curfew from 8pm to 6am beginning from Monday next week to curb COVID-19 spread.

He also ordered two-week total lockdown in Kano State with immediate effect.

Buhari had, on March 30, ordered lockdown for an initial period of 14 days in the federal capital Territory, Lagos and, Ogun states, followed by two-week extension, which ended at 11.59 pm on Monday. Several other states introduced similar restrictions.

However, the President, in a televised address on Monday, approved a “phased and gradual easing” of the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states.

He, however, extended the lockdown until May 4, when the nationwide curfew would take effect.

Buhari said, “In line with the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the various Federal Government committees that had reviewed socio-economic matters and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, I have approved a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states effective from Monday, May 4, 2020.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states shall remain in place until these new ones come into effect on Monday, 4th May 2020.

“However, this will be followed strictly with aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors.”

Speaking on the guidelines for the just announced curfew, the President stated that all movements between 8pm and 6am would be prohibited except for essential services.

Buhari bans inter-state movements

He added, “There will be a ban on non-essential inter-state passenger travel until further notice. Partial and controlled interstate movement of goods and services will be allowed for the movement of goods and services from producers to consumers.

Use of face masks compulsory

“We will strictly ensure the mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public in addition to maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene.

Social, religious gatherings remain banned

“Furthermore, the restrictions on social and religious gatherings shall remain in place. State governments, corporate organisations and philanthropists are encouraged to support the production of cloth masks for citizens.”

Buhari, however, noted that the revised guidelines would not apply to Kano State, saying he was “gravely concerned about the unfortunate developments in Kano in recent days.”

He said although an in-depth investigation was ongoing, the Federal Government would deploy its manpower, material and technical resources to strengthen and support the state government’s efforts with immediate effect.

The President added, “In Kano, and indeed many other states that are recording new cases, preliminary findings show that such cases are mostly from interstate travel and emerging community transmission.

President orders total lockdown in Kano

“With regard to Kano, I have directed the enforcement of total lockdown for a period of two weeks effective immediately.

“The Federal Government shall deploy all the necessary human, material and technical resources to support the state in controlling and containing the pandemic and preventing the risk of further spread to neighbouring states.”

According to him, the PTF shall provide sector specific details to allow for preparations by governments, businesses and institutions.

“In respect to the above guidelines, state governors may choose to adapt and expand based on their unique circumstances provided they maintain alignment with the guidelines issued above.

“To support our businesses and traders, the monetary and fiscal authorities shall deploy all the necessary provisions needed for production to continue and thus, jobs restored,” he said.

He, however, conceded that the lockdowns had come at a “very heavy economic cost,” adding that many citizens had lost their means of livelihood, while many businesses had shut down.

The President stated that no country could afford the full impact of sustained lockdown while awaiting the development of vaccines.

He said, in the last two weeks, the federal and state governments had jointly deliberated on how to protect health while also preserving livelihoods, leveraging global best practices.

Buhari added, “We assessed how our factories, markets, traders and transporters can continue to function while at the same time adhering to the NCDC guidelines on hygiene and social distancing.

“We assessed how our children can continue to learn without compromising their health. We reviewed how our farmers can safely plant and harvest in this rainy season to ensure our food security is not compromised.”

The President expressed his condolences to the families of all Nigerians that lost loved ones as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, describing the deaths as “our collective loss.”

He said though initial models had predicted that Nigeria would record an estimated 2,000 confirmed cases in the first month after the index case, the measures put in place had yielded positive outcomes.

Buhari noted that the proportion of cases imported from other countries had reduced to only 19 per cent of new cases, showing that “our border closures yielded positive results.”

“Today, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has accredited 15 laboratories across the country with an aggregate capacity to undertake 2,500 tests per day across the country.”

He added that several new fully equipped treatment and isolation centres had been operationalised across the country thereby increasing bed capacity to about 3,000.

The President commended the state governors for the activation of state-level emergency operation centres, establishment of new treatment centres and the delivery of aggressive risk communication strategies.

Credit: The Punch

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