By Esezobor Okaima, Abuja
The federal government has threatened to impose another lockdown in Nigeria if people fail to abide by existing protocols on the prevention of COVID-19.
The National Incident Manager of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Mukhtar Muhammad dropped the hint during an interview in Abuja on Wednesday.
He explained that though it will be a difficult decision to take, the government won’t hesitate if it is discovered the cases keep rising due to non-compliance by citizens.
Muhammad however assured that the government was doing its best to control the situation without imposing another fresh lockdown.
“Lockdowns help to minimise people’s movements and it’s very effective because if you don’t go out or if you reduce the degree of your movement, you’ll also reduce the risk of getting infection.
“Lockdown is not completely out of the table, we are monitoring the numbers, we are monitoring the statistics across the country and where necessary we’ll have to take severe measures.
“For now, the PTF is very much aware of the hardship that lockdown brings along, particularly for low-income earners, for small businesses, for people who have to go out daily to get their daily bread, so we are doing everything possible not to have a total lockdown in the country, but for us not to reach that stage, we have to ensure that people take responsibility,” he said in the chat with The Nation.
He noted that the government has started exploring all measures including legal frameworks to curb the further spread of the virus.
He said as soon as approval is given, stringent measures to ensure compliance with guidelines and protocols will be implemented nationwide.
He said: “There are plans to introduce these enforcements and what we are doing now at the PTF is trying to identify areas; cities or towns where the infection has been reported to be very high, both in terms of people who have been tested and found to be positive, and also in terms of what we call incidence, which is the number of people that are positive, divided by population.
“We are looking at these and we have identified these areas where we’ll need to implement these stringent measures. We will have teams that will ensure compliance; we are working with state governments to ensure that they set up task forces that will move round to ensure compliance.
Mr President has received the recommendation from the PTF and we are waiting for Mr President to accent because it has a legal implication.
“We’ll want to be sure that we are covered even before we start the enforcement. We’ll start prosecuting people who are violating protocols, we’ll also start closing down and locking down businesses, institutions, public places that are not complying to the protocols.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Health Protection Regulations, 2021.
THE NATIONS EXPRESS reports that President Buhari signed the regulations on Wednesday afternoon.
The provision contains guidelines designed to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.