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COVID-19: We will lockdown again if cases rise — NCDC

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The Federal Government says if there is an explosion of cases of coronavirus infections, it will be left with no choice but to ask all nigerians to go back to their homes.

Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said this in Abuja yesterday at a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. He said initial reports on compliance with the guidelines on the implementation of the phased and gradual easing of the lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, which took effect yesterday were not too pleasing across the country He expressed concern that corporate organisations, especially banks, flouted the NCDC’s guideline for infection prevention and control.

“When we say take responsibility this time, yes we’re addressing individuals, but we really needed to address corporate Nigeria. One of the biggest groups that we have allowed to restart business today (Monday) were banks. When you limit the number of branches that open, everybody goes to the one branch that is open; that becomes counter-productive.

The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu
The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu

“We can produce all the guidelines in the world, but if organisations are not going to come up and support the implementation of these measures and help us manage the risks and focus on a risk-based approach, then our efforts might amount to little or nothing.

“Today (Monday), we might forgive a little bit because it was the first day. However, we’ll have infections because of what happened today (Monday), no doubt about that.

“But what’s more important is how we can learn from the mistakes of today into tomorrow and into next tomorrow so that by Friday, hopefully they’ll have normalised some of these things.

“Yes we knew today (Monday) will be a problem because for the first time people were let out of their homes, but the challenge for us as a society is how we now organise ourselves to mitigate this risk to limit transmission from each other so that yes, we might have a few extra infections today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday), but what we don’t want is an explosion of new infections. “if we do have that explosion, there will be almost no choice left for the leadership of the country than to ask all of us to go back into our homes.

“So for the benefits of having a few hours a day of coming out and reopening parts of the economy, there’s a price to pay and that price is that we organise ourselves to do this strictly,” the NCDC boss said.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and chairman of the task force, Boss Mustapha, said the PTF had 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.

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