COVID-19: Buhari extends Phase Two of eased lockdown by four weeks

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has authorized the extension of a nationwide lockdown for four weeks as the country continues its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest extension is the third for the second phase of an eased lockdown meant to curb the spread of the disease in the West African country.

The Chairman of the Presidential COVID-19 Taskforce (PTF) and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said this while speaking at the daily briefing of the PTF on Thursday in Abuja.

Mustapha said the extension followed the PTF recommendation to President Buhari on Wednesday.

The government had on July 27 extended the current lockdown by one week due to Sallah celebration on July 29th.

He said the current curfew of 10 pm to 4 am is still in force.

The SGF also disclosed that civil servants on grade level 12 and above are now to resume work on full working time of closing by 4 pm and no longer 2 pm.

He also said government meetings are to continue to be virtual.

Nigeria imposed its first round of lockdown in March. Buhari on April 27 announced the gradual easing of the five-week lockdown in FCT, Lagos and Ogun State.

The lockdown was eased to a nationwide night curfew (8 p.m. to 6 a.m.) from May 4 to May 17.

The curfew was later amended by many state governments to commence from 10:00 p.m.

The first phase of the relaxed lockdown was extended by two weeks and elapsed midnight June 1. The second phase which commenced on June 2 and elapsed on June 29 was extended by four weeks.

The additional four weeks elapsed midnight July 29 but was further extended by one week due to the Sallah celebrations and elapses midnight today, August 6.

The SGF said President Buhari has also directed state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to enforce the use of face masks in public places across the country.

He said the President has mandated authorities in all Nigerian states to enforce non-pharmaceutical guidelines, primarily the use of face masks in public appearance and places.

 Mustapha urged state governments to collaborate with local government authorities adopting measures to contain the spread of the disease, such as contact tracing, grassroots mobilisation and risk communication among others.

Also speaking, the Coordinator of PTF, Sani Aliyu, said the PTF had communicated to the aviation ministry to begin processes of reopening international flights.

Aliyu also noted that one of the new requirements would be to ensure that international passengers arrived three hours before departure to ensure proper checks before take-off.

He further stated that if all requirements from the aviation sector were made the resumption of international flights would be a matter of weeks and not months.

Answering a question from the media, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, explained that the aviation sector was ready to open any moment.

Sirika also explained that international flights would open as soon as it was safe to operate as all efforts were being put in place to ensure the reopening in weeks and not in months.

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