The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has decried the continuous flouting of guidelines by some members of the public, in spite of the rising cases of Coronavirus infection in the country.
Dr Sani Aliyu, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said this on Thursday in Abuja at the 44th joint national briefing of the committee.
According to Aliyu, the PTF continues to be very concerned about the issue of compliance and that the fact that the government is receiving many reports on the flouting of the guidelines by individuals, groups and organisations is unacceptable.
“COVID-19 is far from over globally, neither is it over in Nigeria.
“There is no doubt that a lot of community transmission is happening and it continues to increase across the states.
“Now more than ever before, if you go out you’re more likely to get COVID-19 than before.
“Your risk of contracting the virus because of the numbers we have now is more than three, four weeks or five weeks ago when we had a lockdown, so there is really no room or relaxation at this point.
“The reason we had to relax the lockdown was in order to sustain the livelihood of Nigerians, particularly those who depend on a daily income for survival as well as to sustain the economy.
“But it was not because COVID-19 has gone and it wasn’t because we should be more relaxed in terms of our prevention measures,” he said.
The coordinator said that in order to balance the issue of livelihoods with public safety, the government issued advisories, protocols that would guide the relaxation of the lockdown in order to mitigate the high risk of transmission.
He said the government had noticed that a lot of people do not wear masks in the public places and that it was mandatory for masks to be worn in public spaces.
According to him, masks are supposed to cover the nose and mouth and not the chin.
“There are also concerns about physical distancing and the issue of mass gatherings.
“I will particularly note the issue of social gathering and organisations going for concerts against the lockdown protocols by the Federal Government.
“We are working with the security agencies to put in place enforcement when it comes to organisations that flout these guidelines.
“We will not sit back and allow public safety to be endangered by a few,” he said.
Aliyu noted that some businesses have been fined or even closed due to non-compliance, adding that there have also been various levels of enforcement using the police mobile force, and in some cases charges were brought against parties.
“It is easier to change behaviour if you do so voluntarily and this is why we are increasing our level of risk communication and community engagement pushing public awareness activities right down to the grassroots level.
“We are aware that times are challenging, but this is the new normal of COVID-19.
“It is the new normal that we really have to abide by and the question we should really be asking ourselves repeatedly is do we want to be the next COVID-19 victim?
“If the answer is no, then we definitely owe it to ourselves, to our communities, to our loved ones to adhere to the safety measures provided.
“The PTF will do whatever we can to stop further transmission of the virus and to save lives, but to do so, the public also need to accept personal and collective responsibility for our actions,” Aliyu said.