Paris Residents Flee As New COVID-19 Lockdown Looms

Paris residents arrive to catch trains leaving from the Gare Montparnasse serving the west and southwest of France, in Paris on March 19, 2021. Residents packed inter-city trains leaving the capital city on March 19, 2021, hours ahead of a new lockdown in the French capital imposed to combat a surge in coronavirus infections. PHOTO: LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP

 

Paris residents packed inter-city trains leaving the capital on Friday hours ahead of a new lockdown in the French capital imposed to combat a surge in coronavirus infections.

The new restrictions, announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex late on Thursday, apply from midnight Friday to around a third of the country’s population affecting Paris and several other regions in the north and south.

The government has insisted that the new month-long lockdown will be more limited than the two others imposed last year, with schools open and outdoor exercise allowed for an unlimited amount of time.

President Emmanuel Macron even insisted Friday that the word “lockdown” (confinement in French) was not appropriate to describe the government’s strategy.

“What we want is to put a brake on the virus without shutting ourselves in. This is not being locked down,” he said at a meeting at the Elysee Palace.

“Strictly speaking, the term lockdown is not right. What we are talking about are supplementary braking measures,” he said.

But the approach of the new curbs in Paris encouraged many to leave the notoriously cramped city for areas without the measure, such as Brittany, the southwest Atlantic coast and Lyon in the southeast.

A spokesperson for national rail operator SNCF told AFP that trains for those destinations were now fully booked after having a 60-70 percent level of occupancy on previous Fridays.

Trains leaving Montparnasse station in Paris — which serves destinations in Brittany and the southwest — were completely full after a rush of bookings late Thursday.

Maiwenn, a 19-year old student clutching a giant suitcase, said she had decided to leave Paris to spend the rest of the university year with her family in Saint-Brieuc in Brittany.

“I’m going to stay there until the end of the term,” scheduled for mid-April, she said. “It’s been roughly a year that our courses have been on distance learning so we’re starting to get used to it.”

The other regions affected by the new measures notably include the Hauts-de-France region of northeast France which covers the city of Lille, and the Alpes-Maritimes on the Mediterranean, as well as Seine-Maritime and the Eure in the north.

– Haircuts and exercise –

Health Minister Olivier Veran expressed hope that this regional lockdown would be the last, with the situation helped by the onset of spring and the vaccination campaign.

However vaccinations have been sluggish so far in France, with just 5.6 million receiving a first dose, and the situation was not helped by the temporary suspension of the Astra-Zeneca jab this week.

Prime Minister Jean Castex, 55, on Friday was given the AstraZeneca jab to build confidence in the vaccine, even as France’s health regulator said it should only be given to those over 55 after reports of blood clots.

As in previous lockdowns, a form written out or downloaded on a phone will be needed to justify why a person has left home in areas under the new restrictions.

Outdoor exercise is allowed up to 10 kilometres (six miles) from home for an unlimited amount of time but non-essential shops will have to close.

However bookshops — deemed as essential to public wellbeing — can stay open and government spokesman Gabriel Attal said hair salons could also continue to operate with reinforced sanitary protocols.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that the new measures would cost the treasury 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in additional compensation, relief and unemployment benefits.

According to a poll by Odoxa for Le Figaro and France Info just 56 percent of residents in the areas affected plan to abide by the new lockdown rules.

AFP

COVID-19: Hungary Extends Lockdown To February 1

This handout image realeased by the Hungarian Foreign Ministry on November 19, 2020, shows gloved hands of Hungarian officials unpacking the first load of a Russian-made coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine, arrived in their laboratory, in Budapest.  Matyas BORSOS / AFP / Hungarian Foreign Ministry KKP

 

Hungary has extended partial lockdown measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus until February 1, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday.

The measures — including a curfew between 8 pm and 5 am, a ban on gatherings, mandatory mask-wearing in public, and online tuition for high schools and universities — were brought in as part of a state of emergency in place since November 11.

