The Federal Government has advocated ways to make it a criminal offence for anyone in the country who fails to wear face masks as directed by governments.
This comes following an upsurge in the number of fresh COVID-19 cases in the country and states have been implored to enact laws to punish errant citizens to serve as deterrent to others.
Also, the federal government, in the last three weeks, has called on Nigerians to own the fight against COVID-19 following the spread of the virus reaching a community spread level.
It further warned that in the absence of drugs or vaccine for the treatment or prevention of the ravaging disease, citizens should take personal responsibility for the protection of their lives by embracing non-pharmaceutical methods of combating COVID-19 such as wearing face masks, personal hygiene and social distancing.
Speaking during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, the National Coordinator of the task force, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said criminalising the non-use of face masks had become necessary in view of the laxity of Nigerians to all the protocols introduced to stem the escalation of the pandemic in the country.
He added that the public only complied with the protocols and guidelines on COVID-19 after the initial two weeks of the lockdown of parts of the country following a spike in the cases of the virus in March.
Aliyu further explained that in subsequent weeks, in spite of the exponential rise in number of people infected, many citizens appeared to have become lackadaisical in complying with the regulations.
The National Coordinator observed that people were selectively using face masks and cloth coverings to avoid being scolded by security agencies or when challenged to so.
He Submitted: ”We are now working with the security agencies and state governments to make the use of face masks in the public mandatory. There is total non-compliance with use of face masks and social distancing. It is unfortunate that about 70 per cent of Nigerians still believe that COVID-19 is not an issue. We are not taking this issue seriously enough. On social media platforms, people still talk of conspiracy theory in reference to COVID-19. We must accept that COVID-19 is with us; we need to fight it and must work with state governors to take measures to protect citizens.”