Épidémie de coronavirus: mises à jour 24h / 24 – THISDAYLIVE

FG trace 4 370 contacts en tant que boîtiers COVID-19

  • Buhari libère N10 milliards à Lagos, N5 milliards à NCDC pour lutter contre la pandémie
  • La SGF, quatre ministres et quatre gouvernements jugés négatifs
  • L’Assemblée de Lagos adopte une loi punitive pour libérer six patients
  • Bauchi confirme le deuxième cas
  • Air France évacue 378 Européens, le Royaume-Uni explore les options

Nos correspondants

Le gouvernement fédéral a déclaré jeudi qu’il recherchait au moins 4 370 personnes d’intérêt soupçonnées d’avoir des contacts ou d’être à proximité de personnes dont le statut COVID-19 avait été confirmé positif.

La révélation du gouvernement central a précédé la déclaration du président Muhammadu Buhari hier soir selon laquelle il avait reçu des informations des agences appropriées sur le statut du COVID-19 dans le pays, affirmant qu’il avait ordonné le déblocage immédiat d’une subvention de 10 milliards de nairas pour l’État de Lagos et de 5 milliards de nairas pour Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) pour lutter contre la pandémie qui fait rage.

Buhari a déclaré que la subvention permettrait à l’État de Lagos d’augmenter sa capacité à contrôler et à contenir l’épidémie, tout en soutenant d’autres États avec le renforcement des capacités, ajoutant que l’argent pour le NCDC l’aiderait à équiper, agrandir et fournir du personnel à ses installations et laboratoires à travers le pays.

Le président a déclaré: «L’armée de l’air nigériane met déjà sa flotte à la disposition du présidentiel Task Force sur Covid-19, afin de permettre une réponse mieux coordonnée et plus efficace à travers le pays.

«Pour protéger notre patrie de l’exposition externe, j’ai ordonné la fermeture immédiate de nos aéroports internationaux et de nos frontières terrestres pendant quatre semaines dans un premier temps, afin de nous permettre de mettre en place les politiques, processus et infrastructures appropriés pour faire face aux cas suspects et confirmés. à la maison, sans risquer d’aggraver la situation avec davantage de cas importés. »

Dire que les inconvénients causés par les restrictions de vol et de voyage aux Nigérians à l’étranger, qui souhaitaient rentrer chez eux, étaient regrettables, mais nécessaires pour le plus grand bien du pays, le président les a remerciés pour leur compréhension et leur coopération.

Il a énuméré d’autres mesures qu’il avait prises: «J’ai également ordonné que seuls les cargos qui étaient en mer depuis plus de 14 jours soient autorisés à accoster dans nos ports après que l’équipage a été testé et confirmé indemne de maladie par les autorités sanitaires portuaires. . Cette restriction de 14 jours, cependant, ne s’applique pas aux navires transportant des produits pétroliers et gaziers car, de par leur nature, les contacts humains sont minimes.

«Nous avons également suspendu le mouvement des trains de banlieue pour limiter la propagation du virus dans d’autres parties du pays.
«J’ai demandé au NCDC de recruter tous ses récents retraités pour les remettre en service afin de renforcer nos effectifs alors que nous répondons à la pandémie.

«De plus, tout le personnel et les experts du NCDC qui sont en déplacement ou en mission internationale doivent rentrer immédiatement. Déjà, la Force aérienne nigériane (NAF) mène une mission d’évacuation pour ramener certains de nos spécialistes en Afrique centrale, afin de leur permettre de soutenir la réponse nationale. »

Buhari a félicité les autorités de politique monétaire pour leur intervention financière pour soutenir les entrepreneurs et les entreprises dans une période difficile et a déclaré qu’il attendait avec impatience des mesures fiscales qui minimiseraient l’impact négatif de la pandémie sur les moyens de subsistance de millions de Nigérians.

Il a rappelé aux Nigérians qu’il avait commencé le processus de révision du budget 2020, déclarant qu’il avait chargé le ministre de l’Industrie, du Commerce et de l’Investissement de travailler avec la Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, afin de garantir que toute la production d’articles essentiels tels que les denrées alimentaires , les produits médicaux et pharmaceutiques se sont poursuivis sans entrave.

« Nous engageons nos amis et partenaires internationaux à partager leurs connaissances et à chercher leur soutien dans notre réponse à la pandémie », a déclaré Buhari, ajoutant: « Nous sommes reconnaissants pour la manifestation de soutien jusqu’à présent – nous avons déjà commencé à recevoir des biens et des fournitures destiné à nous aider à intensifier nos efforts.

Il a salué le travail acharné et héroïque accompli par le personnel médical du pays, le NCDC, les autorités sanitaires portuaires, les agences de sécurité, les gouvernements des États et tout le personnel ad hoc et les bénévoles.

«J’exhorte tous les Nigérians à être attentifs à ceux d’entre nous qui cherchent à semer la panique et la désinformation et à semer la confusion en ce moment. Nous devons tous prêter attention uniquement aux agences gouvernementales compétentes qui travaillent jour et nuit pour mettre des informations précises et utiles à la disposition du public », a-t-il déclaré.

Les cas COVID-19 passent à 65

Jusqu’à présent, 65 personnes ont été testées positives à la pandémie avec 14 nouveaux cas enregistrés hier, le plus haut en un jour depuis la propagation de la maladie au pays le 27 février par le cas index italien.

Une ventilation des 14 nouveaux cas, selon le Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), a montré que 12 ont été confirmés à Lagos, ce qui porte le nombre à 44, tandis que deux ont été confirmés dans le Territoire de la capitale fédérale (FCT) pour faire son dénombrement. s’élève à 12.

« Sur les 14 cas, six ont été détectés sur un navire, trois renvoyaient des voyageurs au Nigéria et un était un contact proche d’un cas confirmé », a tweeté le NCDC hier.

Sur les 65 cas au total, Lagos en a enregistré 44, FCT 12, Ogun trois, Ekiti, Edo, Oyo, Bauchi, Osun et Rivers States, tous enregistrés chacun.

Alors que 62 cas sont sous isolement et reçoivent un traitement, trois ont été libérés après que leur charge virale est redevenue négative. Une personne était décédée.

THISDAY a également constaté que la fumigation de la State House, y compris le bureau du président, avait commencé jeudi.

L’État de Bauchi a également enregistré un deuxième cas alors que le gouvernement de l’État identifiait un patient décrit comme un ami du gouverneur, le sénateur Bala Mohammed, qui avait été testé positif au COVID-19, comme étant également positif au virus.

Cependant, les résultats des tests effectués sur certains gouverneurs, ministres et le secrétaire du gouvernement de la Fédération (SGF), M. Boss Mustapha, qui a passé le test COVID-19, étant entré en contact avec le chef de cabinet du président , Mallam Abba Kyari, qui s’est révélé positif, a montré qu’il était négatif pour le virus.

L’incidence croissante de la pandémie a incité le gouvernement fédéral et les États à intensifier leurs efforts pour enrayer la propagation. Certains États ont ordonné la fermeture de leurs frontières aux mouvements interétatiques, une action qui a suscité des condamnations de la part des avocats qui ont qualifié l’interdiction d’illégale et inconstitutionnelle.

Le ministre de l’Information et de la Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, a présenté hier les nouvelles mesures prises par le gouvernement fédéral pour faire face à la pandémie.

Le ministre, lors d’une conférence de presse à Abuja où il a donné le nombre de personnes retrouvées, a exhorté ceux qui ont été en contact avec des cas suspects à signaler immédiatement aux autorités.

Il a également sonné l’alarme que le Nigéria est sur le point d’atteindre le niveau de propagation communautaire de COVID-19 et a appelé à des efforts collectifs pour l’arrêter immédiatement sinon le pays enregistrera des cas exponentiels dans les jours à venir.
Mohammed, cependant, a déclaré qu’en dehors des « mesures agressives » prises pour contenir la propagation du COVID-19, le gouvernement fédéral envisageait des « mesures plus strictes » pour faire respecter la loi afin de stopper la propagation de la maladie aux États sans incidence.

Réagissant au statut du président, Mohammed a déclaré: «M. Le président va bien, donne des coups de pied et est en charge », ajoutant que« au moment opportun, il s’adressera à la nation ».

Il a également confirmé hier l’histoire de THISDAY selon laquelle des ministres et d’autres hauts responsables du gouvernement ont été testés pour le virus, ajoutant qu’il n’était pas libre de connaître les résultats.

«Quant à moi, j’ai testé jeudi et le résultat est négatif. Après le test, nous devions nous isoler. Mais étant donné la nature de la crise que nous vivons, nous ne pouvons pas disparaître. Mais nous prenons les mesures nécessaires », a déclaré le ministre.

Mohammed a identifié certaines des mesures envisagées par le gouvernement fédéral pour contenir le virus, y compris l’arrêt des voyages interétatiques / interurbains – à l’exception des services essentiels; fermer tous les parcs automobiles et les gares ferroviaires interétatiques, et utiliser des pompiers et autres véhicules adaptables et du personnel pour fumiger les villes.

« Nous envisagerons et annoncerons de nouvelles mesures de temps en temps, mais soyez assurés que toutes les décisions que nous prendrons seront dans le meilleur intérêt des Nigérians », a-t-il ajouté.

Le ministre a déclaré que bien qu’il n’ait pas l’intention de paraître apocalyptique, le temps passait, avertissant que si les Nigérians n’appliquaient pas de manière urgente et plus agressive les mesures recommandées, ils auraient un court délai pour arrêter la pandémie.

Il a confirmé que le gouvernement fédéral avait reçu des dons de kits de sécurité et de test de la Fondation Jack Ma en Chine, qui comprennent: 100 000 masques faciaux, 1 000 équipements de protection individuelle (EPI) et 20 000 kits de tests.
Il a déclaré qu’une partie des fournitures serait distribuée aux agents de santé de première ligne, tandis que les kits de test seraient partagés entre les cinq laboratoires de test du pays.

Le ministre a ajouté que le gouvernement fédéral prenait également des mesures pour augmenter le nombre de lits pour l’isolement des suspects.

«Les installations dont nous disposons maintenant comprennent un hôtel de 40 lits, le centre médical de 60 lits à Zuba et le centre de 160 lits à Abuja. Nous examinons toujours d’autres installations sur le territoire de la capitale fédérale.

«Comme nous l’avons dit lors de notre dernière conférence de presse, la recherche des contacts est très critique pour arrêter la propagation du virus. Aujourd’hui, nous avons 51 cas couvrant huit États: Lagos – 32, FCT – 10, Ogun – trois, Ekiti – un, Edo – un, Bauchi – un, Osun – un, Oyo – un et Rivers – un.

«Nous avons 4 370 personnes d’intérêt que nous recherchons. Nous demandons instamment à ceux qui ont été en contact avec des cas suspects de signaler immédiatement aux autorités. Nous exhortons les Nigérians à soutenir les autorités à cet égard. »
Tout en notant la décision d’au moins cinq compagnies aériennes nationales, Air Peace, Aero, Azman, Dana et Arik, de suspendre les opérations aériennes, le ministre a déclaré que la suspension stimulerait les efforts du gouvernement pour contrôler la propagation de la pandémie.

Relief comme SGF, Akeredolu, Diri, Ehanire, Mamora, Others Test Negative

Il y a eu du soulagement jeudi en tant que SGF, gouverneur de l’Etat d’Ondo, M. Rotimi Akeredolu; Le gouverneur de l’État de Bayelsa, le sénateur Douye Diri; Le gouverneur de l’État de Nasarawa, M. Abdullahi Sule; Le ministre de la Santé, le Dr Osagie Ehanire; Le ministre d’État à la Santé, le Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora; et le ministre d’État aux FCT, le Dr Ramatu Aliyu, tous ont été testés négatifs au virus.
Akeredolu a partagé le message qui lui a été envoyé par le commissaire d’État à la santé, le Dr Wahab Adegbenro, indiquant que le test était négatif.

Le secrétaire de presse en chef par intérim de Diri, M. Daniel Alabrah, a déclaré jeudi à Yenagoa que le résultat du test du gouverneur avait été obtenu au laboratoire accrédité par le NCDC à l’hôpital universitaire spécialisé Irrua de l’État d’Edo.
«Le résultat a montré que le gouverneur Douye Diri n’avait« aucune preuve d’infection au COVID-19 », a déclaré Alabrah.
Sule, son adjoint, le Dr Emmanuel Akabe et un homme soupçonné de symptômes de COVID-19 en isolement à l’hôpital spécialisé Dalhatu Araf (DASH) dans l’État de Nasarawa ont tous été testés négatifs pour le virus.

Hier à Lafia, la capitale de l’État, le vice-gouverneur de l’État, président du comité de réponse rapide de l’État, a déclaré: «Le gouverneur Abdullahi Sule, moi et l’homme isolé au DASH de Lafia avons tous donné nos échantillons à Lafia . Elle a été prise pour un test au National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) et les résultats pour nous trois ont prouvé que nous étions négatifs. »

Mamora dans un message WhatsApp a déclaré que le test effectué sur lui mercredi était négatif.
Hier, la ministre déléguée de la FCT a confirmé son statut négatif sur son compte Twitter personnel: « Chers compatriotes, je suis heureux de vous informer que mes résultats sont sortis cet après-midi et ont donné un résultat négatif à # COVID-19. »
Hier, en informant les journalistes de la pandémie, Ehanire a déclaré que le haut responsable de la présidence, dont le test était positif lundi, était soigné dans un établissement gouvernemental sécurisé dans un endroit non divulgué en raison des particularités de son cas.
Le ministre, qui a refusé de commenter l’identité de l’assistant du président et le lieu de son traitement, a déclaré que l’état de santé du patient ne pouvait être révélé qu’avec son consentement.

Tout en expliquant le traitement du cas de l’aide supérieure, Ehanire a déclaré: «Nous avons quatre catégories, jusqu’à 80% peuvent présenter peu ou pas de symptômes; certains auront des symptômes légers, certains modérés et certains graves et nécessiteront de l’oxygène et un ventilateur et ceux qui présentent des symptômes graves sont ceux qui iront à Gwagwalada. Les autres seront dans des locaux où ils seront pris en charge. L’aide du président, dont le test a été positif, reçoit un traitement dans un établissement sûr du pays; il n’a pas besoin de traitements de catégorie quatre; il a besoin d’un traitement général. »

Il a ajouté que la plupart de ceux qui étaient connus pour avoir eu des contacts avec l’aide présidentielle avaient subi un test avec le NCDC et que la recherche des contacts pour tous les contacts occasionnels et les contacts étroits avait été effectuée.
Il a dit qu’il avait la permission de la SGF et celle du secrétaire permanent du ministère de la santé, M. Abdulaziz Marshi, pour révéler les résultats de leurs tests, qui sont négatifs.

Le trio était parmi les contacts de l’aide présidentielle suprême.
«Je fais partie de ceux qui ont testé et cela s’est révélé négatif. Le secrétaire permanent et le secrétaire du gouvernement de la Fédération ont également obtenu des résultats négatifs. Toute autre personne qui a fait le test doit révéler son statut par lui-même », a-t-il déclaré.
Ehanire a également fait part de ses craintes quant à l’état de santé d’autres hauts fonctionnaires du gouvernement qui auraient pu avoir des contacts étroits avec le haut fonctionnaire présidentiel, affirmant qu’ils avaient été testés et attendaient les résultats.

S’exprimant plus avant sur la condition de l’aide du président et du gouverneur de Bauchi, le ministre a déclaré à l’heure actuelle qu’ils n’avaient pas développé de symptômes, ajoutant qu’ils étaient maintenus en isolement dans un établissement gouvernemental sécurisé où ils étaient surveillés et contrôlés mais que s’ils arrivaient à un niveau critique, ils seraient transférés vers une installation plus élevée.

Bauchi confirme son deuxième cas

Les cas confirmés de virus sont passés à deux dans l’État de Bauchi.
Le commissaire d’État à la santé, le Dr Aliyu Maigoro, l’a annoncé lors d’une conférence de presse jeudi.
Selon lui, le deuxième cas est un homme de 62 ans et un ami proche du gouverneur de l’État.
Maigoro a expliqué que 48 échantillons avaient été prélevés pour le test et que deux avaient été confirmés positifs.
Il a ajouté que 37 autres étaient restés négatifs alors que les résultats de neuf échantillons étaient toujours en attente.

Six patients COVID-19 seront libérés à Lagos

Pendant ce temps, l’assistant spécial du gouverneur de l’État de Lagos sur la santé, le Dr Tunde Ajayi, a déclaré que six des patients de l’hôpital des maladies infectieuses s’étaient rétablis et seraient bientôt libérés.
Ajayi via son compte Twitter, @thetundeajai, a déclaré: «Six de nos patients hospitalisés # COVID19 se sont rétablis et seront bientôt libérés. Il y a quelque chose que Lagos fait bien. Lagos prend les devants. »
Les nouvelles encourageantes sont venues juste au moment où la Chambre d’assemblée de l’État de Lagos a adopté hier un projet de loi d’urgence habilitant le gouverneur à disposer de pouvoirs étendus pour faire face à la pandémie et à prévoir des sanctions, y compris une amende de 100 000 N ou une peine d’emprisonnement pour quiconque contrevient aux directives du gouverneur. .

Avocats coup de pied alors que les États rapprochent les frontières des mouvements interétatiques

Deux avocats principaux du Nigeria (SAN), M. Ebun-olu Adegboruwa et M. John Baiyeshea ont déclaré qu’il était illégal pour les gouverneurs des États de fermer les frontières par crainte de COVID-19.

Ils se sont exprimés dans le contexte de certains États tels que Rivers, Kano, Kogi et Osun interdisant les mouvements interétatiques.
Adegboruwa a déclaré que le droit à la liberté de circulation est garanti à tout citoyen nigérian en vertu de l’article 41 de la Constitution de 1999 et également de la Charte africaine des droits de l’homme et des peuples.

Il a noté que grâce à ce droit fondamental, chaque citoyen du Nigéria a le droit de circuler librement dans tout le Nigéria et de résider dans n’importe quelle partie du Nigéria et aucun citoyen du Nigéria ne se verra refuser l’entrée ou la sortie d’une partie du Nigéria.

«Par conséquent, aucun gouverneur d’État n’est autorisé à refuser à tout citoyen du Nigéria le droit d’entrer ou de sortir d’un État du Nigéria, même dans des situations d’urgence telles que le coronavirus. Il doit y avoir une loi soutenant une telle politique ou déclaration », a-t-il déclaré dans un communiqué.

Adegboruwa a fait valoir que la plupart des États du Nigéria partagent des frontières avec d’autres États, de sorte que le refus d’accès à un État peut entraîner un refus d’accès à d’autres États.

Baiyeshea a également déclaré à THISDAY que les États n’avaient pas le pouvoir de fermer les frontières.
Selon lui, la constitution fait de la fermeture des frontières du ciel, de la mer et de la terre la responsabilité du gouvernement fédéral.

Il a toutefois déclaré que la pandémie de COVID-19 a provoqué une grave crise, y compris une crise constitutionnelle dans le pays, soulignant que les mesures prises par les gouverneurs des États ne devraient pas être un problème à ce stade.
Il a blâmé l’action des gouverneurs de l’échec du gouvernement fédéral à prendre rapidement des initiatives contre la propagation de la maladie.

La Coalition du secteur privé vise N120 milliards pour vaincre COVID-19

  • Les fondations CBN, Zenith, Access, GTB, UBA, Dangote et Otedola s’engagent chacune à hauteur de N1bn

Obinna Chima

Les principaux acteurs du secteur privé ont fusionné dans le cadre de la Coalition du secteur privé nigérian contre COVID-19, afin de mobiliser des ressources pour soutenir les efforts concertés de la fédération pour lutter contre la pandémie qui s’est propagée à huit États.

Le gouverneur de la Banque centrale du Nigéria (CBN), M. Godwin Emefiele, qui a annoncé la formation de la coalition lors d’un point de presse à Lagos, a annoncé hier qu’il prévoyait de lever 120 milliards de nairas pour l’acquisition d’établissements de santé pour le plaidoyer contre le virus. à travers le pays, entre autres.

Selon Emefiele, l’objectif de la coalition est de mobiliser le leadership éclairé du secteur privé, de mobiliser des ressources du secteur privé, d’accroître la sensibilisation, l’éducation et l’adhésion du grand public, de fournir un soutien direct à la capacité des soins de santé privés et publics à répondre à la crise. pour soutenir les efforts du gouvernement fédéral.

Il a déclaré: « En réponse à l’impact du COVID-19 sur l’économie nigériane, la CBN a commencé ces derniers jours à engager des compatriotes nigérians et des parties prenantes du secteur privé sur la manière de fournir un soutien au gouvernement nigérian pour l’achat d’équipement, des fonds et du matériel pour lutter contre la menace de cette malheureuse pandémie au Nigéria. »

Selon Emefiele, bien que le nombre de cas à ce jour dans le pays s’élevait à 51 au jeudi, les dirigeants du secteur privé craignaient que ce nombre augmente de façon exponentielle au cours des prochaines semaines.
Il a ajouté que le Nigéria doit se préparer au pire en réagissant.

Emefiele a déclaré que le CBN, au nom du Comité des banquiers et en partenariat avec le secteur privé dirigé par la Fondation Dangote et Access Bank, s’est réuni pour former la Coalition du secteur privé nigérian contre COVID-19.

«Cette coalition a été créée par la nécessité urgente de combattre la crise COVID-19 en cours au Nigéria. La vitesse à laquelle le virus se propage est sans précédent et il semble que nous combattions aujourd’hui notre adversaire le plus meurtrier.
«Jusqu’à présent, le gouvernement fédéral a fait des progrès dans la lutte, mais il est clair que le secteur privé doit intervenir pour soutenir les efforts déployés», a déclaré le gouverneur de la CBN.

Emefiele a expliqué que quatre grands comités ont été mis en place, dont le comité directeur; le comité de financement; Comité opérationnel et Comité technique.

«Le comité directeur assurera le leadership et dirigera la coalition et les comités pour obtenir tous les financements, équipements et matériels nécessaires à la lutte contre cette pandémie.

«Le comité directeur sera présidé par le secrétaire du gouvernement de la Fédération, M. Boss Mustapha, qui préside actuellement le comité du gouvernement fédéral sur Covid-19. D’autres membres du comité seront annoncés ultérieurement.
«Le deuxième est le comité de financement. Ce comité sera responsable du financement initial de cet effort. Les membres comprennent le CBN, Aliko Dangote, Herbert Wigwe, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, Segun Agbaje, Abdulsamad Rabiu et Femi Otedola.

«Chaque membre de ce comité devrait contribuer au moins 1 milliard de naira à cet effort. Davantage de membres sont invités et autorisés tant qu’ils sont disposés à contribuer 1 milliard de nairas », a-t-il ajouté.
Emefiele a déclaré que le comité opérationnel serait responsable de la gestion du projet, de la logistique, de la communication et du plaidoyer.

Il a déclaré: «Cela comprend la CBN, la Fondation Aliko Dangote, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, GTBank, Stanbic IBTC, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank et Nigerian Breweries.

«Nous avons tenu une vidéoconférence avec le comité des banquiers ce matin et la composition de ce comité a été convenue lors de la réunion par vidéoconférence.

«Le quatrième est le comité technique. Ce comité est chargé de recueillir des données sur l’équipement et les matériaux nécessaires à l’échelle nationale. Ils seront également responsables du leadership intellectuel autour des problèmes de test, des protocoles de traitement, des centres d’isolement, etc.

«Composition composée du Centre national de contrôle des maladies, de l’OMS, de la Fondation Bill et Melinda Gates, du ministère fédéral de la Santé et de certains membres du comité opérationnel et de financement.»

Selon lui, la coalition travaillera avec des institutions et des consultants réputés, dont le commissaire à la santé de l’État de Lagos, le professeur Akin Abayomi, le Dr Christian Happi et le Dr Phillip Onyebujo.

Emefiele a déclaré que les informations recueillies à ce jour ont révélé que pour se procurer tout l’équipement, le matériel et toutes les infrastructures nécessaires pour lutter contre la pandémie, « plus de 120 milliards de nairas doivent être levés ».

Il a déclaré que le Comité des banquiers et les parties prenantes seraient appelés à intensifier leur soutien à cet effort.
«Nous engageons déjà d’autres parties prenantes importantes au Nigeria et à l’étranger, telles que le NNPC et les acteurs de l’industrie pétrolière.

«Un compte sera ouvert à la Banque centrale du Nigéria pour recevoir à la fois du naira et des devises de nos donateurs.
«Le comité technique fournira des informations sur le lieu où l’équipement et les matériaux seront reçus uniquement pour ceux qui souhaitent faire don de matériaux et d’équipements.

«Ils se sont également engagés à fournir du financement, de l’équipement et du matériel», a ajouté Emefiele.
Il a assuré aux Nigérians qu’à la fin du processus, des comptables de bonne réputation seraient engagés pour rendre compte de la façon dont les fonds étaient utilisés ainsi que des matériaux donnés.

«La nécessité pour tous les Nigérians de jouer un rôle dans ce combat ne peut être sous-estimée car nous sommes littéralement dans le combat de nos vies. Je dois souligner le fait qu’il ne s’agit pas seulement d’apporter de l’argent. Votre temps, vos services, vos produits vous seront tous utiles.

« Le comité a déjà commencé ses travaux et nous vous tiendrons informés de nos progrès », a-t-il déclaré.
Répondant à une question sur les organisations du secteur privé qui peuvent ne pas avoir jusqu’à 1 milliard de naira mais seraient disposées à contribuer, Emefiele a déclaré: «Si vous voulez contribuer à N1, nous recevrions; si vous voulez contribuer 1 milliard de nairas ou plus, nous recevrons le fonds et nous vous assurons que nous en rendrons compte.

«Mais ce que nous disons, c’est que nous avons créé un groupe central qui aimerait être identifié comme faisant partie du comité de financement.

«Naturellement, vous vous attendez à ce que pratiquement tout le monde veuille faire partie de ce comité. Mais nous disons que pour être membre de ce comité, vous devez être quelqu’un qui est prêt à contribuer au moins 1 milliard de nairas », a-t-il déclaré.

UBA fournit N5bn pour lutter contre le COVID-19 en Afrique

  • Le Nigeria obtient la part du lion de 2,5 milliards de nairas

Nume Ekeghe

La United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) a annoncé jeudi un don de plus de 5 milliards de nairas (14 millions de dollars) par le biais de sa Fondation UBA, pour catalyser une réponse panafricaine globale pour lutter contre la pandémie mondiale de COVID-19.

Une déclaration de la banque a expliqué que le don fournirait un soutien important et bien nécessaire au Nigéria et à 19 autres pays africains, en fournissant du matériel de secours, des installations de soins intensifs et un soutien financier aux gouvernements.

Une ventilation du programme de soutien a montré que 1 milliard de nairas (2,8 millions de dollars) seraient versés au gouvernement de l’État de Lagos; 500 millions de nairas (1,4 million de dollars) au Territoire de la capitale fédérale (FCT), 1 milliard de nairas (2,8 millions de dollars) aux 35 autres États du Nigéria; et 1,5 milliard de nairas (4,2 millions de dollars) à la présence d’UBA dans les pays africains.

En outre, la banque a déclaré que 1 milliard de nairas (2,8 millions de dollars) iraient aux centres médicaux pour l’équipement et les fournitures ainsi que pour les installations gratuites des centres d’appels de télémédecine.

La banque panafricaine a également déclaré qu’elle financerait immédiatement un centre médical à Lagos, au Nigeria, avec des lits pour l’isolement et des installations de soins intensifs, géré et exploité en partenariat avec la filiale de soins de santé de Heirs Holdings, Avon Medical Hospital.

En outre, UBA a déclaré qu’elle fournirait une plate-forme de télémédecine gratuite, dirigée par des médecins, pour fournir un accès direct aux conseils médicaux aux citoyens, conformément aux exigences de distanciation sociale.

Commentant l’intervention, le président du groupe UBA, M. Tony Elumelu, a déclaré: «C’est un moment où nous devons tous jouer notre rôle. Cette pandémie mondiale doit rassembler les citoyens, les gouvernements et les chefs d’entreprise – et rapidement.

«Comme nous constatons un nombre croissant de cas de coronavirus au Nigéria et en Afrique, le secteur privé doit travailler main dans la main avec divers gouvernements pour endiguer la propagation de la pandémie mondiale.

«Nous saluons les efforts des gouvernements et nous tenons à nous associer et à contribuer nos ressources à l’effort collectif, qui garantira une réponse rapide et efficace à la pandémie.»

Présente dans 20 pays africains et dans le monde au Royaume-Uni, aux États-Unis et en France, la United Bank for Africa a une solide expérience de soutien à ses communautés, à travers une période difficile.

JEUDI 26 MARS 2020

COVID-19: Lagos commence la fumigation des lieux publics

Par Rebecca Ejifoma

Le gouvernement de l’État de Lagos a déployé plus d’équipements pour la fumigation des espaces publics dans l’État dans le cadre de mesures visant à stopper la propagation du COVID-19.

Le gouverneur, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, dans un communiqué publié sur sa page Twitter @jidesanwoolu, a déclaré que le nouvel équipement aidera à stopper la pandémie de COVID-19.

«Nous sommes conscients que pour débarrasser totalement notre état de ce fléau, tous nos espaces publics doivent être désinfectés, fumigés et stérilisés.»

Sanwo-Olu a noté: «Les temps agressifs appellent des mesures agressives. Par conséquent, nous lutterons avec agressivité contre ce nouveau virus et mettrons fin à son règne catastrophique. »

Covid19: Le Niger suspend les services du vendredi et du dimanche pour les musulmans et les chrétiens

Par Laleye Dipo

Le gouvernement de l’État du Niger a suspendu les prières hebdomadaires du vendredi des musulmans et le service dominical des chrétiens comme l’un des moyens de décourager les grands rassemblements de personnes de plus de 20 ans et de contenir la propagation de la pandémie de coronavirus.

Le secrétaire du gouvernement de l’État (SSG) et président du comité d’État sur Covid-19, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, a donné la directive dans une déclaration mise à la disposition des journalistes à Minna jeudi.

Matane a également interdit toutes les prières de la congrégation des chrétiens et des musulmans.

Il a expliqué que la suspension des prières Jumma’at et des services religieux faisait partie des mesures de précaution prises par le gouvernement de l’État pour empêcher la propagation de la pandémie de COVID-19.

«Le gouvernement a le devoir de travailler avec tous les chefs religieux et autres parties prenantes pour veiller à ce que tout ce qui est humainement possible soit fait pour réduire le risque que le virus s’enracine et se propage dans l’État», a-t-il déclaré.

Matane a donc appelé la population de l’État à respecter toutes les instructions et directives émises par le gouvernement de l’État, affirmant que le coronavirus pourrait augmenter avec les rassemblements de masse.

Il a également appelé la population de l’État à «faire preuve de plus de compréhension et de travail d’équipe» pendant que la pandémie dure et prie pour que Dieu protège contre la propagation de la maladie des coronavirus dans l’État.

Dans l’intervalle, le couvre-feu de 12 heures imposé à l’État à compter de mercredi a été ramené à 10 heures.

Le couvre-feu est désormais de 10h à 20h contre 8h à 20h.

Pour la deuxième journée consécutive, l’État était en verrouillage partiel, la restriction des mouvements des personnes et des véhicules prenant effet.

Tous les marchés, stations-service et grands magasins ont été ouverts jusqu’à 10 heures du matin, mais fermés par la suite.

COVID-19: Début de la fumigation de la villa présidentielle

Par Omololu Ogunmade à Abuja

Jeudi, la présidence à Abuja a commencé la fumigation de la villa présidentielle à la suite des résultats du test COVID-19 effectué sur le chef de cabinet, Malam Abba Kyari, qui s’est avéré positif lundi.

Depuis jeudi matin, toutes les parties de la State House, y compris le bureau du chef de cabinet, sont aspergées de désinfectant.

Cela s’est produit alors que certains employés du bureau du chef de cabinet qui se sont isolés depuis mardi, lorsque leur patron a été testé positif, doivent encore être testés et déplorent actuellement leur séjour continu dans l’isolement.

THISDAY a appris que des experts en fumigation sont arrivés jeudi à 9 h 30 à la Villa présidentielle et ont commencé une fumigation intensive de tous les bureaux et environs de la Villa.

THISDAY a également appris que vers 11h15 jeudi, les experts en fumigation étaient déjà dans le bâtiment principal abritant les bureaux du président Muhammadu Buhari ainsi que les étages, les couloirs et les voies principales menant à son bureau.

Ils seraient vêtus de tenues blanches avec des masques et d’autres matériaux de protection.

Une source a déclaré: «Ces gens ne sont pas de la Villa. Ils venaient de l’extérieur, de la ville (ville d’Abuja). Ils sont vêtus d’une combinaison blanche complète, masqués et portent d’autres vêtements de protection.

«Le pansement est similaire à la façon dont les gens du National Center for Disease Control portent leur

engrenages de protection. « 

Aux États-Unis, le nombre de morts de coronavirus dépasse 1000

Les États-Unis ont enregistré plus de 1 000 décès dus à COVID-19, le pays ayant confirmé plus de 69 000 cas.

Le Sénat américain a adopté une mesure de 2 000 milliards de dollars pour aider les travailleurs, les entreprises et le système de santé. Il est retourné à la chambre basse pour approbation.

Pendant ce temps, le chef des Nations Unies, Antonio Guterres, a lancé un appel de 2 milliards de dollars d’aide humanitaire internationale pour aider les pays les plus pauvres à lutter contre la pandémie de coronavirus.

Plus de 472 000 personnes dans le monde ont reçu un diagnostic de COVID-19, selon les données recueillies par l’Université Johns Hopkins. Plus de 114 000 personnes se sont rétablies et plus de 21 000 personnes sont décédées. (Al Jazeera)

UBA engage N5bn pour lutter contre le COVID-19 en Afrique

Par Obinna Chima

La United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) a annoncé jeudi un don de plus de 5 milliards de nairas (14 millions de dollars) par le biais de sa Fondation UBA, pour catalyser une réponse panafricaine globale pour lutter contre la pandémie mondiale de COVID-19.

A statement from the bank explained that the donation would provide significant and much needed support to Nigeria and 19 other African countries, by supplying relief materials, critical care facilities, and financial support to governments.

A breakdown of the UBA support programme showed that N1 billion ($2.8 million) would go to Lagos State Government; N500 million ($1.4 million) to Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; N1 billion ($2.8 million) to the remaining 35 states in Nigeria; N1.5 billion ($4.2 million) to UBA’s presence countries in Africa; N1 billion ($2.8 million) for medical centres with equipment and supplies; and free telemedicine call centre facility.

*More details later

NERC Boss Tests Negative for Coronavirus

By Emmanuel Addeh

The Management of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said on Thursday that its Chairman, Prof. James Momoh, had tested negative for the Covid-19 virus.

There had been apprehension over Momoh’s health status earlier in the week,  following media reports that he was part of a delegation of the  Federal Government which recently visited Germany and Egypt.

Describing the insinuations as misleading, the regulatory agency noted that the chairman had however carried out a test , which it said came out negative.

Some of those Prof. Momoh was said to have participated alongside with, including senior government officials,  are now in self isolation after the meeting with the executives of Siemens in Germany.

A statement by Mr Michael  Faloseyi, the Manager in charge of Government, External and Industry Relations, in Abuja, however said that Momoh had taken the test just to be sure, adding that he had been given a clean bill of health after his return from the United States.

“Breaking the news of his test result, Momoh said, ‘I have been tested negative to COVID-19.

“But let me say that this is a trying moment that requires our collective efforts. I will advise our media houses to hold themselves to the highest standards of professionalism.

“Rumours and misinformation can frustrate the significant efforts of the government, private sector, and the international community in combating this virus,” he said.

He prayed for the healing of those receiving treatment, including the Chief of Staff to the President,  Abba Kyari, who tested positive to the virus recently.

The commission said that in line with the advice from the relevant health authorities, NERC had taken some preemptive measures to protect its staff from exposure to COVID-19.

“Such efforts include scaling down on the number of staff in the office for the next two weeks. During that period, the commissioners and top management report for work, while those in the essential services departments maintain a roster of duty.

“The commission has also reduced visitors’ access to its headquarters building as the Registry Department operates from the reception.

” Staff in the Forum Offices across the country are on instruction to receive complaints from electricity consumers using the information communication technology platforms.

” These efforts are to be in place for the next two weeks as part of the lockdown exercise of the Federal Government,” NERC stressed.

It noted that Momoh who had been in isolation since his return from the USA last week, has offered to complete the isolation period.

Momoh thanked his well-wishers and members of the public who had expressed fear over his status as he moted that only “God has the final say in the affairs of men.”

South African Police Arrest Two COVID-19 Patients for Failure to Self-isolate

  • Charge them with attempted murder

By Rebecca Ejifoma

The South African Police have arrested two persons positive to COVID-19 for failure to self-isolate.

They have now been charged with attempted murder.

The Police Minister, Bheki Cele, announced the charges, Wednesday during a press conference, where he detailed the enforcement of an incoming lockdown meant to curtail the spread of the pandemic.

Cele said: “If you break these law of regulations, you could be six months in, or fined, or both.”

According to him, two people have been charged already for deliberately moving around after they were advised not to.

The police minister added: “So it is not a fairytale to say the law will act and act very harsh on you.”

According to the AFP, the first confirmed case was a 52-year old salon owner diagnosed on March 18 and instructed to quarantine for at least 14 days.

Police spokesperson, Vish Naidoo, said local officials raised the alert on Tuesday after one of the men was seen around the western city of Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal province.

“He allegedly continued with his business, and in doing so disregarded the instructions by a doctor. The man has since been arrested and taken to hospital,” Naidoo added.

The second charge was filed against a male tourist, who tested positive for COVID-19 while on holiday at Kruger National Park.

“The man ignored instructions to remain in his hotel room and went to the nearby town of Saint Lucia, where he interacted with an unknown number of people,” the police spokesman noted.

South Africa is said to have recorded the highest number of COVID-19 infections on the African continent with 709 cases confirmed so far.

As a result, the President, Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown after the number of infections multiplied six-fold in just eight days.

Naidoo noted: “Only essential trips to grocery stores, pharmacies and medical appointments will be permitted during the lockdown, which will be enforced by army troops.”

Speaking further, he said the simplest and best way to combat the spread of the virus was to “stay home”.

“It is exactly that stubborn behaviour that has caused us a national lockdown,” he added.

Ministers to Take Tests as COVID-19 Bites Harder, Spreads to Eight States

•Infects Prince Charles
•Osinbajo tests negative
•With cases rising to 51, more govs self-isolate
•FG directs pharmaceutical research institute to identify herbal medicines active against pandemic
•Votes N16.5bn to curb spread
•CBN directs non-critical staff to work from home
•Dangote, banks to provide medical tents, urge govt to allow private labs conduct tests

Our Correspondents

Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is to conduct tests on ministers to determine their status following their contacts with some of the confirmed cases of COVID-19, THISDAY learnt wednesday.

No fewer than five governors have also gone into self-isolation as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus following their close proximity to some infected persons, especially their colleague in Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed, and Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, both of whom tested positive to the virus.

It was also gathered that the ministers, some of whom had self-isolated, had been directed to take the test as many of them had contact with Kyari in the course of their official engagements.

THISDAY had exclusively reported yesterday that some of the ministers had gone into self-isolation when the test showed Kyari to be positive.
The spread of COVID-19 to Aso Rock, the seat of power, has triggered anxiety among top government officials and prompted the presidency to scale up steps to curb the disease, which has so far infected 51 people since its outbreak in February.

Of the five more cases recorded yesterday, there were two fresh incidences in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), two in Lagos and one Rivers, bringing the number of infected states to eight and FCT.

However, amid the gloomy situation, there was cheering news wednesday as the result of the test conducted on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who had self-isolated in the last two days, was negative.

Osinbajo’s media aide, Mr. Laolu Akande, confirmed the status of the vice president wednesday.
There were also reports that Prince Charles tested positive while the only case of COVID-19 in Edo State was identified as the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Frank Okiye.

THISDAY gathered that the federal government directed all the ministers to proceed on self-isolation and to allow the NCDC to ascertain their COVID-19 status. It also directed the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) to develop models for identifying herbal medicines active against the pandemic.

THISDAY also gathered that the Presidential Taskforce on the Containment of the COVID-19, headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, has been thrown into confusion as almost all its members who recently held meetings with Kyari have now gone on self-isolation for 14 days.

A presidency source told THISDAY yesterday that the situation is causing concern as governance is almost being crippled.
According to the source, most of the ministers who attended last week’s Federal Executive Council meeting are being suspected of being infected by the virus.

