FG sends message to State Governors on reopening schools across the country

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic has warned states proposing to reopen schools and other activities of mass gatherings to suspend such contemplations.

The PTF also reminded Nigerians that there were still possibilities of a review of all relaxed measures, adding that relaxation of restrictions “does not mean carelessness and that life is back to normal”.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF and Chairman of the PTF, Mr Boss Mustapha, who gave the warning on Monday during the daily press briefing by the task force in Abuja, lamented the continued violation of measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, including ban on inter-state travel.

It would be recalled that some states of the federation had recently indicated plans to reopen some activities that encourage crowding and mass gatherings.

In this category were Cross River State, which had designed a resumption plan for public schools from June 16, and Kano State, which reportedly announced the opening of football viewing centres across the state, as professional football leagues resume in Europe.

However, warning against decisions such as these, the Chairman of the PTF, in his opening speech, warned that the country was not ripe yet to allow the opening of these activities.

“We have received reports that some states are contemplating the reopening of schools, television viewing centres, sports stadium 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 guideline should still be complied with while considering decision of this nature,” he warned.

He also raised concerns over the blatant disregard for guidelines, measures and regulations across the country, reminding the nation that the relaxed measures were still subject to review.

“In the course of our monitoring and surveillance of compliance across the nation, we have observed an escalation of the level of non-compliance with simple measure to keep social distancing, wearing of masks in public places, sanitation and hygiene.

“This is more prevalent in markets, motor parks and some places of worship. I wish to remind you that the PTF has already issued guidelines for mode of operations at places of worship and urge state Governments to ensure strict compliance with PTF guidelines.

“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, he said.

Mustapha also said that over the last couple of days, the daily figures of confirmed cases had been on the rise and that this was an indication that government was conducting more tests across the country as the country was fully in the community spread phase.

“We however urge Nigerians not to panic but to cooperate with public health officials especially where community testing is on-going.

“Since the beginning of our multi-sectoral national response, we have described medical personnel as our frontline workers. We also continuously pleaded with Nigerians to take responsibility.

“The reality today is that the table has turned and the community spread phase has suddenly made the health workers our last line of defence,” Mustapha said.

He also urged state governments to embark on wider community testing, enforce rules on social distancing, step up community engagement and risk communication and pay attention to places of large gatherings.

He equally appealed to the security agencies to enforce the ban on inter-state travels very strictly.

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