COVID-19: FG may propose fresh lockdown after two weeks, says task force

COVID-19: FG may propose fresh lockdown after two weeks, says task force

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Monday lamented the increasing rate of COVID-19 cases among people in government, saying it was directly impacting on governance and security in the country.

The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who stated this at the task force press briefing in Abuja, also said the possibility of ordering a fresh total lockdown to curtail further spread of the virus could not be ruled out.

The SGF, who advised prominent Nigerians to take COVID-19 protocols seriously, said the virus does not respect status.

Mustapha’s warning came amid rising cases of COVID-19 among state governors and other prominent Nigerians. Recently state governors, including David Umahi of Ebonyi, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta and their Ondo State counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, contracted the virus.

Warning people in authority, the SGF said, “Of recent, we have witnessed a high rate of positive cases especially among people in authority. This has a direct impact on governance and security of our nation. We urge that vigilance and care should be exhibited by all Nigerians, irrespective of status. This virus does not discriminate and the PTF shall keep sustaining its sensitisation messaging.”

When asked if the task force would be considering a fresh lockdown in the face of what it observed as disregard for guidelines, Mustapha said events of coming weeks would determine the next line of action.

He said, “We will not speculate on what will happen in future but we will protect the lives of Nigerians.

“To achieve that, if it means to lock down again, we will not shy away from that responsibility. We will recommend to the President who will look at the report and take a decision on our recommendation. What happens in the next two three weeks will determine what we will do.”

The SGF also said members of the task force met with heads of security agencies earlier on Monday.

He said the meeting centred on how to enforce compliance with guidelines among other issues.

The Minister of Health, Ehanire Osagie, said the ministry planned to boost overall COVID-19 sample collection by preparing all eligible public and private hospitals nationwide to become collection sites.

He said a 17-man team of the ministry left Abuja for Calabar to engage with the Cross River State Government in setting up its COVID-19 response and aligning it with the national response.

Responding responsibly as parents of transgender children

Responding responsibly as parents of transgender children

– Three dynamic movements –

by Colt St. Amand, Luisa Derouen

When I was contemplating coming out as transgender to my Catholic parents, I was paralyzed with fear. My mom, a physician and cradle Catholic, affirmed that although she didn’t understand, she knew I was a good person and that God knew me and loved me more than anyone. My dad, a psychologist and Catholic convert, took longer, but assured me that no matter what, we would get through this together. —Dr. Colt St. Amand

In my recent essay in Global Sisters Report, I shared my disappointment with a document by Bishop Thomas Paprocki intended to guide Catholics in his Springfield, Illinois, Diocese in their understanding of and interactions with transgender people. I tried to explain the journey of self-acceptance that transgender persons move through in order to live a more authentic life. But in addition to self-acceptance, it is also crucial for transgender people to find acceptance from their parents, and for many that is difficult. —Dominican Sr. Luisa Derouen

______

No one is spared the human experience of navigating through unexpected challenges. No matter the circumstance, the process of responding responsibly will involve three dynamic movements: to be present to the reality (to gather), to listen with openness, then to respond with love. These movements weave through all our relationships.

In Catholic liturgy, the dynamic of gathering, listening and responding is the fundamental action by which we surrender ourselves to become the body of Christ in our world. Since the rituals of liturgy are meant to help shape our dispositions of life, they may be instructive in reflecting on the relationship of parents with transgender children. When faced with a child coming out as transgender, a parent’s process of responding responsibly will involve being present to the reality, listening with openness and respect, then responding with love.

Gather

In liturgy and in life, we must be ready to receive the truth, whether we like it or not, understand it or not. The truth always leads us to God and will lead parents and their child closer to God if they can stay present to the possibility that yes, their own child may well be transgender.

Learning their child is transgender can be overwhelming for parents. The temptation to deny and discredit this news can be strong. Parents may fear that the church and God are against their child. Some fear their child will be a target of violence, or will try to end their life. Some worry that they will not have enough emotional energy and spiritual strength to accompany their child. It is important for parents to name and process these fears.

Parents need to believe in the inherent sacredness of their child and trust God’s love and their love for their child to sustain them in the journey, wherever it may lead. This helps them walk with their child and stay centered in their faith. Essential to the search for truth is the virtue of humility by which parents can acknowledge that they don’t understand what being transgender means, but they want to learn.

