The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha on Monday hinted that the surge and violence of infections of the new variant resulting in mass deaths in India, among others, are the reasons the Federal Government re-introduced COVID-19 restrictions.
He explained that the government was being pro-active to prevent a third wave of the virus in the country.
Mustapha stated that; “This step has become compelling in view of the fragile state of our health systems, the disruption to the vaccines delivery and the lack of compliance with the extant public health measures and social measures contained in the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Health Protection Regulations 2021.
“In taking this step, the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) requests the state governments to please step up to play lead roles in the area of enforcement and sanctions.”
He, however, appealed to traditional, religious and community leaders to take up more ownership and responsibility for risk communication and community engagement on the virulent nature of the pandemic, concerns over the variants of concern and the need for compliance.
The new restriction measures announced by PSC incident manager Dr. Mukhtar Mohammed that took immediate effect including:
Nationwide curfew from 12:00am to 4am
Restrictions on mass gathering to a maximum of 50 people in an enclosed place
Restriction on resumption of workers from GL 12 and below
Closure of event centres, bars and night clubs
Restaurants to provide eat-ins at 50% capacity
People 60 years and above or with ailment advised to stay at home or avoid crowds
Dr. Mohammed said military personnel are to monitor and enforce adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions on public transport, that is wearing face masks and maintaining social distance.
He expressed concerns over the shortage of vaccines for the larger population of Nigerians and the delay it would impose on the national rollout programme.
He said the situation was caused by the escalation of the dangerous strain of the virus in India, one of the largest producers of COVID-19 vaccine.
“While our vaccine rollout has begun, there is a shortage in global supplies, affected by the current situation in India. This translates to a delay in vaccinating a large proportion of the population and therefore a risk of a large outbreak, especially in the context of poor adherence to the recommended public health and social measures.
The SGF recalled that the PSC had issued a Travel Advisory which, he said, took into consideration, the utility of travel restrictions, outcomes of epidemiological risk assessment, factors that aid transmission as well as control measures that could be deployed.
He noted that in the Advisory, additional requirements were placed on passengers from India, Turkey and Brazil.
Mustapha regretted that there have been reports of some returning foreign passengers who violated the mandatory quarantine requirement under the advisory by escaping from the facilities.
“We deprecate such violation of the laws of our land and our hospitality. The PSC is awaiting the report of on-going investigations and we wish to assure Nigerians that appropriate sanctions would be imposed on the violators,” he assured.
He remarked that given the challenge of vaccine nationalism compounded by the production situation in India, the PSC is exploring other options to get Nigerians vaccinated.
The SGF reaffirmed that 1,690,719 persons had received their first dose of the vaccine, representing 84% of the targeted persons for this phase.