“The (government’s) operational taskforce has decided to extend the restrictions currently in place until February 1,” Orban said during a state media interview.

“As long as there are not enough vaccines, we will stick to the restrictions we have,” he said.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Morocco Approves AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine

The prime minister said primary schools and kindergartens can remain open.

On Friday, Hungary reported 115 new deaths due to Covid-19, bringing the country’s overall death toll to 10,440, while the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals reached 5,297, with 372 on ventilators.

AFP

Coronavirus Pandemic And Lockdown: How 2020 Changed The World

A hospital worker puts on gloves as part of her Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the COVID-19 ward at the Somerset Hospital in Cape Town, on July 2, 2020. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP)

 

When the world celebrated the dawn of a new decade with a blaze of firework parties and revelry on January 1, few could have imagined what 2020 had in store.

In the last 12 months, the novel coronavirus has paralysed economies, devastated communities and confined nearly four billion people to their homes. It has been a year that changed the world like no other for at least a generation, possibly since World War II.

More than 1.6 million people died. At least 72 million people are known to have contracted the virus, though the actual number is likely much higher. Children became orphans, grandparents were lost and partners bereaved as loved ones died alone in the hospital, bedside visits considered too dangerous to risk.

“This is a pandemic experience that’s unique in the lifetime of every single person on Earth,” says Sten Vermund, infectious disease epidemiologist and dean of Yale School of Public Health. “Hardly any of us haven’t been touched by it.”

COVID-19 is far from the deadliest pandemic in history. Bubonic plague in the 14th Century wiped out a quarter of the population. At least 50 million succumbed to Spanish Influenza in 1918-19. Thirty-three million people died of AIDS.

But contracting coronavirus is as simple as breathing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“I went to the gate of hell and came back,” said Wan Chunhui, a 44-year-old Chinese survivor who spent 17 days in hospital. “I saw with my own eyes that others failed to recover and died, which has had a big impact on me.”

The scale of the global disaster was scarcely imaginable when on December 31, Chinese authorities announced 27 cases of “viral pneumonia of unknown origin” that was baffling doctors in the city of Wuhan.

The next day, authorities quietly shut the Wuhan animal market initially linked to the outbreak. On January 7, Chinese officials announced they had identified the new virus, calling it 2019-nCoV. On January 11, China announced the first death in Wuhan. Within days, cases flared across Asia, in France and the United States.

By the end of the month, countries were airlifting foreigners out of China. Borders around the world started to close and more than 50 million people living in Wuhan’s province of Hubei were in quarantine.

New disease, lockdown

AFP images of a man lying dead on his back outside a Wuhan furniture shop, wearing a face mask and holding a plastic bag, came to encapsulate the fear pervading the city. AFP could not confirm the cause of his death at the time. Emblematic of the horror and claustrophobia also was the Diamond Princess cruise ship on which more than 700 people ultimately contracted the virus and 13 died.

As the horror went global, the race for a vaccine had already begun. A small German biotech company called BioNTech quietly put their cancer work aside and launched another project. Its name? “Speed of Light”.

On February 11, the World Health Organization named the new disease as Covid-19. Four days later, France reported the first confirmed death outside Asia. Europe watched in horror as northern Italy turned into an epicentre.

“It’s worse than the war,” said Orlando Gualdi, mayor of the Lombardy village of Vertova in March, where 36 people died in 25 days. “It’s absurd to think that there could be such a pandemic in 2020.”

First Italy, then Spain, France and Britain went into lockdown. WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic. US borders, already closed to China, shut to much of Europe. For the first time in peacetime, the summer Olympics were delayed.

By mid-April, 3.9 billion people or half of humanity were living under some form of lockdown. From Paris to New York, from Delhi to Lagos, and from London to Buenos Aires, streets fell eerily silent, the all too frequent wail of ambulance sirens, a reminder that death loomed close.

Scientists had warned for decades of a global pandemic, but few listened. Some of the richest countries in the world, let alone the poorest floundered in the face of an invisible enemy. In a globalised economy, supply chains ground to a halt. Supermarket shelves were stripped bare by panic buyers.

