By Omeiza Ajayi
As the battle to contain the deadly Coronavirus rages, the Federal Government has suspended its weekly Federal Executive Council FEC meetings as well as the proposed Council of State meeting earlier slated for March 26, 2020.
This was as the government announced the total closure of all land borders that were hitherto partially closed.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF and Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 Pandemic, Mr Boss Mustapha who announced these on Monday at a press briefing in Abuja added that the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has been mandated to announce measures approved by the Federal Government to protect the civil servants.
According to him, the Presidential Task Force PTF continues to monitor global and domestic developments and has isolated Lagos and Abuja for particular attention in view of their population, mobility and number of cases already reported.
Speaking on the measures taken by the Federal Government, the SGF said; “As you are all aware, a number of advisories have been issued and measures taken.
“Part of the measures being taken presently include the following: escalating the nation’s capacity for testing and detection through the acquisition of more testing kits and establishment of additional test centres;
“Acquisition of personnel protection equipment (PPE) for different categories of frontline personnel;
iii.enhancing contact tracking;
iv.deepening awareness creation;
“Mobilization of experts and trained personnel whether in service or retired;
vi.introduction of social distancing policies and banning mass gathering of over fifty (50) persons
“Closure of schools and tertiary institutions;
“The total ban on international travels shall commence at 12.00 midnight tonight at all our airports; and
“Leaders of different faiths have been encouraged to restrict services and activities that involve mass gathering of more than fifty of their adherents. State governments are also enforcing this policy at different levels.
“After a further review, Mr. President on the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) has approved the following additional measures:
“Suspension of the weekly FEC meetings until further notice;
“Postponement of the meeting of the Council of State scheduled for Thursday 26th March, 2020;
“All land borders that have been hitherto under partial closure shall now be closed for human traffic for four weeks effective, 23rd March 2020.
”In order to protect Federal Civil and Public Servants, a circular to be issued by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) shall direct on actions to be taken immediately;
“If and when the need arises, any national assets required for use in the response to COVID-19 shall be mobilized and deployed;
“Federal Government, is at the highest level, engaging with State Governors in order to ensure a collaborative and effective response to COVID-19 Pandemic; and
“All Abuja and Lagos residents are strongly advised to stay at home, avoid mass congregation of any kind as well as non-essential outings, until further advice is given”, he added.
While he confirmed that the virus has covered 192 countries, reporting over 329,000 cases, Mustapha said in Africa, 42 out of 54 countries have reported cases while 48 deaths have been recorded.
“In Nigeria 36 cases have been reported and one fatality has occurred. The first responders, particularly the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), continues to attend to reports received through telephone calls and other media.
“We commend Nigerians for stepping out to report and/or make enquires through the dedicated hotlines. Records show that on Sunday, 22nd March, 2020, over 4500 calls were received. This shows the high level of awareness amongst Nigerians.
“The strategy of government is to focus on testing, detection and containment through contact tracking in order to minimize hugely, the possibility of community spread. We urge anyone experiencing the symptoms of the virus or has been in contact with anyone who has been suspected or tested positive to please report at the nearest medical facility or the designated centre”, he added.