COVID-19 Presidential Task Force tasks banks, Muslims

Posted by News Express | 15 April 2020 | 1,348 times

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•PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu

By JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has appealed to banks in the country to continue to give skeletal services to Nigerians as the government battles to flatten the curve of the disease.

National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, made the appeal during the daily media briefing by the task force on Tuesday in Abuja.

He explained that the reason for the extension of the lockdown announced by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday was to help Nigeria interrupt the further spread of the virus in the country.

Aliyu while responding to a concern raised by journalists that Nigerians were complaining of the closure of banks to customers said: “When we implemented the cessation of movement policy two weeks ago, we did make an exemption for banks to be allowed to engage in skeletal services and following that, the financial authorities released additional guidelines to the banks.

“We are appealing to the banks, please continue to provide financial services, especially the availability of cash at the ATMs and skeletal services within the banking halls.

“What is important for us is for banks to comply with our advice in terms of reducing mass gatherings, having hands disinfectants at the entrance points, monitoring of temperature and making sure that they observe the physical distancing measures that we have advised,” he said.

Aliyu also took time to explain why President Buhari had to extend the restriction on movement and activities in Lagos and Ogun states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, saying the primary idea was to make it easier for Nigeria to halt the transmission link of the virus through the various means of isolation, including distancing and movement restriction.

According to him, the conditional exemptions earlier issued are still in place, even as he observed that the protocol on lockdown earlier issued also remained intact.

“The main purpose is to enable us interrupt transmission and to reduce social interaction, to make sure that those contacts or cases that we have, we are able to reach them and able to isolate them on time and I will be really grateful if the public can continue to adhere strictly to this additional extension of 14 days in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states.

“Existing protocols on the lockdown remain unchanged; everyone in the two states and the FCT is to stay at home unless seeking or providing food or medical needs.

“The conditional exemptions we had, which included banks, the media and other essential services, also remain the same, so that they can continue to operate during this period. This also includes the agricultural sector, particularly transportation of essential agricultural products, animal produce, fertilizers and others.

“We will be having a meeting tomorrow – the task force and we will be reviewing all the exemptions as well as the protocol that we released, so there might be some changes that will come through,” he said.

On the level of engagement and collaboration between the Federal and state governments in managing the health crisis, he said: “I’ll like to further emphasise the need for continuous and intensified engagement with states and subnational entities, which the PTF is currently doing.

“We are encouraging synergy between the different arms of government. There’s no doubt that the fight against COVID-19 is not just a federal effort, but one that requires partnership with both states and local government.

“We will be meeting with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and we have already established very close links with state commissioners of health and we will be reaching out to equivalent of task forces at the state level.

“I’ll like to commend state governments for what they are doing and I’ll to further assure them that the task force remains committed to assisting their state level efforts. I’ll like to further remind state chief executives of our earlier recommendation to ensure they have at least 300 beds available for treating persons with COVID-19 infection in their states. Please note that this is outside the number of beds that might be available for isolating contacts,” he said.

The national coordinator also appealed with Muslims across the country to continue honouring all the preventive measures issued against COVID-19 as the Ramadan fasting commences.

He appealed to Muslims, as well as Islamic leaders to help the efforts against the disease, saying “we all know that we are approaching the holy month of Ramadan, which can be important to communities; I’ll like to emphasise the need for continued physical distancing and other prevention measures during this period, including frequent handwashing with soap and water as we observe our religious obligations.

“I’ll also like to seek the support of our religious leaders to engage the public and emphasise the importance remaining safe during this challenging period,” he said. (Daily Sun)


Source: News Express

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