The Federal Government, through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, has explained why the lockdown measure should not be relaxed amid efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), had on March 29 ordered a lockdown of the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states for 14 days to curb COVID-19 spread. Many states had also followed suit.
But as the number of COVID-19 cases increased, the President on April 13 extended the lockdown for 14 more days.
As of the time of filing this report, the coronavirus had spread to 26 states and the FCT, with 1,095 cases recorded across the country by the NCDC. While 208 patients had been discharged, 32 had died.
The new cases were 80 in Lagos, 21 in Gombe, five in FCT, two each in Zamfara and Edo, and one each in Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna and Sokoto states.
Speaking on Friday at a media briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said it was not yet time to relax the lockdown.
He noted that although the lockdown was having negative effects on the economy as it was impeding Nigerians’ ability to go about their daily activities, he said it was vital to be patient and endure the lockdown further to ensure a safe and healthy society when the economy would be reopened.
He said, “We will eventually exit this stage and restart our normal life but that stage is still a while to come and I ask for your endurance, support and patience. Lots of efforts are going on across the world to find new therapy, to find vaccine.
“Everybody is pushing hard along this direction. We need unprecedented level of caution to continue carrying out the preventive measure that we have advised many times on this platform.
“Many families have not been able to bury their dead, rescheduled their marriages and baptism and everything they are doing. In a way, life is in suspense. Everyone recognises the sacrifice Nigerians have made but we really have to encourage one another to continue to a position where we can relax some of that (lockdown) but until we get to that place, we have to continue in the short term.
“We are working hard to reach a point where we can relax some of these measures but we are not there yet. We ask you to join us to continue this journey with us and amplify these messages that we are giving. We are happy to have the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress here with us today (Friday).”
Ihekweazu added that the citizens must remember that the most vulnerable people were the elderly and people with other illnesses.
“We must protect them. In protecting them, if they are living in the village, leave them there and support them with whatever resources you have. But please, now is not the time to encourage travelling,” he added.