Covid-19: Lockdown still an option if current spikes fail to abate -FG

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has warned the nation might resort to another lockdown if the current spiking rate of Covid-19 infections fails to abate.

National Incident Manager of the PTF, Dr Mukhtar Muhammad, who gave the warning in Abuja on Wednesday, said as part of efforts to avert another lockdown, Nigerians must strictly comply with prescribed guidelines and protocols.

Muhammad said the PTF is working with Governors on achieving successful enforcement of already issued guidelines and protocols across the country.

“Lockdown is not completely out of the table, we are monitoring the numbers, we are monitoring the statistics across the country and where necessary we’ll have to take severe measures.

“For now, the PTF is very much aware of the hardship that lockdown brings along, particularly for low-income earners, for small businesses, for people who have to go out daily to get their daily bread, so we are doing everything possible not to have a total lockdown in the country, but for us not to reach that stage, we have to ensure that people take responsibility,” he advised.

Explaining the strategy being put together to stave off a possible lockdown situation, Muhammad cited a planned legal framework for the enforcement operations, which he said would include very stringent actions.

“There are plans to introduce these enforcements and what we are doing now at the PTF is trying to identify areas; cities or towns where the infection has been reported to be very high, both in terms of people who have been tested and found to be positive, and also in terms of what we call incidence, which is the number of people that are positive, divided by population.

“We are looking at these and we have identified these areas where we’ll need to implement these stringent measures. We will have teams that will ensure compliance; we are working with state governments to ensure that they set up task forces that will move round to ensure compliance. Mr. The President has received the recommendation from the PTF and we are waiting for Mr. President to accede because it has a legal implication.

“We’ll want to be sure that we are covered even before we start the enforcement. We’ll start prosecuting people who are violating protocols, we’ll also start closing down and locking down businesses, institutions, public places that are not complying to the protocols.”