Chronic underinvestment in healthcare was brutally exposed, as hospitals struggled to cope and intensive care units were rapidly overwhelmed. Underpaid and overworked medics battled without personal protective equipment.

“I graduated in 1994 and government hospitals were utterly neglected then,” said Nilima Vaidya-Bhamare, a doctor in Mumbai, India, one of the worst-hit countries. “Why does it take a pandemic to wake people up?” she asked in May.

In New York, the city with more billionaires than any other, medics were photographed having to wear bin liners. A field hospital was erected in Central Park. Mass graves were dug on Hart Island.

‘Absolute calamity’

“It is a scene out of a horror movie,” said Virgilio Neto, mayor of Manaus in Brazil. “We are no longer in a state of emergency but rather of absolute calamity.” Bodies were piling up in refrigerated trucks and bulldozers were digging mass graves.

Businesses closed. Schools and colleges shut. Live sport was cancelled. Commercial airline travel saw its most violent contraction in history. Shops, clubs, bars and restaurants closed. Spain’s lockdown was so severe that children couldn’t leave home. People were suddenly trapped, cheek by jowl in tiny apartments for weeks on end.

Those who could, worked from home. Zoom calls replaced meetings, business travel and parties. Those whose jobs were not transferrable were often sacked or forced to risk their health and work regardless.

In May, the pandemic had wiped out 20 million American jobs. The pandemic and global recession could push to 150 million the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2021, the World Bank has warned.

Social inequities, which for years had been growing, were exposed like never before. Hugs, handshakes and kisses fell by the wayside. Human interaction took place behind plexiglass, face masks and hand sanitizer.

Instances of domestic violence soared, so did mental health problems. As city dwellers with means congratulated themselves on riding out the pandemic at palatial second homes in the countryside and governments floundered, tempers boiled among those trapped in cities and rage spilled onto the streets.

The United States, the world’s biggest economy and a country without universal healthcare, rapidly became the single worst-hit nation. More than 300,000 people have died while President Donald Trump pooh-poohed the threat and touted questionable treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and floated the idea of injecting disinfectant.

By May, he launched Operation Warp Speed, with the US government spending $11 billion on developing a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year. Trump touted it as the biggest US endeavour since creating the atom bomb in World War II.

Not even the rich and powerful could buy immunity. In October, Trump contacted Covid-19 as had Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro in July. Trump’s response to the pandemic likely helped cost him the election to Joe Biden. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent three days in the ICU with coronavirus in April.

A-list movie star Tom Hanks and his wife fell sick. Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest footballers of his generation, tennis champion Novak Djokovic, Madonna, Prince Charles and Prince Albert II all tested positive.

2021 vaccine drive

As the year draws to a close, governments are on the cusp of innoculating millions, starting with the elderly, medics and the most vulnerable before moving into mass campaigns presented as the only ticket back to a normal life.

In December, Britain became the first Western country to approve a vaccine for general use and then roll out the innoculation developed in the BioNTech lab in cooperation with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The United States quickly followed suit and regulatory approval is expected in Europe by the end of the month.

“If I can have it at 90 then you can have it too,” said Margaret Keenan, the British grandmother who became the first person to receive the approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

As wealthy nations rush to buy up stocks, 2021 will likely see China and Russia vie for influence by expanding beyond their borders their own, cheaper vaccines.

The extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic will leave a lasting legacy is far from clear. Some experts warn it could yet take years to build up herd immunity through mass vaccination, especially in the face of entrenched anti-vax beliefs in some countries. Others predict lives could snap back to normal by the middle of next year.

Many expect a more flexible approach to working from home, increased reliance on technology and supply chains that become more local. Travel is likely to resume, but how quickly is uncertain. The disease can leave otherwise healthy young people debilitated for months.

If home-working for white-collar workers remains common place, what will happen to commercial real-estate in downtown cities? Could urban centres start to de-populate as people, no longer bound by the commute, move away in search of greener or quieter lifestyles?

