Coronavirus: FG goes after 4,370 suspected cases

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In a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus, the Federal Government has begun tracing 4,370 people who may have had contact with those infected with the disease.

It is also considering stopping inter-state and inter-town travels, except for essential services and deploying firefighting and other adaptable vehicles and personnel to fumigate cities and towns. As at 11 press time, Nigeria has recorded 65 cases across eight  states namely Lagos, FCT, Ogun, Bauchi,Ekiti, Edo, Osun, Oyo and Rivers.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed the latest measures at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday. “We have a short window within which to stop this pandemic or face an explosion in terms of the cases. We cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.

He said tracing of the 4,370 cases became imperative because most returnees from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Cape Verde and other countries, tendered wrong telephone numbers and addresses, making contact tracing difficult. “I want to say straight away that our strategy at containing this pandemic is working, but we still have a long way to go.

“We know our priorities and we know our challenges. We have taken very bold measures in stopping international flights into the country, and we hail the state governments that have taken equally bold measures in their states, which include the closure of markets and the prohibition of large congregations.

“However, we are determined to be more aggressive in enforcing the measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus, such as social distancing, contact tracing, testing, isolation of suspected cases and ensuring that our messaging gets down to the grassroots.

RELATED NEWS:COVID-19: 6 cured in Lagos, as Ekiti, Edo, Bayelsa govs, FCT, Information ministers test negative

“I don’t intend to sound apocalyptic. But the truth is that time is running out. If we don’t urgently and more aggressively enforce the measures I have just listed, we have a short window within which to stop this pandemic or face an explosion in terms of the cases. We cannot afford to be complacent. “In view of this, we are considering tougher measures to enforce compliance, stop the exportation of the disease to states that do not have it and minimise spread.

“Possible measures include: stopping inter-state/inter-town travels. We will be considering and announcing new measures from time to time, but rest assured that whatever decisions we take will be in the best interest of Nigerians. “We have 4,370 people of interest whom we are tracing. We urge those who have had contact with suspected cases to immediately report to the authorities.

“We urge Nigerians to support the authorities in this regard. We are on the verge of reaching the level of community spread. We must stop this immediately or we will record exponential cases in the days ahead. There is no better way to confirm that the strategies so far taken at containing the pandemic were working, though there is still a long way to go.

“Let me say, without mincing words, that we are not getting the kind of cooperation that this moment deserves from Nigerians. Many are busy engaging in meaningless criticisms, instead of complying with the stipulated directives to keep people safe. Some Nigerians who flew into the country from overseas filled wrong addresses and phone numbers in their forms, making it difficult to trace them when the need arises.

“Some Nigerians defied orders to stay away from large gatherings, while some religious leaders wilfully flouted the directives to ensure social distancing. “The government is doing its best but we need the citizens to do their best too. We have now gone past the stage of persuasion. It’s time for strong enforcement.

“This brings me to the rising instances of fake news associated with coronavirus. The epidemic of fake news is now competing with the pandemic of coronavirus, and this is not helping the fight against the disease. “Finally, we appeal to Nigerians not to panic. It is said that panic is our greatest enemy. The Federal Government is determined to work with the good people of Nigeria to defeat Covid-19. And defeat the disease we will.”

Mohammed insisted Nigeria had five laboratories in Nigeria, not five testing centres: “You can be tested at home. When we were tested at home, we were not tested at any centre. It took about three or five minutes to test a person. Where a case is positive, you are referred.Not everybody that is tested positive is in the intensive care unit. If we adhere to the directives, this won’t last more than two weeks. Nigerians are stigmatising this issue. They way we are reporting this issue will not even make those affected to come out.” He also dismissed insinuations that President Muhammadu Buhari was sick: “Mr. President is well, kicking and in charge of the affairs of the country. I can assure you that, at the appropriate time, the President will address the nation.”

Presidency embarks on fumigation of offices

The Presidency has begin intensive fumigation of the State House, beginning from President Muhammadu Buhari’s office. Fumigation experts arrived at the Villa by 9.30am, yesterday, to commence the exercise. It would cover the entire the Presidential Villa.

The Presidency had on Tuesday scaled down activities, following the news of Chief of Staff Abba Kyari testing positive for coronavirus. Meanwhile, the Presidency has said Buhari was working to keep Nigerians safe from the pandemic.

