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Nigerians Should Get Ready For Fresh Lockdown – FG

Nigerians Should Get Ready For Fresh Lockdown - FG

Nigerians Should Get Ready For Fresh Lockdown If COVID-19 Cases Keep Raising – FG

  • Bank customers, transport workers, commuters shun social distancing

Chukwudi Akasike, Adelani Adepegba, Tobi Aworinde, Dayo Ojerinde, Deji Lambo  and Adeniyi Olugbemi

The Federal Government, on Monday, decried the nationwide non-compliance with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19’s guidelines for gradual reopening of the economy.

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who stated this during the task force press briefing in Abuja, warned that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), could restore the lockdown if the guidelines were not observed and there was a surge in coronavirus cases.

The President had, on March 30,  imposed a two-week lockdown on the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states, but at the expiration of the first lockdown on April 13, he extended it by another  14 days.

In his broadcast to the nation on April 27, Buhari said phased and gradual easing of the lockdown would begin on May 4 (yesterday). He also imposed a dusk to dawn curfew on the nation.

Besides banning interstate movements, the President imposed a total lockdown on Kano State, which had witnessed a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Guidelines on gradual reopening of the economy issued by the PTF a few days after the presidential address mandate anyone in public spaces to use non-medical face masks.

They also prohibit interstate travels, apart from for essential services. The guidelines ban gathering of more than 20 people outside of a workplace.

Commercial vehicles are only allowed to operate outside the curfew hours and should practise social distancing in the number of their passengers.

But our correspondents, who monitored activities in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states on Monday observed that people did not observe the PTF guidelines, including social distancing.

Although banks limited the number of people that entered their premises, customers ignored social distancing as they crowded at bank gates.

Pedestrians and motorists from Ogun State crossed over to Lagos in violation of the ban on interstate movements.

‘Easing lockdown: There will be new infections’

The NCDC boss, at the PTF’s press briefing on Monday, reviewed compliance with the guidelines across the country and concluded that it was not satisfactory.

He said the President could restore the lockdown if the task force guidelines were not observed.

Ihekweazu stated, “Today (Monday), some of the measures are being eased. Initial reports are not too pleasing across the country.

Now that we have seen the sunlight again, the challenge for us as a society is, how do we organise ourselves to mitigate these risks and limit transmissions from each other?

“Though we might have a few extra infections today and tomorrow, what we don’t want is an explosion of new infections? If we do have that explosion, there will be almost no choice left for the leadership of the country but to ask all of us to go back to our homes.”

NCDC boss faults banks, fears new infections

Ihekweazu noted that banks were among business groups that were allowed to open on Monday.

He, however, lamented that many banks limited the number of their branches that opened, adding that there would be a spike in infections due to the way people mingled.

The NCDC boss said, “When we say take responsibility this time, yes, we are addressing individuals, but we really need to address corporate Nigeria. There is benefit of the doubt, but when you limit the number of branches opened, everyone goes to the one branch that is opened and that becomes counterproductive.

“Today, we might forgive a little bit because it was the first day. We will have infections because of what happened today, no doubt about that. Everybody here (on the PTF) knew today would be a problem because, for the first time, people were let out of their homes.

“We can produce all the guidelines in the world. We can preach and do press conferences, but how can we learn from the mistakes of today,  tomorrow and the day after, so that, by Friday, hopefully, we have normalised some of these things?”

He stated that organisations must support the implementation of the preventive measures, help manage the risk and focus on a risk-based approach.

Why markets are opened, places of worship shut —PTF

Ihekweazu, while fielding questions from journalists, noted that the decision to open markets  and close places of worship was because “food is an existential issue.”

He added, “We are not even saying we are happy with the markets across the country. But we are really still appealing to everyone in those markets to help us make it (curb in transmission) work.

“We know that many of our markets were not built for an era of COVID-19. We’re sure about that. Our markets are historically very congested places with many ports of entry, very difficult to control access; in fact, a perfect place for transmission.

“So, by no means are we saying the marketplaces are the examples of perfect locations for managing transmission. We have to allow markets to continue because people have to eat.”