There are also concerns about the impact on civil liberties. Think tank Freedom House says democracy and human rights have deteriorated in 80 countries as governments abuse power in their response to the virus.

Others predict that fear of large crowds could have profound consequences, at least for public transport, cultural, sporting and entertainment venues, and the cruise ship industry.

“I think there are going to be some profound shifts in our society,” warned Yale School of Public Health’s Vermund.

The world economy is also in for a rough ride. IMF has warned of a recession worse than that which followed the 2008 financial crisis. But for many, the pandemic is just a spot on the long-term horizon of a far deadlier, far more challenging and far more life-changing calamity.

“COVID-19 has been something of a big wave that’s been hitting us, and behind that is the tsunami of climate change and global warming,” says astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell whose 2014 book “The Knowledge” advises how the world can rebuild following a global catastrophe.

South African Restaurants Protest COVID-19 Lockdown Restrictions

A chef at the Rocket restaurant in Parkhurst, Johannesburg, holds a banner during a protest organised by Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) to protest against the national lockdown regulation the South African government has issued to fight the rise of COVID-19 coronavirus cases, on July 22, 2020. – The reintroduction on the ban on alcohol sales and a night curfew by the South African government will have a negative economic impact on the hospitality industry. (Photo by Luca Sola / AFP)

 

 

South Africa restaurateurs protested on Wednesday against a coronavirus curfew and an alcohol ban that they said were wrecking their industry.

President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed a lockdown in March, restricting movement and gatherings.

He loosened some of the restrictions in June, allowing restaurants to reopen, initially for take-out and then for sit-down dining.

But last week, as numbers of infections surged, he brought back a night time curfew that starts at 1900 GMT, and banned afresh the sale of alcohol.

 

Workers at the Beerhouse, in Long Street join other people working in the restaurant, food and alcohol industry in a nationwide protest against provisions in South African government Lockdown legislation, which threatens the survival of the businesses and jobs, in Cape Town city centre, on July 22, 2020. – The reintroduction on the ban on alcohol sales and a night curfew by the South African government will have a negative economic impact on the hospitality industry. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP)

“What the government has put in place has been knee-capping,” Sean Barber, founder of the Rockets chain of restaurants, told AFP.

“It has literally wiped out our dinner trade. It’s decimating our industry,” he said.

Waving a placard with the inscription “#JobsSaveLives”, 32-year-old waiter Divine Moyo remarked “open we are, but normal is not the case”.

 

The manager of a restaurant in Parkhurst, Johannesburg, holds a banner during a national protest, organised by Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA), against the national lockdown regulations the South African government has issued to fight the rise of COVID-19 coronavirus cases, on July 22, 2020. – The reintroduction on the ban on alcohol sales and a night curfew by the South African government will have a negative economic impact on the hospitality industry. (Photo by Luca Sola / AFP)

 

Many patrons were still sceptical about dining out, but lockdown measures have added to the eateries’ woes.

“It’s just been quiet,” lamented Moyo. “I’m going to bed hungry, my family is struggling.”

In Cape Town, a city popular with tourists, restaurant owners laid out rows of empty tables and chairs along pavements or in the middle of streets in what they dubbed a “One Million Seats on the Streets” demonstration.

The industry employs an estimated 800,000 people.

 

People working in the restaurant, food and alcohol industry take part in a nationwide protest against provisions in South African government Lockdown legislation, which threatens the survival of the businesses and jobs, in Cape Town city centre, on July 22, 2020. – The reintroduction on the ban on alcohol sales and a night curfew by the South African government will have a negative economic impact on the hospitality industry. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP)

 

Restaurant Association of South Africa CEO Wendy Alberts said nearly a third of restaurants had already shuttered since the onset of lockdown and more closures were looming.

Her members want the government to urgently consider “lifting the liquor ban, having the curfew lifted”, among other demands.