Listen

In liturgy and in life, we hear God’s Word as it comes through the Scriptures, through other people and through life’s experiences. To listen well is to allow ourselves to be changed by what we hear and experience, and that takes courage and compassion.

Tragically, religion may challenge parents’ ability to nurture their transgender child. Though there are supportive faith leaders, many know little about transgender people. But worse than ignorance are clergy eager to offer guidance based on woefully outdated and harmful information. Parent’s inability to support and accept their transgender child is often reinforced by inaccurate and harmful responses from religious leaders.

Rejecting their child because of religious beliefs traumatizes and moves the child closer to self-harm or even suicide. Transgender young people who are highly rejected by their parents are more likely to attempt suicide and to report high levels of depression.

Listening is a skill and a grace. It’s important that parents listen and ask questions in order to understand, not correct or judge. Listen to the pain, fears, hopes and dreams of their transgender child. Parents can listen respectfully even when they believe that being transgender is wrong.

Parents need their own trusted confidant to lean on and to process the grieving that accompanies their changing expectations, hopes and dreams for their child. This is part of the process of allowing their child to gradually live as the person they know themselves to be.

Seeking out other parents of transgender children and getting accurate and professional information are signs of a sincere effort to understand their child. Helpful resources are Family Acceptance Project, World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and the American Psychological Association.

Respond

In liturgy and in life, deeper living comes only through surrender in love. To be the body of Christ in our world is to allow God to love through our presence.

The cultural and religious context in our country is often divisive and complex. This makes it tempting to grasp for absolute certitudes that weaken our commitment to be inclusive of everyone, especially transgender people.

When parents disagree about how to respond to their child, the child is often caught in the middle trying to stay connected to both parents and make sense of conflicting reactions.

When parents succumb to pressure from others to alienate their child unless they conform to gender expectations, risk for suicide, depression and other serious health risks are significantly increased. The university-based Family Acceptance Project research shows how parental rejecting behaviors contribute to serious health risks in their children and informs evidence-based support work with racially and religiously diverse families.

God’s presence in the love for their child is manifest when they make their best effort to use the name and pronouns that honor the truth of the child’s gender identity. Parents show love when they require others to treat their child with respect.

Love is shown when they speak openly and proudly about their child and help them find positive transgender mentors.

Conclusion

Parents’ inability or unwillingness to accept their transgender child has profound psychological and spiritual ramifications for the child. It erodes the confidence of their child to trust their own inner self-knowing. The child believes God does not and cannot love them. Constantly challenging and denying their human reality and their dignity is spiritual abuse. It undermines their sense of self-worth, erodes the parent-child bond and increases risks for health problems.

Everyone’s life is a beautiful, mysterious, complex reflection of God in our world. Parents will surely not get it right all the time. No one gets it right all the time. Our final word of guidance is to acknowledge mistakes along the way and to ask for forgiveness. Far from being a sign of weakness, asking for forgiveness and a willingness to forgive is a most powerful expression of love.

[Dr. Colt St. Amand (he/they) is a transgender person, psychologist and physician, a family medicine resident at the Mayo Clinic. He is a WPATH GEI SOC7 certified member and co-founder of the Gender Infinity organization. Sr. Luisa Derouen (she), a member of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, began ministry among the transgender community in 1999. She has a master’s degree in liturgical theology and is a trained spiritual director, particularly a spiritual companion to transgender people across the country.]

Lagos schools resume Aug 3, churches, mosques remain shut as Ogun extends weekend lockdown by two weeks

Lagos schools resume Aug 3, churches, mosques remain shut as Ogun extends weekend lockdown by two weeks

The Lagos State Government, on Friday, directed that schools should reopen on Monday, August 3, for only Senior Secondary School Class 3 and Technical Schools Class 3.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu stated this at the 16th briefing on the COVID-19 response at the State House in Marina, adding that pupils in Junior Secondary School Class 3 would need to wait for “about a week or two before resumption.”

Sanwo-Olu also sustained the ban on churches and mosques, as well as on social gatherings, while clarifying that the schools’ reopening was only for day schooling as boarding activities were prohibited.

For the Primary 6 pupils, the governor noted that they would be graded by their already recorded Continuous Assessment to cross over to secondary schools.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had on Monday approved the “safe reopening of schools in the next phase of the gradual easing of lockdown” ordered to stop the spread of the infection.