The situation is said to have jolted most of the ministers some of whom were said to be angry at the health risk they were exposed to.
“Everybody is in disarray. Almost every minister is on self-isolation – the same with all members of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19. They held meeting twice with the Chief of Staff on Saturday and Sunday and they all shook hands with him,” he said.

The source explained that the implication is that the ministers would be technically on suspension from duties till the next 14 days after they have been tested and their result is known before they could resume work.

THISDAY gathered that even the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, was not at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja yesterday to receive the aircraft that brought in the medical equipment donated by a Chinese billionaire, Mr. Jack Ma.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Alhaji Abdullahi Marshi, was at the event.

Governors that THISDAY confirmed were on self-isolation were Mr. Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Alhaji Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa).

However, the governors were said to be asymptomatic and only went into self-isolation in compliance with NCDC protocols.
THISDAY gathered that some other governors are also on self-isolation but refused to issue official confirmation.

The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Hon. Philip Shaibu, who announced the self-isolation of Obaseki, identified Okiye as the index case of the COVID-19 reported on Monday in the state.
He said Okiye who had travelled to the United Kingdom, came back and went into self-isolation at the Irrua Specialist Hospital, Irrua in the state.

“He sent his sample for testing and the test came back positive. He is in a stable condition and his family members have been tested and the tests came back negative,” Edo deputy governor said.
He noted that the two persons the speaker got in close contact with were his wife and daughter whose samples had been taken and the result came out negative.

According to him, Obaseki went into self-isolation following his close contact with Mohammed and Kyari.
He said: “On his own, the governor avoided meeting with everybody when he arrived Benin from Abuja and has maintained social distance before going into self-isolation.”

He also stated that 111 persons were being tracked by the state government, adding that 64 had been contacted out of which six has been isolated and five samples were taken for testing.

The deputy governor urged residents of the state not to panic as the government was taking measures to curtail the spread of the disease.
Niger State Government also said the governor went into self-isolation as a result of his presence at the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) meeting on March 18, attended by his Bauchi State counterpart.

A statement by Bello’s Chief Press Secretary, Mrs. Mary Berje, said the governor self-isolated considering the fact that as a public figure, he must have had contact with some confirmed contact cases of COVID-19.

“The governor has also directed that all his close aides and all cabinet members should subject themselves to self-isolation.”
Like his Niger State counterpart, Oyetola was said to have gone into self-isolation since he returned from Abuja on Tuesday where among other official functions, he attended the NGF meeting.

His Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Ismail Omipidan, told THISDAY in a telephone interview yesterday that it was after he took a COVID-19 test, which turned out negative, that he performed some official functions.

At a press briefing yesterday to announce the spread of COVID-19 to the state, Oyetola said his wife had also tested negative for the virus.
He appealed to citizens to take the necessary action to avoid any precarious transmission.

“I want to passionately encourage all returnees from the UK, the US, Europe, the West African countries and indeed other high-risk countries to self-isolate and submit themselves to test, so as to assist the government in containing the spread of the virus,” he stated.
He announced the closure of markets with effect from tomorrow; and commencement of screening at all its 10 land borders in addition to the ban on all public gatherings.

Fayemi, who doubles as the NGF chairman, announced yesterday on his Facebook page that he had gone on self-isolation following his contact with some persons who had tested positive.

He urged the people not to panic over the development, saying he took the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
Fayemi’s counterpart in Nasarawa State said he self-isolated following his contact with Kyari on March 14 at the wedding ceremony of the son of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu.

However, Kogi State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, refuted claims that Governor Yahaya Bello tested positive to the virus.
NGF Director General, Mr. Asishana Okauru, and his wife, a former Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Ifueko, have also self-isolated after having contacts with some persons that have tested positive to the virus.
In a statement signed by him, Okauru said: “I wish to inform the general public that my wife together with my entire household will be proceeding on self-isolation.

“We are taking this action following my exposure to His Excellency, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, who today announced the positive outcome of his test for COVID-19.

“My wife and I would be undergoing COVID-19 testing this week.”
He said he attended different meetings of the NGF and the Nigerian Economic Council (NEC) last week, which were also attended by Mohammed.

Nigeria’s Cases Climb to 51 in Eight States, FCT

An update by the NCDC showed that five more cases were recorded yesterday, bringing the total number in the country to 51 in eight states and the FCT.

The NCDC said two of the cases were recorded in FCT; two in Lagos; and one in Rivers.
“Three are returning travellers into Nigeria and two are close contacts of a confirmed case,” NCDC said.

So far, Lagos has 32 cases, FCT 10, Ogun three, Ekiti one, Oyo one, Edo one, Bauchi one, Osun one and Rivers one.
While 48 persons are presently in isolation receiving treatment, two of the cases have been successfully treated and discharged and one person died on Monday.

20 Osun Judges on Self-isolation

Osun State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, also yesterday confirmed that 20 judges from the state who recently returned from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates were on self-isolation.
He said the judges went into isolation shortly after they arrived in the state pending when their medical status would be ascertained.
Isamotu spoke on the sidelines of a press conference in Osogbo, where the governor told journalists about the index case in the state.

CBN Directs Non-critical Staff to Work from Home

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed its staff in non-critical roles to stay at home and work remotely effective yesterday.
It, however, said it remained fully operational despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic that has seen most public institutions scale down their operations.

The banking sector regulator, in a statement by its Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said: “Following the current impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the global economy coupled with efforts by the Nigerian government, including partial lockdown in some states and at the federal level, to check the spread of the virus in Nigeria, the CBN wishes to inform stakeholders and members of the Nigerian public that the bank will remain open for business during this period.”

According to him, as a responsible public institution and regulator, the CBN has triggered its business continuity plans to ensure that its operations remain undisrupted at this present time when social distancing has become key to checking the further spread of the virus.
He said the CBN had directed deposit money banks (DMBs) and other financial institutions to do the same, adding that the welfare and safety of staff and their families, and indeed all Nigerians, remain a top priority to the central bank.

World Bank to Deploy $150bn for Economic Recovery

The World Bank Group has expressed its readiness to deploy about $150 billion over the next 15 months to stimulate economic recovery of countries affected by the pandemic.
The pandemic has led to unprecedented disruptions to global supply chains, sharp drop in global crude oil prices, turmoil in global stock and financial markets, and lockdown of large swaths movements of persons in many countries, among others.
These outcomes have had severe consequences on households’ livelihoods and business activities, resulting from a drop in global demand, declined consumer confidence and a slowdown in production.

The World Bank Group President, Mr. David Malpass in his remarks from the G20 Finance Ministers conference call on the COVID-19 pandemic said these were difficult times for all, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable.
For the World Bank Group, he said the first goal is to provide prompt support during the crisis, based on a country’s needs.
He noted that it was vital for governments of countries affected by the pandemic to shorten the time of recovery and create confidence that the recovery can be strong.

Malpass noted the bank is currently restructuring existing projects in 23 countries.

Testing Positive Not Death Sentence, Says Presidency

The presidency yesterday in Abuja said testing positive to the virus was not a death sentence, adding that the State House, like the entire country, is under a partial lockdown but not completely shut.

Speaking on the turn of events in the Presidential Villa, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the seat of power was not shut down but its activities were on a low key.

“Well, things are a bit on a low key. It doesn’t mean that the State House is shut down. It’s just that things are a bit on the low key just like the rest of the country.

“The rest of the country is also on a low key. There is a partial lockdown in most parts of the country. So, what is happening at the State House can also be called a partial lockdown but not a complete lockdown,” Adesina said.

Asked to confirm the report that Buhari tested negative for COVID-19, Adesina pushed the question back to the reporter and made his remarks on the basis of the reporter’s submission.

“What did you hear about the result?” he asked the reporter.
“They say it’s negative,” the reporter responded.
Then, Adesina retorted: “Good. So, that calls for rejoicing with him. Anybody that does the test and tests negative, we will rejoice with that person, and anybody that does it and tests positive, it’s not a death sentence.
“We also would pray along with the person. Give the person our goodwill and best wishes and they will surely come out of it. Even the index case in Nigeria recovered and has been discharged.”

Adesina also spoke on the suspension of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting, saying the meeting was suspended because over 50 people attend the forum every week and the number exceeds the specification for convergence this season.
On the decision pruning number of State House correspondents, he said the number of correspondents was large and contravened the current rule prohibiting more than 50 people from congregating at a place.

Prince Charles Tests Positive for COVID-19

Meanwhile, Prince Charles has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from the Buckingham Palace.
The 71-year-old and his wife, Camilla, who does not have COVID-19, are currently self-isolating in Scotland.
It stated: “The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus

“He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.

“The Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) has also been tested but does not have the virus.
“In accordance with government and medical advice, the prince and the duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland.” The couple was tested by the state-run National Health Service (NHS) in Aberdeen shire in northeast Scotland, it said.

“It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks,” it added.

La reine Elizabeth II, 93 ans, et son mari le prince Philip, 98 ans, se sont retirés au château de Windsor, à l’extérieur de Londres, le 19 mars.
They brought forward their Easter break by a week because of the pandemic. Britain has more than 8,000 confirmed cases of the disease, and 422 people have died.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 25, 2020

COVID-19: Nigerians Slam Former Lagos PPRO Dolapo Badmus for Allegedly Refusing to Self-isolate after UK Trip

By Rebecca Ejifoma

Some Nigerians have taken to their Instagram pages to slam the former Police Public Relations Officer of Lagos, CSP Dolapo Badmus, after allegedly returning from the United Kingdom and refusing to go on self-isolation yet advising others.

The trolls accused her via her IG page, @opetodolapo, Tuesday. She was said to have deleted all pictures of her stay in the UK on March 17 and came up with advice for prevention.

One of her followers, who resides in the UK, Cutie_julls on IG, claimed, “Mama posted pictures of herself in London on 17th of March and I took screenshots to give her shout outs. Today I remembered and visited her page only to find out that she has yanked all her London visit pictures of her page,” she fumed.

“But why are Nigerians suddenly afraid to admit that they’ve been travelling overseas?”

However, Cutie_julls’ accusations seem to be gaining grounds as she backed it up with screenshots of Dolapo in the UK sharing with her Instragram followers her experience with a selfie post. “It’s so cold here. I think hot weather is better…”.

The post, which was already viewed by 1,053 persons, have suddenly gone missing, hence, IG followers lashed out.

This attack is coming after Dolapo posted an update on the COVID-19 with an advice on her IG page. “Cases are increasing ….. Folks let’s be more careful! Since this disease hub is mouth, (sneezing and coughing), let’s avoid mouth to mouth contact like kissing. Avoid anyone whispering to your ears or coming too close to communicate with you! Above all, distancing is the best now….may God help us”.

Cutie_julls attacked yet again and tagged the Nigerian police and the president: “Mama police, I hope you are doing your two weeks isolation. It’s a must, honey. @nigerian_po|ice_force @muhammadubuhari please kindly check your staff. This is to help them and all other citizens. Let’s stop the panic”.

Cutie_julls added: “Please are you back from UK? And I hope you’re observing the two weeks mandatory self quarantine that the FG has put in place for all those that recently returned from affected countries. I know as of 17th March, you were in the UK. I live in the UK and I know how badly we’ve been affected. I hope you are isolating as this coronavirus is no respecter of status or position. Thanks ma.”

Cutie_julls slammed her further: “Shame on you @opetodolapo. I took a screenshot immediately I commented on your page because I knew you might either block or delete my…”

Meanwhile, efforts to reach her to respond were futile.

COVID-19: NAF Hands over Medical Donations from Jack Ma Foundation to Health Ministry

Sunday Ehigiator

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has handed over medical materials donated by the Jack Ma Foundation, China to the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja.

The donated medical materials, which consist of 107 boxes of medical supplies and equipment, comprising surgical masks, medical disposable protective clothing, face shields and detection kits, weighing about 3,000 pounds, were airlifted in a single mission on Tuesday Night, using the NAF C-130 Hercules aircraft (NAF 913) and handed over by the NAF Aircrew to a delegation from the health ministry led by the Permanent Secretary, Abdullahi on Wednesday.

Speaking to the press after inspecting the delivered items, Abdullahi thanked the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar for the timely deployment of aircraft to airlift the items to Abuja.

He said: “We appreciate NAF officers and men who participated in the airlift mission for their professional conduct. The donated items would go a long way in supporting government’s effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the Country.”

The NAF leadership, through a statement signed by the Air Commodore Director of Public Relations, Ibikunle Daramola, also expressed the readiness of the Service to provide any form of support within its statutory responsibility of providing aid to civil authority, as the nation continues to work assiduously to deal with the threat posed by COVID-19 pandemic.

Presidency: There’s Partial, Not Total Lockdown, of Presidential Villa

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The presidency Wednesday in Abuja said the State House, like the entire country, is under a partial lockdown but not completely shut, as a result of the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Speaking on the turn of events in the Presidential Villa, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, insisted that the seat of power was not shut down but its activities are on a low key.

“Well, things are a bit on a low key. It doesn’t mean that the State House is shut down. It’s just that things are a bit on the low key just like the rest of the country.

“The rest of the country is also on a low key. There is partial lockdown in most parts of the country. So, what is happening at the State House can also be called a partial lockdown but not a complete lockdown,” Adesina said.

Asked to confirm the report that President Muhammadu Buhari tested negative for COVID-19, Adesina was very diplomatic in answering the question as he neither confirmed nor denied it.

Instead, he pushed the question back to the reporter and made his remarks on the basis of the reporter’s submission.

“What did you hear about the result?” he asked the reporter. “They say it’s negative,” the reporter responded.

Then, Adesina retorted: “Good. So, that calls for rejoicing with him. Anybody that does the test and tests negative, we will rejoice with that person, and anybody that does it and tests positive, it’s not a death sentence.

“We also would pray along with the person. Give the person our goodwill and best wishes and they will surely come out of it. Even the index case in Nigeria recovered and has been discharged.

“So, God that has shown us mercy thus far, will continue to show that mercy. Anybody that tests positive is not a death sentence. They will be attended to. They will be tested, and they will be fine.”

Adesina also spoke on the suspension of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting, saying the meeting was suspended because over 50 people attend the forum every week and the number exceeds the specification for convergence this season.

However, he said suspension notwithstanding, consultations are ongoing with relevant government officials and executive decisions taken whenever necessary.

“The council was suspended because of the size. You have over 50 people seated in the council chambers whenever the meeting holds and that is not advisable at a time like this.

“But if there would be a very important decision to be taken, you can always summon the relevant people – three, four or five and hold a small meeting and arrive at a decision.

“It does not mean that one man is going to be taking all the decisions. Of course, yes, there are executive decisions but the ones that must pass through consultations, which must have a buy in of the Federal Executive Council can always be discussed at a smaller meeting,” he explained.

The presidential media adviser also spoke on the decision restraining majority of the State House correspondents from accessing the Presidential Villa this period, saying the number of correspondents is very large and contravenes the current rule prohibiting more than 50 people from congregating at a place.

He denied reports alleging that the journalists were banned, pointing out that restriction on their entry to the State House, is only a precautionary measure against further spread of the disease.

He said: “Ban is a wrong word. Anybody that uses that word, ban, is just operating from a mindset, and you know that Nigerians love conspiracy theories but this one is no conspiracy at all. There is no ban.

“What happens is that in the press gallery, you have about 108 journalists in that single hall and it goes contrary to the spirit of the times. The times dictate that you don’t have too many people congregating in one place.

“Imagine 108 journalists, if one of them happens to catch the virus, he spreads it among all the journalists. “So, we said for now, let them stay away, not much is happening for now. But we picked a certain number,  representatives of the media.

“They will come in, if there is anything, they will cover and those outside will also not miss because there would be a system in which they can share reports.

“So, ‘ban’ will be a wrong word. It will be operating from a mindset of conspiracy and there is no conspiracy here at all,” he insisted.

On other measures taken to forestall the entry of the disease into the Villa, he said: “Of course, you know when you come into the State House, you have about three, four, five spots in which your temperature is tested and you have to sanitize your hand, and if you come in and your temperature is way above a certain figure, then you will be advised to go for test and take care of yourself.

“So, I think so far, so good. Before you will go into the general area, you will meet about three areas of test and before you get into the president’s area, you will meet like another two. So, I believe that a lot has been done to ensure that those who operate in the presidency are taken  care of.”

COVID 19: CBN Directs Non-critical Staff to Work from Home

Obinna Chima

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed its staff in non-critical roles to stay at home and work remotely, effective Wednesday.

The Bank, however, said it remains fully operational despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic that has seen most public institutions scale down their operations.

The banking sector regulator disclosed this in a statement signed by its Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor.

“Following the current impact of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) on the global economy coupled with efforts by the Nigerian Government, including partial lockdown in some States and at the Federal level, to check the spread of the virus in Nigeria, the CBN wishes to inform stakeholders and members of the Nigerian public that the Bank will remain open for business during this period,” Okorafor explained.

According to him, as a responsible public institution and regulator, the CBN has triggered its business continuity plans to ensure that the Bank’s operations remain largely undisrupted at this present time when social distancing has become key to checking further spread of the virus.

He said the CBN has also directed deposit money banks (DMBs) and other financial institutions to do same, adding that the welfare and safety of staff and their families, and indeed all Nigerians, remain top priority to the central bank.

“Consequently, with effect from Wednesday, March 25, 2020, till further notice, only essential staff of the CBN Head Office and the 37 Branches of the Bank will be expected to report for duty daily. In other words, our staff in non-critical roles have been directed to stay at home and work remotely, when their services are required.

“We have also directed all our staff to follow stipulated guidelines by the Federal Ministry of Health, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other relevant health agencies of government to curb possible spread of the virus in Nigeria.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the CBN, in line with its mandate of ensuring monetary and price stability, will remain open for business during these trying times,” the statement added.

COVID 19: Kwara Bans Social Gatherings, Closes Motor Parks, Markets

By Hammed Shittu in Ilorin.

Following the spread of Covid-19 to neighbouring states of Osun, Oyo, and Ekiti, the Kwara State government Wednesday ordered a lockdown of the state by placing a ban on social and economic activities with immediate effect.

The government said all motor parks, markets, taxi and commercial motorcycle operators, mosques and.churches, and other social gatherings had been closed.

The deputy governor, who is also the chairman, technical committee on Covid-19, Mr. Kayode Alabi, disclosed this in Ilorin on Wednesday while addressing newsmen on the activities of its  technical committee on  Covid-19 in the state.

He said that, the development became imperative so as to protect the lives of the residents of the state.

Alabi  said that, the government would put security arrangement on ground so as to ensure compliance in the state.

He explained that, the lock down of the state would curb spread of the virus by people from affected neighbouring states.

He said that fast food operators in the state should do take-away and must not allow any customer to sit down to eat in their business premises henceforth”.

While assuring the members of the public of prompt preventive measures to curb the spread of  covid-19 in the state, Alabi said that, the government would not rest on its oars so as to make the state covid-19 free.

He therefore called on the people of the state to cooperate with the government in the task of curtailing the spread of the pandemic in the state.

On the insinuations that the state governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, has been in isolation for allegedly shaking hands with the  top federal officials that have tested positive for the virus, Alabi said  “I want to say emphatically that, our governor is not in isolation and he is hale and hearty”.

COVID-19: Kaduna Bans Operations of Motorcycles, Taxis, Tricycles

John Shiklam in Kaduna

The Kaduna State Government has banned the operations of motorcycles, taxis and tricycles in the state, saying they do not satisfy the conditions for social distancing.

The Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, who announced the ban in a state broadcast on Wednesday, said the  decision was taken after Governor Nasir el-Rufai met with senior government officials to review the level of compliance with the measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19.

She however said commercial buses are allowed to operate, but must comply with the new rule of not more than two passengers per row.

She said government will suspend all forms of pubic transportation if circumstances compel it to do so.

She said the state government “will today (Wednesday) be taking steps to stop the Abuja-Kaduna train service which needs to be suspended for a few weeks”.

According to the deputy governor, the  government has directed all utility vehicles that have been assigned to officials to be recalled in order “to enhance the state’s capacity for rapid response and contact tracing, monitoring and supervision of surveillance activities should any positive case be identified’’.

‘’The vehicles should be parked in the yard of the Ministry of Public Works and Infrastructure. Drivers of the utility vehicles should also report to the Commissioner of Public Works to submit their contact details,’’ she directed.

According to Dr. Balarabe, “Payment of salaries for March 2020 has commenced and advised everyone to be financially prudent, given the tough times that lie ahead.

‘’The state government is committed to getting food and necessities across to identified vulnerable groups should a lockdown become inevitable.

‘’The required supplies are being procured while a system of distribution to the persons that most need them is being worked out.”

She said the state government will continue enlightenment campaigns in the media to help people stay safe and save lives.

Balarabe reiterated the ban on large gatherings, the closure of markets, with the exception of traders in food, medicines and essential items, including the need for people to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel.

‘’Government recognises that compliance with these measures come with a level of inconvenience for which we readily apologise. But we trust that everyone understands the necessity for these sacrifices as the most pragmatic way to keep people safe and alive,’’ she added.

Coronavirus: 20 Osun Judges in Isolation after Visit to UAE

By Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo

Osun State Commissioner for Health Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, Wednesday  confirmed that 20 judges from state who recently travelled to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirate were currently in self isolation.

He said the judges went into isolation shortly after they arrived the state to ascertain their medical status as the virusjravages the world .

Isamotu made this known on the sidelines of a press conference at the Osun State government house in Osogbo, where the governor briefed journalists about the index case in the state.

The Commissioner said, “Yes, they are presently in self isolation, I can’t disclose any hospital, it is not necessary that they go to the hospital before being isolated.

“There are many people who are even positive for the virus, but stay in their homes to isolate themselves without going to the hospital. The judges are in self isolation and we are monitoring them”.

The judges had attended International Conference in the Middle East country between March 9 and March 20, before returning back home over the weekend.

COVID-19: 436,000 Confirmed Cases, 19,600 Deaths Recorded Globally

*Europe now epicenter of virus

The humanitarian costs of the coronavirus outbreak continue to mount, with more than 436,000 people infected globally, according to the Financial Times.

The number of people confirmed to have died as a result of the virus has now surpassed 19,600.

The virus’s proliferation has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, meaning it is spreading rapidly in different parts of the world.

More than 180 countries have confirmed cases so far.  The epicentre of the coronavirus is now Europe, with the largest number of confirmed cases in Italy, and death tolls growing more quickly in Italy and Spain than they did in China at the same stage of the outbreak.

In many countries one or a small number of regions have borne the brunt of the virus. Lombardia has eclipsed Wuhan as the most badly affected region in the world, and in Spain Madrid could soon surpass even that.

US states also show very different trajectories. Washington saw the first outbreak in the US, but its death toll has risen relatively slowly since then. New York’s mortality curve is much steeper. In most western countries case numbers have been increasing by about 33 per cent a day, a sign that other countries may soon be facing the same challenge as Italy.

The Asian city-state of Singapore and the territory of Hong Kong are on a different trajectory in terms of the growth in case numbers. The rate of increase has so far been relatively contained through rapid and strict measures.

Covid-19: Fayemi Orders Closure of Markets in Ekiti

* APC shuts secretariat

Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

The Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has taken more stringent measures by directing all markets in the state that do not sell essential commodities such as foodstuff, medicine, medical equipment and water to be closed down effective from 5.00 pm Thursday, March 26, 2020.

This is in a bid to curtail the spread of the dreaded coronavirus (Covid-19) in the state and by ensuring that citizens observe the social distancing practice, among other measures.

The governor’s directive was contained in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Yinka Oyebode, in Ado-Ekiti, on Wednesday.

The statement directs all medicine stores that are open to the public to make sure they do not sell or display any other items whatsoever, while those selling food stuffs should not display or sell anything outside food stuffs.

Similarly, the governor has appealed to commercial drivers and the leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in the state to reduce the outrageous fares being charged commuters mainly students who have been returning home in their numbers following the closure of schools in the state.

“Pharmacy stores are also urged not to hike the prices of essential drugs,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, members of the public are reminded of the ban on gatherings that are above 20 persons either for social, communal or religious purposes as a monitoring and enforcement taskforce has been dispatched across the state.

The governor urged all citizens in the state to join hands with the government and its agencies in the collective war against the coronavirus pandemic.

Similarly, the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has closed down its state secretariat for 14 days to help in stemming the tide of coronavirus in the state.

A statement by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Hon Ade Ajayi, on Wednesday, said the closure became inevitable to help Governor Fayemi find a lasting solution to the spread of the scourge.

The party appealed to Ekiti residents to comply with the directive by Fayemi not to hold any gathering of more than 20 persons in every home, church, mosque and other public institutions.

“The temporary closure will last for two weeks as agreed by the Central Working Committee members of the APC state Exco.

“During this period, we also place a ban on party rallies, ward meetings and other political gatherings until further notice.

“We urge our party members to maintain social distancing and personal hygiene during this critical period,” APC advised.

The party commended Governor Fayemi for taking proactive measures to contain Covid-19, saying this has helped in taming  the spread of the pandemic.

“The prompt closure of all private and public institutions was right. We stand by Governor Fayemi and all the decisions he had taken since Ekiti recorded the first victim.

“The governor being a humanist that is passionate about the wellbeing and development of humanity resolved to shut all institutions and also directed that all civil servants must work from home with assurances that their salaries will be paid despite this development,” APC said.

Covid 19: Theologians’ Association Chides Pastors Disobeying Restriction Order

By Kayode Fasua in Abeokuta

The Association of Christian Theologians (ACTS) Tuesday took a swipe on some church leaders who are yet to comply with government’s directive that there should be no public gathering of more than 50 persons, in the move to curtail the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.

The ACTS is the regulatory body for all Christian theological institutions in Nigeria.

In an interview with THISDAY in Abeokuta, Ogun State, its National President, Prof. Olakunle Macaulay, said it was lamentable that some clergymen could not separate spiritual matters from public health, going by widespread reports that some churches with large crowds still gathered to worship last Sunday.

Rationalising the clerics’ defiance to the directive, Macaulay said it could only be traced to the high level of illiteracy among those parading themselves as pastors, noting that majority of them had neither formal nor thorough theological education.

The octogenarian, who is also the national coordinator of International Christian Conscience Initiative (ICCI), said, “The Coronavirus is a pandemic that up till now, no nation has found a solution to.

“The medics and scientists alike are doing their best to solve the problem but we are still hopeful and praying for a breakthrough.

“It’s unfortunate that we have many Christian leaders who are not educated and they account for the ranks of those who refuse to comply with government’s directive that no gathering should be more than 50, in order to prevent the spread of the Covid 19.

“It’s essential to note that the present situation demands that we should be reasonable with whatever we are doing; as whatever can save Nigeria and Nigerians should be the concern of patriotic Nigerians.

“Christianity does not mean congregating alone; it also means understanding the will of God and obeying it. So, staying at home, praying and reading your Bible to prevent the spread of Coronavirus does not make you less Christian.

“Even, Jesus Christ approved of the medical profession, when he said that those who are sick need physicians; but here, Nigerian Christian leaders overdo many things by spiritualising everything.”

The ACTS president, who is a nephew to the late nationalist, Herbert Macaulay, particularly has some knocks for pastors who did not undergo theological education before mounting the pulpit.

“They (such pastors) are victims of the economic situation in Nigeria. They use the church as a way of making money rather than preaching the true word of God. No doubt, they are victims of circumstances.

“I’m sure, if any one of them is offered job in an oil company, he will throw away the hoods and cassock, and rush to take the juicy offer.

“So, those who want to lead the Church should submit themselves to formal, thorough theological education,” he advised.

Edo Speaker Tests Positive for Coronavirus, Gov in Self-isolation

Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Mr. Frank Okiye, who recently returned from the United Kingdom, is the first confirmed case of Coronavirus in the state.

The Deputy Governor, Mr Phillip Shaibu, who disclosed this on Wednesday also said Governor Godwin Obaseki had gone into self isolation as a precautionary step following contact with Bauchi  Governor Bala Mohammed and chief of staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, both of whom have tested positive.

Shaibu said the speaker who returned from the UK recently went straight into self-isolation at the Irrua Specialist Hospital, Irrua, Esan Central local government area of Edo State.

“He (Speaker) sent his sample for testing and the test came back positive. He is in a stable condition and his family members  have been tested and the tests came back negative”, the deputy governor stated.

He noted that the two persons the speaker got in close contact with were his wife and daughter whose samples had been taken and the result came out negative.

The National Centre for Disease Control.had announced on Monday that Edo had recorded a confirmed case of coronavirus, but did not mention the individual who tested positive

According to Shaibu, Obaseki went into self-isolation following his close contact with the Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Muhammed and the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari, who had both tested positive.

He said, “On his own, the governor avoided meeting with everybody when he arrived Benin from Abuja and has maintained social distance before going into self isolation.

Meanwhile, Shaibu said 101 persons were being tracked by the state government, adding that 64 have gotten in touch, six have been isolated and five samples taken.

The deputy governor urged residents of the state to help curtail the spread of the disease.

He listed the measures as the procurement of 40 drums of hand sanitizers to be distributed to all local government areas, palaces and other public places.

Besides, he said government still maintained that gathering of persons above 20 persons should be strictly adhered to.

He said markets remain closed except for those selling essential commodities such as food items and medicine, adding that the state COVID-19 Response Committee would continue to meet on daily basis to review the situation.

CONVID-19: Rivers Govt Closes All Borders

*Bans vehicular movements in and out of state

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

Rivers State Government has announced the closure of air, sea and land routes into the state with effect from Thursday in what it said is a move to check the spread of CONVID-19.

In a broadcast Wednesday, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said the measure became necessary in view of recent developments.

He said: “It is with gratitude to God that I announce to you that our State would have been infected with coronavirus yesterday, but for the vigilance of security agents who, acting on a tip-off prevented an infected person from boarding a flight from Abuja to Port Harcourt.

“The infected person beat all security measures that were put in place at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and was to sneak into Port Harcourt before security agents stopped her.

“Based on this alarming Information, the State Security Council met yesterday and reviewed measures already put in place and decided that there was urgent need to adopt stringent measures to protect those living and doing business in the state from the virus.

“The council has therefore taken the following painful decisions: With effect from 6pm on Thursday, March 26, 2020, the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa will not be open to air traffic. While we may not have the right to stop flights from entering Port Harcourt, we cannot allow anybody coming from the airport to enter our State. We are confident that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other federal agencies will cooperate with us.

“All Land and Sea Borders will be closed. Vehicular movements in and out of the state have been banned. In essence, no vehicle will leave Rivers State for any other State and no vehicle will be allowed to enter the state.

Wike said the new measures will be in place till further notice.

He noted:  “Let me reiterate that the situation we are facing requires drastic measures because coronavirus has ravaged many countries.

“Security Agencies have been empowered to strictly enforce this directive. There will be no room for sacred cows because the virus is no respecter of persons.

“May I once again call for the support and understanding of everyone living and doing business in Rivers State to help the relevant Government Agencies implement these measures to check the spread of coronavirus to the state.”

The Rivers State Governor added: “At this time in our national life, we must shun primordial sentiments and face the reality on ground.

“I am confident that God being on our side, the temporary hardship we are facing today will come to an end very soon.”

Wike recounted earlier measures taken by the Rivers State Government to tackle coronavirus, emphasising that they were still in force.

He said: “In that broadcast, I announced the setting up of surveillance posts at our land and sea borders, beginning from Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

“I also informed you that after due consultations with religious leaders, all forms of open worship including crusades and vigils were banned.

“Public Burials and weddings were prohibited, while public parks, night clubs and Cinemas were directed to close down.”

Electricity Workers Threaten to Shut down Power Sector over Covid-19

  • Accuse minister of laxity

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

Nigeria electricity workers under the aegis of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) have threatened to shut down the power sector if the Ministry of Power and other employers in the sector fail to take adequate precautionary measures to protect staff.

In a letter to the Minister of Power, Sule Mamman, the General Secretary of NUEE, Mr. Joe Ajaero, said the minister would be held responsible for the transmission of COVID-19 to any staff in Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) especially its headquarters for his failure to comply with the federal government’s directive on people that travelled to countries with high cases of infection to self-isolate.

The letter read in part: “Our attention has been drawn to the return of the Minister of Power Sule Mamah from his trip to Germany and Egypt while on the entourage of the Chief of Staff to the President. The Minister despite the President’s directive to self-isolate; reported at the office in the midst of agitation and complaints from the staff at TCN headquarters, Abuja. If not for the intervention of the Union, there would have been pandemonium at the office, on Monday, March 23, 2020.

“In view of recent developments, the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) wishes to state unequivocally that the Minister of Power – Sule Mamman will be held responsible for the transmission of COVID-19 to any staff in TCN especially its headquarters for his failure to comply with the federal government’s directive on people that travelled to countries with high cases of infection to self isolate.

“Besides, NUEE wishes to warn employers in the Power Sector especially those whose staff constantly have an interface with customers/public, that should they fail to, within twenty-four (24) hours take adequate precautionary measures to protect staff, we will be forced to pull out our members and will not be held responsible for any consequence arising there from. Employers of labour in the power sector are hereby urged to take necessary measures to ensure the safety of staff in the power sector.”

Prince Charles, Heir to the British Throne, Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus, Clarence House has confirmed.

The Prince of Wales, 71, is in the government’s high risk category because of his age.

A Clarence House spokesman said: “He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.

“The Duchess of Cornwall has also been tested but does not have the virus. In accordance with Government and medical advice, the Prince and the Duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland.

“The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire where they met the criteria required for testing.

“It is not possible to ascertain from whom the Prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”

The couple is understood to be self-isolating separately at Birkhall in Scotland.

Concerns for the heir apparent were raised last week when Prince Albert of Monaco became the first royal to test positive for the disease.

They had been at the same event in London at the beginning of March.

The Royal Family had been taking precautions and following government advice since the outbreak of coronavirus in the UK.

At the Commonwealth Day Service on 9 March, the last major royal event before many engagements were postponed, the royals avoiding shaking hands.

Prince Charles has been seen adopting the namaste greeting instead of shaking hands.

Covid-19: Governors’ Forum DG, Wife in Self-isolation

  • NGF secretariat staff advised to self-isolate
  • Govs meeting cancelled

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Director General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Asishana Okauru, and his wife, Ifueko Okauru,who is former Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), have embarked on self-isolation after having contacts with several persons that have tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement Wednesday morning signed by him, Okauru said, “I wish to inform the general public that my wife together with my entire household will be proceeding on self-isolation.

“We are taking this action following my exposure to His Excellency, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State who today announced the positive outcome of his test for COVID-19”.

He said that he attended different meetings of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Nigerian Economic Council last week, which were also attended by the Bauchi State Governor.

Consequently, he announced, “my wife and I would be undergoing COVID-19 testing this week”.

Okauru further stated that all of the organizations to which his wife is affiliated have already begun ‘Work from Home’ in line with earlier Government directive.

In fact, he said, “through DAGOMO Foundation Nigeria Ltd/GTE, and in her personal capacity, my wife was already in the forefront of raising awareness around COVID-19.

“All members of NGF secretariat that were exposed will be observing self isolation. We encourage all those who were invited to the NGF meetings for presentations to also do same.

“By our actions, we hope to encourage others who are exposed and not sure of their status to undergo self-isolation and make themselves available for the test, where applicable”, the governors forum Director General said.

He said that at the NGF meetings held, “all necessary precautions as advised by the NCDC were taken, but we cannot make any assumptions about our status. We will self-isolate and take the stringent measures possible to protect the general public.”

Meanwhile, the meeting of governors scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the health impacts of the coronavirus on the economies of states has been put off. No new date has been fixed for the meeting .

Osinbajo Tests Negative for COVID-19

By Omololu Ogunmade

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who went into self-isolation on Tuesday has tested negative for COVID-19, THISDAY has learnt.

Announcing the result of COVID-19 test conducted on the vice-president, via a tweet on his Twitter handle, @babaloveme3, at 8:22am Wednesday, his political adviser, Senator Babafemi Ojudu,, said the outcome of the test was negative.

“Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo tests negative,” Ojudu had tweeted.

The vice-president was said to have been forced into self-isolation on Tuesday because he was one of the personalities who had contact with the Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari, who had tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

Disclosing Osinbajo’s self-isolation on his Twitter handle, @akandeoj, on Tuesday night, his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, said the vice-president had been working from home having gone into self-isolation.

According to the tweet, Osinbajo’s decision to self-isolate was in compliance with the directive of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s (NCDC).

Akande further disclosed that the vice-president held meetings on Monday through video conferencing in observance of social distancing.

“VP Osinbajo yesterday (Monday) at the office conducted his meetings via video conferencing, while observing social distancing.

“Today, he continues his work from the home office, as he is in self-isolation in accordance with NCDC protocols,” Akande tweeted.

Nigeria Records Two New Cases of COVID-19, Bringing Total Number to 46

By Martins Ifijeh

Nigeria has recorded two more cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number in the country to 46.

Announcing this Wednesday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said one of the cases was from Lagos, while the other one was from Osun State.

It said: “Both cases are returning travellers to Nigeria in the last seven days. As at 07:00 am March 25, there are 46 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria. Two have been discharged with one death recorded.”

Osinbajo, Ministers Self-isolate as Kyari, Mohammed Test Positive

•Buhari not infected
•COVID-19 tally rises to 44, spreads to sixth state
•Relief as ventilators, test kits arrive Nigeria
•Sanwo-Olu closes non-essential markets, banks
•National Assembly shuts down
•NNPC tells staff to work from home

Our Correspondents

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, some ministers, senior government officials, and top business executives who recently had contact with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari, have gone on self- isolation, THISDAY has learnt.
Their self-isolation followed Kyari’s testing positive for COVID-19 after a trip to Germany where he had talks with officials of Siemens in Munich on improving power supply in Nigeria.

However, while Kyari, who had travelled to Germany on March 7 and returned on March 14, but did not show any symptoms, tested positive, the president, one of those who had contacts with him, tested negative.
With the spike in the COVID-19 incidence, federal and state authorities have ramped up efforts to tame the pandemic by stepping up measures to promote social distancing and flattening the curve.

Among the new curbs yesterday were the suspension of plenary, for two weeks, by the two chambers of the National Assembly, Senate and House of Representatives; the ban on interstate travelling as well as the closure of markets, except for those selling foodstuffs and drugs, and courts by the Lagos State Government; and a directive by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to all non-managerial staff to work from home.

However, efforts at tackling the pandemic got a boost yesterday with the arrival in Nigeria of test kits and ventilators donated to Africa by Chinese billionaire and co-founder of Alibaba Group, a multinational technology conglomerate, Jack Ma.

THISDAY learnt that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), had tested the president and Kyari on Monday and yesterday informed them of the results.
Kyari and Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, were among the four new COVID-19 cases discovered yesterday to bring the toll to 44, covering six states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Of the 44, two persons had been discharged and one died.
Osinbajo’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, in a tweet yesterday on his Twitter page, @akandoj, said the vice president was working from home as he was on self-isolation in accordance with NCDC protocols.

He said: (The) “VP Osinbajo yesterday at the office conducted his meetings via video conferencing, while observing social distancing.
“Today, he continues his work from the home office, as he is in self-isolation in accordance with NCDC protocols.”
It was gathered that Kyari had gone on self-isolation in a private house in Abuja.

A press conference scheduled by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, for 3.30 p.m. yesterday to give Nigerians an update on COVID-19, was hurriedly put off.
Although no official reason was given for the cancellation, a presidential source said the minister was instructed to cancel the briefing.
THISDAY gathered that the press conference was expected to give an update on the tracing of ministers, senior government officials, influential politicians and top business executives, who had contact with the chief of staff.

A minister confided in THISDAY yesterday that he had gone on self-isolation because of his recent contact with Kyari.
“I am currently on self-isolation because I had contact with the Chief of Staff to the President recently in the cause of my official duty. Some of my colleagues are also on self-isolation for similar reasons,” the minister stated.

It was also gathered that a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), who also had contact with Kyari was on self-isolation in his private house in Abuja.
A top government official told THISDAY that the chief of staff was on self-isolation where he was being monitored by medical personnel because he’s not showing severe symptoms of the disease.

Asked if he was not expected to be moved to Abuja University Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada where victims of COVID-19 are being treated, the source said it was not compulsory that everyone who tests positive must be taken to the hospital.
According to him, if the patient is not showing severe symptoms of COVID-19, he can merely be given bed rest, noting that most of the victims of the disease naturally, recover.

He added that over 80 per cent of victims recover without any intervention.
He said: “He may test positive and not show severe symptoms and so be in self-isolation. The symptoms in over 80 per cent cases are mild as they manifest modestly. Most people will recover without intervention. Fatality is common in old people.

“They only have to be monitored to find that the situation is not deteriorating. He can be on bed rest and given drugs related to the symptoms he’s showing. If the symptom is fever, he can be given paracetamol.
“He will be given water to help him hydrate. His blood sample will be taken to know that he’s not showing any signs of deterioration. The treatment given to them is just to support the immune system.”

