The Federal Government has said there will be repercussions for Very Important Personalities (VIPs) and government officials who flout travel protocols.
In a video posted by the Ministry of Information and Culture on Wednesday via Twitter, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, vowed to clamp down on officials for failing to obey travel protocols including undergoing compulsory COVID-19 tests after returning into the country.
“We want to change people’s behaviour. We’ve shown that we are going to do it. We have done it and we will continue to do it every week until things change. It is not like we want to punish people but if you continue to put our country at risk, we will take action,” he said.
“Next week, we will publish another 100, subsequent weeks, we will continue to publish until we see an improvement in terms of the compliance. So, whether you are a VIP, whether you are a government official, whether you are in a leadership position, if you do not follow the travel protocols, there will be repercussions.
“We do not publish names because the essence of doing the entire exercise is to force people to comply with our protocols.”
Sani’s remarks comes four days after the Federal Government released the passport numbers of 100 travellers who failed to undergo COVID-19 tests after returning into the country.
It placed a travel restriction on the passport holders for six months from January 1, 2021, to June 30, 2021.
All prospective corps members will undergo mandatory COVID-19 tests ahead of the reopening of orientation camps nationwide, the Federal Government has said.
The FG also said all National Youth Service Corps orientation camps would reopen effective November 10, 2020.
Mr. Sani Aliyu, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, stated this during a briefing in Abuja on Thursday.
“We have developed guidelines with the NCDC (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control) and the NYSC in the preparation for the reopening of the orientation camps on the 10th of November, 2020,” Mr Aliyu said.
The orientation camps have been shut since March this year as part of measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has disbursed N1billion each to 32 states in the country amid the pandemic.
PTF Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu announced the disbursement of the sum on Monday during a briefing in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
“We have released money to the state governments recently, to 32 state governments. Each state government was given a billion naira.
“This is for the purpose of driving their COVID responses and we are asking them to prioritise testing in addition to surveillance activities linked to COVID-19,” he said.
Decline In Cases
On his part, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, lamented the decline in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.
Ihekweazu, who briefed reporters earlier today in the nation’s capital, said the Federal Government observed a decline of 36 per cent in the infections recorded in August compared to those reported in July.
He, however, explained that the government cannot celebrate yet, adding that testing in many states is very low.
“The number of reported cases daily has declined nationally in the last few weeks. We have seen a 36 per cent decline in August compared to July on national figures.
“Unfortunately, we cannot celebrate this until we test sufficient figures in every state,” the NCDC boss maintained.
Call For Greater Vigilance
Speaking also, PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) called for greater vigilance both on the part of the government and the citizens.
He explained that the call is important because the country’s economy has been devastated by the global pandemic.
The SGF stressed that President Muhammad Buhari administration as a serious government is pushing through with reforms that will help the nation’s economy recover from the effect of the virus.
“The call for greater vigilance is underscored by the fact that our economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic and we are pushing through with home-grown economic recovery strategies to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic,” he said.
While cautioning Nigerians on the need to observe all protocol stipulated by health authorities, he regretted that the masses no longer wear facemasks.
Ahead of the resumption of international flights in the country, the Federal Government has vowed to sanction air passengers who fail to comply with the guidelines put in place to flatten the COVID-19 curve.
Speaking during a briefing in Abuja on Monday, the Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu said the government is committed to the safety and security of Nigerians.
Aliyu said the PTF is working with relevant stakeholders in the aviation sector to ensure that Nigeria does not witness a fresh spike of infections.
“It is very likely we will put in place measures to enforce this by suspending travel up to six months or deny foreign travels altogether.
“But beyond the sanctions, because as responsible citizens, we all want our country to continue to be COVID-19-free once we get on top of the pandemic, so, we expect the vast number of travellers to continue to comply with these simple, straightforward measures we are putting in place for the benefit of our country and for the health of our citizens,” he said.
He however warned that passengers entering the country must undergo the mandatory test to ascertain their COVID-19 status.
According to him, any passenger who possesses the symptoms of the coronavirus disease will not be granted entry into the aircraft even after getting a medical report that indicates they are free from the virus.
“There will definitely be sanctions if they do not comply. Sanctions to the airlines if they allow passengers without a COVID-19 PCR result to board, they will be sanctioned on arrival in Nigeria, that is the airline.
“For passengers that decline to do the test, at Day 7, we will still allow them after Day 14 to have a test done after which their details will be forwarded to Port Health, Immigration, and part of the security services.”
Aliyu’s remarks come three days after the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said the resumption of international flights has now been shifted to September 5.
