BY EMEKA EJERE
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Monday said the federal government might be forced to implement another lockdown if Nigerians do not comply with social distancing measures, leading to a new explosion of infections.
Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who stated this at the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 on Monday, , urged businesses to also join hands to implement the required health measures.
Weeks of lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja were eased on Monday, but crowds clustered at banks, defying the government’s advisories.
“Initial reports are not too pleasing across the country,” Dr. Ihekweazu said.
He noted that the decision of banks to open only a few branches could be counterproductive as people troop towards the limited options.
“So there’s only so much we can do,” he said.
“We can produce all the guidelines in the world, we can preach, hold press conferences, but if organisations are not going to support the implementation of these measures and help us manage the risk . . . how do we want to manage and mitigate the risk of exposure, the risk of transmission?”
The NCDC boss said the there was “no doubt” that Monday’s behaviour will result in more infections, but urged the nation to learn from it or return to square one.
“Yes, we knew today would be a problem,” he said. “Everybody here knew today would be a problem because for the first time people were let out of their homes.
“But now that we have seen the sunlight again, the challenge for us as a society is how do we now organise ourselves to mitigate this risk, to limit transmission.
“Yes, we might have a few extra transmission today and tomorrow, but what we don’t want is an explosion of new infections. If we do have that new explosion, there would be almost no choice for the leadership of the country than to ask everybody to go back into our homes.”
Speaking earlier, chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, stated that close monitoring of activities revealed that the level of compliance was unsatisfactory especially with regards to social distancing, and the use of masks.
Mustapha specifically noted that the crowds at the banks pose great risks.
While maintaining that there is a high level of violation of the guidelines, the PTF chairman revealed that interstate travel ban has not also been complied with, stressing that the evacuation of almajiris from different states does not respect the guidelines nor follow the rule of the ban.
Mr Mustapha who doubles as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, advised that enforcement agencies do their jobs effectively and bring violators to book.
He, however, called on security agencies not to take laws into their hands, but to follow due process in carrying out their duties.
The PTF chairman advised the elderly to stay at home, adding that those who have no reason to move should remain in their closets.