According to him, most of the victims of the disease who die are those who show respiratory symptoms like pneumonia and that is why ventilators are needed.
The source explained that staff working with Kyari who had had contact with him had been asked to self-isolate.
THISDAY also learnt yesterday that some notable presidential aides who had contacts with the chief of staff had gone into self-isolation.
Some of them contacted by THISDAY to confirm their status opted to keep mum.

Asked if there is no necessity to subject such staff to tests, the source said no test would be conducted on them unless they show signs of the ailment.
According to the source, while it is ideal for everyone to be tested, the test cannot be carried out on every suspected case until the person shows symptoms of the disease.
The members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 yesterday visited the State House for undisclosed reasons.

Led by their chairman and incumbent SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, members of the group visited the office of the chief of staff.
The group declined to speak on their mission in the State House.

Members of the group in the visiting team included Ehanire; Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Investment, Ms. Sadiya Farouq.
Earlier in the day, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, and the Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Aminu Masari, had visited the State House for undisclosed reasons.

Bauchi Gov Tests Positive

The Bauchi State Government yesterday confirmed that Mohammed had tested positive for COVID-19.
A statement yesterday by the governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Mukhtar Gidado, also said Mohammed, who was tested on Monday by NCDC, had gone into self-isolation after his result turned positive.

“This is to inform the general public that the result of the six initial tests carried out by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on His Excellency, Senator Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, his family and aides that accompanied him to Lagos are out.

“Of the six initial tests carried out, one sample was confirmed positive for COVID-19. The positive result happened to be that of His Excellency, Senator Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State,” the statement explained.
The governor had earlier gone into self-isolation after having contact with the son of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who had tested positive of the virus.

Test Kits, Ventilators Arrive in Nigeria

Nigerians may soon experience relief as test kits and ventilators sent to Nigeria by the Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, arrived in the country yesterday and thus raising hope of the possibilities of conducting more tests that may be considered necessary.
Patients showing respiratory symptoms can also have access to ventilators, which can help their breathing system.
Ethiopian Airlines brought in the ventilators and the test kits yesterday.

COVID-19 Cases Climb to 44, Spread to Six States

In an update yesterday on its official Twitter page, @NCDCgov, the NCDC put the number of new cases at four more, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 44.
Announcing the new cases, the NCDC said Bauchi, Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) recorded one case each.
NCDC said: “Of the four cases, one had travel history to Germany, the other to the United Kingdom, while one is a contact of a previously confirmed case.”
NCDC did not mention from which country the last person came into Nigeria.

So far, Lagos has 29 cases; FCT, eight; Ogun, three; Ekiti, one; Oyo one; Edo, one and Bauchi State, one.
While 41 persons are presently in isolation receiving treatment, two of the cases have been successfully treated and discharged and one died on Monday.

National Assembly Suspends Plenary for Two Weeks

As part of the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, the National Assembly yesterday suspended activities for two weeks.
The Senate suspended plenary for two weeks and expressed concern for the lack of sufficient testing kits to fight the epidemic in the four NCDC isolation centres across the country.

President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, who announced the suspension at the end of an executive session of the Senate that lasted for over an hour, said: “The Senate resolves to adjourn sitting for two weeks from today due to the pandemic of COVID-19 ravaging the entire world.”
According to him, the Senate will resume plenary on April 7.

Lawan, however, gave an assurance that the Senate will be ready to attend to urgent national matters during the two-week break.
“However, the Senate would be on hand in case of emergency on any national issue that requires its attention,” he added.

He advised Nigerians to observe all preventive measures recommended by the NCDC.
While calling on the federal government to immediately set aside a special intervention fund to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria, Lawan advocated the release of financial assistance to states for the same purpose.

Shedding more light on the epidemic, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, told reporters after plenary that “for over two weeks now in the Senate plenary, we have been observing no-hand shake and I can assure you that no senator has tested positive to Coronavirus.”
According to him, the nation did not have enough testing kits in the four isolation centres across the nation.

The House of Representatives also announced that plenary and other activities would be shut down for two weeks.
The Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, made the announcement at the resumption of plenary yesterday.
Gbajabiamila said the shutdown was not a holiday, but an act of necessity in furtherance of the social distancing and isolation guidelines that have proven to be effective in preventing secondary transmission of the COVID-19.

He stated that the House would continue to observe developments and respond as the circumstances demand, adding that if it becomes necessary, the House may reconvene to act on emergency legislation and possible amendment of the Appropriation Act, 2020.
He also assured all doctors, nurses and other medical professionals on duty call that the House will ensure that the tools needed to protect themselves and practice effectively are provided.

He appealed to members to restrict all non-essential movements and observe self-isolation and social distancing according to NCDC guidelines.
The National Assembly also asked all staff to remain at home for two weeks in the first instance effective today.
The Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, stated this in a two-page circular dated March 24, 2020.

NNPC Asks Workers to Work from Home

Like the National Assembly bureaucracy, the NNPC has instructed its employees who are not in the management cadre to work from home, effective from yesterday.
The NNPC said the order was in compliance with the federal government’s directive following the increasing cases of COVID -19.
It said the instruction affected all office-based staff below management level across all its formations.

A statement in Abuja by the corporation’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, said the directive, which was conveyed to the NNPC workforce through a message signed by the National Oil Company’s Group Managing Director, Malam Mele Kyari, directed all NNPC Strategic Business Units to activate their business continuity plans immediately.

Obateru noted that the decision to allow SBUs to continue work was to ensure minimal disruption to operations while protecting staff from exposure to the COVID-19.
“The NNPC leadership, since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, has been providing daily enlightenment to staff on how to keep themselves and their families safe from infection,” he stated.

On the reported death on Monday of Mr. Suleiman Achimugu, the NNPC condoled with the family of the late engineer who it said passed on in the early hours of Monday after a bout with COVID-19.

Lagos Bans Interstate Travels, Closes Markets, Courts

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday stepped up measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state with a directive closing all markets and courts effective from tomorrow.

He also encouraged the private sector, including banks, to follow the steps of the public sector by focusing on online services.
Sanwo-Olu stated these after a meeting of the state’s Security Council in Lagos.
The governor, who described his directive as not a lockdown, however, said the new order would be for seven days in the first instance.
He also reduced the number of people who can gather together from 50 to 25.

He said all travels to Lagos by air or by road would no longer be encouraged and urged all public parks, gym, swimming pools to close down with immediate effect.
According to him, security agents have been ordered to strictly enforce the directive as anyone who contravenes it will be dealt with.

The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has also appealed to guests who attended the recent Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA), organised by the pay-TV company, Multichoice Nigeria Limited, to self-isolate as one of the attendees had tested positive to COVID-19.
Among movie and showbiz stars at the event were Funke Akindele, popularly called by her moniker, Jenifa, and her husband; Uzor Arukwe, Seun Akindele, Iyabo Ojo, Toyin Abrahams and her husband; and TuFace, Banky W and his wife, Adesua, a movie star.

Enforce Quarantine Now, ANAP Tells FG

Meanwhile, the Atedo N. A. Peterside (ANAP) Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank has called on the federal government to use various agencies at its disposal to enforce quarantine following the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

It also recommended that government should separate people who are vulnerable to the virus, including sick and old from young Nigerians to curb further spread of the disease.
In a report signed by the Chairman, ANAP, Chief Atedo Peterside and made available to THISDAY yesterday, he said: “Most young people survive the illness from the virus. It can be fatal for people aged 45 years and upwards and those with underlying lung, liver, kidney, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

“They need to be kept in a room by themselves and shielded from other members of the family, especially from young ones that are carriers of the virus or who can survive the illness. “However, it is a fallacy to say it is the disease of the elderly and young people should not care. It is simply humane to avoid infecting vulnerable, sick people by young people.

“I recommend that the government makes use of various agencies at their disposal to enforce quarantine, help distribute food and prevent crime.
“Government is waking up to its responsibilities and some state governments are shutting down schools; universities have been shut down, but a lot more has to be done.”

ANAP said the federal government should move into full national lockdown now.
“We also, recommend that government partners with the private sector and NGOs. This will require some distribution of food and other basic amenities to keep the most vulnerable at home.

“It is now that companies, churches, mosques and wealthy individuals should use much of their money to distribute to poor areas to help them stay at home,” he stated.
Other members of the group include the Vice Chairman, Abubakar Mohammed, George Etomi, Ayo Ahonkhai, Matthew Kukah, Salamatu Suleiman, Adwoa Edun, Yinka Sanni, Funke Aboyade, Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien, Leo Ekeh, Innocent Chukwuma, Ayisha Osori, Buti Sam Kputu, Lambert Shumbusho, Ibrahim D. Waziri, Dudu Manuga, Lucy Surhyel Newman and the Project Coordinators, Tariye Peterside and Kunbi Dixon.

Beware of COVID-19 Ransomware, FG Warns Nigerians

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The federal government has alerted Nigerians to the existence of an Android-based malicious and fraudulent COVID-19 Ransomware Application, which claims to provide updates on the virus and infections near the user.

In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the Ransomware blocks access to users’ personal data and accounts and threatens deletion, unless users pay one hundred US dollars ($100) in Bitcoin within 48 hours.

He said the Ransomware App, detected on the website www.coronavirusapp.site, prompts users to download an Android App purportedly for COVID-19 map tracking and heat map visuals.

Mohammed said the development confirmed warnings against cybercriminals seeking to exploit the growing spread of the virus for nefarious gains.
He, therefore, called on the general public not to download the Ransomware App, urging them to seek updates on the pandemic only from the appropriate authorities.

COVID-19 Levels the High and Low

Martins Ifijeh

World over, middle- and low-class people often bear the major burden of disease outbreaks. The infections, the deaths and the devastations are mostly the preserve of the poor and ‘ordinary’ people in the society.

But there seems to be a shift in the epidemic spread of COVID-19. It does not respect status as it has moved from one high profiled person to the other, including politicians, entertainers, media influencers and those who are often referred to as the elites.

The pattern of spread has now resulted in several high profiled persons and their families scrambling for tests as they may have, in one way or the other had contact with some of their kinds who have tested positive to the virus.
Here are the big names battling the disease:

Vice President of Iran, Masoumeh Ebtekar

The Vice President of Iran, Masoumeh Ebtekar was diagnosed with COVID-19 on February 27, making her one of the seventh government official to test positive to the disease in a country afflicted with over 24, 800 cases of COVID-19.

Wife of Canadian Prime Minister, Sophie Trudeau

On March 12, the Wife of Canadian Prime Minister Sophie Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a brief trip to the United Kingdom where she had a speaking engagement.
Sophie has since been placed under isolation and treatment. Her husband has described her symptom as mild, noting that she would come out of it in few weeks.
Canadian and UK authorities said they were contacting all the persons she had contact with in both countries, and that they have been advised to self-isolate themselves for 14 days.
Although her husband Justin has tested negative for COVID19 following his wife’s status, he has since gone into self-isolation for 14 days.

Iran’s Religious Leader, Ayatollah Hashem Bathayi

Among the seven high profiled persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Iran is its religious leader, Ayatollah Hashem Bathayi. He was a member of the clerical body that appoints the supreme leader in Iran.
Bathayi, who was 78 years old, died of the disease two days after he commenced treatment.

US Senator, Rand Paul

On March 22, Rand Paul became the first United States Senator to test positive for the coronavirus. The news was relayed on his official Twitter account, where a spokesperson said he’s doing fine and in self-quarantine.
Paul, who has since commenced treatment said he was not aware he had met with someone who tested positive to the virus, adding that he was asymptomatic.
He said he will join his colleagues at the senate after his quarantine period was over, adding that he will continue to work for the people of Kentucky despite the temporary setback.

Mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez

On March 13, THE Mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez tested positive for COVID-19. He announced his status himself in a video on his social media accounts, adding that he was asymptomatic as at the time of getting his result.
Since his diagnosis, he has been sharing daily “digital journals” to update the public on his condition and local government efforts to fight the pandemic.
He wrote: “In my fifth digital journal, I explain how my condition directly ties into the importance of social distancing, as well as another bold action the City of Miami is now taking to promote that. We are in this together,’ he added.

Nigeria’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari

Nigeria’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, yesterday tested positive for COVID-19, a situation that has now made him the first government official in the country to have the virus.
Kyari, a close ally to President Muhammadu Buhari, was away in Germany in early March with a delegation of other Nigerian officials for meetings with Siemens AG. It is unclear if he self-isolated before he was tested.
The news of his status has rattled Aso Rock; the seat of power, as it is believed he has had contact with other government officials.

Wife of Spain Prime Minister, Begona Gomez

The Spanish government announced that the wife of Spanish Prime Minister, Begona Sanchez tested positive for the virus on March 14. The announcement came soon after the prime minister announced sweeping state measures to curb the spread of the virus.
At least 39, 000 persons have tested positive for COVID-19 while almost 3000 persons have died from the disease in the country. The country is currently on lockdown.

Arch Duke of Australia, Karl von Habsburg

On March 17, the Archduke of Austria, Karl von Habsburg confirmed he had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The archduke, who heads the historic House of Habsburg-Lorraine, has been in self-quarantine since March 12 after testing positive for the virus. He called into Austrian TV network oe24 to inform the public of his condition:
“It is annoying, but I am fine. It is not the Black Plague. I thought it was the usual flu. When a friend called me that he had a positive test at a congress in Switzerland, I was also tested.”

Hollywood Couple, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson

On March 11, Hollywood superstar, Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife, Rita Wilson has tested positive for COVID-19, adding that they contracted the virus in Australia.
Hanks was said to have been preparing for the shooting of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic when he and Wilson started to feel cold and flu symptoms. The couple subsequently tested positive for the virus and assured they were isolating themselves during their recovery period.
According to a March 16 report from People, after a five-day stay at a Queensland hospital, the couple is now recuperating at a rented home in Australia.

British Actor, Idris Elba

British actor and musician Idris Elba shared a video via Twitter on March 16 to announce that he had tested positive for COVID-19. While he said he remains asymptomatic, he decided to go for testing after discovering he was exposed to someone who had been diagnosed with the virus.
Elba appears in the video with his wife, Sabrina Dhowre. He urges viewers to take up global solidarity, social distancing, and soap to combat the spread of the virus.
He said: “This morning I tested positive for COVID-19. I feel okay, I have no symptoms so far but I have been isolated since I found out about my possible exposure to the virus. Stay home people and be pragmatic. I will keep you updated on how I’m doing,” he added.

Hollywood Star, Olga Kurylenko

On March 15, Olga Kurylenko, who starred as Daniel Craig in the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace, said she tested positive for COVID-19. The Ukrainian–born French actress shared the news on Instagram, where she urged followers to take the virus seriously.
She said: “Locked up at home after having tested positive for COVID-19. I have actually been ill for almost a week now. Fever and fatigue are my main symptoms. Take care of yourself and do take this seriously.”

Jazz Legend, Manu Dibango

Cameroonian jazz legend Manu Dibango died on March 24 of COVID-19, according to an announcement on his Facebook page.

His family, while announcing his death wrote: “It is with deep sadness that we announce to you the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove.

“His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organised when possible. The 86-year-old was admitted to the hospital to receive treatment for the COVID-19.

March 18. Dibango, who was a member of the legendary Congolese ensemble African Jazz, is best known for his 1972 hit “Soul Makossa.”

Arsenal Coach, Mikel Arteta

The Head Coach of Arsenal Football Club, Mikel Arteta was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 12. The 37-year-old club manager and former player was the first in England’s football Premier League to test positive for coronavirus. According to an official club statement, the team’s training center has since been closed, and Arteta is self-isolating in line with public health guidelines.

TUESDAY MARCH 24, 2020

Kyari’s Covid-19 Test: State House in Sober Mood

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The Presidential Villa, Abuja wore a different look Tuesday after the Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari, tested positive for COVID-19.

Activities were low key in the Villa while State House staff and presidential aides were in sober reflection.

There were also concerns on people’s faces as nobody seemed to know who would be the next victim.

Some staff and appointees wore face masks with almost everyone cuddling the hand sanitizer.

Added to the mood was the transfer of the Permanent Secretary, State House, Mr. Jalal Arabi, out of the Villa to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

THISDAY learnt Tuesday that a number of the staff in the chief of staff’s office and other presidential aides who had contact with him
are currently in isolation.

Also, the number of State House correspondents in the Villa has been pruned from over 100 to only 13.

A circular released by the Deputy Director, Information, Mr. Attah Esa, said the pruning was done in accordance with the directive to reduce the number of people gathering anywhere to 50.

Covid-19: Uzodinma Shuts down Night Clubs, Late Night Eateries

* Civil servants above 45 to stay at home
Amby Uneze in Owerri

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, has shut down all night clubs, late night eateries, and civil servants above 45 years have been asked to stay at home, while assuring the people of the state of his government’s preparedness to tackle head on the Coronavirus crisis rocking the nation and the world at large.

Speaking on Tuesday, during the flag-off of the distribution of hand sanitizers to ministries, agencies, markets, churches, schools and other public places in the state, Uzodimma also ordered the partial shutdown of the workforce.

Uzodinma said: “In continuation of our programme to nip the spread of coronavirus in the bud, government has decided to close all nite clubs and late night restaurants. From Wednesday, civil servants above 45 years will be encouraged not to come to work because they are the most vulnerable group.”

However, he said those on essential services will continue to come to work and promised that adequate measures have been put in place for their safety.

The governor reiterated that his government will continue to be proactive in the fight against the virus and enjoined all citizens of the state to keep away from crowded places and strive to upgrade their personal hygiene.

According to him, “We are consistent with our commitment to the fight against coronavirus. Our commitment to ensure that citizens’ awareness is put in place is unwavering. We will continue to remain vigilant to ensure that all things needed to enlighten our people about this dreaded disease are put in place.”

While admitting that coronavirus is real and spreading fast, the governor assured the people of the state that he is ready to guard against anything that will bring the disease to the state.

“Today, we decided to procure hand sanitizers and we will distribute them to all nooks and crannies of the state,” he said.

Uzodimma further promised that his administration will continue to do its best to ensure that the state is safe.

He encouraged the citizens to watch out for coronavirus symptoms and go for test, stating that Imo State has one of the best isolation ventres in the country.

COVID-19: Kano Orders Workers to Stay at Home for 14 Days

Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano

The Kano State government has directed civil servants to stay at home for 14 days with effect from Wednesday, March 25 as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic to the state.

A statement made available to THISDAY in Kano, Tuesday, signed by the Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, on the outcome of the special session of the State Executive Council meeting held at the Africa House, Government House, however, said that essential service workers to be identified by the government, are exempted from the stay-at-home order.

The commissioner explained that the council approved the measures to ensure the prevention and spread of the virus through contacts at government offices across the state.

Garba said that while the state is yet to record a single case of the deadly disease, as part of measures to curtail its spread, the council has from Wednesday, banned the inflow of large capacity buses into the state.

He said this was in consideration of the risk involved in the mode of operations of the buses that involves stuffing of passengers and the in orderly sitting arrangement in the buses.

The state government, the statement added, is working tirelessly to ensure the virus do not find its way to the state and if it does, the government is prepared to control and manage it.

The commissioner urged residents to ensure adherence to health instructions released by the federal and the state’s Ministry of Health on how to prevent the disease as well as ensure personal hygiene.

Other resolutions of the council included the release of N21,410,000.00 and N17,114,000.00 for the conduct of 2020 Interim Joint Matriculation Examination at the College of Education and Preliminary Studies and Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso College of Arts and Remedial Studies respectively.

He said the council also approved the sum of N15,561,200.00 and N11,440,800.00 for the 2020 NECO and 2020 NABTED Examinations in respect of qualified candidates all from College of Science and Technical Schools Board.

Garba also announced that the council has approved the release of N10,189,897 for the payment of compensation in respect of the demolished service station at Kano Line Terminus belonging to Messrs Equatorial Petroleum Coastal and Process Limited affected by the construction of State Road/Kofar Nassarawa flyover.

COVID-19 Task Force Visits Presidential Villa

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

Members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Tuesday visited the State House for undisclosed reasons.

Led by their chairman, Boss Mustapha, members of the group visited the office of the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, who had tested positive for the virus.

The group declined to speak on their mission in the State House.

Members of the group in the visiting team included the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; and Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Investment, Ms Sadiya Farouq.

Earlier in the day, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu, and the Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari, had visited the Villa, for different reasons.

Covid-19: Senate Adjourns Sitting Till April 7

Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Senate has adjourned sitting till April 7 so as to avoid the spread of Coronavirus pandemic in the upper chamber.

President of the Senate,  Dr Ahmad Lawan, who announced this on Tuesday at the end of a two-hour executive session, said the adjournment was necessitated due to the Coronavirus epidemic ravaging the nation.

He, however, stressed that the upper chamber of the National Assembly will be on hand to attend to urgent national issues whenever the need arises.

Details later…

Covid-19: House Suspends Plenary Indefinitely

Udora Orizu in Abuja

In a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus, The House of Representatives has announced that plenary and other activities of the House will be suspended indefinitely.

The Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, made the announcement at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday.

It would be recalled that in a chat with THISDAY on Monday, The Chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, said aside from barring visitors from entering the National Assembly complex, the House might review the need to stay at home for members and aides unless when it is absolutely necessary to meet.

More details later …

BREAKING NEWS…. Buhari Tests Negative for COVID-19, Kyari is Positive

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has tested negative for the COVID-19 virus (Coronavirus), following a test for the disease that was carried out Monday on the president by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), THISDAY can report.

The NCDC has informed the president on the outcome his negative result this morning in Abuja.

According to presidential sources, the test for the president was necessitated after his Chief of Staff, Mr. Abba Kyari tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

Kyari had travelled to Germany on Saturday, March 7th to meet with officials of Siemens in Munich on the Nigerian electricity expansion programme.

He returned exactly one week later on Saturday, March 14th, but did not show any symptoms.

He was said to have been at a meeting on containing the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria all through Sunday, where he reportedly started to cough.

Subsequently, he voluntarily submitted himself for testing and was informed of his status on Monday.

Kyari has however gone into absolute isolation following the test result.

THISDAY gathered that he is hale and  hearty showing no symptoms apart from the occasional cough.

Details later…

COVID-19: FG Gets Tougher, Moves to Deploy Military to Curb Spread

•Nigeria records first death as cases rise to 40, spread to Edo State

•Govt directs total closure of land borders, suspends FEC, Council of State meetings

•Recalls retired doctors, nurses, urges Lagos, Abuja residents to stay at home

•Presidency asks lawmakers to submit to medical checks

•CJN shuts courts nationwide

Our Correspondents

As the number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases rose to 40 yesterday with the discovery of 10 new incidences and Nigeria recording its first fatality since the virus seeped into the country last month, the federal government yesterday outlined tougher steps to curb the further spread of the disease.

The new measures include government’s preparedness to deploy the military in tracing and apprehending recalcitrant case contacts, the indefinite suspension of statutory meetings such as the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the Council of State, closure of the nation’s land borders to human traffic, and restriction of activities in Lagos, with the largest concentration of cases in the country, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with the directive that people on non-essential services should stay at home.

To boost the medical workforce to fight the virus, the federal government recalled doctors and nurses from retirement.

The presidency has also written to the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives, with an exhortation to them to prevail on lawmakers, who just returned from trips to countries with high cases of COVID-19, to submit themselves for medical checks.

Besides, to complement the efforts of the federal government to curb the spread of the disease, which has now spread to five states with the discovery of an incidence yesterday in Edo State, more states and the FCT Administration have ordered a large proportion of their workforce to stay at home while Niger State has clamped a 12-hour curfew on the state. Apart from Edo, the other states with cases of COVID-19 are Oyo, Ekiti, Ogun, and Lagos. The FCT is also infected.

However, amid the concerted efforts by local authorities in Nigeria to check the spread of the pandemic, the United Nations warned the global community to prepare for hard times ahead, saying the world was at war with the virus.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, announced the federal government’s decision yesterday in Abuja.

Mustapha said the Council of State meeting earlier scheduled for Thursday had been postponed.

In addition, the federal government also resolved that all land borders that had hitherto been under a partial closure would now be closed to human traffic for four weeks effective, from yesterday.

The SGF also added that a circular would soon be issued to the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi- Esan, for immediate action to be taken to protect federal civil and public servants from the pandemic.

“If and when the need arises, any national assets required for use in the response to COVID-19 shall be mobilised and deployed. The federal government is at the highest level, engaging with state governors in order to ensure a collaborative and effective response to COVID-19 pandemic,” he said, adding: “All Abuja and Lagos residents are strongly advised to stay at home, avoid mass congregation of any kind as well as non-essential outings, until further advice is given.”

He said the taskforce would continue to monitor the global and domestic developments, while it has isolated Lagos and Abuja for particular attention in view of their population, mobility, and number of cases already reported.

Mustapha added that advisories had been issued and measures taken, including “escalating the nation’s capacity for testing and detection through the acquisition of more testing kits and establishment of additional test centres, enhancing contact tracking, deepening awareness creation, closure of schools and tertiary institutions and the total ban on international travels, which commenced at 12.00 midnight tonight at all the nation’s airports.”

Last night, the Head of Service of the Federation gave effect to the federal government’s directive on the need to safeguard the welfare of its service personnel. She told all civil servants from level 12 and below to stay at home from today till further notice.

Former PPMC MD, Achimugu, Becomes First Fatality Figure

While giving an update on the epidemic yesterday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reported the death of an infected case, but did not disclose the name of the deceased.

But THISDAY later identified the deceased as a former Managing Director of the Pipeline Products and Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Suleiman Achimugu.

Announcing the death yesterday, NCDC said: “The case was a 67-year-old male who returned to Nigeria following a medical procedure in the United Kingdom. He had underlying medical conditions, including multiple myeloma and diabetes, and was undergoing chemotherapy.”

Achimugu died in the early hours of Sunday.

In confirming his death, his family said his remains had been buried according to Islamic injunctions.

The statement signed by Mr. Abubakar Achimugu on behalf of the family called for prayer for the repose of his soul and healing for all other COVID-19 patients undergoing treatment.

Cases Rise to 40

While announcing the number of the new cases yesterday, NCDC said of the 10 new cases, six were from Lagos, three from Abuja and one from Edo State. This brings the total number of cases in the country to 40.

Sharing the information on its Twitter handle, @NCDCgov, the agency said of the 40 confirmed cases, two had been discharged after successful treatment of the disease; one  died while 37 others were still under isolation and undergoing treatment.

Shortly after the NCDC’s announcement, Lagos State Government provided further details on three of the six new cases from the state.

The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said one of the three patients came into Nigeria from Ukraine since March 15.

He said: “The other two had a travel history to the United Kingdom. They both came into Lagos on March 13 and March 20 respectively.”

FG Threatens to Use Army, Police for Contact Tracing

With the rapid spread and reports of case contacts refusing to report for testing and self isolate, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday advised Nigerians to prepare for tougher measures as part of government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mohammed told journalists in Abuja yesterday that the federal government would not hesitate to deploy the military and other security agents for contact tracing in cases where persons suspected to have contacted the virus do not voluntarily show up for testing.

He said: “We should be ready for tougher measures. The forms they will take will be out from the end of today or tomorrow. But Nigerians should be ready for tougher measures. If we don’t do proper contact tracing, the figure will multiply every five days. Nigerians must take ownership of this initiative.

“We will not hesitate to use any platform, including the military and the police, to enforce social distancing, and to ensure that proper tracing is done because we are talking of a situation where if we do not take time, there are several hundreds of thousands, who will be infected.

“Containment is very cheaper than cure. A few people have helped. If you know you travelled recently, give yourself up to relevant agencies.”

Presidency Asks Lawmakers to Submit to Medical Checks

As part of the containment strategy, the presidency has implored members of the National Assembly, who just returned from trips abroad, to subject themselves to COVID-19 test.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, in separate letters to the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, urged them to ensure that the lawmakers present themselves for screening at the airports.

In the two separate letters dated March 21, Kyari noted that senators and members of the House of Representatives were not presenting themselves for screening at the airports.

He said: “As you are aware, these airport screenings are our primary line of defence and refusal by any citizen to subject to these tests is a threat to our nation.

“Accordingly, you are kindly requested to direct all senators who returned to Nigeria from foreign trips to report themselves to the nearest NCDC test centre with immediate effect.”

CJN Orders Temporary Closure of Courts

Meanwhile, the impact of the ravaging pandemic has also hit the judiciary, following an order by the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, suspending all courts’ activities.

Justice Muhammad’s directive was contained in a fresh circular dated March 23 to all heads of courts.

The closure, which is for an initial two weeks, comes into effect from today.

However, the CJN said the judges could attend to pressing issues and or time-bound cases in their courts.

“In view of the reality of COVID-19 in the country and in order to take further preventive steps, all heads of courts are, from tomorrow (March 24) directed to suspend court sittings for an initial period of two weeks at the first instance, except in matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound according to our extant laws,” he said.

INEC Suspends Regular Activities

The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced the Independent National Electoral Commissions (INEC) to announce the suspension of its regular activities.

It, however, said the suspension did not affect preparations for the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Imo states.

In a statement issued by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, the commission said the directive was in line with the advisory on social distancing from WHO and the NCDC.

Okoye said the commission had taken the following additional measures to protect its staff, visitors and the general public.

According to him, “Effective from Tuesday 24th March 2020, all regular and non-essential activities will be suspended in its headquarters and offices nation-wide for 14 days in the first instance.”

He added that the regular quarterly meetings with stakeholders, namely: political parties, civil society organisations, the media, security agencies and all other meetings had been suspended until such a time when normalcy returns.

World is at War, Says UN Chief

Amid the various measures to tame the virus, the Secretary-General of United Nations, Antonio Guterres, yesterday raised the alarm over the spread and deaths from COVID-19, saying the world was certainly at war.

Guterres, in a video on the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak on the world, called for more commitment from governments to combat the effect the outbreak would have on economies.

“We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the UN — one that is spreading human suffering, infecting the global economy and upending people’s lives,” he said.

Guterres said labour organisations across the world could lose as much as $3.4 trillion in income by the end of the year.

He added that above the crisis, the effect on humans, especially the vulnerable would be disastrous if governments did not intervene by doing things differently.

The human crisis, he said, called for solidarity, as the human family was stressed and the social fabric was being torn.

“My central message is clear, we are in an unprecedented situation and the normal rules no longer apply.

“We cannot resort to the usual tools in such unusual times. The creativity of the response must match the unique nature of the crisis and the magnitudes of the response must match its scale. Our world faces a common enemy. We are at war with a virus,” he stated.

Tomorrow, Guterres would launch a COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan. He would be joined by the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Mark Lowcock; WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; and UNICEF Executive Director, Ms. Henrietta Fore.

More States, FCT Tell Workers to Stay at Home

•Bauchi gov in self-isolation

•Aisha Buhari advocates complete lockdown

Our Correspondents

The rising cases of COVID-19 yesterday forced more states to ask their non-essential workers to stay at home in a desperate effort to check the spread of the pandemic.

Edo, Kaduna, Niger, Bauchi and Osun states joined Lagos, Kwara, Zamfara, Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi states in slamming a stay-at-home order on their workers, particularly those from level 1-12.

Edo State Government, which yesterday confirmed its first case, said the measure and many more had been put in place to curtail the spread of the pandemic in the state.

The Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, while briefing journalists in Benin City on the preparedness of his government in tackling the spread of the virus in the state said though the state was witnessing its first case, there was no need to panic.

“COVID-19 is not a death sentence, so there is no need to panic. With swift identification and proper and management and care, many persons who had been infected with the virus have made full recoveries if we all work together to take the right precautions,” he said, advising citizens to practise social distancing to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

He prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people and said all schools remained closed in the state until further notice.

The governor said public transportation would remain in operation but warned against crowding in commercial vehicles.

“All public officers below grade level 12 (except those providing essential services such as fire and healthcare) should work from home till further notice,” he directed, adding: “Citizens are advised to postpone unnecessary travels in and out of Edo state and if possible stay at home.”

Kaduna to Enforce Restriction on Large Gathering

In Kaduna State, the government said it would commence the enforcement of restrictions on large gatherings, especially in churches and mosques.

Governor Nasir el-Rufai announced this yesterday in a broadcast to the people of the state.

He said security agencies had been directed to ensure compliance across the state.

The governor warned that “the state government will not hesitate to impose a statewide curfew, should that become the only way to enforce compliance and make everyone understand the collective danger that we face.”

The governor also announced that relevant federal authorities had been contacted to stop the Abuja-Kaduna train service in order to limit the danger from contact on the train and influx from people who might have been exposed to infected persons.

Civil servants from Level 12 and below have also been directed to remain at home for the next 30 days, effective from today.

Workers providing essential services, especially in the health, security and emergency service sectors are, however, exempted from the directive.

El-Rufai said: “Kaduna State Government has decided to move from advice to actual enforcement of its restrictions on large gatherings, especially in churches and mosques.

“Security agencies have been directed to ensure compliance across the state.

“These agencies will also enforce compliance with the decision to close all schools, whether public or private, religious or secular, Islamiya or run by Christian missions.

“The emphasis on prevention is the only logical thing to do because our health system cannot cope with an outbreak of Covid-19.

“It is better to impose restrictions and save lives, than to be complacent and bury victims.”

Niger Imposes 12-hour Curfew

Niger State government has restricted the movements of people throughout the state in the daytime following Governor Abubakar Sani Bello’s announcement of 12-hour state-wide curfew.

The curfew, according to the governor, is from 8.00 a.m to 8.00 p.m, the period most business activities take place and this would become effective from tomorrow.

In a broadcast, Bello also said civil servants from level 1 – 12 should remain at home but those on essential services should move round to perform their duties.

The governor directed all traditional rulers to ensure Almajiri schools in their domains are closed immediately, while also banning all hawking and street begging.

He also ordered the closure of all public and private schools and institutions in Niger State from Monday.

Bello reduced the number of people that could gather at a given event from 50 to 20 and directed that all public offices, including Ministries, Departments, and Agencies should provide hand washing items at the entrance of their facilities.

Six FCT Area Councils Shut down

Also, the FCT Administration has directed the closure of all the six Area Council secretariats in the FCT indefinitely as a precaution to the spread of Covid-19.

The affected Area Councils are Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Bwari, Kuje, Gwagwalada, Abaji, and Kwali.

In addition, all the workers in the affected secretariat have been ordered to stay at home.

The Chairman of the FCT Association of Local Governments Nigeria (ALGON), Mr. Mustapha Danze, conveyed this decision yesterday when he addressed the media at AMAC secretariat on behalf of other council chairmen.

Danze, who is the Chairman of the Gwagwalada Area Council, said all the six council secretariats would remain closed pending when further directives would be issued.

Bauchi Gov in Self–isolation

Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, went into self-isolation yesterday after having contact with former vice president Atiku Abubakar’s son, Mohammed, who tested positive for the virus.

According to a statement by the governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Mukhtar Gidado, Mohammed went into self-isolation following “the report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that the son of the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, had tested positive for the COVID-19 upon his return from an international trip through Lagos.”

The statement said the governor, who recently returned from an official trip to Lagos, met with the Atiku’s son on an Aero Contractors flight where they shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

“The governor did not exhibit any symptom of the disease, but based on the recommendation of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, he will remain in isolation in order to avoid the risk of spreading the disease.”

The statement added that the blood sample of the governor had been taken for clinical test and for the period of the test, the governor and his entourage would remain in isolation.

Osun Grants Civil Servants Two-week Leave

Osun State Government yesterday told its junior and middle-level civil servants to proceed on two-week leave effective from today as part of measures to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.

In a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Prince Wole Oyebamiji, the precautionary measure was taken to forestall any possible outbreak of Covid-19 anywhere in the state.

He stated: “All officers from Grade Level 1 – 12 in all services of the state should proceed on two weeks leave beginning from Tuesday (March 24).

“All officers on essential services in health and medical facilities, environmental sanitation, fire services, water corporation, and all other essential services, are, however, to report for duty as usual.”

Aisha Buhari Advocates Total Lockdown

In a related development, the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, yesterday called for a total lockdown across the country in a bid to fight COVID-19.

Aisha, who made the call on her Twitter handle, @aishambbuhari, said as much as governors’ decision to shut schools was commendable, it would be counter-productive with parents of schoolchildren going to work.

According to her, keeping children away from school while exposing their parents to contacts with people would make no difference as the exposed parents would return to meet their children at home.

She added that only a total lockdown and sit-at-home declaration could avoid further spread of the disease.

“It is commendable that state governors have closed down schools; however, this could be counterproductive if parents are still going to work. We should not isolate students and expose their parents.

APC, PDP Shut down Secretariats

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has shut down its national secretariat in Abuja for two weeks.

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has also directed a partial shutdown and skeletal activities at its national secretariat in Abuja from today.

The National Chairman of APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, while addressing the staff yesterday in Abuja, said if the situation did not improve, the shutdown might be extended.

Oshiomhole noted that the decision to shut down the party secretariat was a result of the conversation held by National Working Committee (NWC) members.

Also, a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party  was already adopting pre-emptive health safety measures to safeguard lives in all  its offices nationwide.

MONDAY MARCH 23, 2020

Breaking: Nigeria Records Four New Cases of COVID-19, Bringing Total Number to 40

Martins Ifijeh

Nigeria had recorded four new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number in the country to 40.

Stating this Monday night, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said of the four cases, three were from Lagos while one was from the Federal Capital Territory.

It said: “Two of these cases are returning travellers.”

Eko Hotel Remains Open, Scales Down Services to Minimise Coronavirus Risk

By Demola Ojo

The Eko Hotels and Suites has clarified its decision to scale down operations following misinterpretations which followed an earlier statement where it said it would be scaling down services.

According to a statement today by its management, the hotel takes pride in prioritizing the safety of its guests, staff and community and is taking extensive precautionary measures in fighting COVID-19.

This informed the decision to only keep open Eko Signature hotel, Eko Hotel, 1415 Seafood/Steakhouse, Kuramo Sports Cafe, Lagoon Breeze and Calabash Bar, in adherence to government’s instructions of having not more than 20 people gathered in the same space.

“A significant number of our administrative staff have been advised to work from home. This is because we strongly concur with the precautionary measure of social distancing, in order to eliminate the spread of the COVID-19 virus,”” the statement said.

It further stated other measures to include; educating staff and providing visible information to guests about COVID-19 around all four hotel buildings; providing hand gloves and face masks to every security guard, especially those who check the temperature of everyone that uses any of the entrance gates into the hotels’ premises; mounting hand sanitizer dispensers near elevators, entry way to the halls and meeting rooms, and other public spaces around the hotels’ premises.

Other measures include making sure the housekeeping team is continually disinfecting all surfaces around the premises at intervals; providing hand gloves and face masks to all staff who have direct contact with guests within the hotels’ premises; encouraging staff to properly wash their hands with soap and water at 20 minute intervals and minimizing the movement of staff by housing the staff servicing its operations within the premises of the hotel.

Coronavirus: Ogun Police Release Detainees

Kayode Fasua in Abeokuta

As the fear of more people contracting the killer Coronavirus disease heightens, the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kenneth Ebrimson, Monday ordered the immediate release of all persons detained for minor offences in all police facilities across the state.

Ebrimson gave the order through a statement issued by the state’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Abimbola Oyeyemi.

Oyeyemi, a deputy superintendent of police, said, “The CP has ordered the immediate release of all suspects being detained for minor offences in all police facilities across the state, as part of the preventive measure; while the police medical team has been directed to take the awareness campaign (on Coronavirus) to market places and detention facilities, to ensure public safety.”

However, the police authorities in the state also warned that following the order by the federal and Ogun state governments banning all forms of social and religious gathering, they were ready to embark on full enforcement of the banning order.

“To that effect, all the command’s tactical squads as well as Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers have been activated to ensure the full implementation of the order and make sure that the order is obeyed to the letter,” the police spokesman stated.

He added that members of the public could reach the command through its control room number 08081770416 or 08081770419, if they noticed anywhere where the banning order is not being obeyed.

Meanwhile, a cleric, Pastor Lai Bamidele, has warned law enforcement agents against the use of the Coronavirus pandemic to extort members of the public, stressing that this moment calls for sober reflection globally.

Bamidele, who is the General Overseer of  Glorious End-Time Evangelical Ministries, told THISDAY in Ifo, Ogun State Monday that much as Christian leaders were willing to comply with the Under-50 gathering order aimed at safeguarding public health, overzealous policemen and other law enforcement agents should not capitalise on people’s vulnerability to intimidate or extort them.

“All over the world, countries had been taking preventive measures to combat the spread of the disease, but in our own case in Nigeria, we believe in the fire-brigade approach and relish taking to the bandwagon effect.

“Some of the steps we are taking now that are affecting the socio-economic wellbeing of the country, would not have been necessary if we had safeguarded our ports of entry at the outbreak of the disease,” he remarked.