“We want them (government) to consider just giving us a glass or two of wine with a main meal ordered. We want them to take the curfew away, (and) to allow us to just let our businesses to survive this,” said Jo-Ann Hinis, co-owner of Espresso cafe and bistro in Johannesburg.

Some of the placards carried during the protests read “#SaveOurIndustry” and “No Booze, we all loose.”

 

 

AFP

Kano Govt Lifts COVID-19 Lockdown, Bans Street Hawking

Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, spoke to reporters on Friday, February 7, 2020.
A file photo of Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, at a press briefing.

 

 

Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, has announced the suspension of lockdown earlier declared in the state to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Governor Ganduje made the announcement on Thursday while giving an update on the outbreak of COVID-19 in the state.

He also banned street hawking and begging, adding that it was compulsory for residents to wear face masks in public places.

The governor declared that final year students could resume school while all civil servants from Grade Level 12 should resume work from Monday next week.

He explained that the workers would be in the office from 9am to 2pm, noting that it was necessary to ensure the full opening of the state economy following the significant reduction in recorded cases of COVID-19.

Governor Ganduje, however, warned that the government would not hesitate to punish residents who fail to comply with the face mask policy.

He also advised people older than 55 years to stay at home, stressing that they were most vulnerable to the virus.

Kano State has been on lockdown since April 17 after the positive COVID-19 cases witnessed a significant rise.

Lagos Govt Considers Full Reopening Of Economy, Gives Conditions

A file photo of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu
A file photo of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

 

 

The Lagos State government is considering the full reopening of the critical sectors of its economy, following the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu who revealed this on Sunday, however, stated that the move would not be pushed in a hurry.

He spoke to reporters at the end of the State’s Security Council meeting which held at the State House in Marina, Lagos.

The governor disclosed that the government would launch an initiative soon, as part of the plans to enable it assess the level of readiness of the players in the identified sectors for supervised operations.

He explained that officials from the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC) and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) would be visiting restaurants, companies, and religious houses among others to assess their level of readiness.

 

A Permanent Lockdown?

Governor Sanwo-Olu admitted that with the size of the state’s economy and the number of businesses that operate in its domain, the government could not afford to keep people and businesses on lockdown permanently.

He said, “We are at a level where we are reviewing the other arms of the economy.”

“In the coming days, we will be starting what we call Register-to-Open, which means all players in the restaurant business, event centres, entertainment, malls, and cinemas will go through a form of re-registration and space management.

“There is a regulation that will be introduced to supervise this move. We will be coming to their facilities to assess their level of readiness for a future opening,” he added.

The governor believes it is time for businesses to tune themselves to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic with respect to how their workspaces should look like.

He stressed that social distancing and hygiene would be fully considered in determining whether mosques and churches can reopen in the future.

“We are reviewing and considering how the phased unlocking will happen. If we see a huge level of compliance, then it can happen in the next two to three weeks.

“If not, it could take a month or two months. It is until we are sure all of these players are ready to conform to our guidelines,” he insisted.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, therefore, urged businesses, religious houses, and residents to maintain the status quo while the state works out modalities for the full reopening of the economy.

UPDATED: IGP Rescinds Order On Movement Of Essential Workers

A file photo of IGP Mohammed Adamu. PHOTO: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun
A file photo of IGP Mohammed Adamu. PHOTO: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun

 

The Inspector-General of Police has rescinded an order restricting the movement of essential workers amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

Earlier on Tuesday, Channels Television reported on how essential workers were restricted from moving within Lagos at the beginning of the 8 pm curfew imposed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

According to security officials enforcing the order, health workers and journalists could not be allowed to move around after 8 pm.

However, in a statement late Tuesday, IGP Mohammed Adamu said essential workers can now go about their essential duties.

 

The IGP directed all “Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commands Commissioners of Police to give effect to these exemptions whilst enforcing the restriction orders.”

 

Going tough

On Tuesday, the IGP held a virtual conference, the first of its kind, with “strategic managers” of the police force.

At the end of the meeting, the police decided to implement “strict enforcement of inter-state movement restriction orders” in order to help curb the spread of the virus.

