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FG Kicks against Large Gathering During Sallah Celebration

  • Cautions govs on lockdown relaxation
  • 339 new cases spike tally to 7,016 with 1,907 discharged, 211 dead

Omololu Ogunmade, Olawale Ajimotokan, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, and Martins Ifijeh in Lagos

The federal government Thursday kicked against large gathering during Sallah celebration holding saturday, saying it might put many people, particularly the aged, at risk of COVID-19 infection.

Some governors in the northern part of the country had relaxed the lockdown, imposed on their states to halt the spread of the virus, to enable their citizens to celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr.

As the governors eased restrictions, Nigeria recorded 339 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing to 7,016 the total number of confirmed cases in the country.

It has also recorded 11 new deaths, raising the figures from 200 to 211 in the last 24 hours.

Announcing the update last night, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Lagos recorded 139 new cases, Kano and Oyo 28 each, Edo 25, Katsina 22, Kaduna 18, Jigawa 14, Yobe and Plateau 13 each, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) 11, Gombe eight, Ogun five, Bauchi and Nasarawa four each, Delta three, Ondo two, while Rivers and Adamawa one each.

Speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha, warned that the relaxation of the lockdown by states might boomerang and appealed to the governors to be cautious in their responses to agitations for the opening of places of worship.

Specifically, Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), warned against large gatherings of people during the Sallah celebration to mark the end of the Ramadan fasting by the Muslim faithful.

He said the federal government was concerned that large gatherings at the Eid prayer grounds could inadvertently endanger the elderly, the sick, and those with underlying ailments.

He also reiterated the position of PTF that any large gathering of more than 20 persons remained prohibited and that all the protocols on safety should be adhered to.

”Mass gatherings for the purpose of the Eid or on Sunday, for now, expose the elderly to serious health problem. It exposes this category of people to serious danger and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure they are not exposed to those dangers.

COVID-19 has come to stay with us. It has completely disrupted our ways of life and it is impossible to suddenly return that way of life,” Mustapha said.

PTF National Coordinator on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, also warned Sallah revelers to ensure that they wear their face masks if they must at all be at the Eid grounds.

Aliyu, who read the guidelines on the enforcement on easing of the lockdown, also said in terms of enforcement of the regulations, PTF would continue to work with local authorities for the immediate creation of mobile courts to try and prosecute offenders, particularly those who violate guidelines on face masks covering, measuring temperatures and institutions that fail to comply with the protocols.

”Effective from May 18, the easing of the lockdown remains largely the same and will be characterised by enforceable actions which will include mandatory use of non-medical face masks, mandatory provision of hand sanitisers in public places, the restriction on interstate travels and adaption of offices and businesses to observe social distancing, including crowd control and mass gathering reduction strategies,” Aliyu said.

He added: ”The public is warned to avoid unnecessary contact with people, interstate travel is restricted except for those that deal in supply chain travels such as goods and agricultural products with limited capacity and petroleum products, relief items, construction supplies, and registered courier service.”

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