The cleric, however, urged Christians and Muslims in the country to keep praying and continue to be law-abiding, noting, “No problem is too difficult for God to solve.”

COVID-19: In Ogun, It’s Now 20 Persons Per Gathering

Kayode Fasua in Abeokuta

In furtherance to its effort at curtailing the spread of Coronavirus, the Ogun State Government Monday lowered the threshold of those who may gather in one place at a time, from 50 to 20.

The latest action thus implies that no church or mosque can congregate with more than 20 persons at a time, and that those attending burial, wedding or sundry ceremonies cannot exceed 20

Announcing the latest development in a statement Monday, the Chief Press Secretary o Governor Dapo Abiodun, Mr. Kunle Somorin, said, “The decisions were taken after the daily review of developments at a meeting chaired by the Incident Commander, His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR, Governor of Ogun State”.

He said apart from that, the government had also resolved that all heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as the Local Governments are to draw up rosters that would ensure that no more than 20 percent of their workforce across all cadres work daily, “thus ensuring that most staff come to work once a week”.

Health workers, fire service and Ogun State Emergency Management Authority (OGSEMA) are exempted from this arrangement. Also, all teachers in Public Primary and Secondary Schools are to proceed on their vacation immediately.

“All Government offices, irrespective of where they are, are to maintain social distancing, provide hand sanitizers and hand washing facilities, among other hygiene measures, at all times,” the statement added.

However, the state government has also extended the frontiers of the restriction orders to include a ban on visits to all government offices, stating that they are put on hold until further notice.

“Also, banks, telecommunications and other similar service providers that offer services in hubs and or bays are required to ensure that no more than 20 clients are in their service areas at a time.

“Social distancing must be maintained between those who will be on the queue or waiting halls by at least five feet between clients. Those outside the halls should maintain similar standards of social distancing,”

The government also set some rules for marketers and commercial vehicle operators, warning those whoever flouts the order will be accordingly dealt with.

Meanwhile, the government said some religious leaders that flouted the restriction order on the number of congregation last Friday and Sunday respectively, had tendered their apologies to government and promised to comply accordingly.

“Although, the leadership of the religious organisations involved had apologised to the government and people of the State for the overt indiscretion and promised to observe all measures associated with the fight against COVID-19 henceforth, government wishes to reiterate its commitment to public safety through various measures, including the enforcement of the ban on high-density gathering.

“Henceforth, any group of more than 20 persons that congregate in the name of any meeting – spiritual or secular – shall be visited with the full wrath of the law. The State Task Force has been mandated to ensure full and total compliance,” the state government warned.

COVID-19: FCTA Impounds 72 vehicles for Overloading

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

In spite of the directive by the FCT Administration against overloading of vehicles to stem the spread of Coronavirus in the nation’s capital, at least 72 drivers have reportedly contravened that order.

Chairman of the Ministerial Task Team on Decongestion of Traffic, Attah Ikharo, told newsmen in Abuja that 72 vehicles were impounded across the territory by the enforcement team comprising men of the Federal Road Safety Corps,  the Directorate of Road Transport Services and the Police Force.

“I was at Nyanya this morning where we observed the level of compliance. I observed at Dutsen-Alhaji, Area one by Rain Oil and from what I gathered from different government agencies, about 72 cars were impounded as at 12noon today,” Attah said.

He said drivers were only allowed to carry only three passengers at the back, as against their practise to load four passengers in the vehicles.

He said the administration was also discussing with drivers of high capacity buses to reduce, if possible, totally eliminate standing on high capacity buses, adding the enforcement team will also discourage overcrowding at the entry points where a  conductor will have some people hanging with him.

“Though we have not been able to make any arrest on that one yet,  we are hoping that by Monday we will commence intensive enforcement on high capacity buses, to discourage those who are standing and those who hand around the doors.

“But we are appealing to commercial motorists  particularly those of high capacity buses to please live their windows open for proper ventilation

and ensure passengers by the windows live them open because often times passengers by the window side want to take air that is sufficient for them without considering other passengers inside the buses.”

COVID-19: Lagos Police Arrest Three Pastors for Flouting Govt’s Directive

Sunday Ehigiator

Three pastors were arrested by the Lagos State Police for conducting church services last Sunday in violation of the state government’s stipulation of maximum of 20 persons per gathering.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, Lagos State, Mohammed Ali, confirmed the arrest of the pastors on Monday, adding that they were not detained but warned to comply with the government’s directive to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

He said: “I also implore churches and other religious organisations to follow suit.

“Any religious leader caught disobeying the directive of the state government would face the consequences,” he added.

COVID 19: Borno IDPs Camps on Lockdown

By Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

All internally displaced persons camps in Borno state are on lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus in the state.

The lockdown announced by the state government on Monday, imposes  a four-week ban on visitors to all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the state, and it is one of the state’s strategy to containing the outbreak of the virus in the state.

The governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum had last week appointed the state’s deputy governor, Umar Kadafur to chair a high powered multi-stakeholder response team for coronavirus.

In the team are all agencies of the United Nations led by the World Health Organization and Borno’s ministries of health, education, transport, information, local governments, religious affairs and agencies involved with humanitarian affairs.

The lockdown on IDPs camps was announced by Chairperson of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (BOSEMA), Hajiya Yabawa Kolo who is a member of the Response Team appointed by the governor.

Kolo announced the ban during a meeting with 51 camp managers on Monday in Maiduguri.

According to her, the state took the decision as one of the strategies to prevent the transfer of the virus between the camps and the larger society with its associated dangers.

She said the measure became necessary as some of the neighbouring countries like Chad Republic and Cameroon had recorded suspected cases.

She lamented that despite closure of the borders by the neighbouring countries, there was still influx of IDPs into the state.

The Borno SEMA Boss directed all camp managers from Gamboru-Ngala, Damasak, Kalabalge, Banki, Bama and Monguno not to accept IDPs from any neighbouring country into their camps.

She said; “We know we have a lot of threat around us following record of suspected cases of the virus in Cameroon and Chad and we have some border towns very close to those countries.

“We do not want to go to the issue of response because even in developed countries, it was difficult for them to contain this pandemic. So at our own level, we are positioning ourselves to see how best we can stop the virus from transmitting in the state” she noted.

COVID-19: Declare State of Emergency Now, Falana Tells Buhari

By Martins Ifijeh

Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to issue a proclamation of a state of emergency in Nigeria immediately, as part of measures to halt the spread of COVID-19.

He said this was the legal backing required for the enforcement of measures against the disease.

Falana, in a statement made available to THISDAY Monday, said Nigerians, especially highly placed political and religious leaders, have ignored government directive because the measures were not backed by any law in the country.

He said: “In order to stem the dangerous trend the government should put necessary legal measures and mechanisms in place without any further delay.

“In particular, the attention of the Nigerian people ought to be  drawn to section 45  of the Constitution which provides that the fundamental rights of citizens to personal liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and association etc may be infringed upon or restricted in the interest of public health and public safety.

“Once the proclamation is issued and published, it is required to be approved  by a resolution supported by two-thirds majority of each house of the National Assembly. Once  the measures are set out in the said proclamation they will have the force of law capable of being enforced by the police and other  security agencies.”

He said if President Buhari fails to declare a state of emergency, state governors should proclaim Executive Orders to address the health challenge.

FG Cancels Heads State of Lake Chad Basin Meeting over Coronavirus

.*Begins contact tracing of coronavirus patients

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled the meeting of the Heads of State of the Chad Basin Commission scheduled for next week, over the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made this disclosure on Monday in Abuja.

He said that even though some political and religious leaders had either denied the existence of coronavirus or defied the directives to avoid a large gathering, President Buhari took the decision as a leader to demonstrate great responsibility at this time so as to avoid putting the lives of the general public in danger.

Mohammed also vowed that the long arm of government would soon catch up with those who willfully flout the directives aimed at checking the spread of the coronavirus disease.

He also sought the cooperation of the public in the area of contact tracing by the health services to find people who may have been exposed to the contagion, saying those who have come into close contact with others who have coronavirus are at higher risk of infection and of potentially infecting others.

“For those who will not cooperate by submitting to the authorities, as required, the government will use all lawful means at its disposal to trace and bring them in,” Mohammed said.

More to follow …

Covid-19: Atiku Releases Son’s Itinerary Since Arrival in Nigeria

*Says son’s wife, child tested negative

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Former vice president and presidential candidate of the PDP in the last general election,  Atiku Abubakar, has clarified the circumstances that led to one of his sons testing positive to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement signed by his media aide,  Paul Ibe,  the former vice president said that the clarification was to stem the various misinformArion about his son testing positive for the virus.

According to Atiku, “The clinical case returned to the country on 17th March via Switzerland from some business engagements in France and Switzerland.

“He attended a private meeting of six (6) persons same day in Lagos, stayed in his private house for the night and took an Aero 5.20pm flight to Abuja on the 18th”.

He said that his son  did not travel with his family or any other but travelled alone by Emirates Airline and moreover that he wore face mask as a precautionary measure since his arrival in Nigeria.

According to Atiku,  his son  did not show symptoms of infection and that he voluntarily placed a call to NCDC on arrival in Abuja late on the 18th to inform them he had returned from COVID-19 prone country and desired to be tested.

He further stated,   “On the 19th, NCDC took his blood sample which result came positive on the 20th. He subsequently went into self isolation to protect his family within his own house”.

In the meantime, he said that his son’s wife and their child had since tested negative, adding that the two persons are currently in self isolation.

The former vice president therefore said,  “We urge members of the public to disregard the perfidious information that the case accessed open locations. He was not at Play Lounge nor any other club in Abuja as being mischievously bandied about”.

He also explained that his son  neither attended the Friday Jumu’a prayers nor any social gathering until his evacuation to Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital on the 20th where he is being treated and managed.

He thanked  Nigerians for their prayers and support through this difficult time, adding,  “Once again, it needs to be restated that the risk and danger of #COVID19 is real. Ensure you follow the World Health Organization and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines on how to stay safe”.

Covid -19 Forces Indefinite Closure of FCT Area Councils

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

All the six Area Council Secretariats in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been shut down indefinitely as a precaution to the spread of Covid-19, also known as Coronavirus, in the territory.

The affected Area Councils are Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Bwari, Kuje, Gwagwalada, Abaji and Kwali.

As a fallout of this development, all the workers in the affected secretariats have been ordered to stay at home.

The Chairman of the FCT Association of Local Governments Nigeria (ALGON), Mustapha Danze, conveyed this decision Monday when he addressed the media at AMAC secretariat on behalf of other council chairmen.

Danze, who is the Chairman of the Gwagwalada Area Council, said all the six council secretariats will remain closed pending when further directives are issued in the future.

He said all council staff were expected to strictly comply with this directive.

The six Area council chairmen disclosed that the decision to close the secretariats was reached when they met on Monday. They also resolved that the decision was taken in the interest of the staff and all FCT residents.

Coronavirus: NSCIA Orders Closure of All Mosque in FCT

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has ordered immediate closure of all mosques in the Federal Capital Territory as a way of stemming the steady spread of the coronavirus contagion among the Muslim faithful during prayers.

The Director of Administration of NSCIA, Alhaji Yusuf Nwoha, said in a statement issued on Monday that the decision was taken on the same day by the council under the leadership of its President, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, after consultations with Muslim scholars and other relevant stakeholders.

Nwoha said that the order for the mosques to close was with immediate effect.

While describing the decision as hard, he said Muslims should see it as necessary and join hands with federal government and its agencies in the sustained fight against the spread of Covid-19, which has already been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organizations (WHO).

He added that the decision to close down Mosques was not alien to Islamic tradition and culture as it could be traced to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, when under such situation, the Mu’adhdhin was asked to inform the faithful to pray in their dwellings.

“The NSCIA therefore solicits the cooperation of the Imams and all Muslims in the FCT to ensure compliance to this directive as it is in the interest of all and sundry,” the statement said.

Access Bank Shuts down Lagos Branch over Visit by Customer Who Tested Positive for Coronavirus

Ayodeji Ake

One of the leading banks in Nigeria, Access Bank, has shutdown its Ligali Ayorinde, Lagos branch over visit to the branch by one of its customers who has now tested positive for coronavirus.

The bank in a statement made available to THISDAY Monday said a customer who visited the branch March 16 had tested positive for the virus.

Access bank disclosed that the customer was currently being monitored at Infectious Disease Centre in Yaba.

It said customers who visited the bank last week should commence 14-day self-quarantine, adding that if any one develops symptoms, they should contact NCDC through their toll-free lines.

The statement read: “We have just confirmed that an individual who visited our Ligali Ayorinde Branch on Monday March 16, 2020, had tested positive for COVID-19. He was symptom-free as at the time of visit and he is currently being monitored at an isolation centre in Yaba.

“In line with our emergency response plan and following regulatory practices, the branch has been temporarily closed for thorough disinfection. Persons who had any contact with the concerned individual are currently in isolation.

“Should you feel sick or exhibit any of the COVID-19 symptoms, please contact the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on 08009700001 or send a text message to 08099555577 to find out what to do,” it said.

Aisha Buhari Calls for Total Lockdown

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, Monday called for total lockdown across the country in a bid to fight COVID-19.

Mrs. Buhari who made the call on her Twitter handle, @aishambbuhari, said as much as governors’ decision to shut schools is commendable, it will yet be counter-productive as long as parents of school children go to work.

According to her, keeping children away from school while exposing their parents to contacts with people will make no difference as the exposed parents will return to meet their children at home.

She reasoned that only a total lockdown and sit at home declaration can avoid further spread of the disease.

“It is commendable that state governors have closed down schools; however, this could be counterproductive if parents are still going to work. We should not isolate students and expose their parents.

“It us remember that they will meet at home.

Niger Imposes Curfew over Coronavirus

Laleye Dipo in Minna

Niger state government has restricted the movement of people throughout the state in the day time following Governor Abubakar Sani Bello’s announcement of a 12-hour statewide curfew.

The curfew according to the Governor is from 8am to 8pm the period most business activities take place and will become effective on Wednesday.

In a broadcast to the people of the state, Bello also said that civil servants on grades level 1 to 12 should remain at home with the exception of workers on essential services who are allowed  move round to perform their duties.

The governor in the broadcast  directed all traditional rulers to ensure almajiri schools in their domain were closed immediately while also banning all hawking and street begging.

The governor declared: “Niger State Government will enforce all preventive measures as advised by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), especially social distancing and hand washing routines” adding that : “All public and private schools and institutions in Niger State are to remain closed” from Monday.

Bello reduced the number of people that can gather at a given event from 50 to 20 directing that all public offices including Ministries, Departments and Agencies should provide hand washing items at the entrance of their facilities.

“The general public including market men and women must practice social distancing and hand washing with soap regularly” he ordered before advising the public to be “vigilant, adhere strictly to personal hygiene, social distancing and seek medical attention in the event of symptoms.

“We also call on individuals with travel history from countries and states with cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to ensure self-isolation and report to the nearest Health facility in the state”

Bello disclosed that government had strengthened its surveillance system to detect any case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) including investigation and monitoring of any outbreak adding that the Isolation Centre at General Hospital, Minna and isolation rooms in all the General Hospitals have been upgraded.

Bauchi Gov Quarantined after Contact with Atiku’s Son who Tested Positive for Coronavirus

From Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi

Bauchi state Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed,  has gone into self – isolation after having contact with Atiku Abubaka’s son who has been tested positive for coronavirus.

A press release signed by the Senior Secial Assistant on  Media to the Governor, Comrade Mukhtar Gidado, Monday, said “This followed the report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) that the son of the former Vice President, Mohammed Atiku Abubakar was tested positive to the Coronavirus upon his return from an international trip through Lagos”.

Governor Bala Mohammed who recently returned from an official trip to Lagos, met with Mohammed Atiku Abubakar in the Aero Contractors aircraft where they shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

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“The governor did not exhibit any symptom of the disease, but based on the recommendation of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, he will remain in isolation in order to avoid the risk of spread of the disease”.

The release noted that the blood sample of the governor had been taken for clinical test, adding that for the period of the test, the governor and his entourage will remain in isolation pending the outcome of the clinical result.

Breaking: Lagos Records New Case of COVID-19

By Martins Ifijeh

The Lagos State government has confirmed a new case of COVID-19, bringing the total number in the state to 25, and that of the country to 36.

Announcing this on its Twitter handle, @LSMOH, the Lagos State Government said the patient arrived Nigeria from Ukraine since March 15.

The state has so far recorded three cases Monday. The other two had travel history to the United Kingdom. They both came into the country March 13 and March 20, 2020.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said it will no longer announce individual cases henceforth, adding that each states will update the public on cases in their location.

Former PPMC MD, Achimugu, Dies of COVID-19

*Family mourns

By Martins Ifijeh

The former Managing Director, Petroleum Pricing Monitoring Corporation (PPMC), Suleiman Achimugu, has become the first casualty from COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

Late Achimugu was said to have returned from the United Kingdom Tuesday after undergoing surgical procedure for underlying illness.

Announcing the death Monday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said: “The case was a 67 year old male who returned to Nigeria following a medical procedure in the United Kingdom.

“He had underlying medical conditions, including multiple myeloma and diabetes, and was undergoing chemotherapy.”

Achimugu died in the early hours of Monday.

Of the 35 cases recorded in Nigeria, 32 are currently on isolation and treatment, two have been discharged, while one has died.

Meanwhile, the family of the deceased has said that his remains have been buried according to Islamic injunction.

The statement signed by Abubakar Achimugu on behalf of the family called for prayer for the repose of his soul and healing for all other Coronavirus patients undergoong treatment.

The statement read.

“Our family is deeply saddened to inform you of the sudden deof the familyath of our beloved Father, Uncle, Brother and friend. Engr. Suleiman  Achimugu (former Md of PPMC).

“He died of COVID 19 on 22/03/2020 some days  after he arrived Nigeria from the UK.  He was in self isolation upon his return from the UK and personally called NCDC after experiencing some discomfort that are related to COVID 19 symptoms.

“He tested positive and was promptly evacuated to the specialist hospital. He died while recieving treatment.

“We implore the general public to pray upon his soul and the recovery of infected persons .Your thoughts and prayers  would be appreciated.

“Please maintain the public social distancing and restriction advice as we all walk through this very difficult time.

“He has since been buried according to Islamic rites.May Allah SWA have mercy on him.Ameen”

Covid-19: Presidency Writes N’Assembly, Wants Senators, Reps Returning to Nigeria to Undergo Screening

* Visitors turned back at National Assembly gate

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Chief of Staff to the President,  Abba Kyari, has written to the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to ensure that members of the National Assembly returning to the country present themselves for screening at the airports.

In two separate letters to the two presiding officers of the Senate and House of Representatives dated March 21, 2020  and signed by the Chief of Staff to the President,  Abba Kyari,  the presidency complained that Senators and Members of the House of Representatives refused to present themselves for screening at the airports.

Also at the National Assembly gate,  Monday, many visitors were turned back by officials of the sergeant at arms office manning the gate.  The visitors were asked to go back and wait till there would be information for them to visit.

They were told that the Senate in particular had stopped receiving visitors till further notice.

Even journalists without proper means of identifications were turned back.  This may not be unconnected with the Senate decision that it has closed down its gallery as well as stopped all public hearing till further notice.

The letter sighted by THISDAY at the National Assembly complex said the letter was sequel to the complaint by the Minister of Health in the attitude of the lawmakers,  urging the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to use their offices to ensure that the lawmakers comply and ensure that they are screened at the airports.

The letters stated that screening of people arriving from airports remain one of the defence the federal government has over the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter titled COVID-19 AIRPORT Screening read thus:

“It has been brought to the Honourobte Minister of Health recently reported to this office that some Senators   are refusing to subject themselves to medical screening at airports.

“As you are aware, these airport screenings are our primary line of defense and refusal by any citizen to subject to these tests is a threat to our nation.

“Accordingly, you are kindly requested to direct all Senators who returned to Nigeria from foreign trips to report  themselves to the nearest NCDC test centre with immediate effect”.

The same letter with the same content was written to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

During Thursday plenary sitting of the Senate,  some senators complained of space distancing of their colleagues that just returned from overseas trip.

It was as a result of this, that the senate went into a closed door session after which they announced a partial closure of the Senate to the public.

President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, announced the decision of the Senate to suspend public hearings and restrict access to its chamber over growing concerns of Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread in the country.

The announcement came after the Senate embarked on a closed session at the resumption of plenary to deliberate on the devastating impact which a spread of the disease may cause in the absence of preventive measures.

“The Senate resolves to suspend all public hearings till further notice as a result of the Coronavirus, COVID-19.

“In addition, the Senate gallery will remain closed to the public till further notice including excursions from schools and organisations from Tuesday 24th of March, 2020,” Lawan said.

Breaking: Nigeria Records First Death from COVID-19

Martins Ifijeh

The federal government has confirmed the first death from COVID-19.

Announcing this Monday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said the case was a 67 year old male who returned  to Nigeria following a medical procedure in the United Kingdom.

It said: “He had underlying medical conditions, including multiple myeloma and diabetes, and was undergoing chemotherapy.”

Of the 35 cases, 32 are currently on isolation and treatment, two have been discharged, while one has died.

More details later ….

Breaking: Nigeria Records First Death from COVID-19

Martins Ifijeh

The federal government has confirmed the first death from COVID-19.

Announcing this Monday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said the case was a 67 year old male who returned  to Nigeria following a medical procedure in the United Kingdom.

It said: “He had underlying medical conditions, including multiple myeloma and diabetes, and was undergoing chemotherapy.”

Of the 35 cases, 32 are currently on isolation and treatment, two have been discharged, while one has died.

More details later ….

COVID-19:  MTN Orders Staff to Work from Home

By Chiamaka Ozulumba

Following the lockdown of social gatherings to 20 persons per meeting point, in compliance, MTN Nigeria has announced that its staff would now work from home.

The company’s Senior Manager, External Relations, Funso Aina said that the telcos operations would continue to run at full scale with essential staff working limited hours on-site.

He said: “MTN Nigeria has directed its team to start working from home from Monday as parts of precautionary measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We also plan to announce the temporary closure of some of our stores.Those that remain open will operate reduced hours and maintain strict and social distance measures.

“The situation unfolding around the world is unlike anything we have seen in our lifetime and is a reminder that we are all more connected than we ever know,” he added.

Nigeria Records Five New Cases of COVID-19, Bringing Total Number to 35

By Martins Ifijeh

Nigeria has recorded five new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number to 35 in the country.

Announcing this on its Twitter handle, NCDCgov Monday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said: “Five new cases of COVID19 have been confirmed in Nigeria: Two in FCT, two in Lagos, and one in Edo.”

It said two of the cases were returning travellers from the United Kingdom.

Of the 35 cases, two have been discharged.

More details later..

Bolivia Suspends Presidential Election over COVID-19

An electoral court has postponed Bolivia’s general election over the COVID-19, according to local media.

Voters were due to head to the polls on May 3 to elect a permanent successor to former President Evo Morales, who resigned in November.

According to the Pesident of the Supreme Election Tribunal Salvador Romero,

Bolivia’s congress will have to enact legislation in order to select a new date for the elections.

Breaking; Atiku’s Son Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Son of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has tested positive for coronavirus.

Annoincing this on his twitter handle @atiku, the former vice president who was also the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in the 2019 general election said the National Centre for Disease Control had been duly informed.

He also said his infected son had been moved to Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital Abuja for treatment.

The NCDC had earlier on Sunday put the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria at 30. It is however unclear if Atiku’s son is among the 30 cases or a fresh case..

Atiku’s Son Tests Positive as COVID-19 Cases Escalate to 30

•Lagos now has 22, FCT 4, Ogun 2, Ekiti 1, Oyo 1

•Churches defy mass gathering restriction, hold services

•Sanwo-Olu directs civil servants to stay at home for 14 days

•CJN asks judicial officers to comply with social distancing

•IG directs AIGs, CPs to enforce restriction orders, says citizens should stay away from police stations

•Global death toll rises to 13,799, confirmed cases hit 322,278 in 189 countries, 100 die in 24 hours in US, UK’s body count now 244

•German Chancellor Merkel quarantined, US senators seek medical advice after colleague tests positive

Our Correspondents

The first high profile case of COVID-19 broke yesterday as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar announced that his son had tested positive for the pandemic.

Atiku’s announcement came through his Twitter and Facebook platforms last night, several hours after the federal government had said eight new cases of COVID-19 in Lagos, Oyo and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), had brought the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 30, spread over four states and the FCT.

Although the former vice president did not divulge the identity of the son, he said he had duly informed the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and that the son was moved to Gwagwalada Specialist Teaching Hospital in Abuja for treatment and management.

He said: “My son has tested positive to coronavirus. @NCDCGov has been duly informed, and he has been moved to Gwagwalada Specialist Teaching Hospital in Abuja for treatment and management. I will appreciate it if you have him in your prayers. Stay safe, coronavirus is real. -AA.”

A close family source told THISDAY that the son, who returned from Switzerland recently, is responding to treatment and is in a stable condition.

The global death toll from the pandemic has since jumped to 13,799, with 322,278 persons confirmed to be positive in 189 countries across six continents, compelling the World Health Organisation (WHO) to warn Nigeria and  other countries affected that lockdown approach alone can’t defeat the growing spread of the disease.

Following the increasing cases in the country, the federal government and some state governments had shut down schools and international airports, advising citizens to observe social distancing by avoiding the gathering of more then 20 people.

Despite the restrictions, many churches across the country held services yesterday, increasing the possibilities of an escalation of the pandemic in the country.

Concerned by the disobedience to the restrictions, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, yesterday ordered Zonal Inspectors-General of Police and State Police Commands Commissioners to enforce social restriction orders imposed by government at all levels.

He also directed the Zonal AIGs and Command CPs to guard against cases of unnecessary arrests and detention of suspects, telling citizens to stay away from police stations.

Announcing the new cases on its Twitter handle yesterday, @NCDCgov, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said six of them were from Lagos, while one each is from Oyo State and the FCT.

It said: “The three cases from Lagos had a travel history to high-risk countries in the last seven days. They have all been placed under isolation and treatment.

“Breaking down these figures means Lagos has recorded 19 cases, Abuja four, Ogun two, Oyo one and Ekiti one.

“Of the total 27 cases, two have been discharged. We are working closely with the affected states, including the FCT identify and follow up with contacts. If you have returned to Nigeria from any country in the last 14 days, please stay in self-isolation.”

In a separate update, NCDC confirmed three more cases of COVID-19 in Lagos, bringing the number of recorded cases in the state as at yesterday to six, and that of the country to 30.

Stating this on its Twitter handle Sunday, @NCDCgov, the centre said two of the latest three new cases were returning travellers while one was a contact of a confirmed case.

It said: “As at 05:28 pm on March 22, there are 30 confirmed cases of #COVID19 in Nigeria. Two have been discharged with no deaths.”

The Lagos State Government through the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, gave further details on the first three new cases from the state, noting that one of the three cases was a 51-year-old Briton, who arrived in Nigeria on March 8 via BA75 flight.

He said: “The second patient is a Nigerian on connecting flight KL0582 London Amsterdam/KL0587 Amsterdam to Lagos. He arrived in Nigeria on March 14.

“The third case is a 65-year-old citizen of the United States of America who arrived in Lagos about six weeks ago.”

In a related development, the Governor of Oyo State, Mr. Seyi Makinde, who doubles as the Chairman, State COVID-19 Task Force said the case from the state had been placed under isolation and treatment.

He said: “The COVID-19 confirmation test for the suspected case at Bodija has come back positive. The result was released at 17:35 PM of March 21, 2020. Oyo State Public Health Officials are collaborating with the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan’s team on the case.

“A follow up on the Ekiti COVID-19 case revealed that the person was picked up directly from Lagos Airport to a private apartment in Ona Ara Local Government Area.

“The Health Authorities have contacted the family concerned and the community has been alerted for intensified contact tracing and self-isolation of identified close contacts.

“The information given that he stayed in some hotels in Ibadan has been found to be false.”

He also stated that another returnee from Texas, USA, has also been identified at Oluyole Local Government Area, adding that she has been kept in self-isolation with close monitoring by the state’s epidemiological team.

Makinde urged all recent returnees  to identify themselves to health ministry officials and self-isolate for 14 days.

“We have released funds for Activation of Emergency Operation Centre at the Ministry of Health and establishment of Diagnostic Centre for the screening of Coronavirus and other related infectious diseases to be stationed at the UCH, Ibadan,” he said.

The governor said the equipping of the newly designated Oyo State Infectious Disease Centre at Olodo that has the capacity for over 100 cases had started, releasing telephone helplines of the state Ministry of Health to be contacted in case of any suspected case around the state as 08038210122; 08023229267; 08073431342.

Churches Defy Mass Gathering Restriction, Hold Services

However, many churches in at least 15 states and the FCT yesterday defied the restriction on mass gathering and held their normal Sunday services.

The 15 states include: Bauchi, Enugu, Katsina, Ebonyi, Ogun, Taraba, Kwara, Sokoto, Kogi, Benue, Kano, Kaduna, Oyo, Adamawa and Plateau.

However, most churches in Lagos and Osun States adhered to the restriction, while Ondo and Ekiti States recorded partial compliance.

THISDAY gathered that churches in Jos, Plateau State held their usual services yesterday without restrictions.

It was also gathered that the congregation mixed up during praise and worship time, with only a handful of members seen with face masks at the beginning of services, but they soon removed them as the services went on.

At some of the churches visited by THISDAY in the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) in Abuja, normal church services were being observed with a huge turnout, although there were few places where the attendance was low.

Sanwo-Olu Directs Civil Servants to Stay Home for 14 Days

In Lagos State that has 22 cases, the Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday directed all workers under the state government to observe a stay-at-home order for 14 days in the wake of the increasing cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Addressing journalists at the State House Marina, Sanwo-Olu said the directive would take effect from today, adding that all officers from Grade 1-12 are to observe it.

The governor urged members of the public to refrain from visiting the state secretariat, urging them to utilise other available options to carry out their transactions, including online and via phones.

The governor, however, added that the directive would not apply to first responders, including staff of LAWMA, LASEMA, Fire Service, LASAMBUS, and LASEPA among others.

He also encouraged private-owned organisations to take a cue from the state government and direct their staff to work from home for the period.

IG Orders AIGs, CPs to Enforce Social Restriction Orders

As part of the containment efforts, the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu, at the weekend directed the Zonal Inspectors-General of Police and State Police Commands to enforce social restriction orders imposed by government at all levels.

He also directed the Zonal AIGs and Command CPs to guard against cases of unnecessary arrests and detention of suspects.

The IG directed them “to ensure that all legitimate orders given in pursuant to the containment efforts are strictly enforced within their areas of jurisdiction.”

The IG, in a statement by Force Headquarters, said the detention of suspects must be reduced to the barest minimum and that only very serious cases such as terrorism, armed robbery, homicide and other non-bailable offences should warrant detention.

He further directed that adequate measures be emplaced to screen persons to be committed into police custody.

Adamu “ordered Command CPs to immediately publicise phone numbers of their Command Control Rooms, Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) and other tactical commanders using the conventional and non-conventional media in order to facilitate alternative interacting and reporting options between the public and the police.”

The statement signed by Force PRO, Mr. Frank Mba, affirmed that in compliance with the federal government’s directive that all tertiary institutions be shut, the IG has ordered the immediate closure of the Nigeria Police Academy as well as all police primary and secondary schools nationwide while the force medical services were empowered and directed to step up sensitisation programmes across commands, formations and barracks in the country.

Police Detainees Regain Freedom in Ogun

Perhaps in compliance with the IG’s directive, the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kenneth Ebrimson, yesterday ordered the immediate release of all persons detained for minor offences in all police facilities across the state to avoid the spread of the pandemic.

Ebrimson gave the order through a statement by the state’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Abimbola Oyeyemi.

Oyeyemi, a deputy superintendent of police, said: “The CP has ordered the immediate release of all suspects being detained for minor offences in all police facilities across the state, as part of the preventive measure; while the police medical team has been directed to take the awareness campaign (on COVID-19) to market places and detention facilities, to ensure public safety.”

Eko Hotel Announces Partial Closure of Its Services

Also following the lockdown of social and religious gatherings to 20 persons per meeting point, in compliance, Eko Hotel & Suites has announced a partial closure of its services because of COVID-19.

In a statement issued yesterday on its Facebook page, the hotel said it will temporarily close down some of its services including the spa, gym, pool, conference and banquet facilities.

“It is with great difficulty, but with the safety of you and our community in mind, that we have made the decision to temporarily close our Eko Suites Hotel, Eko Gardens Hotel, 88 Restaurant, Lagos Irish Pub, Sky Restaurant, My Thai Restaurant, Red Chinese Restaurant, Crossroads, the spa, gym, pool, and conference and banquet facilities.

“However, part of Eko Signature and Eko Hotel, as well as Kuramo Sports Cafe, Calabash Bar, Lagoon Breeze, 1415 Seafood and Steakhouse are still operational,” it said.

CJN Urges Judicial Officers to Comply with Social Distancing

From the judiciary came the news that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, has directed all judicial officers to comply with the guidelines issued by the NCDC and other relevant bodies towards containing the spread of the deadly disease.

Muhammad, who gave the directive in a circular issued on March 20, 2020, to judicial officers said the need to comply is of utmost importance because the disease which is spreading wide and fast has no known cure.

The CJN in the circular titled: “Preventive measures on the Spread of COVID-19 and the Protection of Justices, Judges and Staff of Courts,” said that the matter is of grave concern to the judiciary, hence the need to reduce crowd in the courts and order judiciary environments.

It stated: “Consequently you are expected to take all necessary steps to ensure that the safety of management and staff within your jurisdiction by averting large gathering of people in view of the risk it may pose.

“As you all know, all federal judicial bodies are expected to continue work, however, as much as possible, efforts must be made to ensure that members of the public coming for official matters/meetings/conferences within your jurisdiction do not exceed the recommended number.”

Lockdown Alone Can’t Tackle Outbreak, WHO Warns Nigeria, Others

As the death toll from COVID-19 jumped to 13,799, with 322,278 persons confirmed to be positive, WHO has warned Nigeria and other countries affected that lockdown approach alone can’t defeat the growing spread of the disease.

Although an estimated 96,000 people have so far recovered from the disease worldwide, at least 10, 000 people are still in critical condition, a situation that predicts more fatalities will be recorded.

WHO urged governments to show leadership to defeat the virus.

A WHO Chief Emergency expert, Mr. Mike Ryann, who spoke yesterday on BBC said: “What we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them, find their contacts and isolate them.

“The danger right now with the lockdowns is that, if we don’t put in place the strong public health measures now, when those movement restrictions and lockdowns are lifted, the danger is the disease will jump back up.”

US Records 100 Deaths in 24 Hours, Senator Tests Positive

The novel coronavirus epidemic has claimed more than 100 lives in the past 24 hours in the United States, bringing the total to 389 deaths as of Sunday, according to an authoritative tally from Johns Hopkins University.

According to the university, the states of New York (114 deaths), Washington (94 deaths) and California (28 deaths) have been the hardest hit by far. The virus has infected at least 30,000 people nationwide.

Senators in the country panicked yesterday as one of them, Senator Rand Paul, revealed he had tested positive to COVID-19 after mingling with his colleagues for days as they negotiated a new set of economic stimulus.

He becomes the third member of Congress to test positive, raising concerns of senators who are now seeking medical advice on what to do.

UK’s Body Count Rises to 244

In Britain, 11 more people have died after testing positive for COVID-19 in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – taking the UK total to 244, according to Sky News yesterday.

There have been seven fatalities in Wales over the last 24 hours, taking its total to 12 and a further three in Scotland, where the number of deaths overall now stands at 10.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Quarantined

In Germany, the Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has quarantined herself at home after having contact with her doctor who tested positive for COVID-19.

Her spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, said she was informed of her doctor’s test result on Sunday shortly after a press conference.

Seibert said the doctor had administered a precautionary vaccine against pneumococcal infection on Merkel on Friday.

He said the chancellor would undergo regular tests in the coming days, and that she would continue to work from home in the meantime.

The country has lost 93 people to the disease with 24,806 confirmed cases

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Nigeria’s COVID-19 State of the States

Martins Ifijeh

While all 36 states in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory are gradually locking down activities in a bid to halt the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the disease seems to have intensified its coverage in the country.

As at yesterday, it has infected 30 persons, comprising of 28 Nigerians, an Italian and one American in four states and the FCT; a situation that has now prompted the federal and state governments to initiate more stringent measures to halt its community spread.

The states so far affected are Ogun, Lagos, Oyo and Ekiti. FCT, the seat of power has also recorded cases.

Ogun State

Unlike Ebola outbreak in 2014 where the Liberian index case, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, was recorded against Lagos State, the index case from COVID-19 outbreak was reported to have been identified in Lafarge Africa Plc in Ogun State for suspicion of having the virus after he developed its symptoms, prompting his host to call on the Lagos State government, which eventually evacuated him to the Infectious Disease Centre in Yaba where he tested positive to the disease.

Eight days after, a staff of Lafarge Africa, who had contact with the Italian index case also tested positive to the disease.

They have both been discharged from the Lagos isolation centre after their viral load regressed back to negative.

Lagos State

Lagos state is presently the epicenter of the disease in Nigeria as 22 persons have been confirmed to have tested positive to the virus in the cosmopolitan state.

It recorded its first case of the disease March 17 when a 30 year old female, who returned from the United Kingdom tested positive to the virus.

She was independent of the Italian case. She is presently under treatment.

On March 18, the state recorded five more cases.

Just barely 24 hours after, it recorded another three cases. One of the cases had contact with the 30 year old Nigerian woman who had tested positive to the virus March 17.

By March 21, Lagos recorded another seven cases; a development that prompted the state government to institute a number of stringent measures against the virus, as it was believed there could be community spread of the virus.

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, closed down schools, reduced religious gatherings to 50 per time, and called on residents of the state to limit their movements to crowded places.

Sunday, the state again recorded another six confirmed cases, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 22.

The state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said many of the cases were recovering.

Ekiti State

While Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, was announcing the five confirmed cases in Lagos March 18, he also mentioned that the 6th case was from Ekiti.

While most residents of Ekiti believed the Ekiti case had contact with a diseased American, who was suspected to be positive to the virus in the state, the state government traced his status to one of the confirmed cases in Lagos.

Oyo State

Oyo is the latest state to be affected by the virus. Its Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, in a statement yesterday said the female patient was picked up directly from Lagos airport after flying into the country last weekend.

Federal Capital Territory

The Federal Capital Territory is the second most hit region after Lagos. It presently has six confirmed cases of the virus.

Ehanire announced its first case on March 21 where three persons were reported to be infected by the virus. On Sunday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also announced three more cases, bringing the total to six in the FCT.

Autres États

Although other states have intensified measures against the disease, it is believed there is already community spread of the virus in the country, prompting states to suspend school, religious and other social gatherings.

However, 32 states do not have any case but lack isolation centres at the moment.

……………………………………………………………………………………………… ..

…It’s 30 Patients and where they came from

Martins Ifijeh

By global health prediction, disease outbreaks are only 36 hours away from potentially entering any country of the world irrespective of how farther apart the index country and the receiving nations are geographically placed.

It, however, took Nigeria 59 days to get its first confirmed case of COVID-19, a new coronavirus disease, which broke out from Wuhan City in China since December 31, 2019.

Twenty-four days after the first index case of the virus was recorded at the Infectious Disease Centre in Lagos, Nigeria’s burden of the virus has surged to 30 with the majority of the cases confirmed to be exported into the country from nations with a high burden of the disease.

So far, the federal government has named countries of import of the virus into Nigeria to be United Kingdom, Italy, France, Canada, Spain, Netherland, and the United States.

9 Cases from …United Kingdom

Of the 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria, at least nine of the patients came into the country from the United Kingdom, hence representing the country with the highest import of the respiratory disease into Nigeria.

Majority of the patients had travelled to the country within in February and did not have symptoms of the disease when they left the UK for Nigeria.

The UK is one of the countries with a high burden of the disease. As of yesterday, at least 5, 683 persons have been infected, while about 300 have died from the disease.

Nigeria last week closed its borders to 15 countries, including the UK.

4 Cases from …United States

According to the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who on different occasions provided travel histories of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Nigeria, at least four of the cases were said to enter into Nigeria from the United States.

The country presently has a burden of over 30,000 infected cases and 388 deaths. It has now surpassed Spain’s burden thereby becoming the 3rd most-affected nation by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite being one of the countries with the best healthcare globally, its health force fear it may be overwhelmed should the virus surge beyond its present number.

Already, the outbreak is already having a toll on the country’s economy with 283 persons said to have lost their jobs last Friday due to the outbreak.

2 Cases from …France

So far, at least two of the 30 confirmed cases in Nigeria came into the country through France. Although the two cases are presently receiving treatment, it is believed one of them infected another Nigerian before he tested positive and commenced treatment.