Essential services can move interstate, “but that should be before 8 pm,” Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, said on Tuesday. “Once it is 8 pm, it is a total lockdown. Whether essential services or not, interstate movement ceases by 8 pm.”

 

For weeks, members of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 have lamented noncompliance to social distancing measures, especially as the government sought to gradually reopen the economy.

“The PTF has been monitoring the level of compliance with some of the measures and early observations showed lack of compliance with social distancing and wearing of masks,” PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha said on May 4, the day the federal government relaxed lockdown measures in Lagos and Abuja.

There were also numerous reports of people found in trucks attempting to cross state borders, despite a presidential order that placed a “ban on non-essential inter-state passenger travels until further notice.”

Interstate travel has been identified as one of the major means through which the virus is transmitted in Nigeria. For example, Bayelsa’s seventh case was a doctor who had traveled to Delta state.

The National Orientation Agency (NOA) blamed security agencies for not enforcing the restriction of interstate movement, claiming some officials were collecting gratification for free passage.

Against the norm

However, the police’s restriction of essential workers went against government policy since lockdown measures were initiated.

In his latest national address, President Muhammadu Buhari announced an overnight curfew but excluded people who offer “essential services”.

“Specific directives have been issued to security agencies to strictly enforce the measures,” Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said on Tuesday during a briefing.

“I, however, wish to assure our essential workers, such as the frontline medical personnel, the media . . . that they will be adequately protected; your obligation is to always carry a valid means of identification,” he added.

Restricting essential workers is a risky business, Dr. Alero Roberts, a Public Health Physician, noted on Tuesday during Channels Television’s special COVID-19 program.

“What happens to patients?” She said. “What happens to the lady who goes into labour tonight? Has the Commissioner of Police thought about that?”

As it turned out, she didn’t have to wait long for answers. Minutes later, the IGP put out a statement affirming the need to guarantee the movement of essential workers beyond curfew limitations.

 

PTF Extends Gradual Easing Of COVID-19 Lockdown By Two Weeks

PTF Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, at a press briefing in Abuja on May 18, 2020.

 

 

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has extended the gradual easing of the lockdown by two weeks.

The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, announced this on Monday during the briefing of the members of the task force in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He said, “The reality is that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority.

“Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace. Advisedly, the current phase of eased restriction will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures will be pursued.”

Mustapha explained that the extension of the first phase of the lockdown ease was to enable other segments of the economy to prepare adequately for compliance with the guidelines, preparatory to reopening in the coming weeks.

According to him, the PTF shares the pains of Nigerians but the future of the country is in their hands and subsequent decisions will depend greatly on their compliance.

The PTF chairman also disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved some recommendations of the task force.

He said, “​The measures, exemptions, advisories, and scope of entities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased locked down, shall be maintained across the federation for another two weeks effective from 12 midnight of May 18 to June 1.”

Other recommendations approved by the President include ​intensifying efforts to communicate, identify, and manage COVID-19 cases; and ​elevating the level of community ownership of non-pharmaceutical interventions.

The lockdown order in Kano State, according to the SGF, has also been extended by another two weeks.

He noted that the President had announced a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory in his nationwide broadcast on April 27.

Mustapha added that the President also highlighted the additional nationwide measures aimed at ensuring that the nation’s economy continued to function within the limiting constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Katsina Relaxes COVID-19 Lockdown For One Week

A file photo of Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari.

 

 

Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, has ordered the relaxation of the lockdown order in the state for one week.

The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Mustapha Inuwa, announced this in a statement on Saturday.

He disclosed that the government took the decision to relax the lockdown at the regular review meeting with religious leaders and other stakeholders in the state.

Inuwa stated that the relaxation of the lockdown would be effective between Monday, May 18, and Sunday, May 24.

He explained that it would be observed within the local government areas (LGAs), although the ban on movement from one LGA to another remained in force.

