Ihekweazu says initial reports on lockdown relief ‘are not too pleasing
Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), says the country’s leadership could be forced to re-impose restrictions on the lockdown to tackle the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
As of 30 March 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari had placed Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),
Abuja on lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19 that has infected more than 3.5 million people worldwide.With the lockdown lifted on Monday May 4, many people were seen violating security measures advised by the government, particularly in Lagos and Abuja.
Social media was filled with images and videos of people in packed buses, rowdy crowds queuing at bus stops and filling lines in various branches of banks.
Although speaking on Monday during the Presidential Task Force’s regular briefing on COVID-19, Ihekweazu acknowledged that initial country-wide findings are ‘not too satisfying.
‘The NCDC DG called on individuals and corporate entities to take responsibility so that the virus can be better controlled for dissemination and transmission.
He said the PTF should expect Nigerians to learn how to normalize their daily lives while also adhering to the government’s prescribed preventive steps.
Ihekweazu cautioned that an increase in infection figures may result in a reintroduction of the lockdown to control the spread of coronvairus disease.
“Today we knew it would be a problem because people were allowed out of their homes for the first time. But now that we’re out, the question for us as a community is how we now organize ourselves to minimize these risks and restrict each other’s transmission.
“Yes, today and tomorrow we may have a few more infections but what we don’t want is an outbreak of new infections.
“If we do have that explosion, there will be almost no choice left for the leadership of the country than to ask all of us to go back into our homes.” Ihekweazu emphasized that the price to pay for the country’s reopening is to plan professionally so that it can be achieved in a safe manner.
“Altogether, we can learn to live with it for the next few weeks and months until we’re able to come out of the period,” he said.
Health Minister Osagie Ehanire stated during the briefing that Buhari’s decision to ease the restriction was to ensure that people didn’t lose their livelihoods entirely as the nation continued to fight the spread of the disease.
“It’s a delicate balance that you have to make. We have reached a certain level in healthcare where you begin to balance the pros and cons.
” A prolonged lockout has implications, and you’re beginning to see that the repercussions of that lockout are becoming as grievous as the disease itself.
“It’s a very difficult decision, but the president has taken a very wise position taking that thin line between two sides,
” he said
.As of May 3 Nigeria reported 2,558 cases of coronavirus in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).Upon medical attention 400 people were treated and released, but 87 died.