Sanwo-Olu, on Friday, announced the gradual reopening of the schools from August 3, directing students in transitional classes, with mandatory public exams ahead of them, to resume for revision classes and examination.

He said, “Students in transitional classes, who have mandatory public exams ahead of them, are now permitted to resume revision classes and examination. All education establishments are to follow established public health guidelines and protocols for reopening the schools for these categories of students. The commencement date for this opening will be August 3, 2020, for SSS 3 and TEC 3 students only. Dates for JSS 3 schools’ reopening for revision classes and examinations will be announced in due course.”

The governor added that churches, mosques, bars and other public places remained closed until further notice.

Meanwhile, the Ogun State Government has said it is sustaining the closure of schools, churches and mosques as COVID-19 cases reached 898 in the state with 270 active cases and 19 deaths on Friday.

The state government said this in statement by Kunle Somorin, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun, adding that one of the border local government areas had the highest number of cases.

The state added that it was sustaining the phase of eased restrictions for another two weeks, after which it would review and modify the guidelines.

“Schools are to remain shut. A committee has been set up to engage all stakeholders, public and private school owners, and develop guidelines for a safe reopening of our schools, especially to allow certificate classes to resume and sit for their examinations,” it said.

FG lifts ban on interstate travels, reopens schools for graduating students

FG lifts ban on interstate travels, reopens schools for graduating students

The Federal Government has lifted the ban placed on interstate travels with effect from July 1, provided such journeys are made outside curfew hours.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, disclosed this at the daily briefing of the task force in Abuja on Monday.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, also said the government has approved the safe resumption of domestic flights in the country.

He disclosed that the latest developments were contained in the task force’s fifth interim report which was submitted to the President Muhammadu Buhari earlier in the day.

Mustapha said, “I am pleased to inform you that Mr President has carefully considered the 5th Interim Report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, the Phase Two of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020 through Midnight of Monday, 27 July, 2020.

“Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect:

“Maintaining the current phase of the national response, for another four weeks in line with modifications to be expatiated by the National Coordinator;

“Permission of movement across state borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July, 2020;

Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by States, in particular, the use of face masks in public places;

“Safe re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations;

“Safe reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable;

“Publication of revised guidelines around the three thematic areas of general movement, industry and labour; and community activities;

“Provision of technical support for states to mobilise additional resources for the response.”

Need for caution on school reopening – Punch

Need for caution on school reopening – Punch

As the COVID-19 pandemic swirls ferociously, a decision to reopen schools closed in the wake of the outbreak has become a hard nut to crack. The predicament is worsened by the daily spike in the number of confirmed new cases of the highly infectious virus and the palpable carefree attitude of the public in the enforcement of the protocols for its containment.

The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, at one of the Presidential Task Force briefings on COVID-19, raised hope of an imminent resumption when he issued a set of guidelines that schools should follow. “All institutions of learning must have hand washing facilities, body temperature checks, body disinfectants at all entering points to their major facilities, including the gates, hostels, classes and offices,” he said. “Ensure social and physical distancing in class sizes and eating spaces. The whole premises of each institution must be decontaminated and all efforts must be geared toward maintenance of the highest level of hygiene.”

A few weeks later, the Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, poured cold water on this expectation with the insistence that it was not yet safe to do so. Nwajiuba said the country had 138,000 primary schools and without COVID-19 testing capacity at utmost level, “the best we can do is to keep our children, our future leaders, and schools under lock and key.” But the Oyo State Government has decided to take the bull by the horns with the June 29 date for teachers’ resumption, a precursor to the reopening of classes for Primary Six, Junior Secondary School 3 and Senior Secondary School 3, a week later. Pupils in the three categories are in exit classes — to take final examinations that will qualify them to enter JSS1, SSS1 and tertiary institutions respectively.

The Federal Government has frowned on the move. In a guideline the Federal Ministry of Education submitted to the National Assembly, it advised states bent on reopening schools to hold adequate consultations with the PTF and the parents. Besides, the schools should create temporary isolation spaces and fully equipped clinics; establish a referral system and protocol to take care of learners, teachers and school administrators, should emergencies arise. School proprietors are to “construct additional structures and employ more teachers to ensure that they accommodate their pupils by adhering to the two-meter spacing system in classrooms.”