READ ALSO: Buhari Renews Akabueze’s Tenure As Budget Office DG

The SSG revealed that Governor Masari has directed the Katsina and Daura Emirate Councils to ensure that district and village heads stay in their domain to observe the forthcoming Eid-El-Fitr celebration.

According to him, the governor has noted that two-thirds of the COVID-19 cases in the state were recorded within Katsina, the state capital.

Read the statement below:

INEC Issues Guidelines For Workers Resumption Nationwide

INEC To Conduct Supplementary Elections In Kano, Sokoto, Four Others March 23
FILE PHOTO: INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, at a press conference. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued guidelines for its workers nationwide to resume activities.

According to a statement by the commission the resumption of duty will be after the COVID-19 lockdown, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

The Commission notes that this is in line with the presidential directive of April 26 to gradually ease the lockdown measures imposed on the FCT Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States.

READ ALSO:COVID-19 Forces INEC To Suspend Regular Activities

The guidelines, according to the commission aim to reflect peculiarities of the Commission nationwide and it covers areas such as hygiene and personal health, sanitation within office premises, distancing measures, and related matters for it headquarters and state offices.

 

SEE FULL GUIDELINES BELOW:

 

(A) HYGIENE/ PERSONAL HEALTH

1. All offices of the Commission will be decontaminated before resumption and periodically to ensure environmental safety. Staff of our Facility Managers and INEC cleaners shall be trained on continuous disinfection/decontamination procedures.

2. The use of face masks is compulsory throughout the offices of the Commission, for all staff, visitors and contractors at all times.
a. Staff are encouraged to have their own face masks and will be guided on the
use of masks.

b. No staff/visitor should be allowed into the Commission without face masks.

3. Hand sanitizers will be provided at all entrances, exits and offices of the Commission. Meanwhile staff are encouraged to have their personal hand sanitizers.

4. Office clerks will be given guidelines on handling/decontamination of mails and files.

5. Funds will be made available to state offices to procure hand sanitizers for use in the office premises.

6. There must be provision of water and soap for hand washing at all entrances and exits of the Commission offices and during all Commission activities.

7. Infrared thermometers must be used at entry and exit points at all offices of the Commission, and proper protocols will be established for the operators.

8. The INEC Clinic and sickbay staff will be provided with and trained on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and early detection of COVID-19 symptoms. Specific guidelines will be made available to relevant staff handling the thermometer at the entrances on early detection of suspected cases.

9. Staff have responsibility to urgently report any suspected case with symptoms of the virus (cough, fever e.t.c) to the officer in-charge at the sickbay at the HQ, or any designated higher authority in other locations.

 

(B) SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES

1. Workspace distancing of at least two (2) metres should be adopted within offices, in the premises and the Commission meeting rooms.

2. There should be no loitering in the premises of the Commission by staff/visitors.
3. Under no circumstances shall visitors or contractors be allowed into the Commission except on authorized invitation by the Commission.

4. Visitors’ books must be maintained at each entry point and all floors, with contact details of all visitors. Wearing of identification cards and tags shall be strictly enforced.

5. Invitation regarding entry by visitors and contractors should be communicated to the main gate through a dedicated phone line.

6. Congregational prayers in the Mosque and Chapel are prohibited for the time being.

7. Use of canteen and other places of gathering (cooperative society meetings) are also prohibited for the time being.

8. Driving into the Commission should be limited to staff and other Government officials/ VIP visitors who may have been invited by the Commission.

9. The staff bus service is suspended for the time being until adequate measures to ensure social distancing and other safety measures are put in place.

 

(C) RESUMPTION OF WORK

1. Work hours shall be from 8am – 2pm, and staff are advised to strictly respect the curfew hours of 8pm to 6am.

2. Workdays shall be the alternate days of Monday, Wednesday and Friday (3days-a- week for now) based on the FG/PTF guidelines.

3. All heads of offices (National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners, Directors, and Heads of Departments/Units) are required to create a rotational roster of duty to limit staff that come to work on a given day to enable maintenance of social distancing within the offices.

