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COVID-19: FG to banks: Provide efficient services to cushion lockdown effects

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In a bid to flatten the curve of  Coronavirus disease, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the pandemic has appealed to banks to provide skeletal services to Nigerians.
National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, made the appeal at Tuesday’s media briefing by the task force  in Abuja.
“When we implemented the cessation of movement policy two weeks ago, we did make an exemption for banks to be allowed to engage in skeletal services and following that, the financial authorities released additional guidelines to the banks.
“We are appealing to the banks please continue to provide financial services, especially the availability of cash at the ATM and skeletal services within the banking halls.
“What is important for us is for banks to comply with our advice in terms of reducing mass gatherings, having hands disinfectants at the entrance point, monitoring of temperature and making sure that they observe the physical distancing measures that we have advised,” he said.
Aliyu explained that the extension of the lockdown announced by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday was to help Nigeria “interrupt” the spread of the virus.
” The extension of the restriction on movement and activities in Lagos and Ogun States, as well as  Abuja, is to make it easier  to halt the transmission link of the virus through the various means of isolation, including distancing and movement restriction.
“Existing protocols on the lockdown remain unchanged, everyone in the two states and the FCT to stay at home unless seeking or providing food or medical needs.
“The conditional exemptions we had, which included banks, the media and other essential services, also remain the same, so that they can continue to operate during this period.
“This also includes agriculture sector, particularly transportation of essential agricultural products, animal produce, fertilizers and others.
“We will be having a meeting tomorrow, the task force and we will be reviewing all the exemptions as well as the protocol that we released, so there might be some changes that will come through,” he said.
On the level of engagement and collaboration between the federal and state governments on managing the crisis, Aliyu said:  “I’ll like to further emphasise the need for continuous and intensified engagement with states and subnational entities, which the PTF is currently doing.
“We are encouraging synergy between the different arms of government. There’s no doubt that the fight against COVID-19 is not just a federal effort, but one that requires partnership with both states and local government.
“We will be meeting with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and we have already established very close links with state Commissioners of Health and we will be reaching out to equivalent of the task force at the state level.
“I’ll like to commend state governments for what they are doing and I’ll to further assure them that the task force remains committed to assist their state level efforts.
” l will like to further remind state Chief Executives of our earlier recommendation to ensure they have at least 300 beds available for treating persons with COVID-19 infection in their states.”
The National Coordinator also appealed to Muslims across the country to continue honouring all the preventive measures issued against COVID-19 as the Ramadan fasting commences.
“As we approach the holy month of Ramadan, I will  like to emphasise continuous  physical distancing and other prevention measures during this period, including frequent hand washing with soap and water as we observe our religious obligations.”

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