By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The Federal Government on Tuesday took far reaching measures to checkmate the deadly Coronavirus that has led to several fatalities in some countries and almost crippled global economy.
Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID 19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, announced the measures after their inaugural meeting in his office in Abuja.
Mustapha said the ban commenced immediately.
The ban include all travels outside the country by ministries, departments, and agencies until further notice.
The committee advised general public are also advised to cancel all non-essential tripd abroad especially to all high risk countries.
“After due consideration and the trend of the novel coronavirus disease – COVID-19 and the subsequent declaration as pandemic by the World Health Organisation, the committee has decided that we upscale our healthy emergency system to the highest level and put in measures to curb further spread of the disease,” the SGF said.
“So far we have three cases two have tested positive, one negative. We will want to ensure that this does not go beyond this minor figure for now.
“On the part of government we have decided that it has become necessary to advise all public officials in the ministries, department and agencies and the parastatals that government has banned all forms of travel out of the country for whatever reasons, bilateral, multilateral, conferences, seminars, workshops, negotiations, presentations and any form of other ceremonies. This ban will remain in place till further notice and until the situation of the coronavirus abets.
“By this notice, any prior approval to travel abroad for official assignments during this period is accordingly rescinded.
“With regards to the general public, we want to advise strongly that citizens in their own interest should cancel or postpone all nonessential travel abroad including business and vacation trips. This is especially for travels to countries known to be seriously affected by COVID-19.
“Such high risk countries are China, Iran, South Korea, Germany, Italy, USA, UK, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Spain, France and Japan.
“Secondly, we urge anyone returning from any country to strictly self-isolate for 14 days in their homes.
“The Nigeria for Center for Disease Control has morning released guidelines for self-isolation, we will ensure that those guidelines are widely publicized.
“Thirdly, all people returning from countries with high community transmission rate especially countries that have recorded a 1000 cumulative cases and above, will be actively followed up for 14 days by the health authorities.
“We want to put on notice that the Nigerian government supports the measures taken by the government of other countries particularly high burden countries who have urged their residence to stay home and avoid nonessential travels particularly and inclusive to Nigeria.
“We want to urged the Nigerian people to continue to maintain high level of sanitation and hygiene and respiratory etiquette which has been repeatedly advised. Maintaining social distance and avoiding crowded areas should begin to become our lifestyle.
“We will continue to look at emerging scenarios and on a continuous basis you will receive further briefings. But for now we believe strongly that this particular pandemic is the most important public health emergency of our generation and we must treat it with every seriousness that it deserves.”
Earlier, the SGF inaugurated the 14-man committee with mandate to strengthen national response strategy particularly in the area of testing, containment and the management of COVID 19; Strengthen collaboration with all tiers of government, private sector faith based organizations, civil society, donors and partners and beam awareness among the populace.
The Taskforce is also to direct the deployment of any relevant national asset when necessary; Lay a foundation for scientific and medical research to address all emerging infectious diseases and advise government on the declaration of national emergency as part of the containment measures when necessary.
The SGF announced that President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Dr. Sani Aliyu as National Coordinator for the fight against COVID19.
Other members are Minister of Health, Minister of Interior, Minister of Aviation,Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and Minister of Education.
Others are Minister of Information and Culture, Minister of Environment, Director General, Department of Security Service, Director General Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and World Health Organization Country Representative.