France is one of the high-risk countries for COVID-19. It presently has over 14, 000 infected cases and 562 deaths.

One case each from Spain, Netherland, Italy and Canada

Although Italy is referred to as the epicenter of the outbreak in Italy, only one case has been announced by the Nigerian government to have come into its territory from the country.

The only Italian case so far mentioned is the index case of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Italy’s death toll has surpassed that of China, with over 53, 000 persons said to be infected, while 4, 823 persons have died so far.

Italy has a high old population and those most at risk of COVID-19 deaths are old persons above 65 years, and persons with underlying illnesses.

Spain, Netherland and Canada have so far imported one case each into Nigeria.

4 Cases of Community Spread

While countries often guide against the import of foreign diseases into their country, the greatest fear from pandemics is the community spread of the disease.

Community spread of a disease is a public health term, which refers to person to person transmission of disease.

So far, Nigeria has had four community spread of the COVID-19. The Italian index case infected a Nigerian in Ogun. The 30-year-old female, who came into the country from the United Kingdom, infected another woman. As at the last count, this has so far been transmitted to four persons in the country.

The federal and state governments have instituted a lockdown of activities in their respective domain as part of plans to halt community spread of the disease; as this remains the fastest way diseases can spread across people in a particular region.

7 Cases …unannounced origin

During the announcement of each confirmed case in Nigeria, the federal government, either through the Ministry of Health or the NCDC gives details on the travel history of the patients.

It, however, didn’t give detail on seven cases. While it is certain they were not exposed to the virus through community spread, the country with which they imported it has never been mentioned.

The Nigerian government has not also mentioned whether any case was imported into the country through China, the epicenter of the disease despite Nigeria’s high trading partnership with the country.

SUNDAY MARCH 22, 2020

COVID 19: Lagos Issues Public Transport Guidelines

Segun James

As part of the efforts by the Lagos State Government to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in the state, the government Sunday issued a guideline on the operation of public transportation in the state.

The government in a statement by the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde states that “henceforth all stakeholders in public transportation in the State are to sanitize their parks and garages regularly and continuously before and after each trip.”

Also transport operators are expected to have at the entrance to their parks and garages, washing hand equipment with soap and running water.

“All Operators are not allowed to over crowd or over load their vehicles at this point in time, Passenger’s spacing must be fully observed. NCDC recommends that at least 2m (5feet) distance is required between anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness. No standing in all BRT and LBSL bus operations

“All buses should be at 60% capacity and not 100% with all Air Conditioning System in public transport be put off.”

Oladeinde also said that all drivers and their conductors should always wear hand gloves and nose guides while in transit

Turkish Airlines Reschedules Nigeria Flights Ahead of Airport Shutdown

Following the announcement of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to shut down international airports in Lagos and Abuja for all flights, starting from Monday, 23rd March 23, Turkish Airlines, Sunday, said it would reschedule its flights for Tuesday, March 24 to Monday, March 23.

A statement by the airlines on Sunday said the rescheduling was to accommodate passengers of the cancelled flights and ensure they all reach their destination before the closure of airports.

The statement said “as the airline that always put the travel security at the forefront, Turkish Airlines will continue to monitor the latest developments on the situation with the national and international health authorities and take appropriate precaution.”

(Updated) COVID 19: Stay Home for Two Weeks, Sanwo-Olu Orders Civil Servants

Segun James

Lagos State Governor, Babajide-Sanwo-Olu, has ordered civil servants in the state to stay away from work for two weeks.

Sanwo-Olu, who gave the order during a live press conference on Sunday, said the order applies to civil servants on grade level one to 12.

This order, he however said, does not apply to workers on essential duties.

“We are shutting down almost 70 per cent of our workforce from Monday, 23rd of March 2020. We are shutting down levels 1-12 in our public service for the next 14 days.

“We know the enormity of the task at hand and we are ready for it. We are working with market leaders and even public transport unions to ensure social distancing.

“Self-Isolate for at least 14 days if you are just returning to Nigeria. That would be the right thing to do.

“We must always rise to our challenges. We will win with the cooperation of Lagos residents. We have done this before, we will do it again.”

The Governor who expressed worry over increasing rate of confirmed cases in the state at a press conference held in Lagos House Marina, urged the private sector to bench their non –essential services staff to effectively tackle the pandemic disease.

He said it had become necessary for him to address the residents again because of the confirmation of an additional six cases within 72 hours he briefed on the disease bringing the total in Lagos State to nineteen confirmed cases.

“First let me say that these confirmations are evidence the system is working, that we are actively and met tracking and testing suspected cases. Let me also reiterate that all confirmed cases have been isolated at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba’’

Sanwo-Olu added that the state government had been working closely with the Federal Government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). the World Health Organization (WHO) and the private sector to halt the spread of this disease.

The Governor who hailed Lagosians for obeying his directive on large congregation of people above 50, said the state government would arrest anyone or group found to be frustrating government’s efforts.

Sanwo-Olu pointed out that the directive was not meant to deprive anybody of his or her freedom, saying,’’ Many mosques were closed on Friday and many churches shut down today.’’

“In addition to all the previous directives issued so far. I am now hereby directing all public officers in the entire unified public service from Grade Levels 1 to 12 which constitutes 70 percent of the entire public service workforce to stay at home from Monday 23″ of March 2020. for 14 days in the first instance.

‘’We will review this as time goes on. Members of the public are advised to refrain from visiting public offices. and to transact as much business as is possible through the telephone and online channels’’.

‘’This stay at-home order does not affect medical personnel. Fire Service. LASEMA. LAWMA and other first responders and essential services. We are working to ramp up our capacity to take on new cases as they’re confirmed; other Health facilities will on due time be deployed to support the Mainland Infectious Diseases Hospital.’’

The governor added that the state government would set up more facilities in Yaba to contain a likely upsurge in Coronavirus cases, saying more health workers were being trained and retired health personnel were also being put on notice that they may be recalled to serve in these trying times.

Merkel’s spokesman said the German chancellor, who is 65, was informed about the doctor’s test shortly after holding a news conference Sunday announcing new measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Merkel had received a precautionary vaccine Friday against pneumococcal infection.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever or coughing. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. About 93,800 people have recovered, mostly in China.

Seibert said in a statement that Merkel would undergo “regular tests” in the coming days and continue with her work from home for the time being.

Merkel had earlier expressed her gratitude to Germans who were following the rules on social distancing, saying it was important to remain at least 1.5 meters (about five feet) apart to reduce the likelihood of infection.

The development illustrated how even world leaders aren’t free from the risk of infection.

“With a certain distance the risk of infections is reduced almost to zero,” Merkel told reporters. “Whether you are half a meter apart or 1.5 meters apart makes a huge difference

Seconds later, she was informed that her doctor had tested positive for COVID-19 (TIME)

COVID-19: Eko Hotel Announces Partial Closure

By Chiemelie Ezeobi

Following the directive limiting social and religious gatherings to 20 persons per meeting point by the Lagis State Government to halt the spread of coronavirus, Eko Hotel & Suites has announced a partial closure of its services.

In a statement issued on Sunday on its Facebook page, the hotel said it will temporarily close down some of its services including the spa, gym, pool, conference and banquet facilities.

Meanwhile, the hotel said the temporary closure would not affect other services, including parts of the hotel.

The statement read thus, “It is with great difficulty, but with the safety of you and our community in mind, that we have made the decision to temporarily close our Eko Suites Hotel, Eko Gardens Hotel, 88 Restaurant, Lagos Irish Pub, Sky Restaurant, My Thai Restaurant, Red Chinese Restaurant, Crossroads, the spa, gym, pool, and conference and banquet facilities.

“However, part of Eko Signature and Eko Hotel, as well as Kuramo Sports Cafe, Calabash Bar, Lagoon Breeze, 1415 Seafood and Steakhouse are still operational.

“We urge you to take the necessary precautionary steps advised by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in staying safe, as we fight COVID-19 together!”

COVID-19 Death Toll Climbs to 13,799

*Lockdown alone can’t tackle outbreak, WHO warns Nigeria, others

Martins Ifijeh

Death toll from COVID-19 has jumped to 13, 799, with 322, 278 persons confirmed to be positive with the virus in 189 countries across six continents, the World Health Organisation (WHO) records show.

This is even as the world health body has warned Nigeria and 185 other countries affected that only lockdown approach can’t defeat the growing spread of the disease.

Although an estimated 96,000 people have so far recovered from the disease worldwide, at least 10, 000 people are still in critical condition, a situation that predicts more fatalities will be recorded.

One of the major countries most hit by the latest death rate from the disease is Spain, which has recorded 374 deaths and 3, 107 confirmed cases within the last 24 hours, bringing the total deaths and cases in the country to 1756 and 28, 603 respectively.

Echoing measures taken by Italy – Europe’s hardest hit country – the Spanish government declared a state of emergency on Saturday, ordering the closure of all non-essential shops as well as bars, restaurants, cafes, football grounds and cinemas.

Residents have been ordered to stay at home, allowed out only to buy food and medicine or travel to work, health centres or banks. Travel is also allowed for those looking after the elderly or dependents.

Save for a handful of people walking their dogs or picking up groceries, most streets in Madrid were empty.

Although the WHO and Worldometrics have not released figures yet for Italy’s burden since last night, the country Sunday recorded over 800 deaths in one single day. its death figures have surpassed that of China. China has 81,054 confirmed cases with 3, 261 deaths, while Italy has 51, 578 confirmed cases and 4, 825 deaths, the highest fatality by any country since the disease started.

Although China’s cases have declined with no recorded deaths since the last three days, it was not so lucky Sunday as it recorded 46 new cases and six deaths between Saturday and Sunday. Of the 46 new cases, only one was recorded as community spread, while the remaining 45 were exported cases.

The country said since it has made progress in the fight against the outbreak, it would now send health experts to Italy and Spain to help tackle the deadly virus.

To halt import of the spread from other countries, it has now started diverting all international flights due to arrive in Beijing starting Monday another airport where passengers will undergo virus screening, according to government agencies Sunday.

International flights that were scheduled to arrive in the capital will land instead at one of 12 airports. Passengers who clear screening will then be permitted to re-board the plane, which will then fly to Beijing, the regulator said.

Among the new cases recorded in China, record 14 were in the financial hub of Shanghai and 13 were in Beijing, a decline from 21 the previous day.

In Canada, death toll has climbed by 46 per cent. Officials in the country announced that the total number of COVID-19 deaths jumped to 19, an increase of 46 percent. The total number of infected cases rose from 1,099 to 1,328, according to John Hopkins University.

Afghanistan Sunday recorded its first death, according to the country’s health ministry.

The Spokesman of the Ministry of Public Health, Wahidullah Mayar said a 40-year-old man died in the Northern Balkh province.

Afghanistan has 34 confirmed cases of the virus and there are fears its vulnerable health system, devastated by years of war, would be overwhelmed by an outbreak.

Breaking: Lagos Records Three New Cases of COVID-19

By Martins Ifijeh

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)  has confirmed three more cases of COVID-19 in Lagos State, bringing the number of recorded cases in the state Sunday to six, and the total number in the country to 30.

Stating this on its Twitter handle Sunday, @NCDCgov, the centre said  two of the cases were returning travellers while one was a contact of a confirmed case.

It said: “As at 05:28 pm on March 22, there are 30 confirmed cases of #COVID19 in Nigeria. 2 have been discharged with no deaths.”

More details later..

Breaking: COVID-19: Sanwo-Olu Orders Civil Servants to Stay at Home

Sunday Ehigiator

In an effort to further curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the state, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has mandated all civil servants from level one to 12 to remain at home effective from Monday, March 23, 2020.

The governor disclosed this, Sunday during a live press conference at the state’s secretariat.

More details shortly…

Breaking: COVID-19: Sanwo-Olu Asks Civil Servants to Remain at Home

Sunday Ehigiator

In an effort to further curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the state, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has mandated all civil servants from level one to 12 to remain at home effective from Monday, March 23, 2020.

The governor disclosed this, Sunday during a live press conference at the state’s secretariat.

More details shortly…

Covid-19: Mountain of Fire Suspends Activities in Lagos, Ogun

The Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM), has said that it is suspending all church activities at all of its branches in Lagos and Ogun States forthwith till further notice incompliance with the ban on gatherings and religious activities by the Lagos and Ogun State governments,

A leading healing and deliverance ministry, the church this weekend released prayers  to arrest the continuing spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease and advised Nigerians not to take panic.

General Overseer (GO) of the MFM, Dr. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya, in a statement by his Media Office, signed Mr. Collins Edomaruse   reminded Nigerians of the various steps being taken by the Federal and State Governments to contain the pandemic

CONVID-19 : Churches Open in Oyo

Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan

Churches in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital and other towns in the state, Sunday defied the order of the state government to avoid gatherings of more than 50 persons in a bid to halt the spread of COVID-19.

While the state government made the closure of worship centres and religious gatherings voluntary, it however strongly advised churches, mosques and other religious centres not to have more than 50 people gathered in the same place at once.

However some churches visited by THISDAY Sunday opened for service with large gathering of members in attendance.

The Stone Church,  Mokola, Ibadan recorded large number of members, but with the church providing water for washing hands as well as sanitizer for members.

Also, the sitting arrangement was altered from the previous ones with large space among members while they were implored not to shake hands or hug themselves.

Service also held at the Cook Memorial Baptist Church, Oja Oba, Ibadan, which also witnessed large presence of members.

A member of the church, Prince Segun Adeyemo, while speaking with THISDAY, said the church opened for service based on the directive of the President of the National Baptist Convention (NBC) and National President, Christians Association of Nigeria (NBC), Rev. Supo Ayokunle, that it should gather to pray against Coronavirus.

He added that the church only operated skeletal service, stating that after Sunday Service, it was prayers thereafter.

At the Assemblies of God Church, Mokola, Ibadan, members were made to wash their hands and sanitizer applied before they were allowed into the church.

COVID-19 Cases in Nigeria Rise to 27, Spread to FCT, Four States

By Martins Ifijeh

The federal government has announced five new cases of COVID-19 in Lagos, Oyo and the Federal Capital Territory, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 27.

Making this known on its Twitter handle Sunday, @NCDCgov, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said three of the cases were from Lagos, while one each from Oyo State and the FCT.

It said: “The three cases from Lagos had travel history to high risk countries in the last seven days. They have all been placed under isolation and treatment.

“Breaking down these figures mean Lagos has recorded 19 cases, Abuja four, Ogun two, Oyo one and Ekiti one.

“Of the total 27 cases, two have been discharged. We are working closely with the affected states, including the FCT identify and follow up with contacts. If you have returned to Nigeria from any country in the last 14 days, please stay in self-isolation,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government through the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi has given further details on the new cases from the state, noting that one of the three cases was  a 51-year-old Briton who arrived Nigeria on March 8 via BA75 flight.

He said: “The second patient is a Nigerian on connecting flight KL0582 London Amsterdam / KL0587 Amsterdam to Lagos. He arrived in Nigeria March 14.

“The third case is a 65-year-old citizen of the United States of America who arrived in Lagos about six weeks ago,” Abayomi added.

Meanwhile the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, who doubles as the Chairman, State COVID-19 Task Force, said the case from the state had been placed under isolation and treatment.

He said: “The COVID-19 confirmation test for the suspected case at Bodija has come back positive. The result was released at 17:35 PM of March 21, 2020. Oyo State Public Health Officials are collaborating with the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan’s team on the case.

“A follow up on the Ekiti COVID-19 case revealed that the person was picked up directly from Lagos Airport to a private apartment in Ona Ara Local Government Area.

“The Health Authorities have contacted the family concerned and the community has been alerted for intensified contact tracing and self-isolation of identified close contacts.

“The information given that he stayed in some hotels in Ibadan has been found to be false.”

He also stated that another returnee from Texas, USA, had also been identified at Oluyole Local Government Area, adding that she has been kept in self-isolation with close monitoring by the State Epidemiological Team.

“All recent returnees are again urged to identify themselves to ministry officials and self-isolate for 14 days.

“We have released funds for: Activation of Emergency Operation Centre at the Ministry of Health.

“Establishment of Diagnostic Centre for screening of Coronavirus and other related infectious diseases to be stationed at the UCH, Ibadan.

“Equipping of the newly designated Oyo State Infectious Disease Centre at Olodo that has the capacity for over 100 cases,” he added.

He also released telephone helplines of the state Ministry of health to be contacted in case of any suspected case around the state. The numbers are, “Oyo State Ministry of Health Helplines: 08038210122/ 08023229267/ 08073431342.

Breaking: Abuja Records New Case of COVID-19, Bringing Total Number in Nigeria to 27

By Martins Ifijeh

The Federal Capital Territory has recorded another case of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases recorded in Nigeria to 27 since the outbreak started in Nigeria.

Announcing this Sunday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), through its Twitter handle, said so far Lagos has recorded 19, Abuja four, Ogun two, Ekiti and Oyo one each.

Details later ..

Coronavirus: FCTA Orders Arrest of Drivers Who Overload their Vehicles

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

FCT Administration has issued an immediate directive to road traffic enforcement officers across the city to arrest drivers who overload their vehicles with passengers.

The order was issued on Sunday morning by the

Chairman, FCT Ministerial Task Team on Traffic Management, Mr Ikharo Attah.

Attah said it would be grossly inappropriate for drivers to fully pack their vehicles with passengers for pecuniary gains at a time the world is advocating social distancing as a means of fighting covid-19.

“Those carrying two passengers in front of their vehicles would have their vehicles impounded and drivers licence seized. Besides the health risks, it is also unsafe as the driver finds it difficult to adjust his gear and hand break,” he warned.

He also added that High Capacity Bus drivers would also be properly checked to ensure that they do not overload their buses.

He called on all transport operators, particularly those only permitted to operate at the suburbs, such as commercial motorcycles and tricycles to also avoid overloading.

The order is also directed at managers of motor parks and transport unions to obey the directives of the FCT authority limiting any gathering to a maximum 50 persons.

Attah also advised transporters to be observant of their passengers and report those with signs of respiratory  challenges to appropriate health authorities for prompt examination.

COVID-19: Winners Chapel Defies Lagos, Ogun Govt Ban

Sunday Ehigiator

At the Living Faith Church in Ota, social distance was not observed as members of the church sat close to each other.

No temperature check was done on any member of the church. Hand sanitizers were also not used.

The first and second services were held normally.

The General Overseer, Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo encouraged members to attend their usual house fellowships this Wednesday, adding that announcement on steps to be taken against COVID-19 would be announced to members at their various house fellowships.

COVID-19: How Lagos, Ogun Churches are Defying Govt Ban

By Sunday Ehigiator

Despite Lagos and Ogun governments’ ban on religious gatherings of more than 50 persons in a bid to halt community spread of COVID-19, many churches have defied the ban.

For instance, Living Faith Church (also known as Winners Chapel) Bus from Bolade Oshodi in Lagos is currently conveying members to Canaan Land.

The bus which is supposed to be four persons per roll is admitting five persons per roll, while some even sat on other passengers’ legs.

A bus ideally meant for 28 persons is presently conveying 39 adults and five children to Canaanland, Ota in Ogun State.

Also worthy of note is the fact that there is no temperature check and sanitizers are not being provided for passengers in the bus moved.

Passengers are heard discussing the outbreak of coronavirus.

“No one, and nothing can stop us from God’s house. We serve a living God. That is why we are called Winners Faith.”

“God give us strength against any COVID-19.”

Oyo Records First Coronavirus Case

*Keeps US returnee in isolation

Martins Ifijeh and Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan

Oyo state has recorded its first case of Coronavirus.

Governor Seyi Makinde who doubles as the Chairman of the State Covid-19 Task Force, made the disclosure in his Twitter handle Sunday morning, saying the suspected case who has been in isolation eventually tested positive.

He said although the result was released at 17:35pm on March 21, it got to the state late in the night and was received by the Task force.

He added that another UK returnee suspected of having the virus had been identified and kept in isolation in Oluyole Area of the state.

Makinde added that the state government had released funds for the Activation of Emergency Operation Centre at the Ministry of Health as well as the establishment of Diagnostic Centre for screening of Coronavirus and other related infectious diseases to be stationed at the UCH, Ibadan.

According to him, “The Covid-19 confirmation test for the suspected case at Bodija has come back positive. The result was released at 17:35 PM of March 21, 2020. Oyo State Public Health Officials are collaborating with the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan’s team on the case.

“A follow up on the Ekiti covid-19 case revealed that the deceased was picked up directly from Lagos Airport to a private apartment in Ona Ara Local Government Area.

“The Health Authorities have contacted the family concerned and the community has been alerted for intensified contact tracing and self-isolation of identified close contacts.

“The information given that he stayed in some hotels in Ibadan has been found to be false.

“Another returnee from Texas, USA, has also been identified at Oluyole Local Government Area. She has been kept in self-isolation with close monitoring by the State Epidemiological Team. All recent returnees are again urged to identify themselves to Ministry Officials and self-isolate for 14 days.

“We have released funds for: Activation of Emergency Operation Centre at the Ministry of Health.

“Establishment of Diagnostic Centre for screening of Coronavirus and other related infectious diseases to be stationed at the UCH, Ibadan.

“Equipping of the newly designated Oyo State Infectious Disease Centre at Olodo that has the capacity for over 100 cases.”

He  also released telephone helplines of the state Ministry of health to be contacted in case of any suspected case around the state. The numbers are, “Oyo State Ministry of Health Helplines: 08038210122/ 08023229267/ 08073431342.”

Breaking: Oyo Records First Case of COVID-19

By Martins Ifijeh

The Oyo State Government has confirmed a case of COVID-19 in the state, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 26.

The Governor, Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, who confirmed this in a statement on Sunday morning said: “The COVID-19 confirmation test for the suspected case at Bodija has come back positive. The result was released at 17:35pm of March 21, 2020.

“A follow-up on the Ekiti COVID-19 case revealed that the deceased was picked up directly from Lagos Airport to a private apartment in Ona Ara Local Government Area,” he said.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), via its Twitter handle, NCDCgov, Sunday had earlier confirmed three new cases in Lagos, and noted that they had travel history to high risk countries in the last seven days.

CBN Directs Oil Companies to End FX Sale to NNPC

•Plans special naira, dollar intervention for health companies

•Total economic stimulus now N3.5trn

Obinna Chima and Nume Ekeghe

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday directed all oil companies in the country, both international and domestic, to immediately stop the sale of foreign exchange (FX) to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). It said henceforth, oil companies should sell their FX to the CBN.

CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, gave the directive while briefing journalists at the end of an extraordinary Bankers’ Committee meeting in Lagos. Emefiele explained that the directive, which was aimed at shoring up FX supply in the country, was in line with the new policy on price modulation that the federal government announced last week.

The CBN governor stated, “All related oil companies are to sell FX to CBN and no longer NNPC. Whether you are in the oil service industry or oil production, upstream, midstream or downstream, all oil related companies must sell their FX to the CBN and no longer to the NNPC, for the purpose of funding the importation of petroleum products, given the new policy on price modulation.”

The federal government had last week deregulated petrol pricing, directing the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to modulate pricing in accordance with prevailing market dynamics and oil market developments. Subsequently, NNPC announced that its outlets would sell petrol at N125 from today, N18 reduction from the N143 it was previously sold.

Emefiele said the committee discussed the health and economic crisis caused by the novel Corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic, which resulted in escalating worldwide infections, deaths, disruption in global supply chains, travel restrictions, and turmoil in the international financial markets. He said it was resolved that the central bank and banks would collaborate at this critical time with one coherent strategy to provide confidence to customers, counter parties, the public and, most importantly, put Nigeria first.

According to him, the industry has learnt lessons from previous crises, including the 2008 global financial crisis and oil price slump of 2016. The experiences, he said, would be applied in dealing with the current crisis.

“The industry resolved that profit will not be the primary motive at this time. Rather, preserving confidence, financial stability and support for the economy will be the overriding objectives,” he said.

The CBN governor stressed that engagements would be held with correspondent banks, trade creditors, and trading partners regarding existing Letters of Credit (LCs) and trade commitments.

He explained, “We would be holding engagements with our correspondent banks and trading partners. In 2016, when we had same incident, we had same engagements with our trading partners and correspondent banks, who provide credit lines to customers through Nigerian banks.

“During those engagements at that time, we told everyone that those obligations would be met. We are saying at this time, there is no need to panic.

“We would be dimensioning the size of all those commitments and obligations. Just like we succeeded in 2016, once more I am saying they would be paid.

“The industry is committed to resolving these commitments in a comprehensive and orderly way. There will be transparent and open communication with all counterparties.”

Emefiele pointed out that in view of the significant disruption of the global supply chain, the Bankers’ Committee advised Nigerians and companies to prioritise their import needs and focus more on sourcing raw materials and inputs locally.

“Indeed, there is no choice, but to focus on sourcing your raw materials locally because with various lockdowns that are happening in different parts of the world, all countries are locking their borders, making it impossible for raw materials and inputs to leave their borders,” he stated. “Therefore, we do not have any choice, but to look inwards.”

He added, “The Bankers’ Committee noted the success of the CBN’s 43 items policy and encouraged it to strengthen it and other measures targeted at export promotion and/or import substitution to position Nigeria as a key global producer and build a self-sufficient economy.”

According to the CBN Governor, the committee discussed the financial system’s implication and operationalisation of the policy measures earlier announced by the CBN. He listed them to include additional moratorium of one year on CBN intervention; interest rate reduction on intervention facilities from nine per cent to five per cent; creation of N50 billion targeted credit facility for affected households and SMEs; and granting regulatory forbearance to banks to restructure terms of facilities in affected sectors.

Others include strengthening the apex bank’s loan-to-deposit ratio policy; activation of the N1.5 trillion InfraCo project for building critical infrastructure; additional N100 billion in healthcare loans to pharmaceutical companies, healthcare practitioners intending to expand/build capacity; and the N1 trillion in loans to boost local manufacturing and production across critical sectors.

He said the combination of the measures, which amounts to over N3.5 trillion in stimulus, was to ameliorate the pains arising from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

Emefiele added, “Given that this crisis is first and foremost a public health crisis, we are paying particular attention to our health industry.

“As aforementioned, global supply chains have been disrupted, including dominant drug supply channels from China and India. In fact, many countries have or are planning to ban export of drugs and medical supplies from their countries.

“Clearly, we have no choice but to produce these items locally. As a result, the Committee has identified a few key local pharmaceutical companies who shall be granted naira and FX funding facilities to support procurement of raw materials and equipment required to exponentially increase local drug production in Nigeria.

“These loans would be granted at single-digit interest rate and for long tenors, include granting the necessary moratorium.

“These include, but are not limited to, Emzor, Fidson, GSK, May & Baker, Unique Pharma, Swiss Pharma, Neimeth, Sagar, Orange Drugs, Dana Pharma, etc.”

He disclosed that in the course of the meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, called in requesting that the Committee should pay special attention to the health sector, saying the fiscal authorities are willing to grant necessary incentives and waivers to encourage operators in the healthcare sector.

Emefiele also disclosed that this week, the central bank would convene a meeting with pharmaceutical companies to discuss ways to support them to immediately begin to expand their plants and machineries with a view to becoming self-sufficient.

Nigeria Moves to Lockdown as 10 New Cases are Confirmed in Lagos, Abuja

•NRC shuts down rail operations

•Death toll rises to 12,978, infected cases jump to 304,035 globally

•Lagos reduces social gathering to 20 people

•Police to enforce restriction order

Chiemelie Ezeobi, Chinedu Eze, Rebecca Ejifoma in Lagos and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

After recording 10 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total to 22, but with two fully recovered and discharged, the federal government, on Saturday, announced sterner measures to control the spread of the pandemic. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) issued a directive restricting all international flights to all Nigerian airports from tomorrow. But exempted from the ban are “emergency aircraft, state aircraft and any other aircraft that might be so approved by the appropriate authority,” according to a clarification by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) dated March 21, 2020.

NAMA said, “However, any Intentional flight operation that might be so approved shall be required to submit manifest to the Port Health authority prior to arrival in Nigeria.

“Domestic flights shall continue normal operations at all airports.”

In a letter addressed to both domestic and foreign airlines, NCAA said in addition to earlier restriction of flights to Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu airports, it would from tomorrow ban all international flights to Lagos and Abuja airports.

That was as the Emirates Airline said it would be suspending all flights into Lagos and Abuja from its base in Dubai, starting tomorrow, March 23, due to the effect of the Coronavirus. The pandemic has infected 304,035 globally and claimed 12,978 lives, with Italy bearing the highest death number in the world. Italy’s daily coronavirus death toll rose by 793 Saturday, bringing the total to 4,825

In further stringent measures to suppress the spread of the virus, the federal government through the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) shut down train services across the country, starting, also, tomorrow.

Lagos State, where the first case of Covid-19 was discovered, announced some new measures as a way of curbing the spread of the virus, chief among which was a reduction in the number of persons at social gatherings. From 50 announced in an earlier directive, the state government reduced the number to 20, and commenced immediate enforcement of the order.

NAMA Shut Airspace to Inbound and Outbound Flights Midnight Today

NCAA, in the letter with ref no NCAA/DG, AIR/11/16/106, dated March 21, 2020 and issued from Lagos, stated, “Further to our earlier letter on restriction of international flights into Nigeria, we wish to inform you that effective Monday 23rd March at 2300Z to 23rd April at 2300Z, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos (DNMM) and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja (DNAA) will be closed to all international flights.

“This is in addition to the closure of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano (DNKN), Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu (DNEN), and Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa (DNPC) effective Saturday 21 March at 2300Z.

“Henceforth, all airports in Nigeria are closed to all incoming international flights with the exception of emergency and essential flights.

“Domestic flights will continue normal operations at all airports. All airlines are required to submit passenger manifest to Port Health Authorities prior to the arrival of flights into Nigeria.”

NCAA’s Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, Captain Musa Nuhu, signed the letter.

The closure of Nigeria’s five international airports to foreign flights effectively marks a lockdown of the country, as airlines and airports record huge revenue losses that could rise to a trillion dollars, if COVID-19 remains unabated in the days ahead.

NRC, in its own letter dated March 21, 2020 and signed by Deputy Director, Public Relations, Yakubu Mahmood, for Board and Management, said the decision to suspend train services was “in view of the report of the already known Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. Further information on passengers’ trains services will be made available in due cause to our esteemed passengers.”

Apart from suspending operations to the Nigerian airports, Emirates Airline said it would also cancel three already booked flights to the country. It apologised to passengers for the inconveniences caused by the cancellation.

The airline said, “Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the aviation industry, Emirates will be suspending operations into Lagos and Abuja.

“EK785/786; EK781/782 and EK783/784, the above listed flights are cancelled from March 23, 2020. We regret any inconveniences that this may cause. As the situation is being reviewed, we will keep you posted. Passengers may visit our website for the latest travel update information.”

10 New Cases of Covid-19 Confirmed

Confirming the 10 new cases of Covid-19, the Federal Ministry of Health said three of the new cases were discovered in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, while the remaining seven were from Lagos State. These brought the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria to 22.

A statement issued Saturday by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said all 10 new cases were Nigerians. Ehanire said nine of them had travel history to Canada, France, Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom and had returned to Nigeria in the past one week; while the 10th case was a close contact of a previously confirmed case.

The minister said the three cases in Abuja were being treated at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada, while the seven in Lagos were treated at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Yaba.

“All 10 new cases have mild to moderate symptoms and are currently receiving treatment. As of the 21st of March 2020, 22 cases have been confirmed, two cases have been discharged and there has been no death from COVID-19 in Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria remains committed to working with states to provide optimal care for all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country,” he said.

Ehanire explained that contact tracing was on-going to identify all persons, who had been in contact with the new cases.

He said Port Health Services of the Federal Ministry of Health had heightened screening at all air, land and sea points of entry into Nigeria and adapted the protocols to reflect the travel guidance issued by the Presidential Task Force on the Control of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to the minister, the National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), supported by partners, has continued to coordinate response activities and strengthen preparedness capacity across states nationwide.

He stated, “An intensive national risk communications campaign is on-going to inform Nigerians about COVID-19. The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), working closely with states and the Presidential Task Force on the Control of Coronavirus (COVID-19), continues to review response activities and institute measures to protect the health of Nigerians.

“It is important that Nigerians strictly adhere to social distancing and other necessary precautions in place. These measures include taking the following precautions below to protect yourself and your family:

“Wash hands regularly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitiser if no water and soap is available. Social distancing is crucial to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through use of no-touch greetings, maintaining at least two metres distance between yourself and anyone, who is coughing or sneezing.

“Other safeguards include staying home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. Immediately call NCDC’s 24/7 toll-free number 0800 9700 0010. Do not self-medicate, avoiding or postponing events with large gatherings of people, including schools, workplaces, places of worship, crowded supermarkets and pharmacies, social and sporting events.

“Persons with a persistent cough or sneezing should stay at home until they recover. Make sure you and people around you observe hand and respiratory hygiene by covering your nose with tissue when sneezing or coughing.

“Immediately dispose of tissue in a covered bin and wash your hands with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based sanitiser if no water and soap is available, coughing or sneezing into the sleeve of your bent elbow if no tissue is available and avoid all non-essential travel to all countries.”

Lagos State Govt Issues Guidelines

The Lagos State government issued similar guidelines. Announcing this through the Ministry of Information and Strategy, the government said, “The Lagos State Government has banned all religious or social gathering of over 20 people within the state. It is important we all adhere to this directive.”

The ministry added, “If you feel sick or have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, cough or sneezing, call these emergency numbers 08000CORONA, 08023169485 08033565529 or 08052817243.”

Police Vows to Enforce Restriction Order

Consequently, the Lagos State Police Command is set to commence enforcement of the ban on social gatherings, clubs, parties, ceremonies and religious congregations of more than 20 persons. According to the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala Elkana, defaulters will face the wrath of the law.

The police in Lagos said, “Lagos State Police Command wishes to inform the general public that the command in compliance with the guidelines and directives issued by both the federal government and Lagos State government on prevention of the spread of COVID-19, which the World Health Organisation has declared as a pandemic, has embarked on massive enforcement of the ban order.

“To that effect, the command has deployed adequate resources across the state to ensure that the orders are fully obeyed. The order imposed bans on social gatherings, such as, wedding ceremonies, naming ceremonies, burial ceremonies, parties, clubs and religion gatherings of people more than 50 (now 20 in Lagos).

“Commercial vehicles carrying passengers above capacity (overloading) are also part of this order. Members of the public are encouraged to avoid overcrowding themselves at bus stops, market places, business places and scene of incidents.

“The Commissioner of Police Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, called on the good people of Lagos State to obey the safety regulations put in place for the benefit of everyone. We must be alive and healthy before socio-economic activities will be effective.

“The command has rolled out its medical team to market places for awareness creation and police detention facilities to safeguard the safety of suspects. The Commissioner of Police has ordered the immediate release of suspects arrested for minor offences as part of preventive measures. Together, we can prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Already, following Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s directive on ban of public gathering above 20 people, a combined team of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and Lagos State Safety Commission have set out to enforce the ban. The team has sealed Prime Mall Mega Plaza located in Lekki  and three other event centres for flouting the state government’s directive on public gathering.

Worried by growing cases of the deadly coronavirus in the state, Sanwo-Olu had on Friday banned public gatherings of over 20 people in the state as part of measures to prevent the pandemic.

Speaking during an enforcement operation, General Manager, LASEPA, Dr Dolapo Fasawe, and the Director-General Lagos State Safety Commission, Lanre Mojola, said the safety of Lagosians was paramount to the state government.

Fasawe said it was gratifying that most event centres complied with the directive. She said among the areas visited were a film house at Lekki, Shoprite, Balmoral, Federal Palace Hotel, and the Dome.

The LASEPA head added that the enforcement team also sealed Regency, Maltinos Event & Suites and Imperial at Jobi Felle, Ikeja, as well as Prime Mall Mega Plaza at Lekki, where a surprise party was to be held.

She said, “The banning of public/social gathering by Mr Governor became imperative to save our dear state and prevent our people from contacting the virus. COVID- 19 has become a global pandemic, therefore, serious measures, such as this, must be taken to reduce the spread and further stem the outbreak of the pandemic.

“It is advisable we adopt social distancing by keeping at least six-foot distance between ourselves and others to prevent transmitting the virus seamlessly.

“For now, let us avoid crowds and large gatherings, such as weddings, concerts, sporting events, conferences and so forth. We are not unmindful of the implications of the restrictions, but it is crucial we collectively limit and control the spread.

“Lagos State is not in isolation, it’s a global pandemic, therefore, this strong efforts to suppress and push it back for the safety of all.”

Fasawe said the inspection and monitoring exercise was not to impose hardship on them but to access the compliance level, educate the public on the need to obey, and ensure total compliance.

“We appeal for understanding and support of all and sundry at this time. We should continuously keep our environment clean, watch our hands and avoid unnecessary contact with people,” she added.

On his part, the director-general of the safety commission, Lanre Mojola, expressed satisfaction with the monitoring exercise and enjoined the public to support the government in the fight against the menace. Mojola said the war on the deadly virus could only be won if everyone obeyed a simple directive to avoid actions or activities that could put everyone at risk.

Covid-19/THE Toll…

•Italy recorded 33 deaths per hour yesterday

•Ravages 7 members of a family killing 4 in New Jersey

•Official: 80% of people in Madrid will likely get virus

How States in Nigeria Are Gearing Up

By Our Correspondents

Across the globe, scientists and medical experts are racing against time on how to end the scourge of Covid-19 earlier than the current projection of up to 18 months.

United States Vice President, Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence have both tested negative for the Coronavirus, his office announced Saturday night.

The test became necessary when one of his staff tested positive to virus.

Pence is leading the administration’s coronavirus task force and has been a regular presence at President Donald Trump’s side in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the death toll from coronavirus around the world continue to mount, rising to 12,978 with Italy recording 4,825 cases and a single-day death toll of 793, an average of 33 deaths per hour. In New Jersey in the United States of America, the horror  of the virus was laid bare as it ravaged seven members of a single family, killing four.

The matriarch of the large New Jersey family, Grace Fusco, died Wednesday night without ever knowing that her two oldest children had died before her. Mrs. Fusco, 73, died after contracting the coronavirus — hours after her son died from the virus and five days after her daughter’s death, a relative said.

On Thursday, another child who had contracted the virus, Vincent Fusco, died, the relative, Roseann Paradiso Fodera, said.

Three other children remain hospitalised, two of them in critical condition, revealed Ms. Paradiso Fodera, the family’s lawyer who is Mrs. Fusco’s cousin and is serving as a spok.

Spain’s death toll has also increased to more than 1,300, while in Iran, the number of deaths hit another grim milestone of 1,500 as the country marks the beginning of the Persian New Year.

However, Spain official warned that a scary 80 per cent of people in Madrid will likely get coronavirus.

But whilst many are optimistic that the world would soon see the back of the virus, governments all over the world are not resting on their oars but taking initiatives to suppress a further spread of the virus.

In Nigeria, there are already positive Covid-19 cases of 23 persons, including 10 new cases announced yesterday. But in the early hours of Sunday morning, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde announced that one person had tested positive at Bodija in Ibadan raising the number of positive tests to the Coronavirus in the country to 23.

That is not only disturbing but calls for reflection. Situation report across the 36 states reveals a disturbing sense of unpreparedness.

First, there are no testing centres in many of the states to quickly carry out testing and speedily get result. As a matter of fact, four out of the six geopolitical zones in the country have no centres. According to report by a national newspaper, there are no testing facilities in the South-east, North-west, North-east and North-central zones of the country, heightening fears among millions of people in the 19 states in the regions of what would likely happen when the urgent need to be tested arises.

In all, there are five laboratories in the country that have the requisite facilities to test for the virus and they are located in the South-west and South-south. This complemented two federal laboratories in Lagos and one in Osun State.

Another laboratory is in Edo State (South-south), while the only one in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) takes care of the whole northern region and to some extent, the South East.

The laboratories identified for the test include the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja; the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State; the Virology Laboratory in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH); the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR); and the Lagos African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Disease in Osun State.

With this dire situation, a major outbreak is easily going to overwhelm the very fragile healthcare system with grave consequences for lives. Yet, amid these massive inadequate facilities, the various states are scrambling to shore up whatever they can in preparation for the very grim possibility of an outbreak.

Lagos: Rising to the Occasion and Showing Leadership

If Lagos State was prepared for a pandemic outbreak, it was because the state, as it is today, was the index state for the Ebola challenge some years ago. Today, the hospital boasts a 100-bed isolation facility, the only one in the country. And with the current statistics, 22 cases have been recorded in the country, with Lagos leading the pack.

But the state had upgraded its isolation facilities at the IDH in the case of an escalation in the number of cases, revealing that two additional containment centres had been created with 100-bed spaces and necessary medical equipment to manage cases.