All this has generated public anxiety, exacerbated by the spike in the number of cases of the virus. The government argues that the pandemic is yet to peak hence circumspection is required. The trend in other countries where schools were shut down shortly after reopening in the wake of a resurgence of the virus has not helped matters either. In Israel, for instance, schools were closed hurriedly just three weeks after resumption. Its Ministry of Education announced that 442 students, faculty and staff were infected with the virus. Consequently, 144 schools and kindergartens were closed and 24,000 students and staff quarantined. This is scary.

To assist countries to reopen their schools, UNESCO, in a guideline, listed three priority areas — finance, infrastructure and human resources. Readjustment of education budgets is critical. Others include discussion with health authorities, establishing a set of conditions that must be met; renovating and improving hygienic facilities like toilets, washrooms; guaranteeing hand-washing points, availability of disposable towels and running water. Very crucial is free school feeding as an incentive for children to return; preparing out-of-school classes and making use of technical resources. Training of teachers to monitor children and identify those with difficulties, UNESCO says, is imperative.

The hard truth is that schools cannot remain closed indefinitely. The huge challenge, it is argued, is how to strike a balance among competing priorities: the health and safety of those in the school community, the impact of the pandemic on jobs and families, and the need to effectively educate students. Families will definitely balk at returning children to school if they sense that school authorities have not taken the COVID-19 threat seriously or have done too little to shield students from harm.

Many countries have reopened their schools with a cocktail of COVID-19 protocols and advisories to guide school heads and managements. Like economic activities in lockdown for three months virtually all over the world, but gradually, reopening the schools cannot be frozen forever. This was why the United Kingdom reopened on June 15. It adopted the strategy to reopen classes for year 10 and year 12 pupils. The Department of Education in its guidance for secondary school resumption stipulated a phased return of some pupils for face-to-face contact with their teachers. With this, schools are able to have a quarter of the pupils back. Younger primary schools pupils have also been prioritised because “the early years of education are crucial for social and educational development.”

With COVID-19 protocols, local and other guidelines from abroad, both federal and state governments should ensure the conditions are largely met before reopening schools. However, the bitter truth is that it would be easier said than done in Nigeria given the schools’ decrepit conditions before the pandemic. Rural primary schools with pit latrines and no water are non-starters in this case. Even urban schools are similarly challenged, including the universities that lack basic facilities such as running water, conveniences, while over-crowded halls of residence, classrooms and underfunding are intractable challenges.

The desire to return to in-person classes should not outweigh the risks of exposing students and staff to a highly contagious virus. School reopening plans must be based on scientific data and public health guidelines — not political pressure. The feasibility of physical distancing measures is already the subject of debate, with experts tending towards the view that they will not work for the youngest children. These are potentially life-or-death judgments that have to be made.

School reopening requires caution, planning and vigilance. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, rightly says, “I think we better be careful [that] we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the Covid-19 deleterious effects.”

COVID-19: Lagos, Delta, Ebonyi see high figures as Nigeria logs 490 new cases

COVID-19: Lagos, Delta, Ebonyi see high figures as Nigeria logs 490 new cases

Nigeria enjoyed a relief of sorts from COVID-19 epidemic with 490 new cases announced on Sunday after a record 779 cases on Saturday.

According to a breakdown given by the NCDC, Lagos recorded 118 cases, to have a cumulative total of 10,144 cases.

Delta came second with 84 cases and Ebonyi also reported 68 cases.

The Federal Capital Territory of Abuja registered 56 cases.

It now has 1,792 cases, with 486 more than what third-placed Oyo has.

NCDC also announced that 9,007 patients have been discharged.

The death toll has also crept up from 558 to 565.

Here is a breakdown of the cases

Lagos-118
Delta-84
Ebonyi-68
FCT-56
Plateau-39
Edo-29
Katsina-21
Imo-13
Ondo-12
Adamawa-11
Osun-8
Ogun-8
Rivers-6
Kano-5
Enugu-3
Bauchi-3
Akwa Ibom-3
Kogi-1
Oyo-1
Bayelsa-1

24,567 confirmed
9,007 discharged
565 deaths

World Bank predicts 95. 7m extremely poor Nigerians in 2022

World Bank predicts 95. 7m extremely poor Nigerians in 2022

After a thorough assessment of the impact of rampaging COVID-19 pandemic on the economies of developing countries at the weekend, the World Bank has predicted that an estimated 95.7 million Nigerians would be joining the “extremely poor club” across the globe by 2022.

