President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the COVID-19 Disease Health Protection 2021, a regulation which makes the use of face mask mandatory.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said in Abuja that the president signed the document yesterday.
He said the president signed the document, which became effective yesterday, in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 4 of the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2010 and all other powers enabling him in that behalf; and in consideration of the urgent need to protect the health and wellbeing of Nigerians in the face of the widespread and rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the country.
The regulations, which are six parts, made the use of face masks in public places mandatory.
Part 1 of the regulation places a restriction on gathering, stating that a physical distance of at least two metres be maintained at all times between persons and that not more than 50 persons should stay in an enclosed space, except for religious purposes, in which case the gathering shall not exceed 50 per cent of the capacity of the space.
The second part of the regulation stipulates that no person shall be allowed within the premises of a market, mall, supermarket, shop, restaurants, hotels, event centres, gardens, leisure parks, recreation centres, motor parks, fitness centre or any other similar establishment “except he is wearing a face covering that covers the nose and mouth, he washes his hands or cleaned the hands using hand sanitiser approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control and his body temperature has been checked.
It says any person found to have a body temperature above 38 degrees Celsius shall be denied entry and advised to immediately seek medical attention.
It says all users of places of worship must comply with the provisions of Parts 1 and 2 of the Regulations, adding that worshippers shall, where and whenever possible, avoid sharing worship items such as mats, bottles and hymnals.
All persons accessing the premises of a workplace or school shall also comply with the provisions of Parts 1 and 2 of the regulation.
The managers of hostels, boarding houses, nursing homes, correctional centres, remand homes, holding cells, military detention facilities and such centres for care and custody of persons shall also ensure compliance with the provisions of the regulation.
The third part addresses mandatory compliance with treatment protocols. It says that the health and safety protocols and guidelines which are issued by the PTF on Covid-19 on the recommendation of the NCDC shall be binding on all persons.
The president made it mandatory for all public secondary and tertiary health facilities to designate a space or holding bay for the initial triage or assessment of suspected persons with COVID-19 in line with the approved protocol for case management while all public secondary and tertiary health facilities must establish sample collection centres, where test samples from suspected cases can be collected and transmitted to an accredited testing laboratory in the state.
The fourth part of the regulation proposes penalties for those who breach the regulation.
He said that any person who, without reasonable cause, obstructs an authorised official from enforcement of the regulation commits an offence which is punishable, on summary conviction, by a fine or a term of six months imprisonment or both in accordance with Section 5 of the Quarantine Act.
The fifth part, which covers enforcement and application authorises the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Federal Road Safety Corps, the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, and other relevant local government, state and federal government, to enforce the regulation.
Buhari said any officer of the enforcement agencies who fails, neglects, or refuses to enforce the provisions of the regulations shall be subject to disciplinary action by the disciplinary body of his respective agency.
The sixth part deals with interpretation and citation.
The provisions of the Regulations are to apply throughout the country while the state governors may issue Regulations on further steps as may deem necessary.
While shedding light on the Regulations, Mustapha after presenting an Ambulance at the Ministry of Health said the regulations were aimed at dealing with the pandemic
He appealed to the public to cooperate with the government in the enforcement of the regulation so that it will limit government interference with their private and social life.
Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, has stated that only truth and adequate knowledge will dispel the lies and half-truths on the negative conspiracy theories that have mired the emergence of COVID-19 vaccine.
The Sultan, who is also President-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), stated this yesterday in Abuja at the sensitisation programme on COVID-19 vaccine for Muslim scholars and Imams in Nigeria, organised by NSCIA in partnership with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
He also tasked Nigerians to ask questions about the COVID-19 vaccines before they are brought into the country.
“People talk of conspiracy theories such as that the COVID-19 vaccine is meant to kill us. But my take is that if a vaccine was meant to kill us, will anybody wait for the COVID-19 vaccine before killing us? We have been consuming soft drinks and other medicines that are imported into the country. If any foreigner wants to kill us, there are more than a million ways to do so.
“The vaccines are free. You are not going to pay for it. But to take it is your choice. How? You have to find out the truth about the vaccine yourself. How do you find out the truth? By seeking knowledge. How? By communicating with the right people,” he said.
He said the interactive session was important because it would help in convincing the people of the need to take the COVID-19 vaccine or not, saying the people cannot be forced people to take vaccines.
“For us as Muslims, we know that knowledge is very important, and we know that Islam was founded on knowledge. The vaccines are not yet in Nigeria but it is an opportunity to bring up questions and fears about the vaccines so that the authorities will offer answers and solutions”.
He noted that the coordination and partnership of northern traditional and religious leaders that helped to overcome polio, the terrible illness that crippled children in the region will also help in this matter.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib assured that no COVID-19 vaccine has been brought to Nigeria by government, adding that any COVID-19 brought into the country by the government must be certified by NAFDAC before administration.
“Vaccines are serious biological materials. Any vaccine that would be used in Nigeria must be certified safe and effective by NAFDAC even though they have been certified by the WHO. The same vaccine that is being used in the UK, US and other countries are the ones to be used in Nigeria.
“There is no vaccine specifically made for Nigeria, it is the same vaccine that is used globally that will be brought to Nigeria and I assured you that it will be thoroughly screened by NAFDAC. No Covid-19 vaccine has been brought to Nigeria by the federal government and the first batch of vaccines that will arrive Nigeria is 100,000 doses being expected by February. What happens in Kano, Pfizer apologised for it,” Shuaib explained.