PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has extended the lockdown imposed on Lagos and Ogun states as well as Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja to contain the spread of Covid-19 by another 14 days with effect from 11:59 pm Monday April 13.
The president announced the extension of the lockdown down in a nationwide broadcast on Monday evening, saying “This is a difficult decision to take, but I am convinced that this is the right decision. The evidence is clear.”
This follows the expiration of the first 14-day lock down imposed on Lagos and Ogun states including FCT on March 29 when Nigeria had recorded only 131 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
In announcing the extension, president Buhari noted that the cessation of movement, physical distancing measures and the prohibition of mass gatherings remain the most efficient and effective way of reducing the transmission of the virus.
“By sustaining these measures, combined with extensive testing and contact tracing, we can take control and limit the spread of the disease,” he said.
He added that the government’s approach to the virus “remains in two steps,” which according to him was first to protect the lives of Nigerians and residents living here and second, to preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners.
“With this in mind and having carefully considered the briefings and Report from the Presidential Task Force and the various options offered, it has become necessary to extend the current restriction of movement in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the FCT for another 14 days, effective from 11:59 pm on Monday, 13th of April, 2020. I am therefore once again asking you all to work with Government in this fight.”
While citing the examples of the Mosques in Makkah and Madina that have been closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, president Buhari also noted that the Pope celebrated Mass on an empty St. Peter’s Square.
“The famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris held Easter Mass with less than 10 people. India, Italy and France are in complete lockdown. Other countries are in the process of following suit. We can not be lax,” he said.
Speaking on the lock down, he added that the previously issued guidelines on exempted services shall remain.
According to the president during his broadcast on March 30, the lock down order did not apply to hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organizations in health care related manufacturing and distribution.
He added that commercial establishments such as; food processing, distribution and retail companies;
petroleum distribution and retail entities, power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and private security companies are also exempted.
While noting that though these establishments are exempted, their access would be restricted and monitored.
Despite cries and hues that the first 14-day lock down has put a lot of people into hardship, President Buhari explained that ” the repercussions of any premature end to the lockdown action are unimaginable.
“We must not lose the gains achieved thus far. We must not allow a rapid increase in community transmission. We must endure a little longer.”
He said the government made this very difficult decision knowing that it would affect livelihoods of many Nigerians.
He added that such sacrifices were needed to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the coutry, and necessary to save lives.
“Our objective was, and still remains, to contain the spread of the Coronavirus and to provide space, time and resources for an aggressive and collective action.”
He expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance to the Covid-19 guidelines issued, which according to him has been generally good across the country.
The president commended what he described as the massive support from traditional rulers, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) during this pandemic.
He also acknowledged the support and contributions received from public spirited individuals, the business community and our international partners and friends.
“I must also thank the media houses, celebrities and other public figures for the great work they are doing in sensitizing our citizens on hygienic practices, social distancing and issues associated with social gatherings,” he said.
Buhari said due to the overwhelming support and cooperation received, the country was able to achieve a lot during the 14-day of initial lock down.
He stated that the government implemented comprehensive public health measures that intensified case identification, testing, isolation and contact tracing capabilities.
“To date, we have identified 92 per cent of all identified contacts while doubling the number of testing laboratories in the country and raising our testing capacity to 1,500 tests per day.
” We also trained over 7,000 healthcare workers on infection prevention and control while deploying NCDC teams to 19 states of the federation,” he said.
He further stated that Lagos and Abuja today have the capacity to admit some 1,000 patients each across several treatment centres.
The president recognised the incredible work being done by healthcare workers and volunteers across the country especially in front-line areas of Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
“You are our heroes and as a nation, we will forever remain grateful for your sacrifice during this very difficult time. More measures to motivate our health care workers are being introduced which we will announce in the coming weeks,”he said.
Though the president said Nigeria as a nation, was on the right track to win the fight against COVID-19, he expressed concerns about the increase in number of confirmed cases and deaths being reported across the world and in Nigeria specifically.
“On 30th March 2020, when we started our lock down in conforming with medical and scientific advice, the total number of confirmed cases across the world was over 780,000.
“Yesterday, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases globally was over one million, eight hundred and fifty thousand. This figure is more than double in two weeks!
” In the last fourteen days alone, over 70,000 people have died due to this disease.
“In the same period, we have seen the health system of even the most developed nations being overwhelmed by this virus.”
While recalling that Nigeria had 131 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in 12 States on March 30 and two fatalities, he lamented that as of morning of Monday April 13 Nigeria had 323 confirmed cases in 20 States.
“Unfortunately we now have ten fatalities. Lagos State remains the center and accounts for 54% of the confirmed cases in Nigeria. When combined with the FCT, the two locations represent over 71% of the confirmed cases in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile. several other governments have also extended lockdown periods in their countries. They are South Africa, Rwanda, Italy, Spain, India, France, Germany, Belgium and Saudi Arabia.