NCAA The earlier date had been August 29.
The Director-General of the NCAA, Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, revealed the news during a Presidential Task Force COVID-19 briefing in Abuja.
He said while airlines and airports were ready to operate, other non-aviation logistics prompted the one-week extension.
“We have other non-aviation logistics we are still working on, mostly the COVID-19 protocol tests and online platform,” he said. “We need to get this ready.”
Mr Nuhu described September 5 as a “sacrosanct date”, noting that “the initial announcement was anytime from the 29th.”
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, says the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) timetable is not determined by Nigeria.
PTF Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu said the current COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the world will eventually go away.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he noted that the Federal Government will not want a serious spill-over in the nation’s academic calendar that will affect graduating students.
“We have a large number of students that are in their exit year. They need to move on. We have exams that are not specific only to Nigeria but in West Africa, WAEC for instance.
“We need to find a way to safely get these students to do their exams and exit, otherwise we will have a serious spill-over when it comes to education.
“COVID will go away eventually. It may take a year or longer, but what we don’t want is to have such a significant impact on our educational programme where children are unable to move at home where there is no mobility,” he said on Wednesday.
Aliyu’s remarks come two days after the PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, hinted that schools will be reopened nationwide for graduating students with immediate effect.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the reopening of schools nationwide.
“I am pleased to inform you that Mr President has carefully considered the 5th Interim Report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, the Phase Two of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020, through Midnight of Monday, 27 July 2020.
“Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect: Maintaining the current phase of the national response, for another four weeks in line with modifications to be expatiated by the National Coordinator;
“Permission of movement across State borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July 2020;
“Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by States, in particular, the use of face masks in public places;
“Safe re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations,” he said.
The Federal Government has spent N169million on the evacuation of Nigerians returning from overseas.
This was revealed by the National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, on Tuesday.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Aliyu said the PTF got N22billion for the effective handling of COVID-19 response in the country.
“At the moment, as far as I know, only N169million was spent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the evacuation of Nigerians, mainly on their accommodation.
“We haven’t spent much because of the need for prudence in the first place. We need to have clear evidence. A lot of the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of government are yet to do their quick procurement,” he said.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 says it does not recommend that people should go to places of worship, but if they have to, the task force will provide guidelines that would make it safe to do so.
The PTF National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, said this at the briefing on Tuesday.
In a set of guidelines later released by the PTF, places of worship were asked to comply with measures such as the mandatory use of face masks by worshippers, provision of handwashing spots at the entrances, use of hand sanitizers with at least sixty per cent alcohol content and mandatory temperature checks.
The PTF also mandated that facilities be structured in a way that physical distancing can be observed and as much as possible, congregants avoid activities such a hugging, shaking or kissing.
It also noted that church/mosque volunteers (ushers, choir, security etc) that have underlying illnesses should not be allowed to serve, while the time for worship services should not be more than one hour.
See below the full list of guidelines.
1. Places of worship must comply with all non-pharmaceutical measures such as mandatory use of face mask by worshippers, hand washing spots at the entrances, hand sanitizers with at least Sixty percent alcohol content and mandatory temperature checks.
2. Facilities should be structured in a way that physical distancing is observed.
3. Worshippers are advised not to touch each other in a manner such as hugging, shaking, kissing etc.
4. Families are advised to stay together during the worship services.
5. Church/mosque volunteers (ushers, choir, security etc.) that have underlying illnesses should not be allowed to serve.
6. The time for worship services should not be more than one hour.
7. Churches/mosques with high number of worshippers can divide their services into two or three depending on the number to ensure physical distancing, and should have break of at least 30mins between the services to allow worshippers wash their hands or to disinfect the centers.
8. Mosques are to open 20mins before prayers and close 20mins after prayers.
9. No Islamiya schools.
10. Prayer sections should be staggered.
11. Worship centers should have different entry and exit points.
12. No social gatherings before or after services.
13. Business outlets at worship centers should remain closed.
14. The elderly above 55 are advised to observe there worship services at home.
15. Churches/Mosques should improve there environmental hygiene.
16. Windows should be left open during services, as it’s more dangerous to hold services in enclosed places.
17. Open-air services are preferable.
18. There should be frequent cleaning of centers.
19. Surfaces should be cleaned with diluted bleach.
20. Worshippers with COVID19 symptoms should not go to places of worship.
21. Churches/Mosques should keep record of staff and worshippers for contact tracing purposes.
22. Persons identified with high temperature after a temperature check should be turned back.
23. It is better to stay at home and worship than to go to worship centers.
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has reduced the nationwide curfew from 10pm to 4am.
