President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the lockdown declared on Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) by another 14 days.
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He made the declaration while delivering a nationwide broadcast on Monday.
President Buhari had on 29 March imposed an initial 14-day lockdown on the affected areas as part of measures to limit the transmission of Coronavirus, saying he was guided by medical and scientific advice.
He, however, explained on Monday that the extension of the lockdown by a further two weeks was necessary following the increase in the number of confirmed cases and deaths resulting from the virus across the world and in the restricted areas in Nigeria.
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He also stated that he had been briefed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that community transmission is increasing in the country.
The country had recorded 323 confirmed Coronavirus cases, with 10 fatalities reported and 85 persons discharged as at the time of the president’s broadcast.
“However, I remain concerned about the increase in number of confirmed cases and deaths being reported across the world and in Nigeria specifically.
“Majority of the confirmed cases in Lagos and the FCT are individuals with recent international travel history or those that came into contact with returnees from international trips.
“By closing our airports and land borders and putting strict conditions for seaport activities, we have reduced the impact of external factors on our country. However, the increase in the number of States with positive cases is alarming.
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“The National Centre for Disease Control has informed me that, a large proportion of new infections are now occurring in our communities, through person-to-person contacts. So we must pay attention to the danger of close contact between person to person.
“With this in mind and having carefully considered the briefings and Report from the Presidential Task Force and the various options offered, it has become necessary to extend the current restriction of movement in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the FCT for another 14 days effective from 11:59 pm on Monday, 13th of April, 2020. I am therefore once again asking you all to work with Government in this fight,” President Buhari said.
The president described the decision as “difficult”, but said it was the right decision.
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Speaking on the initial 14-day lockdown, President Buhari applauded Nigerians for understanding and respecting the lockdown order, describing the compliance level as “generally good” across the affected locations.
He explained that 92 per cent of all identified contacts have been traced in the country, the number of testing laboratories in the country has doubled and the testing capacity to increased to 1,500 tests per day.
The president appealed to Nigerians to endure while the country struggles to get rid of the virus, noting that important religious centres such as the Vatican in Rome, the Notre Dame in France and the holy mosques in Makkah and Madina remain closed.
“This is a difficult decision to take, but I am convinced that this is the right decision. The evidence is clear.
“The repercussions of any premature end to the lockdown action are unimaginable.
“We must not lose the gains achieved thus far. We must not allow a rapid increase in community transmission. We must endure a little longer,” he said.
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He stated that with Lagos State and the FCT accounting for over 71 per cent of the confirmed cases in the country, the Federal Government will continue to focus its efforts on the two locations.
President Buhari commended the frontline health workers treating and tracing suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients, describing them as “our heroes”. While promising that more measures will soon be announced to motivate them, the president urged health workers to redouble their efforts to ensure the disease is contained.
He also commended state governors for issuing directives and aligning their policies in tackling the virus in line with that of the Federal Government, and also lauded the National Assembly for their donation and legislative support for the executive.
He also acknowledged the media, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), public-spirited individuals, the business community, international partners, celebrities friends of Nigeria for their support during the pandemic.
While giving assurances that the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 will support Nigerians during this period, President Buhari urged Nigerians to continue to follow the protocol of the NCDC such as the washing of hands, practising social distancing, maintaining respiratory and personal hygiene and stay at home.