Speaking on the efforts of the PTF’s in Kano State, Ihekweazu said experts deployed by the Federal Government were working to guide the ministry of health in the state.

‘Kano testing is slow’

According to him, the NCDC team and the Kano State officials are working to improve the laboratories in the state.

He said,  “The speed of testing (in Kano) is a little bit slower than you would expect. But that is the price we have to pay in order to get this up and running. I’m confident that we will leave that lab better.”

The NCDC boss also said the task force supported the delivery of a new lab funded by the Aliko Dangote Foundation, delivered by a Nigerian company, 54 Gene.

Continued interstate movements  of almajiris violating protocols —PTF

The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, in his remarks, said there had been “very noticeable” relocation of almajiris from one state to another.

Mustapha said, “With the ban on interstate movement, the continuation of this exercise will not be in alignment with the guidelines issued. The PTF shall engage with  state governments on how to achieve their objectives.”

Don’t neglect treatment of other ailments, minister tells hospitals

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his address, urged all health care facilities not to reject persons seeking medical help, especially in emergencies.

He said it was unethical not to attend to persons in distress.

“I also urge citizens to go to  hospitals when not feeling well and to cooperate by giving accurate information especially with regard to travel history,” he said.

Nigeria to take part in COVID-19 medicine trials, says FG

Ehanire also noted that the country had informed the World Health Organisation that it would take part in trials of medicines to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, efforts are ongoing to also conduct research in Nigeria.

He said, “Other drugs can be added based on emerging evidence. We shall ensure the maintenance of ethical standards and safety of our people.”

The National Coordinator of the  PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, in his remarks, decried non-compliance with the task force protocols, saying the easing of the lockdown was in, no way, a licence to relax self-protection against the infection.

He restated the PTF guidelines, saying, “No interstate travel is allowed except for transportation of essential commodities and services. No passenger flights. Churches, mosques and schools remain closed.

“Clubs, bars, parks, sporting and gaming centres will also remain closed. It is absolutely necessary to continue to maintain those measures that will continue to protect us.

“We must wear our masks to protect ourselves and one another at all times. We must keep washing our hands. We must maintain the safe physical distance of two metres and comply with the eases lockdown measures.”

89 COVID-19 vaccines being developed —WHO

The WHO Country Representative, Fiona Braka, while fielding questions, stated that research was going on globally for a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Braka, no fewer than 89 products are undergoing development.

He stated, “Research is going on globally to study the genetics of the virus. This helps us to develop a vaccine. Thanks to rapid sharing of genetics data from countries, we are able to advance the production of vaccines.

“We do acknowledge the contributions of countries in sharing their genetic sequencing data, including Nigeria. So, the first vaccine trial started as early as 60 days just after the genetic sequencing information of the virus was shared by China.

“We have about 89 products that are currently under vaccine development. The numbers keep getting updated because there is an accelerated process going on globally to try and find a vaccine.”

Nigerians shun social distancing, storm banks, bus stops

Meanwhile, on Monday, Nigerians, who trooped to banks, bus stops and other public places,  disregarded measures introduced by the Federal Government.

Our correspondents, who monitored activities in Lagos and Ogun states, as well as the Federal Capital, observed that motorists failed to observe social distancing.

The PUNCH correspondent, who went round Sokoto, the Sokoto State capital, observed that social distancing was not adhered to by most people in the city.

Customers, who thronged most of the banks, located on Kano Road, were struggling to enter their premises

Lagos bank customers, transporters  violate social distancing

In the Berger and  Ikorodu areas of Lagos State, it was observed that commercial transport workers and passengers were partially complying with the use of face masks, but ignored social distancing as most buses were filled with the regular number of passengers.

Also, the influx of people into various banks and to board the Bus Rapid Transit attested to the lack of compliance with the social distancing directives.

An eyewitness in Ikorodu, Shukurat Adebayo, said she aborted the transaction she wanted to do in a bank because of the large crowd, adding that bank customers and commuters were not observing social distancing.

She said, “Currently, I am at the Ikorodu Garage, I wanted to do a transaction at the GT Bank  but the branch at Ayangburen road did not open.  We were directed to another branch at Agric, but I did not go. I left for Polaris Bank to do another transaction, but on getting there, it was crowded.  There was nothing like social distancing because I saw a lot of people trying to gain access into the bank. They were not orderly and efforts by the bank officials to talk to people didn’t work.

“Also, the situation is the same at BRT Park. Although, I can confirm to you that the drivers conveyed only 20 passengers because I boarded a bus this morning from Lagos Island to Ikorodu. The queue was crowded as usual and commuters were not observing social distancing.”

Motorists plying Sango/Tollgate to Oshodi were seen carrying passengers, while the bus stops at Meiran, Ijaiye, U-turn and Abule Egba were overcrowded.

The majority of the passengers were seen wearing face masks but disregarded the social distancing order of the federal and state governments.

At Agege, a driver, Abbas Ramon, told The PUNCH that it was not possible for commercial vehicles to load   60 per cent of their capacity because the National Union of Road Transport Workers was still collecting normal levy from them.

Rivers commercial vehicle operators flout social distancing order

In Rivers State, commercial bus operators still loaded their vehicles with passengers without observing social distancing.

While the state government had insisted that only two passengers should be on a row, the commercial bus drivers still allowed four passengers.

Recall that the state Governor, Nyesom Wike, had threatened to ban the operation of commercial vehicles in some parts of the state should commercial drivers continue to flout the order on social distancing.

A commercial bus driver, who identified himself as Godswill, said he would not be able to make profit if he adhered to the order of having only two passengers per row.

“How can I have only two passengers where I am supposed to be carrying four passengers? If I try that, I will not make profit,” Godswill, who plies Ikwerre to Choba, said.

FCT residents besiege banks

In the FCT, hundreds of people on Monday besieged commercial banks.

The banks in Garki Area One, Adetokunbo Ademola Wuse 2, Central Business District, and other parts of the city were thronged by customers, many of whom wore no face masks.

At the Ecobank branch beside AP Plaza, Wuse 2, scores of customers were locked outside the bank and only a few were allowed to enter in line with the social distancing guidelines.

The same situation was observed at a GTB branch located beside a popular eatery where tens of customers waited impatiently outside the bank.

A customer, Stanley Wosu, said he had an urgent transaction to make in the bank hence his visit, adding that he would not have come to the bank on account of the pandemic.

14 more Lagos patients discharged

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government on Monday announced the discharge of 14 more COVID-19 patients who had recovered from the virus.

The state Ministry of Health, via its twitter handle, @LSMOH, said 261 patients had been discharged in Lagos.

It tweeted, “14 more COVID-19 Lagos patients; six females and eight males, all Nigerians were today (Monday) discharged from our isolation facilities at Yaba, Onikan, LUTH and Eti-Osa (Landmark) to reunite with the society.

“The patients; seven from Onikan, two from IDH, Yaba, four from @LUTHofficial and one from the Eti-Osa (LandMark) isolation centres have fully recovered and tested negative twice consecutively to COVID-19.

“With this, the number of patients successfully managed and discharged in Lagos is now 261.”

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How Lagos State Intend To Operate After Lockdown

How Lagos State Intend To Operate After Lockdown

The Lagos state government has announced guidelines for ease of lockdown in the state.

Here are the guidelines as released by the state government

STATE-WIDE CURFEW

– An overnight curfew will be in force from 8pm till 6am daily, from May 4, 2020, for two weeks in the first instance. Subsequent extension of the curfew will be communicated by way of a press release issued by the State Government.

– The state will continue to decontaminate all public places and infrastructure. These places include, but are not limited to, the State Secretariat, Government Establishments, Markets, Schools, Motor Parks and Bus Stops.

– All Businesses are also hereby directed to de-contaminate their premises, prior to re-opening.

INTER-STATE MOVEMENT

– All movement in or out of Lagos State is prohibited except for supply chain & services, such as: goods, agro-products, petroleum products, relief items, supplies, construction supplies and registered courier services with a limited capacity of accompanying personnel of no more than seven (7) persons.

FACE MASKS

– Movement in public spaces without a Face Mask or Face Covering is highly prohibited. Everyone appearing in public must use a simple

Face Mask. Violation of this directive will attract heavy penalties.

PUBLIC SERVICE

– All Public Servants in the entire Lagos State unified Public Service, on grade levels 1-14 are to continue to remain and work from home; unless otherwise directed by their Accounting Officers.

– For Grade Levels 15 and above, Accounting Officers to carry out a Needs Assessment of critical staff, identify essential officers and draw up a Flexible Work Roster in compliance with Social Distancing principles.

– All staff of the Local Government and Local Council Development Area Offices in the state are expected to remain at home at this time, as all LGA/LCDA offices will remain shut till further notice.

– None of these directives apply to essential service providers. These people are expected to continue working as frontline workers, whose services are deeply appreciated.

OPEN MARKETS

– Effective from Monday 4th of May 2020, all open markets and stores will be allowed to operate on alternate days between the hours of 9am – 3pm.

– Everyone attending these markets and stores are mandated to observe necessary precautionary measures of social distancing and very high levels of personal and hand hygiene.

– Markets and Stores selling food items and other wares would operate on alternate days across the State, in the following manner: o Markets and Stores selling “Other Wares” – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

o Markets and Stores selling “Food Items”, including Abattoirs – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

– There must be adequate provision of alcohol-based sanitizers and hand washing facilities at all entry points into the markets and stores.

– Social Distancing must be strictly adhered to and temperature checks must be carried out periodically.

– There will be zero tolerance for street trading.

– The Iyaloja-General and other Market leaders also will ensure that their members abide by all the stated guidelines and advisories.

– The Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, Chairmen of LG/LCDAs, Office of Iyaloja General and Enforcement Agencies will ensure strict compliance.

MALLS/STORES

– Malls and Stores will be allowed to open with the proviso that stores and malls will maintain a 60% occupancy capacity within their premises; while also ensuring that a 2-meter (6 feet) social distancing is maintained between every person and the next.

– To maintain a 9am-3pm operational schedule.

– Mandatory use of face masks/coverings within the stores.

– Temperature checks and hand sanitizing protocols should be strictly adhered to at all entry points into the premises.

EATERIES AND RESTAURANTS

– Eateries and restaurants will be allowed to open daily between the hours of 9am – 7pm; however, these establishments are not to open to the public for in-dining services. Only take-out and delivery services are permitted.

– All food handlers and staff of these eateries and restaurants are expected to have gone through exhaustive health checks and must also practise high levels of personal and hand hygiene in serving members of the public.

– Food handlers are also mandated to wear masks and gloves at all times; particularly during the preparation and serving of the food.

– Temperature checks and hand sanitizing protocols should be strictly adhered to at all entry points into the premises.

HEALTHCARE

– All medical establishments will continue to open, and maintain a high index of suspicion for Covid-19. All suspected cases of Covid-19 must be immediately reported to the State Helpline: 08000-267662.

SCREENING AND NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENT

– All residents shall continue to comply with the screening requirements of the Lagos State Ministry of Health Officials on active case search duty within the communities. Residents are enjoined to provide accurate answers to questions about their health (including medical and travel history) and information about other individuals with whom they may have had contact, and produce any document which may assist the Health Officers in assessing such a person’s health.

SCHOOLS AND ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS

– All Schools at primary, secondary and tertiary levels remain physically closed.

– Students are expected to continue learning on the alternative online and media channels announced by the various institutions of learning.

– Private School Proprietors and parents/guardians are encouraged to enter into meaningful dialogue, regarding the delivery of education through various online and digital channels, and very importantly, the cost implication of same.

PLACES OF WORSHIP

– All places of worship (both formal and informal) are to remain closed from any form of congregational services or assemblage, until further notice.

ROAD TRANSPORTATION/COMMUTER OPERATIONS

– Commercial/commuter operations within the state shall be between the hours of 6am – 7pm daily.

– All commuters are mandated to wear face masks at all times, sanitize with alcohol-based sanitizer or wash their hands with soap and running water before and after each trip.

– All Operators i.e. drivers and conductors are mandated to always face masks and hand gloves while in transit and dispose of same appropriately.