Also, there are two mobile isolation wards of 15-bed capacity each stationed in the hospital. Today as the number of cases continues to rise, the state government has closed all school for one month, while forbidding social gathering of more than 20 people in the state.

Enugu: Working on the Situation Reports

The Enugu State Government has demonstrated its commitment to contain the rampaging COVID 19 pandemic by approving the sum of N320 million in readiness for any outbreak in the state.

Though the state has not recorded any cases except a Septuagenarian, who was quarantined but later tested negative after her samples were subjected to necessary tests.

A breakdown of the sum according to the state medical team led by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Ifeanyi Agujiobi showed that N150 million would be used to tackle the issue of Coronavirus and ensure that the state is fully prepared, while the sum N80 million was for the procurement of important and essential drugs that might be needed to treat and manage Coronavirus, Lassa fever and other communicable diseases.

Consequently, the government approved the immediate upgrade and relocation of the state Isolation Centre to ESUT Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu, since the existing structure at Colliery hospital, Enugu is said to lack the necessary facilities as recommended by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

There’s also an approval of N100 million to be kept in the Emergency Operation Centre account, in case of any emergency, whilst the toll free lines are 117 and 112 including 08182555550 as a dedicated line for emergency response.

Edo: Embracing the Community Approach

The Edo State Government has taken serious steps to suppress the outbreak of COVID-19 with Governor Godwin Obaseki, holding extended meetings with critical stakeholders, including the traditional rulers, religious leaders and grassroots politicians at the weekend, with a view to harmonising strategies aimed at safeguarding the public.

The governor said Edo State was adopting the strategy of consulting these leaders because of their strong connection with the grassroots and people across all spectra of the society as well as their effectiveness in passing information and eliciting effective action to stem falsehood and panic among the people.

Apart from extensive consultation with traditional, religious and political leaders for intensified sensitization, the state has reactivated her contact tracing mechanism earlier used to contain other infectious diseases such as Lassa Fever, and a strong emphasis on rigorous screening at ports of entry into the state.

Also, there is rigorous temperature testing system established across the state in collaboration with medical and paramedical organisations. This is in recognition of the fact that the state is a major transportation hub with constant inflow of people. Temperature tests are conducted on passengers at the Benin Airport and motor parks across the state. The strategy is such that those whose final destination is Edo State and others commuting through the state are subjected to temperature tests.

FCT: Taking Every Precaution Necessary

Federal Government has begun to construct a permanent Isolation and quarantine centre for the immediate management of Coronavirus near the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada.

But in the interim, the federal ministry of health has designated the Intensive Care Unit at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital solely for Coronavirus patients, who may be referred there.

Attached to the ICU at the Gwagwalada are special purpose ambulances meant to respond to any emergency situation, laboratory for Testing of Coronavirus cases/hotline. Abuja is believed to be one of the places with most equipped laboratories for the testing of Coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

At the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Port Health Services and NCDC officials have a modern infectious disease screening facility to handle incoming and out-boarding travellers. The airport health services unit also has standby ambulance for easy evacuation of patients that test positive to Covid-19 virus.

Ondo: Following the Lead

All schools in Ondo State have been closed with effect from Friday, March 20, 2020 on the order of the state government in a statewide broadcast by Governor Oluwatotimi Akeredolu to control the spread of Coronavirus.

The government has also reactivated the Infectious Disease Hospital, established in the wake of the Ebola Virus to serve as isolation centre in case of any outbreak of COVID-19 in the state.

The facility located on Igbatoro Road in the outskirt of the Akure, the state capital, is equipped with equipment meant to treat patients. Though the government did not ban public gathering either in religious centres or social gatherings, government has been advising residents against events that involve large crowd

The government has however postponed indefinitely, the Convocation ceremony of the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, now Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology Okitipupa scheduled for yesterday.

Katsina: When Timing Is of the Essence

In Katsina, the government has inaugurated an Isolation Centre at the General Hospital, Katsina, and provided ambulances to tackle any outbreak of Coronavirus in the state. The state has so far recorded only one suspected case of the virus and the patient has since tested negative.

Governor Aminu Bello Masari has therefore ordered the immediate closure of both public and private schools in the state for 30 days with effect from March 23, 2020.

Commissioner for Health, Nuhu Yakubu Danji, who confirmed this to THISDAY, added that government had also reactivated its Emergency Response Committee and purchased medical equipment, including personal protective equipment.

He said members of the committees would proactively monitor, supervise and coordinate government’s response to the disease in rural and urban cities across the state.

In addition, he said government had commenced the training of health workers including disease surveillance and notification officers and clinicians on how to handle suspected cases of COVID-19

Niger: Boasting Assertive Leadership

Though there has not been any reported case of Coronavirus in any part of the state, the Niger state government has taken some measures to ensure the disease did not break into the state or at the very least, spread.

Among the steps is the closure of all public, private and tertiary institutions across the state effective from Monday. The government has held series of meetings with owners of the schools especially, the private ones to ensure they key into the initiative. As a result, all the institutions had rescheduled their timetables to make sure students complete the writing of their second term examinations yesterday.

The government has also announced a ban on all public gatherings with more than 50 people in addition to stopping all seminars workshops and other programmes that could assemble this number of people.

According to the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, the state has set aside the sum N28.7m to fight the virus with the bulk of the amount going to the setting up and equipping isolation wards and sensitising the general public.

Anambra: Not Taking Chances

There is though no established case of Covid-19 in Anambra State so far, the state government is however not oblivious of the dangers associated with the disease. Thus, in its effort to ensure that the state remains free from the pandemic, the state has set up task force to ensure that all hospitality homes in the state keep to all preventive measures while dealing with their guests.

Chidi Kalu, chairman of the committee said they would also be teaching the basic hygiene procedures for convid-19, how to use the infra-red thermometer screening machine, the alcohol based sanitizer, as well as ensuring that every guest is screened and documented in order to track and checkmate the eventual track of convid-19.

In response to the activities of the pandemic across the world, the government has announced a ban on social gatherings and schools in the state. A press statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu, stated that the ban is to take effect from Monday, 23rd March.

THISDAY gathered that beyond the ban on public gathering and schools, crowded markets like Eke Awka market and the Onitsha main market might also be affected.

Ebonyi State: Salt of the Nation Not Lagging Behind

The Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi, had ordered  closure of all private and public nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the state as part of measures to curtail the spread of the pandemic in the state.

In a statement by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Kenneth Ugbala, the governor also closed down night clubs and restricted night activities in the state.

Umahi also directed the Ministry of Health and State Committee on Anti Coronavirus to deploy all health officers in all markets, rice mills, banks and other public event management centres to carry out test on people.

Sokoto: Redefining the Red Alert Syndrome

Sokoto State government has provided three isolation centres and dispelled rumours over suspected case of COVID 19 in the state. Commissioner for Health, Dr Ali Inname, told the THISDAY yesterday that the Ministry of Health was constantly monitoring the situation across the state.

Inname said the centers were located at Amanawa Infectious disease hospital, Usmanu Danfodio Teaching Hospital and a special centre at the Specialists Hospital in the state capital.

The commissioner however urged residents to go about their normal activities and observe the precautionary measures of cough etiquette, hand hygiene, social distancing, avoiding large crowd and seeking healthcare early.

Other measures were providing of professional advise for necessary gathering, mandatory self isolation for all returnees from COVID 19 endemic countries, engagement with ministry of education, Airport Authority, and other security operatives in the state. Inname added that ambulance services would also be provided 24 hours for the isolation centres.

Oyo: Not Ready to Learn the Hard Way

The Oyo State Government has declared an emergency over the Coronavirus pandemic by ordering the immediate closure of schools and the inauguration of emergency operation centres, among other measures.

Governor Seyi Makinde made the disclosure after the inaugural meeting of the state’s COVID-19 Task Force, held at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan.

He said the schools would remain closed till after Easter while the government would use the period of the forced break to evaluate the situation and put protective system in place in the schools.

Other measures to be put in place include activation of Emergency Operation Centres and a Diagnostic Centre while the Maternal and Paediatrics Centre, Olodo, Ibadan, has been re-designated as the State Infectious Disease Hospital.

Two ambulances to be on standby to attend to cases of Coronavirus, Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (DSNOs), located in all the 33 Local Government Areas and 35 Local Council Development Areas, to continue their surveillance activities.

Plateau: Appealing to Common Sense

Though there is no confirmed case of coronavirus in Plateau State, the state has established three isolation centres in readiness for any eventuality. They are Bingham University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, and Plateau Specialist Hospital, Jos.

The isolation centres, according to the Commissioner of Information, Mr. Dan Manjang, are properly prepared to provide adequate comfort for suspects.

The state has also ordered all public and private schools shut ranging from Nursery, Primary, Secondary, to Tertiary institutions. It has also placed restrictions on attendance of marriage and burial ceremonies in the state, warning that only family members are expected at such ceremonies that must not witness a crowd of over 50 persons.

The state also warned that all tricycles, taxis and buses must have hand sanitizers for their passengers, while cultural and traditional ceremonies are totally suspended.

According to the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Danladi Atu and State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nimkong Lar Ndam, worship places must not gather a congregation of over 50 worshippers, adding that water, soap, and hand sanitizers must be provided for the worshippers.

Abia: Getting Everyone Back to Work

Following the first index case of CVID-19 in Nigeria, the Abia State government had set up an inter-ministerial committee to manage her preparation and response to the pandemic. The committee headed by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Osuji also has as members, his counterparts from information, homeland security, and science and technology.

Consequently, two isolation centrers have been set up at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) and Amachara Specialist Hospital, all in Umuahia, the capital city.

According to the Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, “The facilities are purpose-equipped for isolation of patients with such infectious diseases, including those who may be present with Coronavirus. A third isolation centre is being prepared at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Aba while a fourth centre would be set up at Abia North senatorial district.

Kogi: Guided by the Reports

Following the confirmation of Coronavirus and increase in the number of people tested positive in the country, the Kogi State government has put the state on red alert and put in place certain measures to suppress the spread of the deadly disease in the state.

Commissioner for Health, Dr. Saka Haruna Audu made this known at a stakeholders meeting held at the Ministry of Health, Lokoja, adding that the ministry would collaborate with his counterparts in the Information, Education and Transport to map out strategies on how to handle the pandemic.

The State, Audu said, has organised sensitization exercises and awareness campaigns across the state, adding that the ministry would engage in house to house campaign, create awareness in schools, higher institutions of learning, popular market places and motor parks.

He noted that government would increase the capacity of Health Workers by training them on how to identify the disease and care for infected patients with appropriate precautionary measures and application of Standard barrier nursing tactics.

He, however, advised the general public not to panic, as governments at all levels have intensified efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, disclosing that Kogi has set up temporary Isolation wards at the Confluence Advanced Medical Diagnostic & Imaging Centre (CAMDIC), Lokoja.

Osun: A Step at a Time

Presently, there is no case of Covid-19 in Osun State. Perhaps, it is the reason the state doesnot have any isolation centres. But the state is making up by responding to the national emergency through sensitisation of the people on the development.

For example, the government has shut down schools and other public institutions as well as gathering of too many people of more 50. The ban will affect all Schools, Churches, Mosques, Night Clubs and Sports arenas among others, in the state.

Government, which advised the citizenry not to panic, especially, because no case has been recorded in the state so far, noted that it arrived at the decision it took after wide consultations with health professionals and stakeholders in the health sector over COVID-19.

This position was however contained in a statement by Ismail Omipidan, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, where he stated that the mere fact that a few cases had been reported in neighbouring states makes it imperative to act.

Ekiti: Leaving No Stone Unturned

Following the death of a 27-year-old male American, who was visiting Nigeria from Richmond, Virginia, USA, in the company of his caregiver, a Nigerian female, also of Ekiti origin, while conveying them around their holiday destinations, the government of the state believed it was the avenue through which Coronavirus came into the state.

Although Governor Kayode Fayemi had since briefed the US embassy in the country including staying in touch with the family of the deceased, it was clear to the governor Covid-19 might have begun to spread.

To that extent, Fayemi, recently barred social, political, religious and family gatherings of more than 20 persons as part of efforts to check the spread of the virus.

In addition, he announced that all public and private schools as well as institutions in Ekiti State would be closed down from Monday, March 23, even as he directed that, “all non-essential workers in private and public sectors are encouraged to work from home from Monday, March 23”.

In a statewide broadcast in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, Fayemi said, “Now that we are aware of its presence in our midst, we must leave no stone unturned to make Ekiti State coronavirus (COVID-19) free. We must combat and curtail its spread by ensuring our people are actively involved in government’s efforts to fight this global pandemic. While the world frantically searches for a cure, our best and only defence, is prevention.”

Kwara: Taking It Slow and Steady

The Kwara State government has announced the closure of all public and private schools in the state from tomorrow, March 23. This was contained in a statement issued in Ilorin by the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Rafiu Ajakaye.

The statement also noted that Kwara has no confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 as at this moment, but that “The government is nonetheless putting in place all measures to keep the people safe at all times.

“The synergy with the port authorities has been strengthened to ensure thorough screening of people coming into and going out of Kwara State while the state’s isolation centre has been fully equipped to take care of any eventuality.

“Members of the public may contact these telephone numbers to report anything related to the pandemic: 08064369063, 090293978826. The state is on red alert as the world confronts this pandemic”.

Bauchi: Simply Battle Ready

The Bauchi State Government has established and equipped four Isolation centres across the state, preparatory for any incidences of Coronavirus in the state.

Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed has also constituted an Action Initiative Against the outbreak of coronavirus and the spread of the Lassa fever in the state.

The team is headed by the deputy governor, Senator Baba Tela, and assisted by relevant health agencies and international health partners, like the UNICEF and WHO

The chairman of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPHCDA), Dr Rilwanu Mohammed, stated that though the state was yet to detect any case of coronavirus, the establishment of the centres was geared towards curtailing the communicable disease.

The government has however engaged very effective sensitisation and enlightenment campaign on the virus in all the motor parks, markets, worship centres and among others, in adding to closing down all schools.

Imo: Making Sense of a Difficult Situation

As part of efforts to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus, the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has ordered the immediate closure of all primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the state. He also announced plan to establish a Specialist Hospital for this disease.

Governor Uzodimma who made a broadcast to the people of Imo State on measures to prevent and control the virus (COVID-19), Friday, stated that he was taking elaborate steps to ensure that the health and wellbeing of Imolites remain priority of his administration.

He has therefore inaugurated a Protection and Control Committee headed by Prof. Maurice Iwu to commence a round the clock surveillance of all strata of the state for effective prevention and control of the disease. There are also arrangements to test all passengers arriving at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri for symptoms of the virus.

Also, A State-of-the-art modern Ambulance has been provided for the Committee to facilitate its operations. An isolation centre has been set up within the state sapital to quarantine any person who tests positive to the virus. A test centre has equally been set up in Owerri to examine those with symptoms of the virus.

Ogun: In Safe Hands Already

In Ogun State, government is upgrading the Isolation Center in OOUTH; there’s ongoing reconstruction of a General Hospital into an Isolation Center; state is intensifying SensitisationStrategyIsWorking campaign on personal and respiratory hygiene at the State, LG and ward levels.

There’s a Mobile Application named COVID-19 App to all Primary Health Centers in Ewekoro Local Government area to aid information sharing among health workers and prompt notification of the state in the event of any suspected case.

Apart from collaborating with the Nigeria Immigration Service that is working with health workers in border areas, the Case Management Team of Ogun State Ministry of Health was in Lagos for three days training to study the index case management

Delta: Heightened Readiness and Alert

So far, no case of COVID-19 has been reported in Delta State, however, the state government, through its Commissioner for Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye has announced the establishment of six state of the art special isolation centres and hostels in Warri, Oghara, Koko, Sapele seaports and Asaba Airport, immediately the first case of the virus in Nigeria was announced.

The state readiness is supported by the insurance sector.

That has since been increased to 12 with the main centre within the FMC Asaba, in anticipation of COVID-19. The isolation centres are all standard medical facilities initially created to handle Lassa Fever cases in Delta, but the centre at the FMC Asaba has been upgraded in response to COVID-19 outbreak.

The government has done remarkably well in case of an outbreak

Several events, including the 2020 entrepreneurship and agricultural training scheme launch/exhibition scheduled for last Thursday have been cancelled while all primary, post-primary and tertiary institutions are to be shut indefinitely from Wednesday March 26, 2020 on the orders of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.

Handbills, posters, jingles and newspaper advertisement are being used to sensitize the general public on the extreme personal and environmental hygiene practice.

Kano: Prepared for the Worst

In Kano State, there is no reported case of corona virus despite the rumour of three cases that have all tested negative.

The government said the state remained free from the virus and assured the people that it was intensifying surveillance and emergency preparedness as well as a response committee to detect any suspected case for prompt action.

Commissioner for Health, Dr. Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa, said government had also equipped the state isolation center at Yargaya hospital in case of any emergency.

The government has also directed the closure of public and private schools, including tertiary institutions across the state as part of precautionary measures against the threat posed by the virus.

Akwa Ibom: Working on Facts

Akwa Ibom State Government yesterday dismissed rumours that Coronavirus had reached the state.

But long before the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed in Nigeria, Governor Udom Emmanuel had instructed the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong to be on top of the issue and equally directed an Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Task Force to be immediately set up in the state.

Sao far, the state has been creating awareness through the media to sensitize residents with relevant information on COVID-19 in English, pidgin and local dialects.

Also, surveillance, prevention and infection control measures have been instituted in hospitals across the state. Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) has been distributed to all health facilities to facilitate infection prevention and control.

The Emergency Operation and Treatment Centre (EOC), in Ikot Ekpene is to serve as an isolation/treatment centre to receive, and care for any confirmed case of COVID-19.

Adamawa: Embarked on House-to-House Campaign

The Adamawa State government has put in place an isolation centre for screening of patients as part of measure to suppress coronavirus in the state.

Commissioner for Health, Professor, Abdullahi Isah said there was no case of corona virus in the state and that the case of two school pupils that created tension tested negative.

But the Commissioner for Information and strategy, Dr. Umar Garba, said the government has embarked on house-to-house campaign, using its public health system to create awareness on the virus.

He said some medical personnel have embarked on training to enable them handled any eventuality in the state, even as he appealed to the people to take personal hygiene seriously.

Borno: Proactive and on Standby

There are though no cases of coronavirus in Borno State, the state government has put in place measures to stem the spread of the disease.

Already, the isolation centre dedicated to the victims of Lassa Fever, has been designated for coronavirus. The centre presently accommodates 100 beds but has been extended to accommodate 120.

Commissioner for Health, Dr. Salihu Kwaya-Bura disclosed that all medical facilities were on red alert and could be deployed in times of emergency. He noted that all entries into the state were strictly being monitored to check against the spread into the state.

Further measures have been put in place to ensure that the disease did not get into the internally displaced persons camps, even as schools are expected to be closed this week.

Governor Babagana Zulum has however inaugurated a high-powered response team for prevention and control of the disease. The team led by the deputy governor has the commissioner of health as its secretary.

Rivers: Sifting the Facts from Fear

There is currently no reported or confirmed case of CONVID-19 in Rivers State. But the state has been on red alert. The State Government had earlier set up a five-man inter-ministerial committee on aggressive public enlightenment.

And so far, the committee has met with community development committees (CDCs), religious groups, the media, principals/head teachers of schools, traders associations, national union of road transport workers (NURTW), military/paramilitary agencies, the police, international oil companies and Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).

Thus, on Friday, the state ordered the closure of all the public and private schools as well as universities in the state, while restricting activities of religious organisations. The government also vowed to punish defaulters of the emergency measures.

Governor Nyesom Wike said the state was in a state of alert, because it is the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry and also a major commercial hub in the country.

He claimed that the state had trained 158 surveillance and ad-hoc personnel and had set up one treatment centre, holding centres in the two Teaching Hospitals and all General Hospitals in the State and that all were fully functional.

Taraba: Addressing the Basics

In the past three days, Taraba State has taken several measures to prevent the spread of Convid-19, top of which is the closure of both public and private schools in the state from primary to tertiary institutions beginning from tomorrow, March 23, including banning of gatherings of more than twenty people.

Governor Darius Ishaku, who announced the measures in a statewide broadcast on Saturday, also ordered recreational centres such as bars, restaurants, viewing centres and other related venues not to operate beyond 7pm.

Ishaku equally advised the people of the state to maintain social distances and avoid intimate etiquettes especially, handshakes, hugging and kissing, saying such intimate acts have been identified by medical experts as the easiest ways of contracting the virus.

Other measures announced by the state government includes designation of the Federal Medical Centre, Jalingo and the Specialist Hospital as isolation Centres, though THISDAY gathered that the hospitals are yet to be adequately equipped to render such services, while a toll free line is also yet to be provided.

THISDAY have gathered that the FMC Jalingo, being a centre for the treatment of Lassa fever has some protective gadgets in its stores for the use of medical personnel pending, when the government would make further supplies.

Cross-River: Beyond the Academic Jargons

In Cross River State, official information has it that there has been no recorded case of Covid-19 in the state that shares hundreds of kilometres of land and maritime boundaries with the Central African country, Cameroon.

Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, said despite the non-recording of any confirmed case of Covid-19, the state had moved early enough to establish and equip Isolation centres at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), and the General Hospitals in Ogoja in the northern part of the state.

She said the Isolation Centres were equipped with hospital beds, screens, air conditioners, examination beds, plastic tables and chairs, bedside lockers, non contact infrared thermometers, digital blood pressure equipment, stethoscope, digital thermometers, safety boots, washing machines, PPEs, mackintosh, etc.

Aside from the Isolation Centres in Calabar and Ogoja, the state government said its long borders with Cameroon, from the south to the north of the state has been provided with monitoring centres, where people moving across the borders of both countries are screened.

As an additional measure at containing the spread in the country, Edu announced on Friday that all public gatherings of over 100 people have been banned until further notice.

Despite the efforts and measures put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, there are complaints that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is still holding campaign rallies preparatory to the local government elections in the state scheduled for March 28, 2020, a development widely condemned as capable of causing infection and spread of the virus.

Gombe: Leveraging the Team Spirit

Disturbed over the scourge of the corona virus, the Gombe State Government has mobilised its Rapid Response Team and placed the emergency operations centre on red alert.

Speaking on the state of preparedness for Covid-19 by the state government, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the governor, Ismaila Uba Misilli said, “We have commenced intensive community enlightenment, sensitisation and mobilisation towards prevention in the state and massive IEC materials are being distributed statewide”.

According to him, “We have procured PPEs and required consumables for management of cases and health workers are being trained. The state government has a 20-bed isolation facility and approval has been given for procurement of ventilators and other equipment needed”, adding that, “We’ll continue to monitor situation at state, regional and national levels”.

Yobe: Disabusing the Mob Mentality

There was a scare of coronavirus in Yobe State about two weeks ago, when someone was suspected to have the virus. He was isolated and tested, the result however came out negative and he was freed to reunite with the society.

But as preparation for any attack of the disease, the state has already established an isolation centre at the General Sani Abatcha Specialist Hospital, Damaturu. It has Data Centre at Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) located in New Bra Bra Housing Estate, Damaturu, while the Oxygen Centre is situated in the State University Teaching Hospital also in Damaturu.

There is no official statement on the closure of schools but Yobe State University is already closed in compliance with the directives from the National Universities Commission (NUC).

Mosques and Churches are also not closed as at the moment but there is rumour on the streets that schools might be ordered closed tomorrow.

SATURDAY MARCH 21, 2020

COVID-19: LASEPA, Lagos Safety Commission Begin Enforcement, Seal Four Events Centres

Chiemelie Ezeobi

Following Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s directive on ban of public gathering above 20 people, a combined team of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and Lagos State Safety Commission have started enforcing the ban.

During the enforcement, the team sealed Prime Mall Mega Plaza located in Lekki  and three other event centres for flouting the state government’s directive on public gathering.

Worried by growing cases of the deadly coronavirus in the state, Governor Sanwo-Olu had on Friday banned public gatherings of over 20 people in the state as part of measures to prevent the pandemic.

The governor had also warned religious bodies, families, residents, academics, professionals and other categories of residents in the state to limit  gatherings a maximum of 20, saying that the law enforcement agencies would be deployed to ensure compliance.

Speaking during the enforcement of the governor’s directives, the General Manager, LASEPA, Dr Dolapo Fasawe, and the Director-General Lagos State Safety Commission, Lanre Mojola, said the safety of Lagosians was paramount to the state government.

Fasawe said the enforcement team swung into action in with compliance  governor’s directive, noting that it was gratifying that most event centres complied with the directive while a few failed to.

Among the areas visited, according to her included, a  film house at Lekki, Shoprite, Balmoral, Federal Palace Hotel, the Dome and, amongst others.

She added  that the enforcement team also sealed Regency, Maltinos Event & Suites  and Imperial at Jobi Felle, Ikeja as well as  Prime Mall Mega Plaza in Lekki, where a surprise party was to be held.

She said: “The banning of public/social gathering by Mr Governor became imperative to save our dear state and prevent our people from contacting the virus. COVID- 19 has become a global

pandemic, therefore serious measures such as this must be taken to reduce the spread and further stem the outbreak of the pandemic .

“It’s advisable, we adopt social distancing, by keeping at least six feet distance between ourselves and others to prevent transmitting the virus seamlessly.

“For now, let us avoid crowds and large gatherings such as weddings, concerts, sporting events, conferences and so forth. We are not unmindful of the implications of the restrictions, but it is crucial we collectively limit and control the spread.

“Lagos State is not in isolation, it’s a global

Breaking: COVID-19: FG Stops Railway Operations in Nigeria

Sunday Ehigiator

As part of efforts to curb further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the Board and Management of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), has halted the operations of all passenger trains.

In a statement made available to THISDAY Saturday and signed by the Deputy Director, Public Relations, NRC, Mr. Yakub Mahmood, the decision to halt the passengers train takes effect from Monday, March 23, till further notice.

“The Board and Management of me Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) have decided to stop all passengers’ trains operation as from Monday 23th March 2020.

“This is in view of the report of the already known, COVID-19 outbreak.

“Further Information on passengers’ trains services will be made available in due cause to our esteemed passengers.”

COVID-19: Lagos Police Command Set to Enforce Ban on Ceremonies, Social Gatherings

Chiemelie Ezeobi

The Lagos State Police Command is set to commence the ban of the state government on  social gatherings, clubs, parties, ceremonies and religious gatherings of more than 50 persons.

According to the state Police Spokesperson, DSP Bala Elkana, defaulters will face the wrath of the law.

He said: “Lagos State Police Command wishes to inform the general public that the command in compliance with the guidelines and directives issued by both the federal government  and Lagos State government on prevention of the spread of COVID- 19 which the World Health Organisation has declared as a pandemic, has embarked on massive enforcement of the ban order.

“To that effect, the command has deployed adequate resources across the state to ensure that the orders are fully obeyed.

“The order imposed bans on social gatherings such as, wedding ceremonies, naming ceremonies, burial ceremonies, parties, clubs and religion gatherings of people more than 50.

“Commercial vehicles carrying passengers above capacity (overloading) are also part of this order. Members of the public are encouraged to avoid overcrowding themselves at bus stops, market places, business places and scene of incidents.

“The Commissioner of Police Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, called on the good people of Lagos State to obey the safety regulations put in place for the benefit of everyone. We must be alive and healthy before socio economic activities will be effective.

“The command has rolled out its medical team to market places for awareness creation and police detention facilities to safeguard the safety of suspects.

“The commissioner of police has ordered the immediate release of suspects arrested for minor offences as part of preventive measures. Together we can prevent the spread of Covid 19.

“For information or complaints regarding covid 19 called the following toll free number 080097000010 or text Coronavirus to 24453.“

Breaking: COVID-19: Lagos Reduces Social Gathering from 50 to 20

By Rebecca Ejifoma

With the 10 new confirmed cases of persons infected with COVID-19, the Lagos State Government has warned that henceforth all social gatherings should be limited to 20 people, cancelling its initial order on 50 people.

The state government, which announced this through the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Saturday said: “The Lagos State Government has banned all religious or social gathering of over 20 people within the State. It is important we all adhere to this directive.”

It further advised that the ideal social distancing practice is at least one metre.

“If you feel sick or have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, cough or sneezing, call these emergency numbers 08000CORONA, 08 23169485 8033565529 or 08052817243,” the ministry urged

Breaking: COVID-19: FG Suspends All International Flights to Nigeria

Sunday Ehigiator

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has announced the suspension of all international flights into Nigeria.

Along with other recently closed international airports, it has now included Lagos and Abuja airports to the list.

In a statement made available to THISDAY Saturday and signed by the Director General, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, the body said this takes effect from Monday, March 23.

He said: “Further to our earlier letter on restrictions of international flights into Nigeria, we wish to inform you that effective from 11pm on  Monday, March 23, to 11pm of April 23, 2020, Muritala Muhammed Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, will be closed to all international flights.

“This is in addition to the closure of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, effective Saturday, Match 21.

“Henceforth, all airports in Nigeria are closed to all incoming International flights with the exception of emergency and essential flights. Domestic flights will continue normal  operations at all airports.

“All airlines are required to submit passenger manifest to ports health authority, prior to the arrival of flights into Nigeria. Please be guided accordingly.”

Nuhu had earlier stated that all persons arriving into Nigeria who might have visited the countries affected by the travel ban 15 days prior to arrival, would be subjected to supervised self-quarantine and testing for 14 days.

He said, “The travel restriction is applicable to all flight crew from the affected countries.

“All operators wishing to operate into Nigeria are required to operate with two sets of flight crew; one set to operate into Nigeria and one set to operate out of Nigeria.”

(Updated) Nigeria Records 10 New Cases of COVID-19

By Martins Ifijeh

The Nigeria government has confirmed 10 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number in the country to 22.

Although two of the 22 cases have been discharged, including the Italian index case, after their viral load returned negative, the country now has 20 patients in various isolation wards across the country.

In a statement made available to THISDAY Saturday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said of the 10 cases, three were from the Federal Capital Territory, while seven were in Lagos.

He said: “All 10 new cases are Nigerian nationals; nine of them have travel history to Canada, France, Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom, and they returned to the country in the past one week. The 10th case is a close contact of a previously confirmed case.

“The three cases in the FCT are being treated at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada while the seven new cases

in Lagos are being treated at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH). Yaba.”

Ehanire said all 10 new cases have mild to moderate symptoms and were curently receiving treatment.

Breaking down the burden of the outbreak in the country, he said although 22 cases have been

confirmed since virus was confirmed February 27, two of the patients have been discharged, while no death has been recorded.

He said: “The federal government

remains commited to working with states to provide optimal care for all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.”

He emphasised that contact tracing was ongoing to identify all persons who have been in

contact with the new confirmed cases.

“The Port Health Services of the Federal Ministry of Health has heightened screening at all air, land and sea points of entry into Nigeria and adapted the protocols to reflect the travel guidance issued by the Presidential Task Force on the Control of

Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“The National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) supported by partners continues to coordinate response activities and strengthen preparedness capacity across states nationwide.”

He said an intensive national risk communications campaign was ongoing to inform Nigerians about COVID-19, adding that the ministry was working closely with states and the Presidential Task Force on the Control of Coronavirus (COVID-19) to review response activities and institute measures to protect the health of Nigerians.

Ehanire said: “It is important that Nigerians strictly adhere to social distancing and other

necessary precautions in place. These measures include washing of hands regularly with soap and water, or the use an alcohol-based sanitiser if no water and soap is available.

“Social distancing is crucial to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through the use of no-touch greetings, maintaining at least two metres distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing, as well as staying home if unwell.”

‘No FIRS Staff Tested Positive for COVID-19’

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has stated that no member  of its staff tested positive to COVID-19 as being peddled on social media.

A statement by its Director, Communications and Liaison  Department, Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad, stated “unequivocally that no member of staff at the FIRS has tested positive to COVID-19 as being peddled on social media.”

“The attention of the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Muhammad Nami and the management of the Service has been drawn to the fake news making the rounds on social media that a member of staff at the FIRS has tested positive to COVID-19.

“The Service can confirm that a member of staff who went to pick his wife from the airport following her return from a trip abroad is currently and voluntarily observing the federal government advisory of self-isolation alongside his spouse at the couple’s home since Monday.”

“Both husband and wife have not visited any FIRS offices or events since the wife retuned to Nigeria last Sunday. More importantly, both husband and wife have only been in self-isolation for five days and have NOT tested positive to Covid-19,” the Service said.

According to the statement,  before now, all FIRS offices had taken necessary precautions to protect both staff and  esteemed taxpayers from Covid-19 through such safety measures as social distancing, temperature testing, disabling of the biometric sign in, and provision of hand sanitizers for staff and visitors to its offices nationwide as advised by the Federal Ministry of Health.

It therefore, advised  members of the public to discountenance the claim that an FIRS official had tested positive to Covid-19.

COVID-19: Lagos to Use Blood Sample of Discharged Index Case to Treat Future Patients

By Segun James

As the first case of Coronavirus in Nigeria, an Italian tested negative and certified fit to go home, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has revealed that the man has graciously donated a unit of white blood before he was discharged.

The Governor who is the Incident Commander in the fight against the pandemic flu said the white blood, otherwise called plasma is rich in antibody proteins that target COVID19 virus, the request to the index victim to donate the white blood cell

Although the Governor did not state what medicine was used to treat the man who has now been handed over to the Italian Diplomatic Mission in Nigeria, he said that the white blood plasma has now been frozen in the State’s Bio-bank and will be useful in handling new cases.

He said: “the blood plasma will be beneficial for the treatment of new patients in the absence of a defined therapeutic drug for COVID-19”.

Governor Sanwo-Olu applauded the professional handling of the index patient by the Lagos State medical personnel, the EOC team and others who collaborated with the State Government and the Federal Government for the success recorded.

“As the COVID-19 Incident Commander for Lagos State, I am glad to inform you that the index case, an Italian gentleman is now negative.

“Through a combined effort of Lagos State, Ogun State and Federal Health Authorities, we were able to limit the transmission of the virus to a single contact. This involved aggressive contact tracing and containment strategies.” Sanwo-Olu said.

COVID-19: NAFDAC Approves Chloroquine Production for Clinical Trial

Sunday Ehigiator

In search of cure for COVID-19, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has approved the production of chloroquine for clinical trials.

The Director General of the agency, Mojisola Adeyeye, made the announcement on Friday.

According to Adeyeye, NAFDAC was not approving Chloroquine for the treatment of COVlD-19 but for clinical trials to find treatment for the virus.

“NAFDAC is not approving Chloroquine as a product that can be used for Coronavirus because there is no submission to us for registration, but because it is under clinical trials, NAFDAC approves medicines meant for clinical trials.

“Therefore, the medicine is being approved just for the clinical trials,” Adeyeye said.

Furthermore, she called on experts and researchers that are interested in doing a clinical trial on Chloroquine to approach approved outlets.

“Right now, we have asked one company to make a batch of Chloroquine for the purpose of the clinical trial.”

Air Peace Stops Passenger with Suspected Coronavirus from Boarding at MMA2

*Says ailing passenger recently returned from UK

Chinedu Eze

A Nigerian passenger who was billed to travel from Lagos to Asaba on Air Peace flight on Friday was stopped and isolated by the airline’s Coronavirus screening team when it discovered that he was very sick at the domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, known as MMA2.

An official of the airline told THISDAY that the passenger was supposed to travel on Monday but deferred his flight to Friday probably because he was too sick to travel.

On Monday, Air Peace deployed personnel at every airport it operates in to check passengers’ temperature and subject them to hand sanitization and anyone with high temperature was referred to Port Health.

It was when the temperature of this passenger was being checked that the airline personnel discovered that he was very sick and the temperature was very high.

The airline isolated him immediately and notified the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Port Health.

THISDAY also learnt that the passenger, who was immediately denied flight by Air Peace, returned recently from UK and that he had been taken to hospital where he had undertaken treatment without informing concerned authorities, the Lagos State Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Air Peace, Mrs. Toyin Olajide, confirmed the incident and disclosed that the passenger was checked in by proxy; maybe, because he did want to be noticed to be sick, but the management of the airline had deployed staff who strictly monitor passengers checked in by agents, especially since the Coronavirus became a pandemic.

“A passenger who we learnt came into the country from UK and was very sick was stopped by our screening team when he was found to be very sick and we referred him to NCAA, FAAN and Port Health.

“Our records showed that he was supposed to travel on Monday but he moved his flight to Friday but because of the stringent measures we put in place, our staff was able to detect him. We made it mandatory that every passenger must be screened and must use sanitizer before boarding our flight. He was not allowed to board our flight, he was immediately isolated.

“We made sure he did not come to Air Peace counter and for the fact that he was checked in by proxy, we suspected he had something to hide. All those who are checked in by agents are closely monitored by our staff.

“We commend government for what it is already doing to curtail the spread of this coronavirus but Nigerians expect government to intensify efforts to stop the spread. We are collaborating with government to ensure that the disease is stopped from spreading in the country. We also commend our staff for its vigilance without which this case would not have been detected,” Mrs. Olajide said.

THISDAY did not have access to the passenger for his reaction, but an airport worker who craved anonymity said that passengers and other airport workers at the terminal were apprehensive and afraid when they heard that the passenger came from the UK.

The management of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), the operator of MMA2 was said to have given the passenger hand gloves and mask after he was isolated.

COVID-19: Chloroquin to Undergo Clinical Trial, Says Lagos Govt

Martins Ifijeh

The Lagos State Government will be conducting clinical trial on the effectiveness of chloroquine in the prevention or management of COVID-19 infection, the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi has said.

Abayomi who disclosed this Friday while giving updates on COVID19, said the clinical trial was initiated against the fast spreading news that chloroquine could be effective in preventing and managing COVID19.

The Commissioner however said that the use of the drug has not yet not been ascertained as an effective treatment of the virus, adding that the state was still watching the global research space to clearly define the efficiency of the drug in the control of the diseases.

He said, “We do not have any hard evidence that chloroquine is effective in preventing or managing COVID19. We are watching the global research space to clearly define its efficiency in COVID19.

“Chloroquine has significant side effects and should not be used without medical supervision as it may cause more harm than good.

“Citizens should take the advice of their physicians and await the directive of the Ministry of Health on the use of chloroquine and not use it without medical supervision.”

The commissioner urged the public not to panic but strictly abide by the instructions of the government.

Abayomi appealed to citizens not to take advantage of the present situation on COVID19 to hike or hoard domestic consumables and enrich themselves. He however urged members of the public to continue to be their brother’s keeper and join hands with government to curtail the spread of the virus.

“It is condemnable to use this situation to enrich yourselves by hoarding or hiking the prices of domestic consumables for profiteering. We should be responsible citizens in the quest to make Lagos disease free”, he said.

Coronavirus: FG Adds Austria, Sweden to List of Countries on Travel Ban

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on PTF COVID-19 has announced the inclusion of Austria and Sweden to the list of countries affected by the travel  ban in the light of the outbreak of coronavirus disease.

A statement by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, who is also the Chairman of PTF on COVID -19, said Austria and Sweden had been included to join  China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, United States of America, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland in which flight restriction was earlier placed.

The addition of the two European nations now brings the total number of countries affected by the travel ban imposed by Nigeria to 15.

FG Suspends Medical Outreach over Covid-19

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHDA) has suspended the implementation of the Integrated Medical Outreach Programme earlier scheduled to commence from March 23rd till March 27 in all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) due to Coronavirus.

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the NPHDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said that the suspension was because of the increase in number of Coronavirus cases in Nigeria.

A statement signed by the

Head, Public Relations at NPHCDA, Mohammad Ohitoto, said the outbreak of the virus would unavoidably affect the rollout of the I-MOP initiative.

“Experts have recommended that crowded places be avoided to reduce chances of spreading the virus. Thus, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency has temporarily suspended the I-MOP intervention being an activity that will pull Nigerians to health facilities in large numbers,” he said.

He said the management of the NPHCDA had assured Nigerians that a new date will be communicated in due course.

He also expressed the hope that with the measures being put in place by the federal and state governments, the epidemic will be contained in the shortest possible time.

Osinbajo Chairs FG/States Special Committee on COVID-19

*Committee to coordinate federal, states’ responses to coronavirus

In a collective effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria, state governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC) have set up a Special Committee to coordinate Federal and States’ responses to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Committee which started deliberations immediately after the NEC meeting on Thursday is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with the Governors of Jigawa, Edo, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kebbi and Ogun States as members.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, said the establishment of the Special Committee mandated to coordinate the responses of the Federal Government and States especially as it relates to the socio-economic implications of the pandemic on Nigerians, was the major outcome of the Council meeting.

The statement said the council meeting featured several presentations on COVID-19 ranging from the economic to  financial and public health dimensions.

