West African Country, Nigeria, with a growing case of the dreaded Corona Virus which as of Wednesday, the 27th of January, 2021 had 1861 new cases of the virus according to a released report by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, has now taken some stringent measures by passing into law a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Protection Regulations 2021. The underlining tone to the law is so as to stimulate the attitude of the citizens towards complying with COVID-19 protocols.
The Nigerian Medical Association and other stakeholders in the health sector have since applauded the move calling it a welcome development.
The Nigerian President while commenting on this new decision, said that the decision was not a mindless one but was well thought out especially considering the exponential rate at which cases of infections were going up in the country.
The new guidelines reveals that any person that breaks any provisions of the regulations, upon conviction, will either be liable to a term of 6 months imprisonment or fine or both. This is according to section 5 of the Quarantine Act.
Several Federal Government’s agencies in the country have been directed to be on their toes in the enforcement of the regulations. The concerned agencies include: the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, and other relevant government agencies at local, state and federal level.
The regulation reads expressly, “Any person who, without reasonable cause, contravenes a direction given under Parts 1 and 2 of these regulations commits an offence. Any person who, without reasonable cause, obstructs an authorized official from enforcement of these regulations commits an offence.”
The regulations stipulate that physical distance of no less two metres shall be observed at all gatherings between persons and no gathering exceeding 50 persons shall take place in an enclosed space, with the exception of religious purposes. In the case of religious gathering, the crowd must not exceed 50 per cent capacity of the space.
It is worthy of note that the regulations stipulates that aside the above rules, members of the general public in public gatherings, regardless of whether the gathering is an open space or an enclosed space shall comply strictly to the provisions of the regulations. These regulations may however be varied by protocols issued by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19. These protocols will be based on the recommendation of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The regulation also did not leave out the requirement of wearing of face mask. As a matter of fact, according to the rule, no person would be permitted within the premises of a market, mall, supermarket, shop, restaurants, hotels, event centres, gardens, leisure parks, recreation centres, motor parks, fitness centres etc unless the person wears a face mask which must cover his mouth and nose and also the muse of sanitizers have been mandated, same with the washing of hands.
While this new regulation was received with mixed feelings, it is the hope and belief that it will help to effectively curb the alarming spread of the virus and perhaps avert another nationwide lockdown which may become necessary if the numbers still keep soaring.
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