– All Transport Operators/Companies are expected to disinfect their vehicles, parks and garages regularly and continuously (for vehicle: at least before and after each trip).

– All Transport Operators/Companies are expected to have at the entrance of the respective parks washing hand equipment with running water; and deploy temperature readers to test each passenger before boarding.

– All Operators are expected to have alcohol-based sanitizers in the vehicles for drivers, conductors and passengers.

– All motor parks and garages must not be overcrowded with passengers and commercial activities at any point in time.

– Social distancing is required for passengers queuing to board buses.

– Operators are not allowed to over crowd/over load their vehicles at this point in time. All buses must operate at a capped limit of 60% of the vehicle installed capacity (i.e. for Buses, 1 passenger with driver in front seat, 2 passengers on the back rows).

– All BRT and LBSL buses (High Capacity) must not carry more than 21 passengers and no standing shall be allowed in all BRT and LBSL bus operations.

– All air-conditioning systems in public transport systems must be switched off.

– All commercial motorcycle operations within the state is hereby suspended.

– Tricycles (Kekes) operating in unrestricted areas, must not carry more than two passengers per trip and must ensure appropriate social distancing is maintained between passengers.

WATER TRANSPORT OPERATIONS

– From May 4, 2020, Water Transport Operations will be restricted to the period between 6am and 6pm daily, until further notice.

– Passengers/Operators are mandated, in addition to life jackets, to wear face masks at all times, sanitize with alcohol-based sanitizers or wash their hands with soap and running water before and after each trip.

– All Boat/Ferry Operators/Companies are expected to disinfect their Boats/Ferries and Terminal regularly and continuously (for Boats/Ferries at least before and after each trip) in collaboration/supervision of the Ministry of The Environment and Water Resources and Ministry of Transportation in order to ensure standards and safety of the disinfectant being used.

– All Boat/Ferry Operators/Companies are expected to have at the entrance of their respective terminals hand washing equipment with running water and alcohol-based sanitizers.

– All Boat/Ferry Operators are expected to have Alcohol Based Sanitizers in their Boat/Ferry for Operators and passengers.

– Terminals must not be overcrowded with passengers and commercial activities at any point in time. Social distancing is required for passengers queuing to board Boat/Ferry.

– Social distancing principles must be strictly adhered to with at least 2 meters (6 feet) distance between people on the Boats/Ferries.

– Operators are not allowed to over crowd/over load their Boats/Ferries at this point in time. All public Boats/ferries should operate at be 60% of the installed capacity.

– Operators must have temperature readers to test each passenger before boarding the Boat/Ferry.

TRUCK AND LOGISTICS TRANSPORT OPERATIONS

– Trucks transporting foods and other raw materials into the State, must comply with the following guidelines: o All passengers on board the vehicle must always use face masks/coverings and have available within the vehicle, alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

o All vehicles carrying food and other agricultural produce in and out of Lagos must not have more than seven (7) passengers on board.

o Vehicles used for the transportation of food items and other services must be decontaminated before gaining access through the State’s border and when leaving.

o The Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and other relevant stakeholders will strictly monitor and enforce these guidelines in order to prevent and control inter-state spread of COVID-19.

MARITIME AND PORT OPERATIONS

– All Operators within the Maritime and Port Logistics industry are to ensure that all haulage and distribution operations within the metropolis adhere strictly to the following guidelines: o Truck movement to and from the ports, fuel depots and truck parks must be done in a manner that puts the safety of life and property as utmost priority.

o The use of face masks/coverings by all passengers in the trucks.

o Principles of social distancing to be observed by all passengers in the trucks.

o Temperature checks and hand sanitizing protocols should be strictly adhered to at all times.