4. The number of personnel working per shift at the Commission’s main gate and Commission’s entrances of all the Commissions offices should be reduced subject to consultation with the relevant service providers. This reduction extends to cleaners and other services being provided to the Commission.

5. Essential Duty staff will continue work as earlier approved by the Commission.

6. Only staff that own cars are allowed to resume work.

7. Staff that are resident in distant places and have to commute by public transport should stay at/ work from home.

8. Staff that travelled out of the FCT should remain until inter-state travel ban is lifted.

 

(D) CONDUCT OF MEETINGS

1. All meetings in the Commission should be limited to key participants and the duration of meetings be reduced to the necessary minimum.

2. Where necessary a combination of virtual and physical meetings should be held to minimize physical contacts; Zoom, Skype, Webinars and other Virtual interactive techniques will be explored and employed to meet internally and with external stakeholders.

3. Commission meetings and other meetings should be held at the Conference Hall or any other outsourced hall where the two (2) meter social distance can be maintained.

4. Wearing of face mask is compulsory at every meeting.

5. Meeting venues must be decontaminated before and after every meeting.

 

(E) STATE OFFICES

1. Re-opening of State and Local Government Area (LGA) offices will depend on existing lockdown guidelines issued by the respective State Governments.

2. Ondo and Edo state offices should re-open immediately due to the upcoming gubernatorial elections in consultation with the relevant State Governments for issuance of necessary permits.

3. Funds required to meet the hygiene protocols (decontamination, Hand sanitizers etc) will be made available to these two state offices as soon as possible, and to all other state offices as the need arises.

4. State offices should liaise with the various State COVID-19 Response secretariats on decontamination protocols for their respective States.

5. LGA offices should remain closed and open only where/when necessary.

 

MISCELLANEOUS CONSIDERATIONS

1. All staff above age 58 with underlying medical conditions (hypertension, diabetes, asthma, renal and hepatic diseases,) should work from home.

2. Other staff with underlying medical conditions should also work from home.

3. Pregnant and Nursing mothers should also work from home.

4. Stakeholder meetings should be conducted in line with guidelines on meetings above.

Nigerians Evacuated From UK Arrive In Abuja

An Air Peace flight coveying Nigerians from the UK, arriving at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on Friday. Photos: Sodiq Adelakun/ChannelsTV

 

Some Nigerians who were stranded in the United Kingdom following the COVID-19 lockdown have arrived in Abuja.

They arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at about 7:54 pm on Friday, hours after an initial flight from the UK had landed in Lagos State.

 

 

The returning Nigerians will, thereafter, be quarantined for 14 days before being allowed to leave for their various destinations, in line with the NCDC guidelines.

The process is required to ensure the coronavirus-status of every returnee is ascertained.

Read Also: Nigerians Evacuated From UK Arrive In Lagos

This comes some days after the Federal Government successfully evacuated the first batch of Nigerians stuck abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, 256 Nigerians arrived in Lagos from Dubai via an Emirates Airline flight.

 

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed that Over 4,000 Nigerians are waiting to be evacuated across the world back home.

According to the ministry, arrangements have been made for hotel accommodations in Lagos and Abuja, which will be used to quarantine the incoming citizens.

 

 

 

“The hotels have been inspected by the “Port Health Services, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Office of the National Security Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IPC,” the ministry said.

The evacuations have become important as the pandemic continues to sweep through the world.

PTF Releases Guidelines To Implement Gradual Easing Of COVID-19 Lockdown

FG Has Made Provision For N30,000 Minimum Wage, Says SGF
A file photo of the SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha.

 

 

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has released the guidelines for the implementation of the phased and gradual easing of the lockdown.

This was announced in a series of tweets posted via the task force’s Twitter handle on Friday.

The five-page document was signed by the PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.

It is divided into two sections which comprise the general information on new COVID-19 measures and protocols for the containment of the disease.

President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as part of measures to curb the spread of the disease.

He, however, announced in his Monday broadcast that there would be a gradual easing of the lockdown in the three cities from May 4.

See the documents below: