Just a few days after the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control confirmed a case of Delta COVID-19 variant in Nigeria, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday evening removed his protective mask in public, thereby flouting the Coronavirus Disease Health Protection Regulations (2021) he signed in January.
The President had on Tuesday evening attended a dinner with members of the National Assembly, held at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.
Photos of the event posted by the Personal Assistant to President on Broadcast Media, Buhari Sallau, showed that the President arrived at the event with his mask on but later removed it inside the conference hall.
Also, photos of the event showed the President (without a mask on) interacting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, who all had their masks tightly fitted.
Tuesday evening was not the first time the President removed his mask in public; he had removed his mask in January 2021 at a public event in his hometown in Daura, Katsina State.
The Peoples Democratic Party and many Nigerians on social media had slammed the President for the contravention of the regulations which made the use of face masks in public places mandatory among other measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
The regulations also stipulate a fine or six months imprisonment or both for violators.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that with the detection of the Delta COVID-19 variant in Nigeria, experts warned against a fresh lockdown, stating that imposing a new lockdown would have devastating impacts on the economy.
The experts spoke against the background of a third wave of COVID-19 with the steady rise in positive cases in the last one week and the discovery of a new variant of the virus in Nigeria.
The deadly Delta variant is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a variant of concern, given its increased transmissibility.
The variant has been detected in over 90 countries and is expected to spread to more countries, according to the NCDC.
Nigeria has recorded over 168,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 2,100 associated deaths since the index case of the virus was reported in the country in March 2020, according to statistics by NCDC who continues to urge Nigerians to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices as well as use masks in public to prevent transmission of the lethal virus which has been identified to move through droplets.