It said NEC also strongly recommended that public gatherings should be discouraged and the maximum numbers in any large gathering should be worked out by respective state governments, including schools, social gatherings, and worship centres.

Briefing NEC on COVID-19 and Nigeria’s response, the Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora and the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, noted that as at March 17, 2020, 152 countries had  been confirmed to have coronavirus cases.

The presentation disclosed that in Nigeria there were 53 persons tested, 12 confirmed cases, zero deaths, one case discharged, and 3 states with confirmed cases were Lagos, Ogun, and Ekiti States, while the type of transmission showed six cases imported from Italy, United States of America and the United Kingdom.

Ehanire who led the presentation said the strategic objective of the response includes early detection, confirmed cases and contact tracing, developing and maintaining the capacity to effectively manage cases, coordination and communication with Nigerians, noting that about 80 percent of people recovered from the disease without the need for special treatment.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha who heads the Presidential Task Force also briefed Council on steps already taken by Federal Government to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

The statement said at the Council meeting, the following presentations on COVID-19 were made, Briefing on COVID-19 pandemic and Control Measures by the Minister of Health; Effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian Economy by the Chairman Economic Advisory Council; Effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian Economy: What is being done, by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Effect of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerian petroleum revenues: What is being done, by the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; and managing the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on monetary policy by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Also giving an update on the effect of COVID-19 on the oil and gas sector,according to the statement,  the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, said the pandemic had impacted negatively on crude oil production and consumption and was further complicated by the quantity of the crude oil available before the pandemic came in, stressing that this has led to a sharp decline in the price of crude oil to about $22/pb as  at Thursday.

He said, “the price of production now is higher than the selling price of oil, making it very difficult for oil producing companies and nations.”

He, however, noted that it was not a hopeless situation for Nigeria as measures were being taken to curtail the negative impact it may bring such as reducing the cost and increasing the production “even though budget level for crude oil is $57pb and when the reality of $30pb comes to play, we will still fulfill our obligation to FAAC.”

The NNPC boss also noted that the drop in the crude oil price had significant impact on the price of petroleum products and as a result of that change the price of petroleum products particularly PMS has been brought down to N125 on Wednesday and all NNPC service stations had been directed to comply.

it said NEC also got an update on the balances of the Excess Crude, Stabilization, and the Natural Resources Development Fund, accounts.

The Excess Crude stood at $72, 220,756.74 as at 17th March 2020, while the Stabilization account was put at N35, 806,389,699.67 during the same period. Natural Resources Development Fund account stood at N109, 360,903,475.60 during the period under review.

COVID-19: Lagos to Close all Sports Facilities

Sunday Ehigiator

The Lagos State Sports Commission Chairman, Sola Aiyepeku has announced the closure of all sporting facilities and activities in the state effective from Monday, March 23, 2020.

Aiyepeku who made this disclosure on Thursday, March 19, said the action was necessary as part of measures to deal with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a responsible body, the safety and wellbeing of recreational and professional athletes as well the general population is of high priority to the State Government.

“In line with the directive of the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in discouraging gatherings of more than 50, we have taken the step of suspending sporting activities at all Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC), facilities from Monday, March 23, 2020.”

Aiyepeku maintained that sports in Lagos requires a healthy and safe citizenry and “once the pandemic is under control, activities on pitches and tracks will resume.”

He also noted that the step to close all facilities was taken in the best interest of Lagosians.

Spain Records over 200 Deaths in 24hours

Ayodeji Ake

Spain has recorded over 200 deaths from COVID-19 within the last one day.

According to Aljazeera, Spain’s death toll increased from 209 to 767 overnight, while Russia announced its first death  in a 79-year-old woman.

Meanwhile,, Italy has recorded 475 deaths from COVID-19 in a single day.

As part of preventive measures against the deadly virus, the world stepped up efforts against the pandemic by closing schools, shutting down cities and imposing strict border controls.

The United Kingdom according to report was the latest to announce closure of schools, while the United States and Canada, have closed their border to all, but essential traffic.

Nearly 220,000 people have now been confirmed with the coronavirus globally, while at least 84,000 people have recovered from COVID-19. More than 8,800 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

COVID-19: FG Shuts Federal Tertiary Institutions, Unity Colleges

Kuni Tyessi in Abuja  As the affected numbers of persons with the dreaded Coronavirus increases, the Federal Government has directed heads of federal institutions and principals of Unity Colleges nationwide, to as a matter of urgency close down the institutions in order to curtail the spread of the disease.

So far, three hundred of the infected cases are found in African countries, many of which are either returnees from countries with significant endemicity, or primary contacts of such returnees in which over 160,000 persons have been infected worldwide, of which over 6000 have died.

The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echonu who disclosed this, Thursday, said the decision to close down the schools was to protect and safeguard the lives of students and pupils from the deadly scourge.

Already some state governments and the management of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have closed down schools and the scheme to checkmate the spread of the virus.  Echono said: ”We have directed all higher institutions to close this weekend. Unity Schools that have completed their exams are to close immediately. Others are to hurry and close the latest on 26th March.”  The permanent secretary said the ministry will monitor development as total closure might be ordered at any moment.

Similarly, President of the Guild of Medical Directors,  Prof. Femi Dokun-Babalola has said that testing of the virus should go beyond the usual temperature test and there should be a general warning that all travellers coming into the country must as a matter of necessity, self quarantine for at least two weeks.

He said this was because “it is possible and even likely, more cases of COVID-19 may have entered our shores un-detected.”

Emphasising that enhanced measures will go a long way in further protecting Nigerians  from the ravages of the COVID-19 epidemic, he added that similar measures had been taken in Ghana, Sudan and South Africa, among other nations in Africa.

“In particular, it is our opinion that restrictions should be placed on flights coming from meso-endemic and hyper-endemic countries. Nigerians coming in from the UK in particular should ALL be tested beyond the usual temperature check, and advised to go on quarantine for fourteen days at home if negative.

“We suggest that Nigerians coming in from these countries should be quarantined for fourteen days as required by the WHO.

At the moment, several Europeans are streaming into the country only to embark on a journey to the USA by Delta airlines.

“We also believe that a more robust protocol should be introduced for the detection of cases including random tests in households where foreign trips have just been completed.”

THURSDAY MARCH 19TH, 2020

COVID-19: Lagos to Close all Sports Facilities

Sunday Ehigiator

The Lagos State Sports Commission Chairman, Sola Aiyepeku has announced the closure of all sporting facilities and activities in the state effective from Monday, March 23, 2020.

Aiyepeku who made this disclosure on Thursday, March 19, said the action was necessary as part of measures to deal with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a responsible body, the safety and wellbeing of recreational and professional athletes as well the general population is of high priority to the State Government.

“In line with the directive of the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in discouraging gatherings of more than 50, we have taken the step of suspending sporting activities at all Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC), facilities from Monday, March 23, 2020.”

Aiyepeku maintained that sports in Lagos requires a healthy and safe citizenry and “once the pandemic is under control, activities on pitches and tracks will resume.”

He also noted that the step to close all facilities was taken in the best interest of Lagosians.

Spain Records over 200 Deaths in 24hours

Ayodeji Ake

Spain has recorded over 200 deaths from COVID-19 within the last one day.

According to Aljazeera, Spain’s death toll increased from 209 to 767 overnight, while Russia announced its first death  in a 79-year-old woman.

Meanwhile,, Italy has recorded 475 deaths from COVID-19 in a single day.

As part of preventive measures against the deadly virus, the world stepped up efforts against the pandemic by closing schools, shutting down cities and imposing strict border controls.

The United Kingdom according to report was the latest to announce closure of schools, while the United States and Canada, have closed their border to all, but essential traffic.

Nearly 220,000 people have now been confirmed with the coronavirus globally, while at least 84,000 people have recovered from COVID-19. More than 8,800 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

COVID-19: FG Shuts Federal Tertiary Institutions, Unity Colleges

Kuni Tyessi in Abuja

As the affected numbers of persons with the dreaded Coronavirus increases, the Federal Government has directed heads of federal institutions and principals of Unity Colleges nationwide, to as a matter of urgency close down the institutions in order to curtail the spread of the disease.

So far, three hundred of the infected cases are found in African countries, many of which are either returnees from countries with significant endemicity, or primary contacts of such returnees in which over 160,000 persons have been infected worldwide, of which over 6000 have died.

The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echonu who disclosed this, Thursday, said the decision to close down the schools was to protect and safeguard the lives of students and pupils from the deadly scourge.

Already some state governments and the management of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have closed down schools and the scheme to checkmate the spread of the virus.

Echono said: ”We have directed all higher institutions to close this weekend. Unity Schools that have completed their exams are to close immediately. Others are to hurry and close the latest on 26th March.”

The permanent secretary said the ministry will monitor development as total closure might be ordered at any moment.

Similarly, President of the Guild of Medical Directors,  Prof. Femi Dokun-Babalola has said that testing of the virus should go beyond the usual temperature test and there should be a general warning that all travellers coming into the country must as a matter of necessity, self quarantine for at least two weeks.

He said this was because “it is possible and even likely, more cases of COVID-19 may have entered our shores un-detected.”

Emphasising that enhanced measures will go a long way in further protecting Nigerians  from the ravages of the COVID-19 epidemic, he added that similar measures had been taken in Ghana, Sudan and South Africa, among other nations in Africa.

“In particular, it is our opinion that restrictions should be placed on flights coming from meso-endemic and hyper-endemic countries. Nigerians coming in from the UK in particular should ALL be tested beyond the usual temperature check, and advised to go on quarantine for fourteen days at home if negative.

“We suggest that Nigerians coming in from these countries should be quarantined for fourteen days as required by the WHO.
At the moment, several Europeans are streaming into the country only to embark on a journey to the USA by Delta airlines.

“We also believe that a more robust protocol should be introduced for the detection of cases including random tests in households where foreign trips have just been completed.”

COVID-19: US Approves Chloroquine as Treatment for Patients

Sunday Ehigiator

The United States government has approved the anti-malarial drug, chloroquine for use as a treatment against the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

President Donald Trump, while addressing reporters, on Thursday, said, “We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately, and that’s where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has been so great.”

“They have gone through the approval process. it’s been approved. They took it down from many, many months to immediate. So we’re going to be able to make that drug available by prescription”

COVID-19: Buhari’s Daughter in Self-isolation

By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

One of the daughters of President Muhammadu Buhari (name withheld) who returned from the United Kingdom Thursday is now in self-isolation, THISDAY has learnt.

Her mother and First Lady, Aisha, who personally disclosed this, said the young lady is not in self-isolation because she is showing symptoms of COVID-19 but rather in compliance with the advice of the Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Mrs. Buhari also said the decision to put her in isolation had become imperative, because the UK is one of the countries with prevalent spread of the disease.

She advised all parents to encourage their returning children to also undertake similar action.

Mrs. Buhari who also said she had shut down her office for two weeks because of the threat of the disease, advised Nigerians to embrace the principle of hygiene and always use sanitizers, praying that the disease would be overcome.

She said: “Good afternoon Nigerians. Earlier today, my daughter returned from the UK being among the high burden listed countries of COVID-19.

“Based on the advice of the Hon. Minister Of Health , Presidential Task force on COVID – 19 and that of NCDC, She is on Self Isolation, not because she displayed any symptoms of the Covid-19 .

“Please, I urge all parents to do the same if possible as prevention is better than cure. Similarly, I have shut down my office for two weeks with immediate effect while essential staff can work from home as a result of some Staff who recently returned from the UK .

“I commend the North Western Governors including Niger and Kwara on preventive measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 at their security meeting yesterday in Kaduna.

“Let’s keep following the  advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, which encourages maintaining social distancing, high hygiene culture through regular washing of hands with soaps and sanitizers.

“Let’s adopt preventive measures and ensure the safety of our families and that of General public. “We will overcome the Covid-19 pandemic if we all take the necessary precautions at the same time! God bless you all.”

COVID-19: RCCG Restricts Services in Lagos, Ogun

Sunday Ehigiator

Following the directive from Lagos and Ogun State government, prohibiting public gatherings in religious centers, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) has announced restrictions of services in provinces and regions in both states.

A statement signed by the Assistant General Overseer on Administration and Personnel, RCCG, Pastor J.F. Odesola, Thursday, said provinces with 50 members and below were to maintain status quo, while those with members above 50 were to hold services in their different house fellowships.

Odesola said: “We refer to the directive from the Lagos and Ogun state governments placing a ban on all religious meetings and gatherings of more than 50 worshippers as part of precautionary steps towards managing the further spread of the COVID-19 disease.

“Parishes that have the facility to run more than one service can also do so, under the strict directive that worshipers won’t exceed 50 people per service.

“One supervising minister and an usher could be seconded to each centre for collation of necessary reports (attendance, new converts, new comers, etc).

“All Centers are requested to connect to Dove Television to join the Iive broadcast from the General Overseer during the period. Kindly be Informed that this arrangement shall be In operation for next few weeks, based on the position of the government,” he said.

COVID-19: LASU Postpones 24th Convocation Ceremony

Rebecca Ejifoma

The Lagos State University Management has postponed its 24th convocation ceremonies  indefinitely, which was scheduled for March 20 to 27 this year.

The postponement is as a result of the prevailing health threats caused by COVID- 19 pandemic and the resolution of the federal and state governments to discourage the gathering of people in public places.

The management, which issued a press release through its Coordinator, Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations, Ademola Adekoya,  expressed  sadness over the inconvenience the postponement might cause, stressing that it was for public good

He said: “Further information on the 24th Convocation Ceremonies will be made available in due course”.

COVID-19: Ogun Shuts Schools, Worship Centres

Rebecca Ejifoma

Following the global spread of COVID-19 and the recent ban on all high-density gatherings in Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun has extended the ban to schools and religious gatherings.

In a statemnt made available to THISDAY Thursday, the Chief Press Secretary, Ogun State, Kunle Somorin said the schools will remain closed indefinitely from Friday.

He said: “All religious centres and activities including regular and special services that bring together 50 or more persons in the same place were banned with immediate effect.

“These measures will be reviewed at regular intervals in response to the development surrounding the COVID-19.”

The government enjoins all parents and guardians who have their children and wards in any boarding facility within the state to immediately evacuate them and return them to their respective homes at the close of schools on Friday, March 20, 2020.

“Governor Abiodun acknowledges and appreciates religious leaders for their advice, understanding, solidarity and support, as they jointly search for solution to the pandemic,” he noted.

COVID-19: Italian Index Case Now Negative, to Be Discharged after Second Test

By Martins ifijeh

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has said the Italian index case of COVID-19 has tested negative and will be discharged after confirmation by a second test

Stating this at a press briefing Thursday, he said the virus in his system had regressed and had gone to zero.

The Italian was first confirmed February 27 after he flew into Lagos February 25, and then visited Lafarge Africa Plc, Ewekoro in Ogun State.

The second COVID-19 case was a Nigerian, who had contact with the Italian and was isolated in Ogun State. He has since been discharged after testing negative.

Coronavirus: FCTA Orders Closure of Schools, Restricts Religious Activities

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, has directed the closure of all public schools in the Territory in the light of the rising cases of coronavirus in the country.

The closure takes offect from March 20, 2020.

The minister has also ordered all social and religious activities to be restricted. Shopping malls and other large business premises without sanitisers and safety measures are to be shut down immediately.

More to follow …

NLC Issues Advisory to Nigerian Workers over Coronavirus Outbreak

*urge them stop handshakes

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged workers in the country to brace up for the challenges posed by the fast spreading Covid-19.

As part of measures to contain the spread of the virus, the labour movement admonished workers to adopt safe practices, including avoiding shaking of hands, crowded places and to observe good personal hygiene.

Addressing a press conference Thursday afternoon, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said that workers are encouraged to cue in to the hygiene practices as recommended by the global health body, the World Health Organization (WHO).

On the economic front, NLC urged the federal government to put forward policies that would mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on businesses.

He also said that government should ensure that workers are not neglected and that employers pay their workers their entitlement during the period of the outbreak.

Wabba further said that as part of government’s intervention efforts to arrest the spread of the virus, all those coming into the country from high burden nations should be quarantined until proper health investigation is conclusively carried out.

Details later…

(Updated) Lagos Records Four New Cases of COVID-1

*Commences contact tracing for 1,300 persons

By Martins Ifijeh

The Lagos State Government has recorded four new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria to 12.

It also noted that it has now commenced contact tracing for 1, 300 persons who have had contact with the new cases and the previously announced six.

Although one of the 12 cases had been discharged after his viral load regressed to negative, 11 are now placed under isolation and treatment at the Infectious Disease Centre in Yaba, Lagos.

Disclosing this during a press briefing Thursday, the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi said 19 people were tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday in Lagos and that four out of them had tested positive to the virus and had been isolated for treatment.

He said: “The first of the four new cases who tested positive to the disease was a woman who had contact with the female patient who came from United Kingdom some days ago.

“The second new case is a female who returned from France on March 14 on a Turkish airline, TK 1830.

“The third case is a Nigerian male in his 50s who had not travelled anywhere, but was tested positive to the disease.”

Abayomi stated that the fourth new case was a Nigerian male who arrived the country on March 13 from Frankfurt to Lagos on Lufthansa airline, flight number LH568.

The commissioner, however, said more tests were still being carried out, saying that it was clear that there were combination of imported cases and local transmission.

“The Executive of Lagos State is meeting on the next stage on social distancing. The best way to slow the rate is to halt movement of the virus from person to person,” he said.

He appealed to people on the two flights to self-isolate themselves and to reach the government.

“Currently, we are following over 1,300 people right now to find information about the state of their health and the number is increasing,” he added.

Coronavirus: Niger Orders Closure of Schools

Laleye Dipo in Minna

The Niger State Government has announced that all educational institutions in the state including tertiary schools should be closed from Monday next week.

The action by government is a preemptive one aimed at forestalling the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

It is also a follow-up to the decision of governors in the North-western geo-political region of the country at their recent meeting held in Kaduna where the governors of Niger and Kwara States in the North-central zone were in attendance.

The government’s action was contained in a statement by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, in which he also stated that all public gatherings have been suspended by the state government.

Matane disclosed that the closure of the public, private, and tertiary institutions is for a period of 30 days, while the suspension of all public gatherings is with immediate effect.

He revealed that the measure to shut down the schools for 30 days and suspend public gatherings is part of government’s deliberate efforts to contain the global spread of coronavirus pandemic.

Matane called on the people of the state to always uphold the highest degree of personal hygiene, remain calm and adhere strictly to all safety measures earlier announced by the state Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Health had earlier announced that government had set up a coronavirus isolation centre at the Minna General Hospital, while isolation wards have also been set up in other health facilities across the state.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr Makun Sidi, who made this known, also disclosed that the state has started the production of hand sanitisers as a way of making it accessible to everyone, as well as reduce the cost, pointing out that mass mobilisation of the people has also begun.

Suspected Case of Coronavirus in Katsina Tests Negative

By Francis Sardauna

The Katsina State Government has said that the person suspected to have been infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state tested negative after laboratory examination.

The state Commissioner for Health, Mr. Nuhu Yakubu Danja, who disclosed this while briefing journalists on Thursday, said they had put in place precautionary measures to keep citizens from being infected with the deadly virus.

The ministry had on March 18, 2020 confirmed that the state had recorded its first suspected case of COVID-19 in Dutsin-Ma Local Government Area of the state.

Danja urged residents of the state to go about their legitimate business, shun spreading unverified information through the social media and maintain high level of personal hygiene.

He said: “Recall that yesterday (Wednesday) March 18, 2020, a press conference was held by the officials of the ministry where we briefed you that there was a suspected case of COVID-19 in the state and informed you that we are waiting for the result.

“I am pleased to inform you that the result is out and it is negative. Therefore, Katsina State has no case of COVID-19. I like to call on the good people of Katsina State to keep calm and remain informed about updates on information about COVID-19.

“Residents should maintain high levels of personal and environmental hygiene such as frequent hand washing, use of alcohol based sanitizers, practice, cough etiquette, avoid mass social gathering except where necessary, visit the nearest health facility and give all necessary information including travel history when you are unwell.”

He explained that the state government would continue to do everything humanly possible to safeguard the citizens through the provision of effective healthcare services across the state.

COVID-19: Prepare for the Worst, WHO Warns Nigeria, Other African Countries

By Martins Ifijeh

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned Nigeria and other African countries to prepare for the Worst case scenario as COVID-19 continues to spread across the continent.

This is even as figures show there is a growing number of cases of the virus in Africa with 633 persons said to be infected while 17 deaths have been recorded so far in 34 African nations.

The Director General, WHO, DR. Tedros Ghebreyesus in his daily press briefing Wednesday, said Africa must ‘wake up’, adding that in other countries, the health body has seen how the virus accelerates after a certain tipping point.

The Gambia, Mauritius and Zambia have all reported their first cases of the virus in the last 24 hours.

Nigeria has also experienced it’s bout of the surge, as five new cases were recorded Wednesday.

The WHO said: “There are now 633 confirmed COVID19 cases in Africa in 33 countries and 17 deaths. In past 24 hrs, The Gambia, Mauritius and Zambia have announced first cases. @WHO is supporting countries with surveillance, diagnostics & treatment.”

South Africa has become the continent’s new focus of concern as cases nearly doubled to 116 from two days before.

Although the pandemic is in its early days on the continent, health experts have warned that even facilities in Africa could be overwhelmed by the virus’ spread.

“I think Africa should wake up. My continent should wake up,” Ghebreyesus cautioned

No African country has so far instituted a total lockdown of their country despite the recent developments

For instance, despite the jump in cases in Lagos, a crowded cosmopolitan city with over 22 million people, commuters continue to pack themselves into buses, a scenario that has caused the wide spread of the disease in most Asian countries and the European continent.

Meanwhile, sub-Saharan Africa has seen its second death from COVID-19, in Burkina Faso, which has one of the continent’s highest number of cases but has not imposed measures such as closing borders or banning religious services. Sudan previously reported a death.

In Kenya, police said a man accused of having the coronavirus was beaten to death. A police report obtained by The Associated Press said the man was returning home from a night out Wednesday when a group of youth approached and “took advantage of his drunkenness.”

In Ethiopia, the U.S. Embassy noted a rise in anti-foreigner sentiment after cases emerged there. “Reports indicate that foreigners have been attacked with stones, denied transportation services, being spat on, chased on foot, and been accused of being infected with COVID-19,” a security alert said.

Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, announced restrictions on the entry of travelers from countries with more than 1,000 coronavirus cases, including China and the U.S., and suspended visas on arrival for their citizens.

Nigeria has had eight cases of the virus, all in people recently arrived from abroad — one of the latest a six-week-old baby. The country said one of the new patients, an American, had entered via a land border, a first.

Three other African nations announced their first virus cases: Gambia, Zambia and Djibouti. Thirty-three of Africa’s 54 countries now have cases, with a total of at least 529 midday Wednesday.

Somalia, which announced its first case this week, closed schools and universities for two weeks and warned against public gatherings as the country with one of Africa’s weakest health systems tries to stop the virus’ spread.

“This is really a very scary moment,” said Hassan Kafi, a medical student in the capital, Mogadishu. The country has suffered from nearly three decades of conflict.

Uganda, which has no cases, banned travel to the worst-affected countries. It also suspended religious gatherings and restricted the number of people at weddings to 10 in a country known for mass ceremonies.

Health experts from some 20 African nations participated in a video conference with doctors in China on how to contain the virus.

“This is an extremely important step in terms of knowledge share,” said Kenya’s cabinet health secretary, Mutahi Kagwe

Africa has lagged behind the global curve for coronavirus infections and deaths, but in the past few days has seen a significant rise in cases.

Experts have repeatedly warned about the perils for the continent, given its weak health infrastructure, poverty, conflicts, poor sanitation and urban crowding.

Medical authorities in the poor Sahel state of Burkina Faso announced Wednesday that the number of infections there had risen by seven to 27 — and that one of them, a 62-year-old diabetic woman, had died overnight.

The country’s main opposition party, the Union for Progress and Change (UPC), said in a statement that the victim was its lawmaker Rose-Marie Compaore, the first vice president of the parliament.

South Africa, the continent’s most industrialised economy, reported a more than one-third jump in cases, with 31 new infections bringing its tally to 116.

Nearby Zambia announced its first two confirmed cases — a couple that returned to the capital Lusaka from a 10-day holiday in France.

As of Wednesday, a tally of reported cases compiled by AFP stood at more than 600 for all of Africa.

Of these, 16 cases have been fatal: six in Egypt, six in Algeria, two in Morocco, one in Sudan and one in Burkina Faso.

Those figures are relatively small compared to the rest of world — the global death toll has passed 8,800 with almost 210,000 total infections.

WHO chief Tedros said sub-Saharan Africa had recorded 233 infections, but warned the official numbers likely did not reflect the full picture.

“Probably we have undetected cases or unreported cases,” he said.

COVID-19 Cases in Africa Hit 633, Death Toll Now 17

The number of persons infected by COVID-19 in Africa has climbed to 633, the World Health Organisation has said.

The Gambia, Mauritius and Zambia have all reported their first cases of the virus in the last 24 hours.

Nigeria has also experienced its bout of the surge, as five new cases were recorded Wednesday.

The WHO, which stated this in the early hours of Thursday, through it’s Twitter handle, @WHOAFRO, said; “633 confirmed COVID19 cases in Africa in 33 countries and 17 deaths. In past 24 hrs, The Gambia, Mauritius and Zambia have announced first cases. @WHO is supporting countries with surveillance, diagnostics & treatment.”

COVID 19: Guild of Medical Directors Says Temperature Test not Enough, Call for Extra Vigilance

By Kuni Tyessi

In the face of the ravaging Corona Virus across the globe, and with eight confirmed cases in Nigeria, the Guild of Medical Directors has called for more vigilance especially at the nation’s airports.

The guild in statement by its president, Prof. Femi Dokun-Babalola, said testing should go beyond the usual temperature test and there should be a general warning that all travellers coming into the country must as a matter of necessity, self quarantine for at least two weeks.

He said this is because “it is possible and even likely, more cases of COVID 19 may have entered our shores un-detected.”

Emphasising that enhanced measures will go a long way in further protecting Nigerians from the ravages of the COVID 19 epidemic, he added that similar measures have been taken in Ghana, Sudan and South Africa, among other nations in Africa.

“In particular, it is our opinion that restrictions should be placed on flights coming from meso-endemic and hyper-endemic countries. Nigerians coming in from the UK in particular should ALL be tested beyond the usual temperature check, and advised to go on quarantine for fourteen days at home if negative.

“We suggest that Nigerians coming in from these countries should be quarantined for fourteen days as required by the WHO.
At the moment, several Europeans are streaming into the country only to embark on a journey to the USA by Delta airlines.

“We also believe that a more robust protocol should be introduced for the detection of cases including random tests in households where foreign trips have just been completed.”

At the moment, over 160,000 persons have been infected worldwide, of which over 6000 have died.

Three hundred of the infected cases are found in African countries, many of which are either returnees from countries with significant endemicity, or primary contacts of such returnees.

Kaduna CAN Urges Church Leaders to Support Govt in Fight against COVID-19

By John Shiklam in Kaduna

The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked church leaders to join forces with government and health workers to stop the spread of coronavirus.

In a statement on Thursday in Kaduna, the Chairman of the association, Rev. Joseph Hayab, said the church should not be ignorant of the global pandemic.

He said the challenge of coronavirus is now a global pandemic and many countries across the world have recorded cases of the virus.

He said: “The church in Nigeria, therefore, should not be ignorant of this global pandemic.”

According to him, the church can “help to reduce the spread of the virus by suspending our large gathering activities for the meantime”.

Hayab said: “The church, as a school of faith, which is known for having large gatherings for church services, wedding, burial, prayer meetings, crusades and revival services must endeavour to join forces with government and health workers to stop the spread of this virus.”

He said the role of the church is not just to pray, but to also take concrete steps to ensure the wellbeing of its flocks and the country at large.

“Accordingly, CAN, Kaduna State, therefore, wishes to appeal to all pastors and church leaders to read through official guidelines and information about the virus and enlighten their members,” he said.

He urged the church to disregard unverified and misleading social media information about the disease.

“Let us make use of information available from the Ministry of Health and other recognised government agencies” the statement said.

Hayab said CAN believes in the efficacy of prayers, stressing however that Christians should make use of the pulpit to say only what is medically correct.

“It will not be proper for a pastor to tell his members to come for prayers and special anointing only, without doing what is needful, such as the washing of hands regularly, keeping required distance to avoid contacts that may lead to being infected by the virus.

“We can also help to reduce the spread of the virus by suspending our large gathering activities for the meantime.

“Pastors can use unit leaders to reach out to members and also the cell groups’ prayer teams to enlighten members about the virus. By so doing, we could reach out to more members without large gatherings.

“Again, all churches should provide hand sanitizers at the entrance of the church so that those coming for service clean their hands before going into the church.

“CAN will be happy to have health workers to come to church premises with genuine equipment to test worshippers.

“If possible, let us minimise handshakes and hugs to help fight the spread of the virus.

“While we pray that God will reward our efforts by bringing a quick solution to this global health challenge, we call on churches to shorten the duration of services by holding brief services, unless necessary.

“CAN will work with government and their health agencies to educate and mobilize faithful in fighting this virus, believing that with the right information and proper guidance from all leaders and stakeholders, we can fight and stop the spread of this virus.

“Finally, CAN is calling on our President (Muhammadu Buhari) not to allow anyone to play politics with this serious challenge.

“The federal government should assemble qualified experts to develop simple messages for transmission and distribution at places of worship, motor parks, airports, schools and in every gathering,” he said.

At Last, FG Restricts Travel from US, UK, France, 10 Others

  • Records five new COVID-19 cases, shuts NYSC camps nationwide
  • Lagos suspends gathering above 50 persons, joins North-west govs to close schools

Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Olawale Ajimotokan, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu in Abuja, Martins Ifijeh, Chinedu Eze, Dike Onwuamaeze in Lagos, and Francis Sardauna in Katsina

Nigeria wednesday stepped up efforts to check further spread of COVID-19 as it slammed a travel ban on 13 nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom and China.

The travel restriction, which also affected COVID-19 high-risk nations like Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Spain, France, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, was announced just as five fresh cases of the pandemic were recorded in the country.

With the five new cases, Nigeria now has eight incidents of the pandemic since the index case occurred in February.
Another suspected case of COVID-19, it was learnt, was also being looked into yesterday in Katsina State.

Following the travel ban, announced by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, the federal government also temporarily suspended the issuance of visa on arrival policy, which came into effect in January 2020. The suspension is part of measures to curb the further spread of COVID-19 into the country.

In addition, it ordered the immediate closure of ongoing National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camps nationwide.
To complement the federal government’s efforts in battling the pandemic, the North-west Governors’ Forum has directed that schools within the region should be closed for 30 days.

Mustapha said the restrictions, which will last for four weekends, subject to review, will come into effect from Saturday.

He said the latest measure, which followed Tuesday’s ban by the presidential task force on public officials and civil servants from overseas travels was taken after an assessment of the global situation.
According to him, the listed countries are those with over 1,000 cases domestically.

Under the new containment scheme, all persons arriving in Nigeria, who might have visited these countries, 15 days prior to such arrival, will be subjected to supervised self-isolation and testing for 14 days.

The SGF urged public health authorities of countries with a high burden to conduct diligent departure screening of passengers and also endorse these travel advisories to their nationals to postpone travels to Nigeria.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already declared COVID-19 a pandemic disease.

FG Confirms Five New Cases of Pandemic

Giving details of the five new cases in a statement yesterday in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said they were uncovered within the last 36 hours.

Out of the five new cases, three arrived from the United States while two came in from the United Kingdom.

He said: “We are still collating information on the travellers; two of the three from the US are Nigerians, a mother, and a six-week-old baby. The third patient is an American national, who crossed the land border and becomes the first COVID-19 case not arriving by air. The two cases from the UK are Nigerians.

“A detailed travel history of each person is being compiled and contacts are currently being traced to identify persons who have recently been in contact with anyone.

“The National Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and supported by partners, is supporting response in the state. The federal government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, is conducting a risk assessment to help guide decision making.”

FG Shuts NYSC Camps Nationwide

Earlier wednesday, the federal government ordered the immediate closure of the ongoing NYSC orientation camps nationwide over COVID-19 fears.

The 2020 Batch ‘A’ Stream One NYSC members arrived in camp on March 10 and were expected to leave three weeks after.
However, the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, yesterday said the NYSC members would be released to resume at their places of primary assignment.

He tweeted that the closure was a precautionary measure on COVID-19.

The Director-General of NYSC, Brig-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, who also confirmed the development in Katsina yesterday, said the closure became necessary following the outbreak of the disease in the country.

He confirmed that no corps member, staff or camp official had contracted the virus, urging corps members to ensure personal hygiene in their places of primary assignment.

Katsina Announces First Suspected Case

Also wednesday, the Katsina State Government said a first suspected case of COVID-19 had been recorded in the state.

The Permanent Secretary, in the state Ministry of Health, Dr. Kabir Mustapha, told journalists in Katsina that the patient, who returned from Malaysia, developed some symptoms that warranted further investigations.
According to him, the patient is currently in self-isolation.

Mustapha said his samples had been taken and results expected by today, adding that contact tracing would commence as soon as the results were out.

He said the ministry had taken all precautionary measures and was closely working with the NCDC on the matter.
According to him, the patient’s history of travel is a high index and the symptoms reported at the clinic prompted actions.

He said since his arrival in the state, the patient had resulted in personal protection of using a face mask and was in self-isolation.

Mustapha urged people in the host community of Dutsinma Town to be cautious of their movements and gatherings.

Brief Nigerians Now, Senate Tells Buhari

Worried by the outbreak of the pandemic in the country, the Senate yesterday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians on the federal government’s preparations and efforts aimed at addressing the pandemic as well as its effects and implications.

It also urged the federal government to take more pro-active steps like travel ban, tighter border control, restrictions on large gatherings and banning of some citizens of other countries from entering Nigeria.

It called on all related government agencies to keep Nigerians abreast of all cases of the scourge worldwide while banning flight operations from all international airports except Lagos and Abuja.

Other drastic measures the Senate canvassed included the banning of flights from countries with intense cases of the virus.

The resolutions were sequel to the adoption of a motion moved by Senator Danjuma Goje, who came under Senate Rule 43 to stress that though the Senate discussed the effects of the scourge on Tuesday, emerging details showed that the effects of the disease would have a catastrophic effect on Nigerians and Nigeria if drastic action is not taken.

Supporting the motion, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, called on Nigerians to be more careful on how Nigerians relate to each other, pleading that more care should be taken as in the case of Ebola outbreak in Lagos.

Also, Senator Ajayi Borofice noted that Nigeria borders are porous and urged the federal government to ban those travelling to the US through Nigeria as well as ban people coming from epicenters of infection from coming to Nigeria, till when the situation improves

The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks, called for improved measures to be taken so as prevent the uncontrollable outbreak of the disease in Nigeria.
“Even if our environment is hostile to COVID-19, we need to be extremely careful. We won’t know when it adjusts to the environment and become very potent,” he stated.

The Senate in its prayers urged the National Assembly to support the federal government to fight COVID-19’s spread and called for a Special Intervention Fund to combat the disease.

House Urges FG to Ban Open Religious Gathering

As part of the measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic, the House of Representatives has called on the federal government to ban open congregation of worshippers for the time being following the recording of five new cases of coronavirus in the country.

It also resolved to shut out visitors from coming into the House indefinitely, while calling on the National Assembly management to immediately make provision for testing of any entrant into the legislative House.
The decision of the House was a sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance moved by Hon. Zakare Chawai on the need to ban foreign airlines from coming into the country.

In his lead debate, Chawai said if the foreign airlines are banned, especially from COVID-19 ravaged countries, there was a need for the federal government to put in place all necessary protocols and palliative measures.

In his submission, the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, said open religious gathering should be banned for now as it was done in countries like the Vatican City, Iran and Saudi Arabia to curtail the spread of the virus.
The House, however, resolved that Nigeria should sign an agreement with Singapore for the supply of test kits for the virus, while public institutions should have the temperature testing kits.

The House also resolved that Ehanire should brief the House every week, but it, however, rejected the idea of shutting down all schools nationwide for 14 days.

Dangote’s Contractor’s Staff Tests Negative

Meanwhile, an Indian staff of Onshore Construction Company, an instrumentation contracting firm with Dangote Fertilizer Limited, who had shown symptoms associated with COVID-19 and subsequently isolated, has been confirmed negative.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, in his Twitter handle said: “An Indian national that was admitted in our facility yesterday (Monday) night with symptoms suggestive of #COVID19 has tested negative to #COVID19.
“He is doing perfectly well in our isolation unit. His case will be reviewed in the morning (Wednesday).”

Arik Air Suspends Flights to West Coast

Arik Air has temporarily suspended flights to all its West Coast destinations effective Monday.
The airline said it took the decision after a careful analysis of the spread of COVID-19.
The Chief Executive Officer of Arik Air, Captain Roy Ilegbodu, said: “The safety and well-being of our personnel and valued customers are paramount at this critical time. We do not want to take chances and this is why we have taken this decision”.

North-west Govs Close Schools

The North-west Governors’ Forum has directed that schools within the region should be closed for 30 days.
Rising from their meeting wednesday in Kaduna, the governors said the decision was to prevent citizens from contacting the COVID-19.

The Chairman of the forum and Katsina State Governor, Hon. Bello Masari, announced the decision of the governors in a communiqué he read at the end of the closed-door meeting.

He said: “Measures shall be taken in each of the states in consultation with examination bodies to close schools for a period of 30 days starting from Monday, 23 of March, 2020.

“In addition, all the states in the region shall carry out sensitisation campaigns to discourage large gatherings and to encourage citizens to uphold personal environmental hygiene.”

LCCI, NECA, NCAA Hail FG over Ban on 13 Countries

Meanwhile, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have commended the federal government’s travel ban on 13 countries.

LCCI said Nigeria should prioritise health and safety over the economy and business.

The Director-General of LCCI, Dr. Muda Yusuf, told THISDAY that it is only the living that can do business.

Yusuf also noted that the ban would cause momentary disruptions in business and economy because of some Nigerian industries that required skills that are not readily available in the country.

He said: “There are international business meetings, conferences, exhibitions that need to take place which would have to be postponed or canceled. All of these have cost implications. But at a time like this, health and safety are paramount.”

NECA also applauded the steps taken by the federal government to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 by restricting travel ban for countries with over 1,000 cases to Nigeria.
This decision, according to NECA, will help Nigeria to cope in the management of the pandemic and ensure a COVID-19-free Nigeria.

However, the Director-General of NECA, Mr. Timothy Olawale, said the ban came a bit late from the date, the first index case was confirmed in Nigeria.

General Manager, Public Relations, at the NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, stated that NCAA would not authorise airlines from the shortlisted countries to come into the country by not allowing them have flight clearance to access any of the country’s entry points.
He added that NCAA would issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) immediately it received circular on the ban.

Minister of Health Briefs Govs on COVID-19

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

At the meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) held last night, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire briefed the governors on the ravaging COVID-19 and what the federal government is doing to contain the disease.

The governors, it was learnt, resolved to set up committee to review the impacts of the epidemic on states

A source privy to the closed-door meeting told THISDAY that the governors were not happy because the country has only three testing centres and there are no testing centres in the entire 19 states of the north.

The governors insisted that each of the states must have a test and isolation centres in each state.

But speaking after the meeting, Ehanire said the governors wanted to know the cost implications of setting up the COVID-19 centres in their respective states.

The minister said that it was the governors that have pledged to set up isolation centres in their states.

“To get the story of how COVID-19 spread abroad and how it has come into Nigeria and what we have done so far. And they asked questions about our strategies, our approach and how it affects their states and our strategies and how they can have access to materials to be able to respond.

“I did not need to make an effort to remind the governors on what they should do because they all offered to play a role, which was very good. In fact they want to know the cost of building isolation centres, the cost of the equipment and the kits. And they want us to present them with them cost tomorrow. We are happy that there is such engagement by the governors.

Also briefing the meeting, the chairman of the forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said that the forum received an update on the COVID-l9 pandemic from Ehanire.

“Governors pledged to work with the Ministry of Health to set up functional test and isolation centres in every state in the country.

“After an extensive discussion of the impact of the COVID-l 9 pandemic and falling oil prices in the Nigerian economy and the revenues of state governments, the forum constituted a sub-committee consisting of the Governors of Kaduna (Chair), Kebbi, Ebonyi, Ogun, Nasarawa, Edo and Jigawa states to comprehensive ly review the trend and advice state governments on the set of actions required to address challenges in economy.”

COVID-19: Nigeria Shuts Down All Sports Activities Indefinitely

Duro Ikhazuagbe

The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development Wednesday evening suspended all sports programmes and events in the country as a precautionary move against the spread of COVID-19.