PRIVATE SECTOR BUSINESSES

– With effect from May 4 2020, Private Sector Businesses/Companies will be permitted to operate within a framework known and referred to as “Controlled Easing Phase”. Offices and Businesses that choose to operate shall comply with the following directives below:

o Offices and business establishments to open between the hours of 9am – 3pm; and are directed to operate at 60% of their staff capacity. This means that companies are encouraged to operate a flexi shift/roster system which would see staff work on a shift basis.

o Establishments are to ensure a 2-meter distancing measure is maintained in all common areas; and at all service and customer facing desks.

o All buildings are to maintain a 60% occupancy limit in all office rooms within the building; and no more than 50% of the elevator capacity in any building shall be utilized.

o Businesses must make adequate arrangement for the transportation of their staff to their places of work to reduce risk of contagion and exposure while traveling on public transportation. In the event that Businesses are unable to make such adequate arrangements, they must allow such staff to continue to work remotely from home.

o Businesses must ensure that all staff members wear face masks while at work; and in transit to work.

o Where companies choose to make private travel arrangements for their staff into work, such companies must ensure that principles of social distancing; hand and personal hygiene, temperature checks and hand sanitizing protocols are strictly observed.

– It is important to reiterate that the Controlled Easing Phase is a gradual and controlled easing of the lockdown. Thus, Businesses must bear in mind that they are still to try and operate, as much as is possible, remotely and away from the office.

BANKS AND OTHER FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS

– We understand the important roles Banks and Financial Institutions play in our economy, and for this reason they are highly encouraged to open their branches and offer their full complement of services to the general public, provided the following directives listed below are strictly adhered to: o All Banks and Financial Institutions are to observe the operational working hours of 9am to 3pm.

o Banks are to ensure a 2-meter (6 feet) distancing measure is maintained in all common areas; and at all service and customer facing desks.

o Ensure regular cleaning and decontamination of their various ATM machines.

o Banks are to observe temperature checks, hand sanitizing protocols as well as the use of face masks for staff and customers.

o Banks are to maintain a 60% occupancy limit in all office rooms within their buildings; and no more than 50% of the elevator capacity in the building shall be utilized.

MANUFACTURING/CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES

– Manufacturing and Construction Companies (MCCs) will be allowed to operate between the hours of 9am – 6pm. Waivers will be provided by the Lagos State Government to enable movement outside of the restricted hours, upon the condition that the MCCs shall make adequate arrangement for the transportation of staff to and from their homes to their place of work.

– MCCs are to observe temperature checks, hand sanitizing protocols; as well as the use of face masks for all workers on site.

– Ensure social distancing principles, as well as high levels of hand and respiratory hygiene, are strictly observed by staff.

– As much as is possible, encourage shift-based work for all workers.

RECREATIONAL/ENTERTAINMENT CENTERS

– All entertainment centres such as event centres, movie theatres, arcades, bars, nightclubs, day clubs, beaches and casinos continue to remain closed till further notice.

– The ban on social congregations such as parties, weddings, etc remain in force.

PARKS, SPAS, GYMS AND SALONS

– All recreational parks, including those in private and residential estates, Swimming Pools, Gyms, Sporting Facilities, Beauty Salons, Spas, and all such public places will continue to remain closed until further notice.

HOTELS

– Hotels are prohibited from operating during this time, till further notice. However, hotels being used to accommodate medical personnel on the frontline of the Pandemic, and those being used as Quarantine, Isolation and Treatment Centers, are hereby wholly exempted from this directive. Any hotel, not exempted from the directive, found to be open and operational will not only be sealed, but the proprietors will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

ELDERLY

– Elderly persons (65 and above); as well as persons with underlying or pre-existing health conditions, especially hypertension, diabetes, asthma and low immunity are advised to remain at home, and request the assistance of those not in the vulnerable or elderly category to procure essential items needed.

FUNERALS:

– Funerals permitted with strict adherence to the following directives: o Size of gathering should not exceed 20 people, including the officiating religious leaders.

o Physical distancing maintained.

o All guests to disperse to their homes after funeral ceremony; with no accompanying parties or receptions permitted.

WHISTLEBLOWING

– The Government charges all citizens to be gatekeepers of all the directives herein contained. Whistleblowers are enjoined to immediately communicate violation of any of the directives to the following whistleblower hotlines: 0901-051-3197; 0901-051-3198 and 0901-051-3199. Whistleblowers are guaranteed full protection as their identities shall be kept strictly confidential at all times

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