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, announced this on Monday at the daily briefing of the task force in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
He said, “Effective from tomorrow, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, the easing of the lockdown will be characterised by the following: The nationwide curfew will remain in place but the timing of this will be reduced to 10pm-4am.”
“And just to clarify, the purpose of the curfew is to limit social interactions and, therefore, reduce the risk of transmission of the virus,” he added.
Dr Aliyu echoed that persons who are on essential duty remain exempted from the curfew as the nation moves into the second phase of the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown.
He stated that such persons include healthcare and media services providers, as well as those working in the nation’s critical sectors.
The PTF national coordinator also announced the reopening of the nation’s financial sectors, adding that they would be fully operational.
He said, “There will be a full opening of the financial sector, with banks now allowed to operate normal working hours – five days a week.
“The mass gathering of 20 people outside of a workplace or places of worship remains prohibited.”
“There will be controlled access to markets and locations of economic activities, but local authorities will continue to provide guidance on opening times,” Dr Aliyu added.
He explained that the restricted opening of places of worship would be based on the protocols of the respective state governments.
According to the PTF national coordinator, this will be done with strict guidelines on physical distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions and would apply to regular church and mosque services only.
On movement from one state to the other, he said, “All interstate travels by individuals remain prohibited except for essential travel and the movement of goods and services.
“Just to make it clear, all restrictions on the free movement of goods and services are now removed in this phase.”
The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, has urged Nigerians to continue to show understanding with the Federal Government in the period of the coronavirus pandemic.
He noted that adequate measures were already in place to curb the spread of the disease, stressing that it was only a matter of time before COVID-19 wipes out.
Dr Aliyu made the remarks while giving an update on the activities of the task force during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
“It (COVID-19) will go away; it’s only a matter of time but what we don’t want is for COVID-19 to carry away a lot of our people and that wouldn’t be the right thing,” he said on the political programme.
The national coordinator added, “We will continue to push, we will continue to work, to try and keep this pandemic down but certainly, if people can observe those simple measures that we have advised, it will go a very long way towards making sure that the public remains healthy until this pandemic dies out because COVID-19 will go away.”
The President, in a broadcast on March 29, stated that the movement restriction which would last for an initial period of 14 days would take effect from 11pm on March 30.
Ahead of the date which the lockdown is expected to end – April 13, some residents in the affected areas have raised security concerns.
Asked whether there was any indication that President Buhari would extend the lockdown, Dr Ahmed insisted that the task force has submitted its recommendation and the decision to extend would only be taken by the President.
The national coordinator, who frowned on the action of some state governments to relax restriction protocols recently, stressed that a majority of the infections were not linked to travels abroad or linked clearly to positive cases.
He said, “In other words, community transmission, I believe, is already happening and we need to pick up those that are positive so that we can isolate them very quickly and make sure that transmission stops.
“So far, we have done well over 3,000 tests. For a population like Nigeria, that’s not really high.”
According to Dr Aliyu, one of the problems is that the government is not getting a lot of demand from certain parts of the country, especially in the North.
“We know there are challenges in terms of getting the test done. People have complained about the difficulty in accessing our telephone services and we are certainly working with NCC and others to increase the telephone channels,” he added.
The Federal Government has appealed to the state governments to be mindful of the present situation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.
This is according to the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, who briefed reporters in Abuja on Friday.
He decried the action of some state governments to relax the measures earlier put in place to curtail the spread of coronavirus.
Dr Aliyu said, “We have noted that some states have started lifting the ban or relaxing containment protocols and this is really not the right time to do so – partly because we still have an ongoing pandemic which is global.
“It is also not the right time to do so because we could end up having real recrudescence of infections,” he added.
Getting On Top Of Coronavirus
The remarks by the national coordinator of the task force followed the relaxation of the measures against coronavirus spread in some states, to allow the residents to celebrate Easter.
He, however, believes rather than taking such decisions, authorities in various states need to know that the pandemic is not just about Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun.
Dr Aliyu stressed that Nigerians and their leaders have various roles to play to win the fight against COVID-19 in the country.
“At this point, I am appealing to our local community leaders, religious and traditional leaders, as well as the state authorities to continue to support and encourage the public to maintain those protective measures that are important in getting on top of this infection,” he pleaded.
The national coordinator stated, “There is also a very strong need for the state governments to work in harmony and align with the Federal Government in our effort to deal with this pandemic.
“This pandemic is not just an Abuja or Lagos issue; it is a national issue.”