The Northern Governors Forum, NGF, has expressed concern over the infection rates of COVID-19 across the region. That 54% of national tally and 70% of new infections are in the region was a cause for concern during their virtual meeting on Wednesday.

The issue is further exacerbated by incidents of violent and deadly crime across some states including terrorist violence in Borno, banditry in Katsina and other areas.

“The NGF has acknowledged and appreciated the intervention of the federal government following their request to President Muhammadu Buhari for the deployment of more security personnel to the region to tackle banditry, kidnapping, insurgency, and other crimes which are threatening livelihoods and preventing farmers from going to their farms,” chairman and Plateau State governor Simon Lalong said.

Touching on the issue of young boys sent across states to unregulated Islamic upbringing centers, the governors agreed that all instances of sending such kids to home states should be done following laid down protocols from profiling through testing till responsible handover.

The almajiris have become a hotspot for infection after a number of them tested positive in recent weeks. NGF also agreed to purchase of mobile testing vans to boost testing especially in rural areas.

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Meanwhile, there is strong misgiving over decision of some states to allow congregational prayers, principally Kano, Bauchi and Katsina. The reprieve comes with days to the post-Ramadan Eid celebrations.

Social media users are lambasting state governments who they insist are by their actions endangering the lives of ordinary citizens. They cite rising cases as enough reason to keep stay away orders in place.

Total confirmed cases = 6,677 (new cases = 226)

Total recoveries = 1,734

Total deaths = 192

Active cases = 4,475

Figures valid as of close of day May 19, 2020

May 20: Cases hit 6,401;
Total confirmed cases = 6,401 (new cases = 284)

Total recoveries = 1,840

Total deaths = 200

Active cases = 4,637

Figures valid as of close of day May 20, 2020

State governments are being tasked to do more in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the call of Sani Aliyu, national coordinator of the presidential task force. He was speaking at the daily press briefing on Tuesday.

“The response to COVID19 cannot primarily be driven at the Federal level, we need states to take more ownership. Our responsibility is to provide guidance and ensure adequate compliance to recommended measures across board,” he stressed.

His view is a reiteration of President Buhari’s directive to governors during a virtual meeting on Monday.

“In my meeting with the Governors today, I informed them that I have directed the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to work very closely with all State Governors. To succeed in containing this pandemic we have to improve collaboration,” Buhari said in a tweet.
May 19: Cases top 6,000; lockdown lifting risky
Total confirmed cases = 6,175 (new cases = 216)

Total recoveries = 1,644

Total deaths = 191

Active cases = 4,340

Figures valid as of close of day May 18, 2020

The federal government says Nigeria is not ready for total lifting of lockdown, hence the first level of easing will be in place for the next two weeks.

Speaking at the daily briefing of the presidential task force, SGF Boss Mustapha said a lifting despite small gains will amount to a risk.

“The reality is that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority. Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace.

“Advisedly, the current phase of eased restriction will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures will be pursued,” he stressed.

Task Force recommendations okayed by President Buhari include:

a. The measures, exemptions, advisories and scope of entities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased locked down, shall be maintained across the federation for another two weeks effective from 12.00 midnight today (18th May, 2020 to 1st June, 2020);

b. intensifying efforts to “tell (communicate), trace (identify) and treat (manage)” cases;

c. elevating the level of community ownership of non-pharmaceutical interventions;

d. Maintain the existing lockdown order in Kano for an additional two weeks

e. Imposition of precision lockdown in states,or in metropolitan/high-burden LGAs, that are reporting a rapidly increasing number of cases,when the need arises. This would be complemented with provision of palliatives & continued re-evaluation of impact of the interventions;

f. Aggressive scale up of efforts to ensure that communities are informed, engaged and participating in the response with enhanced public awareness in high risk states

The first phase of the gradual easing of the lockdown in the capital, Abuja, as well as the commercial hub Lagos and Ogun state ended on Monday and the second phase was scheduled to begin after assessment. Officials say the initial loosening of restrictions will be maintained for another two weeks.

This means airports, land borders, schools, parks and places of worship will remain closed. Large gatherings and interstate travels remain banned. A nationwide curfew from 20:00 to 06:00 local time still remains in force.

The total lockdown imposed on Kano state two weeks ago following reports of unexplained deaths also remains in place. But government offices, banks and markets will continue to operate for limited hours.

Additional reporting from BBC

May 18 : 5,959 cases, Buhari meets Task Force
Total confirmed cases = 5,959 (new cases = 338)

Total recoveries = 1,544

Total deaths = 182

Active cases = 4,183

Figures valid as of close of day May 17, 2020

President Buhari on Sunday evening met with the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force team at his residence for their weekly briefing.

Among those present were Boss Mustapha; Secretary to the Government of the Federation and head of the Task Force. The Health Minister, national coordinator of the Task Force and the NCDC boss were all in attendance.

Nigeria’s response is run by the Task Force which holds daily briefings in the capital Abuja to update the nation on the status of the pandemic in Africa’s most populous nation.

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