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COVID-19: Nigeria not considering another lockdown – Official


The federal government through the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, has debunked news that another lockdown is imminent in the country.

Mr Aliyu in a video shared on social media said information that the country may impose a lockdown due to spike in COVID-19 cases was not true.

“We are aware of the message going wrong that we have declared lockdown in the country, this is absolutely not true,” Mr Aliyu said.

“I call on Nigerians to ignore this message and continue with their normal activities and also abide by all non-pharmaceutical measures.”

In a separate statement signed by Willie Bassey, Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), the PTF said it was not considering another lockdown.

“The attention of the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19 has been drawn to some misinformation circulating on the social media to the effect that the Federal Government is contemplating another lockdown this weekend.

“The PTF wishes to state categorically that there is no such consideration at any of its meetings nor has any recommendation been made to this effect to the President,” the statement reads.

The statement indicated that such unpatriotic misinformation is capable of causing unnecessary panic and anxiety among the populace.

It urged Nigerians to disregard the misinformation and join hands with the government to contain the spread of the virus by adhering to Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPI’s) as recommended by the PTF.

Lockdown fears

Amidst the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, some Nigerians are worried the government may impose another lockdown in the country.

The virus was first detected in Nigeria on February 27, in an Italian engineer that travelled from Milan via Istanbul to Lagos on Turkish Airlines.

It took another 11 days for the second case to be confirmed in the country, a contact of the Italian national, on March 9.

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As more cases were recorded, President Muhammadu Buhari imposed a five-week lockdown on the country in March last year. This was part of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

Amidst high concerns of the rapid spread of the new COVID-19 variant found in the United Kingdom (UK) and some parts of the world, there are concerns for restrictions of incoming flights.

Nigeria was one of the last countries to shut its airport activities during the first wave of the pandemic, a decision some said should have been taken earlier to curtail the spread of the virus.

“The reason Nigeria took a harder than necessary hit during the first wave of the #COVID19 virus is that the Federal Government failed to heed the warnings of well-meaning Nigerians, like myself and others, to shut down our borders once the virus became a pandemic,” Atiku Abubakar, a former presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) wrote on Twitter.

He said the new strain could further add to the country’s health emergency if flights to and from the affected countries are not halted.

“We must learn from history or we stand the risk of repeating it,” Mr Abubakar said.

As a follow up, federal authorities announced new travel rules for passengers coming in from South Africa and the United Kingdom, countries where the new variant of the virus is currently causing panic and concern.

Mr Aliyu said that a special register would be open at the airports for passengers from these two countries specifically to track and ensure they present for COVID test on day seven.

He said “effective from Monday, December 28th, all passengers coming into the country from the UK and South Africa on direct flights, must use the Nigerian International Travel Portal to register, fill in the health questionnaire and must upload a negative COVID-19 PCR result with a validity of not more than five days and must pay for a COVID PCR test at day seven of arrival in country without which they will not be allowed to board the flights”.

Increasing cases

On Sunday, Nigeria crossed the grim milestone of over 100, 000 infections as health officials call for stricter enforcement of safety measures.

The 1,398 new cases recorded on Wednesday pushed the total number of infections in the country to 103,999

One in every six persons (16 per cent) tested for COVID-19 in Nigeria in the past two weeks tested positive for the virus, indicating how far the virus has spread.

PREMIUM TIMES’ review of official data showed that Nigeria set a weekly record of reporting about 10,000 cases last week.

The spike in infections is resulting in fatalities. Nine people died from the disease on Wednesday, taking the death toll to 1,382 in total.

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