The Federal Government has said it wouldn’t rule out tougher decisions in its bid to control the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), even as it warned that things could get worse.
“For those who will not cooperate by submitting to the authorities, as required, the government will use all lawful means at its disposal to trace and bring them in. We will not hesitate to use the military and the police to enforce social distancing as well as contact tracing if not cases of coronavirus will multiply,” Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed disclosed yesterday.
This came as the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, yesterday called for a total shutdown of the country via a tweet on her verified handle, @aishambuhari.
“It is commendable that state governors have closed down schools; however, this could be counterproductive if parents are still going to work. We should not isolate students and expose their parents. Let us remember that they will meet at home,” she tweeted with the hashtags, #TotalLockDown, #StayAtHome.
At a press conference in Abuja, the minister said the country is “hoping for the best in our efforts to contain the disease, but we are prepared for the worst. The truth is that things may yet get worse than it is now, hence the need for all hands to be on deck.”
He noted that at the highest level of government, President Muhammadu Buhari was already leading by example, avoiding especially the shaking of hands.
“One of the president’s daughters is in self-isolation. The meeting of the heads of state of the Chad Basin Commission, scheduled for next week, has been cancelled. Visitors to the State House get their hands sanitised and their temperature taken,” he said.
The minister warned: “This is not the time to engage in name-calling, second-guessing the government or playing politics. Coronavirus does not select its victims on the basis of their political party affiliation, their religion or ethnicity. Therefore, Nigerians must come together as one to stop coronavirus dead in its tracks, just like we did to Ebola.”
The minister again cautioned Nigerians against peddling fake news about COVID-19, describing the trend as worse than the virus itself.
“Suddenly, coronavirus pundits are popping up everywhere, in particular on WhatsApp, prescribing Chloroquine (which has not been approved for treating coronavirus), garlic, hot bath, etc., as the cure-all for the disease. We implore Nigerians to shun these charlatans and follow the directives from the relevant authorities,” said Mohammed.