The report, released recently, indicated that without the COVID-19 outbreak, 90 million Nigerians were already predicted to live in extreme poverty of less than a dollar per day but that the dreaded disease has pushed additional six million people into the number.

The bank said: “With real per capita GDP growth forecast to be negative in all sectors in 2020, poverty will deepen for the current poor, while those households that were just above the poverty line prior to the COVID-19 crisis will fall into poverty.

“Were the crisis not to have hit (the counterfactual scenario), the poverty headcount rate would be forecast to remain virtually unchanged, with the number of poor people set to rise from 82.9 million today to 85.2 million in 2020 and 90.0 million in 2022 due to natural population growth.

“Given the effects of the crisis, however, the national poverty headcount rate is instead forecast to jump from 40.1 percent today to 42.5 percent in 2020 and 42.9 percent in 2022, implying that the number of poor people will be 90.2 million in 2020 and 95.7 million in 2022.

‘Thus, taking the difference between these two scenarios, the crisis alone is forecast to drive an additional 4.9 million people into poverty this year, with an additional 5.7 million people living in poverty by 2022.”

The report explained that a disproportionate share of those pushed into poverty by the COVID-19 crisis would likely be those living in urban areas and earning income from services.

The bank further predicted that: “More than one-third of the additional people forecast to be pushed into poverty by the COVID-19 crisis are expected to be in urban areas, while just 15.9 percent of the current poor are urban dwellers.

“Only 13.1 percent of the additional poor people in 2022 are predicted to be in households where the head works primarily in agriculture, while, today, 56.0 percent of poor Nigerians live in agricultural households.

‘Many Nigerians who are not poor today are vulnerable to falling below the poverty line due to the COVID-19 crisis. People living only just above the poverty line are more susceptible to becoming poor when shocks occur. Those with consumption levels between the poverty line and 1.5 times the poverty line may be defined as ‘vulnerable’”.

It added that 40.1 percent of Nigerians (82.9 million people) live below the poverty line, while another 25.4 percent (52.6 million people) are vulnerable.

It pointed out that in rural areas, more than three-quarters of the population were either poor or vulnerable, yet even in urban areas— where the poverty headcount rate was far lower at 18.0 percent—around a quarter of the population would be vulnerable to shocks. The report noted that most Nigerian workers, especially those in poor households e employed in agriculture or non-farm enterprises, which might be more susceptible to the COVID-19 crisis.

The global financial institution stated that just 16.8 percent of working Nigerians (12.9 million workers) were employed primarily in wage jobs, according to the 2018/19 Nigeria Living Standard Survey (NLSS) while around 42.7 percent work primarily in agriculture (32.7 million workers), and 40.6 percent work primarily in non-farm enterprises (31.1 million workers).

The report observed that social distancing measures posed a serious threat to non-farm enterprises that relied on face-to-face interactions with customers, as well as those agricultural workers that needed to buy inputs and sell produce.

TO ALL PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS WORKING IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF LAGOS, AND THE LAY FAITHFUL

TO ALL PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS WORKING IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF LAGOS, AND THE LAY FAITHFUL

Dear Msgri. /Frs., Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

SUSPENSION OF SCHEDULED REOPENING OF CHURCHES IN LAGOS STATE.

1. The recent announcement by the Lagos State Government, suspending the planned reopening of Churches for public worship has left us with a feeling of utter disappointment and bewilderment. We, lay faithful, Religious and the Clergy, had all been looking forward to 21st June, 2020, with joyful anticipation that we shall gather once again to celebrate the Eucharist as Communities of Faith in our different parishes. We had been engaging the Government and acting in concert with other Christians in the Christian Association of Nigeria on what we need to do. We had even gone ahead to issue particular stringent Archdiocesan Guidelines towards the gradual restoration of public Masses in order to ensure the safety of our people. All the parishes had started working to make the Church premises safe for worship following the guidelines later released by government.

It is very unfortunate that the State Government suspended the scheduled opening of Churches for Public worship because of the increase in the number of COVID-19 infections and its belief that the Church is a fertile ground for new infections.

