The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) 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.
At the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 on Monday, Director-General of the NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said businesses must also join hands to implement the required health measures.
Weeks of lockdown in Lagos 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 of the lockdown compliance.
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.”
Earlier in the briefing, the PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha had lamented the failure of many Nigerians to adhere strictly to advisories regarding the lockdown relaxation.