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COVID-19 : "Don’t Open Schools, Viewing Centres, Stadiums Now" - FG Warns

The Federal Government on Monday warned state governments that were planning to reopen schools to drop the plan.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, gave the warning during the PTF press briefing in Abuja.

Mustapha said it was not yet safe to reopen schools, television viewing centres, stadiums and other places where large gatherings could take place.

Last week, Kano State reopened football viewing centres. There were reports on Monday that Cross River State, which had yet to record any COVID-19 case, was planning to reopen schools.

On Monday, Mustapha ​ appealed to state governments to embark on wider community testing and enforce rules on social distancing.

He stated, “​We have received reports that some states are contemplating the reopening of schools, television viewing centres, sports stadiums and other places where large gatherings could take place. The PTF re-emphasises that it is not yet safe to do so and that utmost caution should be exercised. The PTF guidelines should still be complied with while considering decision of this nature.​”

Mustapha added that the PTF, through its monitoring, had observed that Nigerians were not observing social distancing, wearing of masks in public places, sanitation and hygiene in markets, motor parks and places of worship

He said, “We wish to re-emphasise that all relaxed measures are still subject to review and advisories issued are for personal and public safety purposes. The breach of the ban on inter-state travels is also a point of concern.”

The SGF attributed the increase in the number of COVID-19 to the increasing number of tests being conducted across the country.

He said the battle against COVID-19 had reached the level of individual and collective responsibility.

“The fact that restrictions have been lifted is not a license for carelessness. We may have returned to a new normal but not normal of the past. My appeal as I conclude is that where we are now is about individual and collective responsibility that will determine where we are heading to,” he added.

He said COVID-19 cases in the country would continue to rise in the country. The SGF, however, said the rate would depend on Nigerians’ adherence to protocols.

On his part, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, expressed concern that COVID-19 patients who were not seeking treatment on time were dying of the virus.

He said COVID-19 symptoms could start mildly with slight fever, cough, loss of sense of smell or taste, but suddenly escalate to shortness of breath.

The minister added, “Lagos State reports that people who delay going to hospital and treating themselves first at home are the majority of victims, some barely making it to the doorstep of the hospital.”

He also disclosed that the ministry of health had developed three years response to COVID-19 because the virus would not end soon.

Ehanirestated, “COVID-19, will be with us for a long time. We shall keep learning as we go along. Accordingly, the Ministry of Health has developed a Health Sector Response Plan to cover the next 3 years divided into near, medium and long term. This plan therefore should be able to project into the future for at least three years. No doubt, it will require modification.”

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