By David Royal
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 disclosed on Monday that it would work with state governments to see how 18 high burden local government areas can be locked down to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Chairman of PTF Boss Mustapha who spoke at a news conference after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari at the end of the four-week gradual easing of lockdown, said: “For the precision lockdown, we have identified 18 local governments out of the 774 local government Areas in Nigeria”.
Mustapha was accompanied to brief the President by Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Coordinator of the PTF Dr Sani Aliyu and Director General of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.
National Coordinator of the Taskforce, Dr Sani Aliyu said while it is difficult to lock down some areas without defined boundaries, the PTF would ensure that all other non-pharmaceutical measures are strictly adhered to in the 18 high burden local government areas.
According to him, only essential movements would be allowed.
He said; “On the restriction of movements in specific local governments, we are still working with the state governments because you cannot lock down local governments without working with the states.
According to him, some of these local governments, by their geographical locations, do not have defined borders.
He said that the PTF will be sending out clarifications as soon as they finish the piece of work.
He further said “The restriction of movements in these local governments is only one of several interventions that we are putting in, in terms of hotspots. The precision target in these areas includes not only to improve testing but isolation and to make sure that we do a lot of risk communication and public awareness activities.
“So, cessation of movement is only part of it and in some of the local governments, it may not be practicable to do so. We already know some local governments where it will be impossible to enforce this.
“But overall, what we are trying to do is to put out the small fires across the country rather than trying to fight a raging fire across the whole country which will be very difficult and will also be damaging, economically, for us.
“So, for those areas where we have a high burden, where the numbers are increasing rapidly, where we have high positivity rate, we will be introducing specific precision measures working with the state governments to make sure we get on top of this. This is something that will continue to be reviewed. We expect some local governments to drop after the interventions and some to be added”.
As of May 29, about 11 of the local governments were in Lagos State. They were Lagos mainland, Mushin, Eti-Osa, Alimosho, Kosofe, Ikeja, Oshodi/Isolo, Apapa, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos Island and Surulere.
Others that were listed include Abuja Municipal, Tarauni (Kano), Nassarawa (Kano), Katsina, Maiduguri (Borno), Dutse (Jigawa), Oredo (Edo), Bauchi and Ado Odo/Ota (Ogun).“The reason for the precision lockdown is to place specific measures that will be administered by state governments and local authorities. It is not for the federal government, it’s the responsibilities of states and local authorities.”