We are convinced that there are higher chances of protecting people from the infection within Church premises than in other public places such as markets and motor parks due to precautions that we believe would be better respected by the faithful when they come to worship. If offices and businesses could be opened with safety measures put in place, we believe that the same principle ought to apply to Churches with higher chances of better compliance. We make bold to say again that the Church cares about the health and safety of the faithful as much as the State, if not more.

We also remind everyone that good health is not just physical wellness, it is a state of total wellbeing of the person: mental, emotional and psychological well-being. Faith and religious worship help to provide these other indices of well-being and we hope that would be taken into consideration by government in reconsidering its position.

2. We encourage the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of our Archdiocese to accept the situation we are in with the eyes of faith, seeing it as the Will of God for us at this time. Whatever happens to us has the mark of God on it and we should recognize it as part of God’s providence. It is normal to feel disappointed and frustrated but we must never give in to discouragement rather we must remain calm and hopeful.

We shall continue to celebrate Masses which shall be broadcast on Lumen Christi Television Network and we hope that you will all continue to participate from your homes. Let us endeavor to keep the flame of our faith alive drawing strength from the words of St. Paul that “all things work together unto good for those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). We shall not relent in our prayers for God’s intervention in our fight against this virus since we believe that our sacrifices and efforts by the grace of God, would bring an end to the spread of this virus.

3. We urge the faithful of the Archdiocese to place our inability to celebrate Mass in public in the hands of God for a resolution. The Rosary is like a weapon that you use when you are at war and its potency have been proved over the years. We are not sure of what we are battling against but we know that with God on our side, we shall overcome. Please pray the rosary every day for an end to the Coronavirus but also for the restoration of Public Mass and return to normal life.

4. Meanwhile we urge all the faithful not to relax in taking due precautions because there is no doubt that the virus is still with us and we need to protect ourselves and others even while we go about our daily lives. Keep physical distance from others, avoid large gatherings of people, remain in your home unless there is need to go out, wear the face mask when in public and wash your hands often.

5. Do you know that you can use the opportunity of washing your hands to pray also? It takes about 20seconds to say the Our Father. Use the time for washing your hands productively by saying a prayer.

Finally, we commend the efforts of our dear priests who have been working to keep the faith of our people alive in these unusual times and in such dire circumstances. Along with the committees in their parishes, priests have been making efforts to prepare our churches in line with the safety measures for the resumption of public Masses.

We assure you that your efforts are not in vain. We believe that sooner than later, we shall have the opportunity to gather in our parishes to celebrate the Eucharist and the other sacraments once again. May God deliver us from this evil. Amen

(Signed)
+ Alfred Adewale MARTINS Archbishop, Metropolitan See of Lagos

COVID-19: PTF fears rain’ll boost infections

COVID-19: PTF fears rain’ll boost infections

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Thursday advised Nigerians to obey its guidelines on coronavirus to avoid a resurgence of the virus during the rainy season.

The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who gave the warning during the task force press briefing in Abuja, said there could be a resurgence of COVID-19 during the rainy season unless Nigerian adhered to the PTF guidelines.

He also listed the group’s achievements since its inauguration by the President Muhammadu Buhari three months ago.

He listed steps taken by the Federal Government through the PTF to check the spread of COVID-19 since the task force inauguration.

According to him, the measures include lockdown of Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory; ban on flights, ban on interstate travels and domestic flights, closure of schools and religious centres and imposition of nationwide curfew.

Mustapha stated that the Federal Government had increased COVID-19 laboratories from two to 38, trained 13,000 health workers and developed policy and protocols for testing returning Nigerians.

He listed challenges to COVID-19 fight as resistance to change, stigmatization, mental health, culture, religious belief and rising incidents of domestic violence.

The SGF reminded Nigerians that COVID-19 had reached the level of community engagement and risk communication, adding that they should obey all the guidelines and non-pharmaceutical measures.

He stated, “​Always remember, that the virus is real, potent and dangerous. Our relaxed lockdown should never be interpreted to mean otherwise. This point is further underscored by reported resurgence of a second wave in countries like China and the USA and this should put all of us on the alert, knowing that this virus can only be eliminated if we agree to play our part.

