COVID- 19: FG kicks against reopening of schools, viewing centers

SGF Boss Mustapha

…Raises alarm over non-compliance in places of worship, markets, motor parks

Babalola Seyi

Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Coronavirus (COVID-19) has kicked against plans by Cross River State government to reopen schools on June 16 and viewing centres in Kano State, warning that it was not yet safe to do so.

Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, gave the warning at yesterday’s briefing of the task force.

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River had announced plans to open three public schools in each of the three senatorial districts across the state on June 16.

But the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Cross River had cautioned against the move saying the medical community saw no evidence to ascertain the actual COVID-19 status and disease burden in the state due to the unacceptable low level of tests.

The association maintained that the quick resumption of schools, in spite of genuine reasons, has the potential of significant disease outbreak among students.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State had, on his part, directed the reopening of all viewing centres as one of the first steps to reopen the state’s economy.

Speaking on the issue, Mustapha said: “We have received reports that some states are contemplating the reopening of schools, television viewing centres, sports stadium and other places where large gatherings could take place. The PTF re-emphasises that it is not yet safe to do so and that utmost caution should be exercised. The PTF guideline should still be complied with while considering decision of this nature.”

The PTF chairman again appealed to state governments to embark on wider community testing, enforce rules on social distancing, step up community engagement and risk communication and pay attention to places of large gatherings.

He reiterated the call to the security agencies to enforce the ban on inter-state travels very strictly.

Mustapha said the PTF was concerned about the escalation of non-compliance with simple measures to keep social distancing, wearing of masks in public places, sanitation and hygiene.

“This is more prevalent in markets, motor parks and some places of worship. I wish to remind you that the PTF has already issued guidelines for mode of operations at places of worship and urge state governments to ensure strict compliance with PTF guidelines.

“We wish to re-emphasise that all relaxed measures are still subject to review and advisories issued are for personal and public safety purposes. The breach of the ban on interstate travel is also a point of concern.”

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