‘Coronavirus restriction’: Nigerian government quoted out of context – minister

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this at a media briefing on Monday in Lagos, said centres were also built in collaboration with states and the private sector to isolate and treat cases of COVID-19.

The federal government on Tuesday denied media reports that it has “introduced or re-introduced’’ new restrictions on COVID-19.

Information minister Lai Mohammed made the rebuttal at a meeting with online publishers in Lagos.

Mohammed said there were no new restrictions, adding that the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 only reiterated existing regulations to control spread of the disease.

The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 had on Monday announced the enforcement of a curfew across the country in a move it said was to forestall a possible new wave of the pandemic.

“The nationwide curfew will be imposed tonight at midnight and it will run through till 4:00 a.m.,” the committee stated.

But the minister, a member of the steering committee, said the committee’s national incident manager Mukhtar Mohammed was quoted out of context during the briefing of the committee on Monday in Abuja.

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He said the only thing that was newly introduced was that anyone, including Nigerians travelling from Brazil, Turkey or India, must go through compulsory quarantine.

“What we did was the need to remind people of the existing extant regulations on COVID-19.

“Government has not introduced anything new. You can still travel by air or road or any other means but ensure you wear your face mask.

“We have not opened nightclubs, the regulations on social distancing, social and religious gatherings, use of face masks are still in place.

“The curfew between 12:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. is still on and we are saying people must obey the existing protocols,’’ he said.

The minister said the emphasis became imperative because Nigerians were taking things for granted and behaving as if COVID-19 had gone.

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He said India made the same mistake and they were paying dearly for it at the moment

“This is the mistake that India made when they actually boasted they had conquered COVID-19.

“They were holding political campaigns and religious festivals when a new variant of COVID-19 surfaced.

“Today, they are recording more than 400,000 case per day and about 4,000 lives lost daily.

“This is why every citizen must know where we are going,’’ he said.

Mohammed said Nigeria had been fortunate not to record a high rate of infection that it would not have the health infrastructure to handle.

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