Presidential media aide, Femi Adesina, on his Twitter handle, @FemAdesina, described those spreading lies as people with diseased minds incapable of clean and edifying thoughts. He was apparently reacting to an audio making the rounds on social media that President Buhari and Kyari had been flown out for medical attention abroad.

READ ALSO:BREAKING NEWS: Rivers Government Closes All Entry Points Into State Over Coronavirus

The lady in the recording claimed that she had a friend whose husband was an Air Force pilot and was asked to fly the President and his Chief of Staff out but could not because he was under quarantine, having recently returned from Dubai. The unnamed lady claimed that another pilot was procured and flew Buhari and Kyari out to receive treatment outside Nigeria.

Adesina tweeted: “Why do some people imagine vain things and concoct lies and evil? Simple. Their minds are diseased, and incapable of clean and edifying thoughts. President Buhari is on top of ensuring that Nigerians are kept safe from Covid-19. The good work continues.”

NMA seeks Executive Order on total lockdown 

The  Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has asked President Buhari to issue an Executive Order to enforce total shutdown of the country, as part of measures to contain community transmission of coronavirus in Nigeria.

The association was unhappy that some states were vacillating on the closure of schools, banning social and religious gatherings, under the assumption that there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their states. The NMA urged uniformity in implementing the lockdown on non-essential services.

NMA president, Dr. Francis Faduyile, in a statement released in Abuja, recalled that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had advised nations with weak health system, which Nigeria falls under, to make early preparations to contain the pandemic, but, unfortunately, little efforts or measures were put in place by the Nigerian government to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

He expressed displeasure with the way government has been handling the coronavirus situation in Nigeria, which, he said, has led to increased spread of the virus in the country.

The umbrella body of medical doctors in Nigeria specifically mentioned that relevant federal and state authorities were working independently as regards response to the global pandemic, thus leaving several grounds uncovered. He suggested a more result-oriented situation, where federal and state government were comparing notes, sharing intelligence and taking a uniform stand on issues like modalities for effective implementation of interrupting the chain of transmission (social distancing), case detection, contact tracing and self- isolation.

He insisted on immediate enforcement of supervised self-isolation in a manner that would protect public health. “This would ensure that returnees from countries with high prevalence adhere to instructions and confine themselves to a location in order to protect members of the public,” he said.

MORE NEWS:Confirmed coronavirus cases rise to 65 in Nigeria

Buhari approves N10bn for Lagos, NCDC N5bn

President Muhammdu Buhari has approved the immediate release of N10 billion grant to Lagos State.

According to him, the grant will enable the state to increase its capacity to control and contain the outbreak, while also supporting other States with capacity-building.

In a statement he personally signed, he said he has been receiving extensive briefings on the state of the nation as it relates to the Covid-19 pandemic, from the relevant Federal Government agencies as well as the Lagos State Government.

The President said he has also approved the release of N5 billion special intervention fund to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to equip, expand and provide personnel to its facilities and laboratories across the country.

He assured Nigerians that the Federal Government remains committed to protecting everybody. “We seek your full support and cooperation as we go through this very difficult time. Together we will triumph over this pandemic,” he said.

Senate urges relief for Nigerians

Senate President Ahmad  Lawan has called on the Federal Government to immediately find ways of providing relief for poor Nigerians whose daily livelihood would be affected as a result of the restriction on movement.

He said that aside from mulling a total lockdown of business activities in the country, a plan must be devised by the Federal Government through the release of funds. The funds should be for the purpose of purchasing food and pharmaceutical supplies for ordinary Nigerians.

He warned that not making provisions ahead of time to address the basic needs of poor Nigerians may lead to more problems for government, and less result in controlling the spread of the disease.

“Our prayer is that we are able to overcome this menace of COVID-19 in good time, because it is really taking a toll on our lives.

“If we have to eventually shut down our country, then as a government we must be prepared to have some relief for the most ordinary people.

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“As a government, we must find our own money to fund something for our people, because the United States of America that is talked about or the British Parliament is because this involves public funds.

“I’m not seeing anything at the moment targeted at providing some relief. If we lock down Nigeria today, that will wake up trouble, because majority of our citizens go to market every day before they can get something to eat.

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