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January 20, 2021

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Don’t shut businesses over surge in cases, Group urges Nigerian govt

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A group, Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank, has advised the Nigerian government against shutting down businesses amidst the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, the Vice-Chairperson of the group, Abubakar Mohammed, said the government should consider the country’s realities before making any decision.

He said it is necessary for the government at all levels to adopt a smart crisis management plan to address the second wave of the pandemic.

“Our response must take into consideration Nigeria’s realities: recession, high unemployment and rising insecurity; we cannot shut down small businesses,” he said.

“We therefore call on all stakeholders, led by the Federal and State Governments, to come up with a smart crisis management plan to address this second wave.”

Nigeria is currently battling its worst phase of the COVID-19 pandemic with the recent surge in new infections. Last week, federal officials declared that the country has entered the second wave of the pandemic.

Health experts believe the non-adherence to safety protocols and the weak enforcement of protocols by officials, especially in the country’s major airports in Abuja and Lagos, could be responsible for the recent spread, noting that the situation could get worse if citizens keep violating safety protocols.

Active cases in the country have risen from about 3,000 some weeks ago to over 11,000 due to a rise in new infections.

Of the over 83,000 cases so far in Nigeria, 70,495 patients have been discharged from hospitals after treatment.

The Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank was established on March 22 2020, to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and has 18 members drawn from across the six geopolitical zones and the diaspora (Germany & USA).

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The group urges the federal government to look to countries with similar realities such as Ethiopia and Senegal before arriving at a decision.

It said the country should encourage people to work from home to avoid overcrowding in workplaces.

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“One, businesses stay open across the country on the condition that all Nigerians self-regulate and ‘celebrate responsibly’ by wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distance from others, avoiding indoor crowds and washing hands frequently.

“Two, the intensification of campaigns on public health policy behavioral change with firm and humane oversight by applicable agencies and society leaders.

“Three, those who can, should be encouraged to work from home,” it said.

The group also said Nigeria need not join the reactive ban on flights to and from the United Kingdom due to existing robust travel protocols requiring tests before boarding, seven days isolation on arrival, and a second test.

“However, closer monitoring of the post-arrival COVID quarantine of travellers into Nigeria will help limit the risk of imported infections”.

The group said the effective implementation of these measures along with adherence can help ease the hardship on citizens whilst curbing the spread of COVID-19.

The group also commended the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control for its diligent tracking of COVID-19 cases and the ongoing efforts of the federal government to recognise that the second wave of the pandemic is upon us.

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