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COVID-19 updates: President Buhari imposes movement restrictions on Lagos, Ogun and FCT, announces further palliative measures

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President Muhammadu Buhari addressing the nation of COVID-19. March 29, 2020: Photo source; Presidency

SUN, MARCH 29 2020-theG&BJournal-The Federal Government has imposed restrictions on the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states, the hotspots of the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread in the country for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.

The restrictions was announced by President Muhammadu Buhari Sunday, who also announced further palliative measures, aimed at protecting the lives of Nigerians and preserving the livelihood of workers and business owners.

According to the President, ‘’all citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period. The Governors of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Minister of the FCT have been notified. Furthermore, heads of security and intelligence agencies have also been briefed.’’

‘’We will use this containment period to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases. We will ensure the treatment of confirmed cases while restricting further spread to other States,’’ the President said.

The President also spoke to measures earlier introduced to stem the spread of the deadly disease when the it was noticed that COVID-19 was turning into an epidemic and was officially declared a world-wide emergency.

He said at that point the Federal Government started planning preventive, containment and curative measures in the event the disease hits Nigeria.

‘’The whole instruments of government are now mobilized to confront what has now become both a health emergency and an economic crisis,’’ the President said.

This order, according to the President does not apply to hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organizations in health care related manufacturing and distribution.

He said the Federal Government has approached the fight against the pandemic from two angles. First, to protect the lives of Nigerians and residents living here and second, to preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners to ensure their families get through this very difficult time in dignity and with hope and peace of mind.

In that regard, healthcare measures, border security, fiscal and monetary policies measures have all been introduced as response.

‘’Some of these measures will surely cause major inconveniences to many citizens. But these are sacrifices we should all be willing and ready to make for the greater good of our country,’’ the President said, adding that ‘’in Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19, there is no such thing as an overreaction or an under reaction. It is all about the right reaction by the right agencies and trained experts.’’

He assured that as a Government, ‘’we will continue to rely on guidance of our medical professionals and experts at the Ministry of Health, NCDC and other relevant agencies through this difficult time.’’

The Excerpts from the Broadcast:

Furthermore, commercial establishments such as;

  1. food processing, distribution and retail companies;
  2. petroleum distribution and retail entities,
  3. power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and
  4. private security companies are also exempted.

Although these establishments are exempted, access will be restricted and monitored.

Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted.

All seaports in Lagos shall remain operational in accordance with the guidelines I issued earlier. Vehicles and drivers conveying essential cargoes from these Ports to other parts of the country will be screened thoroughly before departure by the Ports Health Authority.

  1. Furthermore, all vehicles conveying food and other essential humanitarian items into these locations from other parts of the country will also be screened thoroughly before they are allowed to enter these restricted areas.

Accordingly, the Hon. Minister of Health is hereby directed to redeploy all Port Health Authority employees previously stationed in the Lagos and Abuja Airports to key roads that serve as entry and exit points to these restricted zones.

Movements of all passenger aircraft, both commercial and private jets, are hereby suspended. Special permits will be issued on a needs basis.

We are fully aware that such measures will cause much hardship and inconvenience to many citizens. But this is a matter of life and death, if we look at the dreadful daily toll of deaths in Italy, France and Spain.

However, we must all see this as our national and patriotic duty to control and contain the spread of this virus. I will therefore ask all of us affected by this order to put aside our personal comfort to safeguard ourselves and fellow human beings. This common enemy can only be controlled if we all come together and obey scientific and medical advice.

As we remain ready to enforce these measures, we should see this as our individual contribution in the war against COVID-19. Many other countries have taken far stricter measures in a bid to control the spread of the virus with positive results.

For residents of satellite and commuter towns and communities around Lagos and Abuja whose livelihoods will surely be affected by some of these restrictive measures, we shall deploy relief materials to ease their pains in the coming weeks.

Furthermore, although schools are closed, I have instructed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to work with State Governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding program during this period without compromising our social distancing policies. The Minister will be contacting the affected States and agree on detailed next steps.

Furthermore, I have directed that a three month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans be implemented with immediate effect.

I have also directed that a similar moratorium be given to all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.

For on-lending facilities using capital from international and multilateral development partners, I have directed our development financial institutions to engage these development partners and negotiate concessions to ease the pains of the borrowers.

For the most vulnerable in our society, I have directed that the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid immediately. Our Internally displaced persons will also receive two months of food rations in the coming weeks.

We also call on all Nigerians to take personal responsibility to support those who are vulnerable within their communities, helping them with whatever they may need.

As we all pray for the best possible outcome, we shall continue planning for all eventualities.

This is why I directed that all Federal Government Stadia, Pilgrims camps and other facilities be converted to isolation centers and makeshift hospitals.

My fellow Nigerians, as a Government, we will avail all necessary resources to support the response and recovery. We remain committed to do whatever it takes to confront COVID-19 in our country.

We are very grateful to see the emerging support of the private sector and individuals to the response as well as our development partners.

At this point, I will ask that all contributions and donations be coordinated and centralized to ensure efficient and impactful spending. The Presidential Task Force remains the central coordinating body on the COVID-19 response.

I want to assure you all that Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with a role to play in the outbreak response are working hard to bring this virus under control.

Every nation in the world is challenged at this time. But we have seen countries where citizens have come together to reduce the spread of the virus.

I will therefore implore you again to strictly comply with the guidelines issued and also do your bit to support Government and the most vulnerable in your communities.

I will take this opportunity to thank all our public health workforce, health care workers, port health authorities and other essential staff on the frontlines of the response for their dedication and commitment. You are true heroes.

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