The federal government on Thursday said it is worried about the spike in new COVID-19 infections and is seeking additional measures to manage the situation.
The concerns were expressed during the National Economic Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Nigeria, in recent weeks, has witnessed a surge in new infections of the deadly coronavirus.
On Wednesday, the country recorded its highest daily number of infections.
According to the NEC, which is populated with all 36 state governors, “the current trends are now approaching or surpassing the levels reached during the lockdown imposed at the height of the epidemic earlier in the year.”
The Council said the increase has been exacerbated by people’s non-compliance with laid down health guidelines such as the wearing of masks, social distancing, and hand washing.
“NEC, therefore, wishes to reemphasise the importance of these measures,” the Council said in its resolution. “Particularly as we approach the end of the year and the social gatherings associated with the holiday season, we must avoid activities or behavior that may aggravate the situation and necessitate another lockdown.”
The NEC also said it was enlarging its current COVID-19 Ad-Hoc Committee led by the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa.
The Committee’s enlargement will enable it to “urgently consider and propose additional measures to manage the current situation.”
NEC IN ITS RESOLUTION EXPRESSES DEEP CONCERN ON RISING CASES OF COVID-19 IN NIGERIA
Today at its monthly meeting, the National Economic Council, NEC, received a briefing on the coronavirus disease pandemic in Nigeria and notes with serious concern the increasing number of cases in many States across the country.
NEC is alarmed that the current trends are now approaching or surpassing the levels reached during the lockdown imposed at the height of the epidemic earlier in the year.
The trends also show that more and more younger people are getting infected. While many of the young victims may be asymptomatic or recover without serious illness, they pass the virus to older and more vulnerable people, especially people with pre-existing health conditions, who develop serious illnesses and may easily lose their lives in the process.
Sadly, the country is now experiencing a huge resurgence of COVID-19 patients needing intensive care and the existing health facilities are fast becoming overwhelmed.
NEC notes that this increase is being accelerated by non-compliance with the non-pharmaceutical interventions advised by government, including the wearing of masks, limiting of gatherings, especially indoors and the washing/sanitization of hands.
NEC, therefore, wishes to reemphasize the importance of these measures. Particularly as we approach the end of the year and the social gatherings associated with the holiday season, we must avoid activities or behavior that may aggravate the situation and necessitate another lockdown.
Members of the Council, therefore, resolved to enlarge its current COVID-19 Ad-Hoc Committee led by the Governor of Delta State, and further mandates the Committee to URGENTLY consider and propose additional measures to manage the current situation.
Meanwhile, NEC firmly resolves to advocate rigorous and strict enforcement of the non-pharmaceutical interventions listed below:
1. Restrict all physical gatherings and instead opt for virtual meetings, whenever possible. If physical meetings must be held, ensure there is adequate ventilation of the room, limit the number of attendees, wear face masks, maintain a physical distance of at least two metres and adhere to other public health measures.
2. No mask, no entry, no service – all staff members, visitors and customers entering workplaces, shops, entertainment or business premises must wear a face mask that should cover the mouth and nose at all times, and should not remove them, especially if speaking to another person in close proximity.
3. Temperature checks must be carried out on all employees and customers entering office and business premises (any person with a temperature 38 degrees Celsius or above, should be denied entry and advised to go for a health check).
4. All office and business premises must have a handwashing station with running water and soap or hand sanitizer at the entrance. Employers and business owners have a responsibility to ensure hand sanitizers are always refilled and soap and water always available.
5. Office, shops and business premises must be well-ventilated and cleaned regularly throughout the day, ensuring that frequently touched surfaces like desks, countertops, work stations, railings, door handles, are cleaned and disinfected. An occupational health and infectious diseases preparedness plan must be in place, in case an employee, customer or visitor becomes unwell.
The continued spread of COVID-19 puts increased pressure on our already fragile health systems and threaten Nigeria’s economy. Traditional, social and religious leaders are therefore urged to play their own part by promptly taking responsible and decisive actions to help stop the spread and upsurge of the virus in Nigeria.
States are also encouraged to take any further steps as may be considered necessary in their areas.
Members of the National Economic Council also commiserated with families of the Kankara schoolboys who were abducted by terrorists in Katsina State while also consoling with the entire people and government of the State.