Unless Nigerians comply with the COVID-19 protocols to flatten the curve of the second wave of the virus, the Federal Goverment says it may impose another national lockdown.
The National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, gave the warning in Abuja at a media briefing.
“On lockdown, the decisions for lockdowns is in whose hands? It is not in the hands of PTF it is in the hands of all of us the general public. Because, who wants to have a lockdown?
“We know the impact it has had on our economy and the country. It is very difficult and makes life difficult for everybody.
“But the reason why we are worried about the numbers is because at some point if the numbers continues to trend in this way, our health system will get overwhelmed.
“It is not just about those people that will die from COVID, it is people like you and me that might have underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, malaria and other treatable conditions that may not be able to access health service because it’s been overwhelmed by COVID-19.
“In as much as I have been told that I am threatening a lockdown, I’m just saying the fact that we need to comply with these protocols, make sure we use our masks, physical distancing and hand sanitizers.
“There are countries in the world that are currently opened, their airports, businesses are opened but they make sure everybody wears a mask and they have been able to keep their numbers down.
“If we do the same we will be okay but if we don’t and we get overwhelmed, and we start having huge numbers of deaths, and health system is not coping, what do you think will happen? I rest my case.”
On why flights from United Kingdom and South Africa have not being banned, Aliyu explained that Nigeria’s protocol which has been in operation since September 2020 is now being adopted by other countries.
“Why flights were not banned from UK, SA, it was not an easy decision. What we need to remember is, we had a protocol back in September. This protocol required that passengers coming to Nigeria do a test for COVID-19 and has to be PCR within five days before they can board the flight.
“Nigeria is one of the few countries that has had a double testing policy. When the problem arose with the UK and later on South Africa, a lot of countries temporarily banned flights from the UK. And what did they do?
“They implemented the very same policy that we have had for more than four months running. Why should we ban flights as well if we already have a policy in place that was strict and regardless of the issues with implementation subsequently countries followed us.
“When they come into Nigeria, they are supposed to self-isolate for seven days and then do a repeat test and confirm they are negative before they exit isolation.
“With all these additional measures we did not feel it was really absolutely necessary for us to ban flights from the UK or South Africa simply to copy other nations that were now adopting our policy we had since September.”
According to him, in addition to the policy, the government had put in place some stringent measures.
Aliyu said: “lf you are coming from UK and South Africa, you have to use the portal and you have to pay for the test at day seven after arrival, you have to upload all your documents into the portal.
“We have a register for passengers coming in from the UK and South Africa, to enable us actively trace these passengers and make sure they do the test at day seven. If by day 10 they do not test, the code immediately puts you on the penalty as we don’t even wait for about 14 days.
“Finally, for any passenger coming from these two countries that has positive result, the data of the flight is immediately sent to the NCDC and the sample is sent for sequencing.”