The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has said the use of face masks in open spaces is now optional, while the decision on the final relaxation of measures will be taken after Easter.
The Head of the Technical Secretariat, who also doubles as the Secretary of the PSC on COVID-19, Dr Muktar Muhammed, disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja.
Countries across the world have started relaxing COVID-19 measures. Recently, Ghana, a West African country, announced that the use of face masks was no longer mandatory.
Nigeria has continued to witness a drop in the number of daily COVID-19 cases.
The PSC also announced that it would stop demanding proof of PCR tests from fully vaccinated travellers.
Muhammed stated, “We are easing up restrictions, but it’s important we do so responsibly.
“Last week, we suspended the limit placed on public gatherings, curfews and other social measures.
“The use of face masks in open spaces is now discretionary.
“We shall not hesitate to remove all mandates once the disease is no longer of public health consequence. We are aware that cases are rising in the Western Pacific and Eastern Europe. The US just mandated the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine for adults older than 50. We fear a reversal of the pandemic situation, where largely unvaccinated poor countries will be made to bear the burden because the West has developed very high immunity through large scale vaccination.
“Our biggest fear now is the upcoming Easter holidays. If we are able to cross and the cases continue to go down with no significant increase in hospitalisation and death, then certainly, we will lower our level of alertness and relax most of the measures.
“We are working with data and algorithms to determine our line of action. Everything depends on what happens next. We learn from other countries, but we don’t have to necessarily copy what they are doing. Every country should evaluate its risk and take responsibility.”
Meanwhile, data from the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency has revealed that a total of 12,139,797 persons have been fully vaccinated in Nigeria, while 18,942,020 persons have been partially vaccinated.
The NPHCDA announced that Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and the Johnson and Johnson brands of COVID-19 vaccines were available for individuals willing to be vaccinated.