“This call becomes more pertinent as we go fully into the rainy season that ordinarily brings with it cold, catarrh and other COVID-19 mimicking illnesses. Our call to take personal responsibility cannot be more strident than now.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria recorded 745 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday bringing the total number of cases in the country to 18,480.

The figure was the highest recorded by Nigeria in a single day since the outbreak of the virus in the country.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on its website said 6,307 COVID-19 patients had been discharged, while 475 deaths had been recorded.

Lagos cancels planned reopening of churches, mosques

Lagos cancels planned reopening of churches, mosques

The Lags State Government has cancelled the planned reopening of churches and mosques in the state. This was announced by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday, at a televised press briefing. While the mosques were billed to be reopened on Friday June 19, the churches were billed to open Sunday, June 21.

Sanwo-Olu said the volte-face was as a result of the rising cases of the coronavirus pandemic in the state. Lagos remains the epicentre of the virus in the country, with a caseload that is now over 7,300.

* Fifteenth Update on Coronavirus by the Incident Commander, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu*

Dear Lagosians,
1. As at midnight yesterday, June 15, 2020, Lagos State had recorded a total of 7,319 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Of this number, 1,137 have fully recovered and been discharged, while 82 have sadly died, leaving 6,100 active cases under management in the State.
2. Our dear State therefore continues to be the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, with about 44% of the total number of confirmed cases nationwide.
3. Let me again say that the steady increase in number of confirmed cases is by no means unexpected. Considering that the infection is now very much in our midst, the more we test, the more the number of positive cases that will emerge.
4. The uplifting news is that, based on the statistics emerging from Lagos State, more than 90 percent of the people who test positive will go on to fully recover under supervision, and be discharged.
5. Dear Lagosians, in the most recent guidelines which we issued on the gradual easing of the lockdown, based on the advice of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, I noted that we would shortly be permitting the restricted opening of religious houses, on the condition of strict compliance with detailed guidelines issued by the Lagos State Safety Commission.
6. We have been closely monitoring the situation since then, and have now concluded that we cannot proceed with any form of re-opening for places of worship in Lagos State, until further notice.
7. This is not a decision that we have taken lightly, it is simply in line with our ongoing evaluation of evolving scenarios regarding the course of the infection in Lagos State and the corresponding public health advisory guidelines issued by the experts.
8. So, let me say this again: we are now hereby suspending, with immediate effect, the plan to re-open religious houses and places of worship in Lagos State, until further notice. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and continue to base our decision-making on data modelling; as well as on the responsibility we have to act in a manner that ensures the protection of all of you the people of Lagos State.
9. Therefore, until further notice, all places of worship in Lagos State will remain closed. Social and events centers, and social clubs, will also remain closed, for now.
10. Let me make this clear, that we are now fully in the phase of personal responsibility, regarding this pandemic. This means that, while the Government maintains its responsibility to take protective decisions for the common good, what will ultimately save us all and defeat this virus are the sensible personal decisions that we take on a daily basis.
11. Decisions to use masks anytime you are out of your house, to avoid non-essential travel, to stay at home when we don’t have any business being outside, to wash or sanitize our hands regularly – these are the simple but necessary steps that will save and protect us all.
12. As a Government we will continue to do everything in our power to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the people, but that can only be effective when the people themselves act responsibly, and do not behave in a manner that undermines public health guidelines and puts the society at risk.
13. We will, as always, continue to keep you informed and updated on the decisions that are taken for the public health and safety of all of us. One of the most important tasks that we face as a government is to carefully and responsibly balance the competing considerations of life and livelihood, and one of the most important tasks before you as citizens is to abide by the decisions that have been taken for the good of all of us – even when it is not easy to do so.
14. Let me, as I end this address, express gratitude to all those at the frontlines of the response to this pandemic, in the public and private sectors. Our medical workers, Rapid Response Teams, support personnel like call center workers, drivers, cleaners, and others, monitoring teams at the State and Local Government level, and all our security agencies. Thank you for the very important work that you all do.
15. Thank you also to everyone who has taken it upon themselves to be a whistle-blower, and report violations of our directives. We encourage people to speak up and report on our hotlines: 0901-051- 3197; 0901-051-3198; 0901-051-3199. As always, strict confidentiality of all reports is guaranteed.
16. I thank you all for listening.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Governor of Lagos State
16th June, 2020.