COVID-19 taking huge toll on economy, says Buhari

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Coronavirus continued its global dislocations on Tuesday. From Nigeria where a scary economic meltdown now looms with shrinking revenue as oil money goes downhill, to the global canvass where the Coronavirus scare has forced the United Nations General Assembly to cancel its Beijing assembly.

THE reality of a worrisome economic meltdown as a result of the touring Coronavirus, which as at last count has touched down on 90 countries, came closer home on Tuesday, with President Muhammadu Buhari, admitting that the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has started affecting the nation’s revenue negatively.

The President made this known when workers in the health sector, under the auspices of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly Healthcare Professionals Associations (AHPA), paid him a courtesy call in his office.

The President, in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, appealed to the health workers to consider the current state of the economy and be moderate in their demands, assuring that government was looking into their issues with a view to resolving them.

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He said: “Your case is certainly receiving attention, but you must bear in mind the condition that the country is in now. Coronavirus is not improving matters. It is affecting what we very much depend on, the petroleum industry and therefore revenue,” he said.

President Buhari also called on the visitors to appeal to the patriotic sentiments of their members in these trying times and continue to work for further development of the country.

“So please try and help us with your people. Let us be patriotic, let us look at the ways and means of the government and appeal for restraint.

“We have to emphasize that it is very important we maintain cohesion together, because if we allow sentiments or popularity to overwhelm our reasoning faculties, we will be in trouble and it will be too late for us to adjust, so please bear with us,” said the President.

JOHESU, an amalgam of five registered trade unions and AHPA, under the leadership of Comrade Biobelemoye Joy Josiah, had come to intimate the President with some of the contentious issues in the sector and to thank him for some of the positive developments.

 UNGA cancels session

The much anticipated 25th special session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the Beijing implementation action plan on women, has been cancelled.

The session which was to be held, was the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) for 9-20 March 2020.

Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, said the UNGA’s 25th anniversary was being cancelled due to the outbreak in China and New York that has claimed hundreds of lives.

She said the session was to discuss issues affecting women and children by analyzing how far the implementation of the action plan had been met in the last 25 years since the Beijing conference of 1995.

While calling on well-meaning Nigerians to ensure that the girl child is educated, confirmed that the issue of the girl child is top on the agenda of the present government.

The Minister said this yesterday in Abuja, at the Osasu show foundation press conference held to lunch the foundations women and girls empowerment program.

She added that the United Nations (UN) has 2020 as the decade for action for women and children.

She said, “This year, we are celebrating the decade for equality and the United Nations (UN) has declared Each4Equal, the UN has declared this decade as one for action for women and children, we are also celebrating 25 years Beijing toss as a time for us to reflect on issues that concerns women and children.

She said, “Since inception, the Osasu Show Foundation has implemented sustainable small scale interventions in the six geopolitical zones of the country, conducted sample surveys in the communities where we work. Recording successes, we realized the need to create a 10 year strategic plan to tackle developmental issues in support of Sustainable Development Goals, with particular focus on goals 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10 and 16.

ACF also suspends 20th anniversary

Just as the UNGA had to cancel its 25th anniversary of the Beijing summit, in Nigeria, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) also announced the suspension of its  20th Anniversary slated for later in the month.

ACF’s Secretary-General Anthony Sani, stated this at the ACF General Assembly in Kaduna.

“The planning and organisation of the ceremony commenced six months ago, but the recent resurgence of kidnappings and killings in some parts of the North and Kaduna state in particular as well as the global outbreak of Coronavirus made the leadership to keep the event on hold till further notice.

Ekiti begins free distribution of sanitisers

Meanwhile, the Ekiti State Government said it was making frantic efforts to stop the rampaging virus from knocking on the door of the state.

The Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Dr Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, said her ministry has started the free distribution of hand sanitisers, hand gloves and face masks to all public primary and secondary schools in the state.

She said: “The efforts of Ekiti Government at combating the virus cannot be quantified and this include the recent setting up of a 40-man committee headed by the governor of the state, apart from releasing money for immediate action”, she said.

Yaya-Kolade urged the general public to disregard rumour about the virus adding that they should only believe information from reliable and authorised sources.

The commissioner encouraged the residents observe strict personal and environmental hygiene as a measure of curtailing infectious diseases.

 Monitor all cases beyond 14 days

An expert, Dr Bamidele Iwalokun has praised the Federal Government’s intervention strategies which according to him has led to the curbing of the spread of the disease.

Iwalokun, of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Lagos, however advised that all monitored COVID-19 cases should be quarantined beyond 14 days.

Iwalokun, who is the Deputy Director of Research in the department, gave the advice in his office on Tuesday.

He said the confirmation of the second COVID-19 case in the country had shown that the manifestation of symptoms could prolong beyond 14 days.

“The second case of COVID-19 in Nigeria is an attestation to the fact that clinical manifestation may occur in an affected person after 14 days.

“We should not expect manifestation to start within 14 days in all cases; it can be prolonged. So, contacts should be quarantined beyond 14 days.

“All contacts of the index case are potential sources of transmission of the virus. Government needs to strengthen preparedness to respond to secondary cases that may further arise.

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“Contact tracing should be followed by isolation for proper monitoring that should go beyond 14 days to curb the spread of the virus,’’ he said.

The deputy director of research also canvassed for the establishment of more screening centres across the country to reduce logistics challenge of confirming new cases.

LASUTH denies admitting Lassa fever, COVID-19

The Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos, says no patient with Lassa fever or COVID-19 symptoms was admitted into its health facility.

Dr Oladeji Adewunmi, Medical Officer, Clinical Service Department in LASUTH, made the clarification in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.

Adewunmi said decisions on management of patients were made in compliance with strict standard protocol, and not at the whims of any person.

He said all cases were confirmed and verified by the hospital’s infection control specialist, after proper examination, history taken and laboratory check were necessary.

“The protocol is that if a patient comes and exhibits suspected symptoms of COVID-19 or Lassa fever, the patient would be isolated and tests conducted.

“This patient is a 39-year-old man, he was admitted on Feb. 28 and was discharged on March 2.

“On presentation, the tentative diagnosis was Viral Exanthem, Viral Haemorrhagic Fever or Coronavirus, but on further examination; the microbiology and infection control team said it was Viral Exanthem.

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“Further testing confirmed the diagnosis.

“He was initially put in the holding area at the medical emergency before review by the medical microbiology and infection control team, and then, transferred to the isolation room in the medical ward.

“After the screening tests, he was transferred to the general pool of patients,” he said.

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Responding to why a patient with Viral Exanthem was placed in the general ward with other patients, Adewunmi said the laboratory results showed that he was not infectious.

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