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FG releases ultimate reasons schools must not reopen at the moment

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Despite relaxing the restric­tion order on places of wor­ship, businesses and other socio-economic activities in the country, the prospects of schools reopening still remained remote as at Tuesday.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, which is coordinating Ni­geria’s effort to mitigate the impact of the virus, has insisted that schools will remain shut indefinitely, until an appropriate guideline is devel­oped for the sector.

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The Presidential Task Force which appears to be facing subtle pressure to re­open educational institutions since it has lifted ban in other sectors of the economy, noted that the probability of the rate of infections escalating beyond control within the ac­ademic community remains higher.

Secretary to the Govern­ment of the Federation and Chairman of the Presiden­tial Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, at the usual briefing session in Abuja, used a recent social media picture where some children were caught wearing discard­ed face mask to buttress his point.

Before the latest restric­tions were relaxed, Mustapha had previously complained that citizens were being lack­adaisical in their approach to observing the preventive guidelines for the virus.

The PTF chairman also ac­cused frontline health work­ers of complicity in misman­agement of the virus, saying it behooves them to properly dispose of used Personal Pro­tective Equipment (PPE).

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He said, “Shortly after the briefing of 1st June, 2020 (yes­terday), the social media was trending with the photograph of two children wearing dis­carded PPE (although it is not certain if the photograph was taken in Nigeria).

“Significantly, that photo­graph represents a dangerous development. It underscores the need for more risk com­munication, community en­gagement and diligence in the disposal of used PPE on the part of our frontline workers and the administrators.

“It also underscores the need to broaden the theme and messages in our commu­nication strategy. Above all, the photograph has left us to imagine what the impact would be, if schools were to be open and they attended school after being exposed so dangerously.

“Those three children represent a clear danger to themselves, family and the immediate community.

“While we take remedi­al measures to reach out to medical institutions on this, I use this opportunity to call on all our health authorities to make sure that waste dispos­al is done in such a way that would not create opportuni­ties for increasing the chances of spreading the virus”.

The chairman, however, took a swipe on Nigerians, noting that many have thrown caution to the wind since the Federal Government relaxed restriction of movements and announced that religious cen­tres be allowed to operate.

According to him, the vi­rus was still as dangerous and highly infectious, hence shouldn’t be taken with levity.

“The PTF is conscious of the fact there is a high pos­sibility of members of the public seeing the easing as a signal that COVID is gone. On the contrary, COVID-19 is still virulent, dangerous and infec­tious. Our lives have changed for good and will never revert to what we used to know.

“That is why we have urged all the employers, employees and leaders of sectors allowed to reopen to diligently comply with non-pharmaceutical measures prescribed in the guidelines and the protocols agreed by state governments.

“As we have always main­tained, the fight against this pandemic is not a joke and because the science, data and experiences that drive our national response are con­stantly evolving, we urge all citizens to religiously imple­ment applicable guidelines at specific phases of the battle,” he warned.

He stated that the PTF will continue to monitor the prog­ress and keep the option of a review open should the need arises.

Boss also urged all sub-na­tional entities which had been collaborating with govern­ment to expeditiously factor the guidelines into their deci­sions and resultant protocols that would be agreed to.

“There is a lot of work to be done and enough for every­body. We must all overcome this challenge together. You must take responsibility,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government said despite the lifting of ban on religious gatherings, it is safer for peo­ple to worship at home.

Speaking at the briefing on Tuesday, Sani Aliyu, National Coordinator of the Presiden­tial Task Force on COVID-19, said it is safer for people to worship at home.

Aliyu said due to the nature of religious centres, COVID-19 could spread easily there.

“The Federal Government decided to reopen worship centres under specific guide­lines but if you can worship at home, please do so because it is safer to worship at home. It is better to stay at home and worship than to go to a place of worship,” he said.

“Places of worship that do not comply with required measures should not be al­lowed to operate. State au­thorities should not allow such churches or mosques to operate.”

Churches, Mosques May Remain Shut In Lagos Over Guidelines

There are strong indica­tions that worship centres, including churches and mosques, in Lagos State may not reopen soon as a result of disagreement on protocols and guidelines between the state government and reli­gious leaders.

The Lagos State Com­missioner for Home Af­fairs, Anofiu Elegushi, while fielding questions from newsmen on Tuesday during a Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the first year in office of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the JJT Park in Lagos, said the possibility of reopening churches and mosques in the state had been ruled out.

“Even before the pro­nouncement by the Federal Government, we had been having meetings with the re­ligious leaders; we even had one with safety commission, looking at the possibility of reopening of religious houses.

“We also had one with the leaders of the two faiths, and I want to tell you categorical­ly that at that meeting, the possibility of reopening reli­gious houses was ruled out totally.

“They claimed that they cannot take such responsibil­ity of ensuring that only 20 or 50 people are praying behind them.

“Like an Imam said, he doesn’t know what is going on behind immediately he is leading a prayer. He said if more than 20 or 50 people are staying at his back, he is not going to take responsibility for their presence,” the com­missioner said.

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Elegushi added: “So, in the meeting, we ruled out in total­ity the issue of reopening the religious houses until we have a clear coast for us to do so.”

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