In a circular sent to all the national sports federations under its watch and signed by a Director of FEAD, Mrs Tayo Oreweme, the Sports Ministry said this development was a follow up to the postponement of the 20th National Sports Festival and the closing down of all NYSC camps.

“In the effort to further ensure safe health and wellbeing of all athletes and sports loving Nigerians at large, I am directed to inform you that all National Sports Federations should suspend the organisation and/ participation in all national and international competitions, including qualification tournaments for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” observed the statement from the ministry.

Similarly, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) announced the cessation of all forms of football activities in the country for the next four weeks, as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

According to the country’s supreme football-governing body, the shutdown affects all on-field activities the various National Teams, the Nigeria Professional Football League, the other Leagues, youth football programmes and even street football.

President of the NFF, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick said the cessation will be for four weeks after which the situation will be reviewed in line with events and trends worldwide.

He also advised all members of the football family to observe the various safety precautions and conduct as advised by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, such as hand-washing, the use of sanitizers and social distancing.

Pinnick also stated that the only football activity that will be permitted is the work of the NFF investigation committee into the death of Chineme Martins, which was inaugurated yesterday in Benin City and will submit its report within the next 10 days.

COVID-19: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organisers Respond to Frustrated Athletes

Olympic organisers have warned “no solution will be ideal” in preparing for Tokyo 2020 after being accused of putting athletes “in danger”.

The summer showpiece is scheduled to begin on 24 July despite the relentless cancellation of sporting events as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi said the International Olympic Committee was “risking our health”.

Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson said training had become “impossible”.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) responded, stating: “This is an exceptional situation which requires exceptional solutions. The IOC is committed to finding a solution with the least negative impact for the athletes, while protecting the integrity of the competition and the athletes’ health.

“No solution will be ideal in this situation, and this is why we are counting on the responsibility and solidarity of the athletes.”

World heptathlon champion Johnson-Thompson, 27, is returning to the UK from her training base in France as a result of the country being in lockdown.

Tokyo 2020 organisers have pledged to deliver a “complete” Games but Johnson-Thompson said current guidance from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is confusing.

She said: “The IOC advice ‘encourages athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympics Games as best as they can’ with the Olympics only four months away but the government legislation is enforcing isolation at home, with tracks, gyms and public spaces closed.

“I feel under pressure to train and keep the same routine, which is impossible.

“I’m in a very fortunate place given the circumstances. I’m healthy, well supported and I have already qualified for the Olympics. But at this moment it’s difficult to approach the season when everything has changed in the lead up apart from the ultimate deadline.”

All club training sessions, events, competitions, club committee and face-to-face meetings, athlete camps, running groups and social events have been suspended across England, Scotland and Wales.

Several athletes have joined Johnson-Thompson in pointing to confusion on how they should prepare.

Stefanidi, who won gold for Greece in pole vault at Rio 2016, said: “This is not about how things will be in four months. This is about how things are now.

“The IOC wants us to keep risking our health, our family’s health and public health to train every day? You are putting us in danger right now, today, not in four months.”

Hayley Wickenheiser, a member of the IOC, has said the Olympic governing body’s decision to “move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity.”

Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) President Alejandro Blanco has told Reuters he would prefer this year’s Games be postponed.

Around 57% of the athletes set to attend the Games have so far qualified.

On Tuesday, the IOC asked athletes to continue preparations “as best they can”.

Jessica Judd, who represented Britain over 5,000m at the 2019 world championships, tweeted: “How on earth are we meant to carry on preparing best we can?

“Will someone share with me what races we can do to get times and whether trials will go ahead and when training can return to normal?”

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has insisted the Games will go ahead as planned in July.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 18TH,2020

Lagos Shuts Schools over Coronavirus

By Segun James

As part of the preventive measures against the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Lagos State Government is closing down all public and private schools with effect from Monday, March 23.

The state’s Ministry ofEducation in a statement signed by the Commissioner of Education, MRS. FOLASHADE ADEFISAYO stated that it had becomes necessary to prevent children and their teachers from becoming vulnerable to the pandemic.

“It is important for parents to ensure that their children practise ‘social distancing’ while at home, wash their hands regularly or use hand sanitizers and observe high standards of personal hygiene.

“Children should be encouraged to remain at home.

“The closure is not intended to create panic but to arrest the spread of the disease, which has become a global threat.

“The Incident Command Centre, headed by the Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is the Incident Commander, will continue to trace all contacts of the identified cases,” she stated.

Coronavirus: Lagos Bans Large Religious Gatherings for Four Weeks

Segun James

Following the rising cases of Coronavirus in the country, Lagos state government has announced the ban on large religious gatherings, effective immediately.

The decision was contained in a communiqué signed at the end of an emergency meeting between the state government and religious leaders in the state Wednesday.

The ban which was tagged “suspension” will be for an initial four weeks, according to the communiqué which was read by the state’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, Mr. Olanrewaju Anofiu Elegushi, at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, Ikeja.

Elegushi read the directive on behalf of Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIRC), Lagos chapter after extensive debate with the representatives of leaders from both Christian and Islamic organizations.

The meeting which lasted for hours was attended by the Grand Chief Imam of Lagos, Sheikh Sulaiman Abu Nolla, and the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lagos chapter, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola.

To ensure full implementation, a 15-man committee co-chaired by the Commissioner and Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs Adebunmi Adekanye, was set up.

While reading out the communique, Elegushi said, “It is better to offend people than to kill,” saying fifty persons are manageable for the religious leaders to control in mosques and churches.

“We hereby agree we should suspend all religious congregations that are over 50 within the state for four weeks. It is easy to establish contacts of about fifty people. To achieve this, a committee should be set up to monitor and report on daily basis.

“While the constitution allows for freedom of association and worship, we are of the opinion that we should exercise our rights with extreme caution so as to avoid contracting and spreading this disease.

“We hereby appeal to you to please pay close attention to people coming into our places of worship, anyone found showing symptoms of this disease should immediately be reported to the appropriate authorities.

“We should put in place measures that will ensure cleanliness of our environment bearing in mind that, cleanliness is next to Godliness.

“Aside our normal ablutions, our worshippers should be encouraged to make use of hand sanitizers, avoid bodily contacts as much as possible and ensure safety measures in and around their places of abode.

The government and the religious leaders agreed that the ban will apply to congregation of over 50 persons.

Before the meeting, Mr. Elegushi had briefed newsmen on the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the meeting with the religious leaders was to “discuss a burning issue that has suddenly crept into our country Nigeria and by extension, our dear state, Lagos.

“You will recall that about two weeks ago, we called a meeting where a similar discussion and sensitisation on the Corona Virus (COVlD-19) was done, at that meeting experts in the medical field and those handling the Coronavirus issue in the state were on ground to educate us on this pandemic disease.

“As a responsible and responsive government, it behoves on us to bring our Religious Leaders up to speed on the unwanted disease that is subtly creeping into the state, the Coronavirus.

“A stitch in time saves nine as the saying goes and you will all agree with me that, we must nip the spread in the bud before it becomes endemic in our state. This disease is not from here and we have to keep it at bay before it wrecks havoc in our state. We cannot afford to treat it with kids’ glove as the lives of Lagosians are sacrosanct.”

“Few days ago, another case was discovered of a woman who came in from the UK and reports we are having says that she was at a conference where the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister attended. The fact of the matter is that, this disease can be simply contacted and spread through contact with infected persons. Now the question is, how do we know who is infected amongst our numerous congregation who has come to worship.

“While the constitution allows for freedom of association and worship, we are of the opinion that we should exercise our rights with extreme caution so as to avoid contacting and spreading of this disease.

“Mr Governor has directed that we should call this meeting with you in order to drive home the point that, this disease is real and it can only be avoided or prevented if we educate our worshippers on the dos and don’ts of the Coronavirus.

“We hereby appeal to you to please pay close attention to people coming into our places of worship, anyone found showing symptons of this disease should immediately be isolated and reported to the appropriate authorities,” he stated.

COVID-19: CBN to Pump N1trn into Economy

By Obinna Chima

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday announced the injection of an additional N1 trillion across all critical sectors into the economy.

The fund is to boost local manufacturing and import substitution and is in line with the its efforts to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this in Abuja.

He explained: “The CBN is directing all deposit money banks to increase their support to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. In local drug manufacturing, in increased bed count in hospitals across Nigeria, in funding intensive care as well as in training, laboratory testing, equipment and Research & Department (R&D).

“In addition to the N50 billion soft loans to small businesses already announced, the CBN will increase its intervention by another N100 billion in loan this year to support the health authorities to ensure laboratories, researchers and innovators work with global scientists to patent and or produce vaccines and test kits-in Nigeria to prepare for any major crises ahead.

“The details of how these facilities can be accessed will be released soon. Secondly, given the continuing impact of the disease on global supply chains, the CBN will increase its intervention in boosting local manufacturing and import substitution by another N1 trillion across all critical sectors of the economy.

“The management of the CBN will meet with the Bankers Committee this Saturday at 10.00am to work out the modalities.

“Thirdly, an Implementation Committee that will action the private sector contribution of N1.5 trillion Infrastructure funding that will link farming communities to markets as agreed at the Going for Growth Roundtable last week will be set-up next week.”

….More details later

Coronavirus Spreads to 170 Nations, Infects 207,000 People

Martins Ifijeh

Despite the introduction of stringent measures by several countries, COVID-19 has spread to 170 countries, and has infected over 207, 000 persons globally.

The disease, which has killed at least 8, 074 people already, surged within the last 24 hours.

From 196,771 infected cases Tuesday, not less than 9,000 cases have been added to the growing list.

Also, six new nations were added to the number of nations affected; all within one day.

Of the six latest affected countries, Africa becomes the most hit, as Gambia, Zambia and Djibouti recorded their first cases Wednesday. 31 countries in Africa have now been affected.

Pundits believed by the time the burden of the disease starts reducing across other continents, Africa may become the hard knock to crack in terms of elimination of the virus from the world.

Nigeria on Wednesday experienced a bout of the surge as five new persons have been confirmed to have tested positive to the disease in Lagos (four) and Ekiti State (one).

While China’s infection rate has reduced and still pegged at below 81, 000, the country experienced 11 new deaths in the last one day.

The country has instituted a total lockdown on its territory; ensuring no new case is exported out of the country. It also enforced the ‘sit-at-home’ order in a bid to halt in-country spread of the virus.

Iran Tuesday recorded 16,169 confirmed cases 988 deaths. As at Wednesday evening, infection rate jumped to 17, 361, while death rate increased by 147, totaling 1, 135 deaths.

Iran has been suspected to have delayed revealing about the spread of COVID 19 in its country and under-reporting the cases. A number of countries have traced their coronavirus to Iran. Many government officials and politicians including MPs in Iran have contracted the disease. Some of which have unfortunately died.

Amid fears of further spread, Iran has temporary released approximately 70,000 prisoners, according to Mizan news agency.

Italy Wednesday reported 345 new COVID-19 deaths in the country over the last 24 hours taking its total death toll to 2,503 – an increase of 16 percent.

The total number of cases in Italy rose to 31,506 from a previous 27,980, up 12.6 percent – the slowest rate of increase since the contagion came to light on February 21. Italy is the European country hardest hit by coronavirus.

Spain’s infected cases are 13, 919, which is a sharp increase from yesterday figurew of 11,200 it now has a death rate of 623. After Italy, Soain is the second worst hit European country.

Germany, South Korea France and US are not left out of the global surge of the virus. Germany has recorded 10, 120 infections and 27 deaths; South Korea has 8, 413 infected cases and 84 deaths, France has 7, 730 infections, while US has 7, 339 infected cases and 116 deaths.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the COVID-19 pandemic as the “defining global health crisis of our time”, and urged countries to test all suspected cases of COVID-19.

The coronavirus has now infected more than 200,000 people and killed more than 8,000 globally, with almost 80,000 people having recovered from the infection, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for more “aggressive” action to curb the coronavirus in Southeast Asia after the European Union, now at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, moved to seal off its borders

Southeast Asia is facing a wave of infections that started from an event at a mosque on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur attended by some 16,000 people.

Malaysia now has the biggest outbreak in the region.

Europe has moved to close its external borders as hard-hit Italy reported an additional 345 deaths from the virus, and France imposed a draconian lockdown unseen during peacetime.

In the United States, meanwhile, the virus has now spread to all 50 states. (Aljazeera)

The coronavirus has now infected more than 200,000 people and killed more than 8,000 globally, with almost 80,000 people having recovered from the infection, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for more “aggressive” action to curb the coronavirus in Southeast Asia after the European Union, now at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, moved to seal off its borders

Southeast Asia is facing a wave of infections that started from an event at a mosque on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur attended by some 16,000 people.

Malaysia now has the biggest outbreak in the region.

Europe has moved to close its external borders as hard-hit Italy reported an additional 345 deaths from the virus, and France imposed a draconian lockdown unseen during peacetime.

In the United States, meanwhile, the virus has now spread to all 50 states. (Aljazeera)

Coronavirus: Lagos May Ban Large Gatherings

*Religious houses to be affected

By Segun James

Following the rising cases of coronavirus in the country, Lagos state government may any moment from now announce a ban on large gatherings.

THISDAY gathered that the state government is currently holding a meeting with religious leaders in the state to inform them of its decision on social distancing as a measure to check the spread of coronavirus.

Details later…

Nigeria Confirms 5 New Cases of Coronavirus

Nigeria has confirmed five new cases of coronavirus, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the country to eight.

According to a tweet by the National Centre for Disease Control, all the five new case have a travel history to the United States and United Kingdom.

The confirmation is coming on the heels of a travel ban imposed on 13 high-risk countries by the federal government  on Wednesday.

Details later…

Coronavirus: FG Suspends Visa on Arrival Policy, Bans Travellers from 13 High-risk Countries

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The federal government has announced the temporary suspension of the issuance of visa on arrival policy which came into effect in January 2020 as a measure to curb the further spread of COVID-19 into the country.

It also announced a far-reaching restriction of entry into the country by travellers from 13 countries.

The Chairman of Presidential Task Force on the containment COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, made the announcement at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said the restrictions will come into effect from Saturday, March, 21, 2020 and will be for four weeks subject to review.

He said the latest measure, which followed Tuesday’s ban by the Presidential Task Force on public officials and civil servants from overseas travels, was taken after an assessment of the global situation.

Travellers from the countries affected by the federal government restrictions are China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland.

Mustapha said the listed countries were those with over 1,000 case domestically.

He also stressed that all persons arriving in Nigeria who might have visited these countries, 15 days prior to such arrival, will be subjected to supervised self-isolation and testing for 14 days.

He urged public health authorities of countries with high burden to conduct diligent departure screening of passengers and also endorse this travel advisories to their nationals to postpone travels to Nigeria.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has already declared Coronavirus a pandemic disease.

Nigeria Imposes Travel Ban on 13 High-risk Countries

Federal Government has placed a travel ban on 13 high-risk Coronavirus countries.

The countries affected by the ban announced on Wednesday were China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland

Below is the full statement by the Presidential Taskforce boss:

STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRMAN PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE PTF ON COVlD-19 0N MEASURES BEING TAKEN BY NIGERIA TO CONTAIN AND MANAGETHE PANDEMIC

Gentlemen of the Press,

You will recall that yesterday Tuesday 17‘h March, 2020 the Presidential Task Force on COVlD-19 set up by Mr. President was inaugurated and held its first briefing.

2. You will also recall that the PTF at the end of the meeting announced the ban on all forms of travels by public officers and civil servants until further notice,

3. This morning, we have found it necessary to brief Nigerians on further measures being taken after an assessment of the global situation. Ils sont les suivants:

i. The Federal Government of Nigeria is restricting entry into the country for travellers from the following thirteen (13) countries; China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland. These are all countries with over 1,000 case domestically;

ii. All persons arriving in Nigeria who might have visited these countries, 0fteen days prior to such arrival, will be subjected to supervised self-isolation and testing for 14 days;

iii. The Federal Government is temporarily suspending the issuance of all visas on arrival;

iv. The Federal Government is also counseling all Nigerians to cancel or postpone all non-essential travels to these countries; et

v. The Federal Government urges Public Health Authorities of countries with high burden to conduct diligent departure screening of passengers and also endorses this travel advisories to their nationals to postpone travels to Nigeria.

4. These restrictions will come into effect from Saturday, 21st March, 2020 for four (4) weeks subject to review.

Katsina Records Suspected Case of Coronavirus

By Francis Sardauna

The Katsina State Ministry of Health on Wednesday said that the state has recorded a suspected case of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Kabir Mustapha, who disclosed this at a press conference, said the suspected case is recorded in Dutsin-Ma Local Government Area of the state.

He said the victim, whose identify has not been disclosed, returned from Malaysia and developed serious symptoms of the dreaded disease that necessitated medical investigation.

He added that the victim is currently on self isolation and samples have been taken and results are expected Thursday.

He said: “As soon as the result of the test is out, contact tracing will commence immediately. The ministry is taking all precautionary measures and we are working with National Centre for Disease control (NCDC) on the matter.

“The patient’s history of travel was a high index and the symptoms reported at the clinic prompted actions. Since his arrival into the state, the patient was taking personal protection of using face mark and self isolation.”

Covid 19: NYSC Suspends 2020 Batch ‘A’ Stream 1, Orientation Course

Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has suspended the ongoing orientation course for the 2020 Batch “A” Stream 1 corps members.

According to a press release on Wednesday morning and signed by the Director, Press and Public Relation, Mr. Adenike Adeyemi, the management of the NYSC said: “Sequel to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the cancellation of the National Sports Festival, management of the National Youth Service Corps scheme wishes to announce the suspension of the ongoing Orientation course for the 2020 Batch ‘A’ Stream 1 corps members.

“Therefore, the corps members shall be posted to commence their primary assignments forthwith, while they shall be invited back to the orientation camps when the situation improves, just like it happened a few years ago when the nation was confronted by the Ebola virus threat.

“Management wishes to state that no corps member or camp official has contracted the virus.”

Recording COVID-19’s Third Case, FG Bans Foreign Travels by Public Officials

•Suspends National Sports Festival

Deji Elumoye, Omololu Ogunmade, Chuks Okocha, Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Olawale Ajimotokan, Udora Orizu in Abuja, Duro Ikhazuagbe, Uche Nnaike and Martins Ifijeh in Lagos

With the confirmation of the third case of COVID-19 in Nigeria after a 30-year-old female tested positive to the virus, the federal government yesterday took additional measures to check the spread of the pandemic, banning foreign travels by public officials and suspended the National Sports Festival slated for March 22 in Benin, Edo State.

The federal government’s ban on foreign travels would affect all public and civil servants in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and other government parastatals.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, at the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Task Force on the Control of the COVID-19 Outbreak in Nigeria, said the decision was taken to scale the country’s health emergency to the highest level and prevent further spread of the contagion.

He asked civil servants to shelve all seminars, meetings, bilateral, multilateral, conferences and workshops slated for foreign countries.
According to him, the ban remains in place until the situation on the containment of the virus abates.

He added that in view of this development, all requests by public workers to travel abroad, including all approvals given earlier, have been revoked.
After the task force meeting, which lasted for several hours behind closed door, the committee also advised the general public to cancel or postpone non-essential overseas trips, including, business, vacations to some of the countries that have recorded clusters of coronavirus infections and deaths.

Mustapha listed the worst affected countries, which Nigerians should stop travelling to as China, USA, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Spain and Japan.
He advised Nigerians returning from all the aforementioned countries to self-quarantine for 14 days at home and ensure they follow the guidelines by the NCDC on the procedures for self- isolation.

He added that all travellers coming from countries with COVID-19 transmission that have recorded 1,000 cases and above will be actively followed up for 14 days by the health authorities.
While tagging the virus as the most important health emergency in this generation, which must be treated as such, the SGF said the federal government supported measures by the high burdened countries on the containment of the contagion, including the directive to remain indoors.

Third COVID-19 Case Recorded

The federal government said yesterday that it has commenced contact tracing of those who had contact with the patient, who arrived in the country from the UK on March 13.
It said it was tracing all the people that flew with her on the airline and others she had met in Lagos.
In a statement given to THISDAY yesterday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said: “Upon arriving in Nigeria, she underwent a self-quarantine, which has minimised the risk of the spread of the virus to other persons. She went through this because of the stringent measures put in place by the federal government.

“She subsequently developed symptoms of fever and cough on March 16, at which point she voluntarily called the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) toll-free call line to report her condition. Officials from the Lagos State Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) were immediately dispatched to her home to collect samples, which upon testing, came out positive for the coronavirus.”

He said the lady was currently at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos, where she has remained clinically stable and responding to treatment.
Ehanire added that the federal government, along with the Lagos State government, has commenced intensive contact tracing to help identify all persons she had contact with since her return.

“We expect the number to be small because of her sensible decision to go into self-isolation from the time of her arrival. We commend her for following the recommended guidelines to the letter. We will continue to assess the situation and adjust the response accordingly,” he stated.
Ehanire explained that many people infected with COVID-19 will experience only mild symptoms and recover without incident.
He, however, added that of great concern were those with existing underlying medical conditions and senior citizens, who are known to be more vulnerable to the virus.

Ehanire cautioned: “We strongly advise these citizens to stay more at home. All Nigerians are required to continue taking necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families. These measures include regular handwashing with soap and water and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

“Nigerians should maintain at least two metres distance from persons with persistent cough or sneezing. Those coughing should engage in good respiratory hygiene, which means covering their mouth and nose with tissues or handkerchiefs when coughing or sneezing. If none is available, they can cough into their elbows or the sleeve of their dress. They should dispose of the used tissue papers properly.”

As part of efforts to trace the people the new case might have had contact with, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has called on members of the public, who travelled along with the lady on British Airways to stay at home and isolate themselves.

Abayomi, who spoke at a press briefing in Lagos yesterday to corroborate the minister’s statement, said: “If you are a passenger on flight BA 75 that arrived Lagos on March 13, 2020, stay at home and isolate yourself for 14 days. Also, call our lines now: 08000corona, 08023169485, 08033565529.”
He also mentioned that the Italian index case was yet to be discharged as he was still secreting the virus.
“His health is stable, except that he has not tested negative. Once that happens and we reconfirm, we will be happy to discharge him,” he said.

National Sports Festival Suspended

The suspension of the sports meeting was announced yesterday by the Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, who said the measure, was part of the federal government’s efforts to check the potential spread of the pandemic.
“Following the briefing of Mr. President from me and the Minister of State for Health on COVID 19, Mr. President approved the immediate postponement of Edo Sports festival to a future date,” he stated, adding: “President Mohammadu Buhari approves the postponement of the National Sports Festival Edo 2020 as a precautionary move against COVID-19 spread.”

The event billed to be hosted by Edo State Government was meant to draw no fewer than 11,500 participants, a number which the government felt was too risky to congregate in view of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Briefing journalists in the State House after a meeting with the president, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Dare, said the decision to postpone the meeting was taken at a meeting involving themselves, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control yesterday morning.
According to Dare, yesterday’s meeting was a culmination of his constant contact with the Ministry of Health, Edo State Government and the local organising committee (LOC) since the outbreak of the disease.

He said after the meeting, they opted to brief the president on the decision and consequently, the president gave them the directive to postpone the event as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
He said: “Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development because of the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival has been in close touch and consultation with the Ministry of Health – particularly with both the minister of health and the minister of state, health.

“We’ve also been in consultation with the governor and deputy governor of Edo State, the LOC, and the MOC but we have had the Ministry of Health take the lead. Based on the daily review on developments, we got assurances that we could go ahead. But because we are dealing with a dynamic situation, this morning, we had a meeting at the Ministry of Health in the office of the Minister of Health with the Minister of State, Health present, I, the permanent secretary and the Director-General of NCDC.

“Shortly after the meeting, which lasted for about 45 minutes, we proceeded to the presidency to brief Mr. President. After briefing Mr. President, Mr. President took the initiative and gave the directive that the National Sports Festival, christened Edo 2020 should be postponed as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19. A new date will be communicated later based on development around COVID-19.”

Echoing Dare, Mamora said the decision was an affirmation of his submission at the press conference, he addressed on Monday where he told health correspondents that whatever decision that still needed to be taken as the developments on the disease unfold would definitely be taken.
The minister also said taking that decision had become imperative because there could be some people in the crowd that might have contacted the disease without knowing and hence, it would only result in its rapid spread.

Against that background, he said the only way to forestall the monumental spread of the disease is to ensure that the principle of social distancing is respected adding that religious gathering or any other large gathering is not advisable at this time.
Mamora said: “We felt that in the overall interest of Nigerians and national health security, it is better to err on the side of caution and therefore, we conveyed to Mr. President our thought and Mr. President thereafter kindly agreed that it was best for us to have this postponement.

“One of the things that we need to give attention to over the postponement is the possibility of people carrying the virus even without knowing – what we called A-symptomatic. That is, they carry it but they don’t even know because they are not manifesting symptoms. And what we need so far is that up to 80 to 81 per cent of people would either be A-symptomatic – that is not showing any symptoms or where they show symptoms, the symptoms may just be mild and moderate and this is a major source of what we call community transmission.

“So, the principle of social distancing has to be respected. That is preventive or advising against the congregation of a large number of people starting from the national sports festival which stands postponed. That also extends to religious gathering or any other gathering that would have a large number of people. It is not advisable at this point in time.”

Economic Advisory Council Lists Imminent Gloomy Effects of COVID-19 on Nigeria

Also yesterday, the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) in Abuja highlighted the gloomy impacts that COVID-19 would have on the Nigerian economy if the pandemic lasts long on the global scene.

Leading the eight-man team to a meeting with the president in the State House, the council chairman, Prof. Doyin Salami, listed such “sobering” imminent effects of the disease (if it lasts long) to include: slower growth, uncertainty, a further drop in oil prices, lockdowns gaining grounds around the world, oil glut, trade imbalance, drop in foreign reserves, and rise in unemployment.

A statement by the president’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Salami explained that there would be slower growth because the supply and demand sides of global economy would be affected.

In the same vein, he said the council submitted that uncertainty would pervade the economy because the situation would erode confidence as governments across the globe would jettison cooperation and choose to act unilaterally.

Furthermore, Adesina said whereas the council told Buhari that many countries of the world would go into economic recession, Nigeria in its own case could survive the looming economic woes if only it opts to work hard.
“The PEAC stressed that the projections may seem dire, but the worst may be avoided with hard work and scrupulous implementation of policies,” the statement said.

He said the council. Therefore, recommended, among others, a possible revision of the 2020 budget, with priority spending on healthcare, reprioritisation of expenditure on infrastructure to focus on projects nearing completion with pro-poor effects.
Other recommendations by the council, according to the statement, include: curtailing recurrent expenditure, mobilising the private sector to strengthen health sector infrastructure, and boosting government revenue.

It also recommended a possible revision of the 2020 Budget, with priority spending on healthcare, reprioritization of expenditure on infrastructure to focus on projects nearing completion with pro-poor effects, curtailing recurrent expenditure, mobilizing the private sector to strengthen health sector infrastructure, and boosting of government revenue, the PEAC stressed that the projections may seem dire, but the worst may be avoided with hard work and scrupulous implementation of policies.

Adesina said the president assured the council that Nigeria had foreseen the economic problems that might arise in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and would explore all alternative avenues to protect its people.

According to Adesina, with oil prices hovering between $29 and $30 in recent times, as against the $57 benchmark for 2020 budget, Buhari observed that many variables, including production cost and political impact, determine oil prices, “and we will see how to survive fallen prices, as we already envisaged the problem.”

The statement said the president also explained that protecting the people from vagaries of international economic fortunes, and associated fallen prices of oil is a priority of the government, “and we will do our best to do so.”
It also said the president emphasised the importance of education and healthcare, submitting that if people are adequately educated, “they won’t accept any form of mismanagement by the leadership, nor would they allow themselves to be manipulated by those promoting ethnic and religious sentiments.”
It added that the president promised that inputs in agriculture, education and healthcare would continue as much as practicable.

NCDC Rallies W’Africa’s Support against Pandemic

Meanwhile, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has called on West African countries to synchronise efforts so as to have a collective strategy to combat the spread of the epidemic across the continent.
He warned that if countries respond to the pandemic individually, it will not help anyone.
Ihekweazu, who was a guest on the Morning Show on Arise TV, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY was reacting to the argument that Nigeria needs to shut its borders like other countries.

He said: “Today there will be a lot of discussion at the highest level of government to review our current strategies; look at our situation in Nigeria; look at the situation across West Africa viz-a-viz the number of cases that have come in and decide on a policy. Nobody wants this to spread in Nigeria so our primary responsibility is to stop this virus from coming in, but there are many other considerations.

“On any flight out of Nigeria, people are going for surgeries – flights are coming in to bring reagents, personal protective equipment, and the things we need to respond to this outbreak. So, there is no simple answer, we have to weigh these different things and trust our leaders to make the right decision for us as a country.”

Ihekweazu stated that one of the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 outbreak is that the country needs to invest in health security architecture.
“We need our state governments to step up. We need to build laboratories; we have five molecular laboratories in Nigeria, each of them cost us a lot of sweat and hard work. I am really looking forward to investment from the private sector.

I am looking for state governments to come to the table, let’s think collectively how to build the resilience that will protect us from things like this moving forward because it is not if there will be another outbreak; it is when it will come and I hope that the legacy of this coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, the few cases we have and hopefully, we don’t have that many, is to build the infrastructure; to build the human capital expertise; to build the equipment that we need to protect us moving into the future,” he stated.
He assured Nigerians that the government is not slow in its response to the outbreak.

House urges FG to halt flights from UK, others

In a related development, the House of Representatives has urged the federal government to immediately halt all flights from COVID-19 high-risk countries, especially the United Kingdom, Italy, the United States, China and South Korea, except for Nigerians who will be tested on arrival and quarantined if necessary.

The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Health to continue to work with federal and state medical establishments to update and upgrade facilities and prepare for eventualities.

It called on the federal government and the Ministry of Youth and Sports to postpone the National Sports Festival scheduled for Edo State and other activities with a large gathering in the interest of the nation’s health and wellbeing till further notice.

These resolutions were sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion on a matter of urgent public importance entitled: ‘Urgent need for the federal government to postpone the National Sports Festival in Edo State and other large gatherings,’ sponsored by Hon. Luke Onofiok at the plenary yesterday.

Presenting the motion, Onofiok expressed gratitude on the fact that Nigeria has been fortunate to have only one index case that is said to be recovering.
The lawmaker while commending the efforts of the Edo State government in organising the sports festival, however, said the festival would bring together thousands of young Nigerians from all the states, which will mingle and inter-mingle and go back to their states to further mingle with friends, family colleagues and community with the attendant implications.
He also expressed concerns on the increasing cases of the virus in countries all over the world, saying that flights from high-risk countries should be halted till further notice.

PDP Seeks More Stringent Measures against Scourge

The PDP has charged the federal government to step up its actions, move beyond rudimentary interventions and adopt more stringent measures to further safeguard the nation from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the main opposition party said the federal government should adopt stringent pre-emptive measures by radically stepping up the international ports and border screening as well as quickly improving the internal surveillance and hygiene monitoring system.

“Our party holds that the federal government should also go beyond its proposed secondary screening of travellers from certain countries and extend the measure to all international flights coming into the country, given the prevalence of connecting flights and land border crossing by international air travellers.

“Also, the federal government should ensure that domestic airlines undertake proper screening of passengers as well as fumigation of their aircraft to guarantee the safety of air travellers within Nigeria,” PDP stated.

Lawan Wants More Test Centres Established

Also reacting to the pandemic, the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, lamented the inadequate presence of test centres across the country for the detection of COVID-19.
Lawan, while raising concerns on the unavailability of test centres in some geo-political zones of the country, said the fight against the disease should not be left to government alone.

He said: “I believe that the federal government has done well, so far, but I think there is need for them to do a little more, and that is in the area of testing centres.
“There is at the moment no testing centre in the entire South-east, at the moment, the entire North has no testing centre, and Abuja is Federal Capital Territory.

“So, the entire North has no testing centre and when you have this situation, you need to take immediate action to test and confirm whatever it is.
“So, I believe the federal government is supposed to do that, and we as an assembly are prepared to support them if the request is for resources.
“We are going to support them for those testing centres to be provided in the South-east and in the northern part.”

Nigeria High Commission Suspends Passport Issuance in Canada

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has also forced the Nigerian High Commission in Ottawa, Canada to suspend passport processing for Nigerians in different Canadian communities.
The commission said in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York that the suspension was indefinite.

It said it would, however, continue to issue Emergency Travel Certificates (ETC) and visas to applicants that need to travel urgently.
It said: “This measure is in line with the Canadian government’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s guideline of ‘social distancing’ as a ‘community mitigation strategy’ to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“It is a conscious effort by the government to reduce contact between people and hopefully stem community transmission of the virus.
“Applicants for ETC and visas should, as usual, forward their applications by mail, attaching the relevant documents.
“The ETC or visa would be processed and mailed back to the applicants accordingly.”

Dangote Fertilizer Contractor Staff Quarantined, Test Negative

Dangote Industries Limited yesterday reported a suspected case of personnel currently being kept in isolation at the Mainland hospital, Yaba, Lagos.
The company said in a statement that an Indian national, who is a staff of Onshore Construction Company-a mechanical, electrical and instrumentation contracting firm that specialises in fertilizer construction reported at the site clinic, complaining of high temperature and fever.

It stated: “His complaint triggered our Protocols, which necessitated further screening and isolation immediately. Mr. Akhil Kunyil, of the Health and Safety Environment of the Onshore Company reported the development to the management following which local authorities were contacted.

“The patient was immediately conveyed to the Lagos Mainland Hospital Centre, where he is currently being isolated and undergoing tests.”
Spokesman of Dangote Group, Mr. Tony Chiejina, however, told THISDAY last night that the contractor’s staff had tested negative for COVID-19 but was still under quarantine.

IMF Outlines Policy Steps to Address COVID-19

Obinna Chima

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated that monitoring, containing and mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 should be top priorities for countries.

The Fund, noted that timely and decisive actions by health authorities, central banks, fiscal, regulatory and supervisory authorities could help contain the virus outbreak and offset the economic impact of the pandemic.

According to the Washington-based institution, central banks must support demand and confidence by preventing tightening of financial conditions, lowering borrowing costs for households and firms, and ensuring market liquidity.

On the other hand, it urged fiscal policy authorities must step up to provide sizable support to the most affected people and firms, including in hard-to-reach informal sectors.

“Regulatory and supervisory responses must aim to preserve financial stability and banking system soundness while sustaining economic activity.

“Significant steps have been taken in recent days, going in the right direction, but more needs to be done. As the virus spreads across the globe, decisive and coordinated action is key to providing stability to the global economy and financial markets, boosting confidence, and preventing deep and prolonged economic effects.

“We must also help poorer and the most vulnerable countries by providing equipment and financing to prevent and treat infections,” it stated.
The Fund stated that it was ready to support its membership, including through financial support for the countries hardest hit.
It noted that monitoring and containment measures were essential to slow the spread of the virus and reduce the peak load on health systems.

According to the IMF, early monitoring and swift and comprehensive containment measures would slow the spread of the virus.
It pointed out that the WHO was providing guidance on health measures.
“Ensuring sufficient paid sick leave will help to curb contagion. In countries with less reliable social safety nets, health interventions must be targeted to reach informal sectors and those living in extreme poverty.

“Systematic testing is necessary to document progress and inform when it is safe to resume activity in previously affected regions.
“Ramp up public health expenditure urgently.
“Overwhelmed systems can amplify the initial shock through social anxiety, reduced detection and treatment, and heightened need for quarantine.

“Key steps include supporting medical tele-consultations and extra-ordinary recruitment in the health sector, complemented by coordinated industrial response in medical supplies production and steps to reduce negative cross-border spillovers from excessive hoarding.
“Inform populations of the seriousness of the crisis and change individual behaviors. A high-level group should be established to coordinate responses,” it added.

The IMF stated that timely and regular communication of information from credible sources was essential, including daily updates on severity.
It noted that national directives and transparent policy advice would help guide efforts and resource allocation of firms and the public sector to monitor, plan and respond to the pandemic.

“Cooperate on measures to help the vulnerable within, and across countries. It remains important to ensure that crucial medical supplies are not restricted from reaching the people and countries most in need, as it would raise infection rates further and prolong the pandemic.
“Central banks should support demand and confidence by easing financial conditions, ensuring the flow of credit to the real economy, and fostering liquidity in domestic and international financial markets.

“Central banks should provide liquidity to support market functioning and ease stresses in key funding markets, through open market operations, expanded term lending, and other measures such as outright purchases and repo facilities.

The IMF stated that monetary easing would support demand and confidence while reducing borrowing costs for households and firms. In addition, the fund noted that rate cuts (where there is policy space), stimulus could be provided through forward guidance about the expected path of monetary policy, and expansion of asset purchases (including risky assets).

It noted that temporary targeted measures would support sectors that have been hit hardest.
According to the IMF, to complement generalised policy measures, more targeted support for certain asset classes should be considered.
“Coordinated action by G7 central banks can provide stability to the global economy and financial markets. This includes coordinated monetary easing and swap lines to lessen global financial market stresses and liquidity pressures, including swap lines to emerging market economies. “Monetary policy in emerging and developing economies (EMDE) will need to balance cushioning growth with tackling external pressures, including commodity price shocks and capital flow reversals.

“The fiscal response by G20 countries has been timely but so far remains lower than during the global financial crisis. Given the temporary nature of health epidemics, the current crisis is likely to be more short-lived. “However, as the virus spreads across the globe, more needs to be done in 2020, and the case for a coordinated and synchronised global fiscal stimulus to enhance confidence is becoming stronger.

“Low-income countries (LICs) with limited domestic policy options depend critically on global growth. Many LICs are buffeted by multiple shocks on external demand, terms-of-trade and financing conditions,” the IMF added.

Banks Brace for COVID-19, Oil Price Crash

Nume Ekeghe with agency report

Nigerian banks still trying to recover from an economic contraction in 2016 now face a triple whammy of COVID-19 plunging oil prices and volatile markets that could further delay progress.

The 2014 collapse in crude dried up foreign exchange in Africa’s biggest producer of the commodity, resulting in the first recession in 25 years and a currency devaluation, a report by Bloomberg stated. Then, businesses struggled to make repayments, heaping piles of toxic loans onto the books of lenders.

The conditions, “pose downside risks to the profitability of banks in 2020, mainly given the likely impact on asset quality and loan growth,” a banking analyst at Lagos-based Chapel Hill Denham, Aderonke Akinsola said.

“Capital adequacy ratios of banks are more at risk amid the current macro realities.”

The central bank on Monday announced the extension of a one-year moratorium on the repayment of all principal debt repayments among a range of measures to buffer the economy against the impact of the coronavirus.

Oil has slumped to around $31 a barrel, below the government’s $57 target, amid a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, and as widening global efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus risks triggering a drop in demand.

If oil prices remain at current levels for the next two quarters, Nigerian banks’ problem-loan ratios could rise beyond the initial expectation of six to eight per cent, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

The Central Bank of Nigeria recently disclosed that banking industry capital adequacy ratio, liquidity and other prudential ratios have remain within desired levels, whilst the non-performing loans’ (NPLs) ratio in particular, reduced further to 6.1 percent as at end December 2019, from 6.6 percent at end-October 2019.

Most Nigerian lenders have their oil exposure hedged at $40-$50 a barrel, which will mean they would have to make provisions if prices remain where they are, said Emmanuel Adeleke, a banking analyst at ARM Investment Managers in Lagos. He, “expects flat growth in earnings for most banks this year.”

TUESDAY MARCH 17TH,2020

FG Inaugurates Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus

By Olawale Ajimotokan

The Federal government has inaugurated a Presidential Task for the control of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, who inaugurated the Task Force on Tuesday, said its composition by President Muhammadu Buhari was necessitated by monitoring of developments around the world on the outbreak of the contagion.

The Task Force has as members the Ministers of Health, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Aviation, Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management and Social Development, Education, Information, Environment and Minister of State for Health.

Others are the DG DSS, DG National Centre for Disease Control and World Health Organization representative in Nigeria.

Mustapha also announced the appointment of a National Coordinator for Coronavirus control, Dr Sani Aliyu, as a member of the Task Force.

The national coordinator will be responsible for cohesion and efficiency in the roles by the different agencies, operating in treatment of the national response strategy.

The Task Force is to be chaired by the SGF.

The members of the Task Force immediately went into a closed door meeting after the inauguration.

Mustapha said given that the actions by different countries all over the world indicated that COVID – 19 is a threat to humanity, Nigeria’s response must also be firm, scientific and methodical.

The time line for the activities of the Task Force is six month. In addition, its term of reference include strengthening the national response strategy, particularly in the area of testing, containment and management of Coronavirus and building awareness among the populace.

The Task Force can also advise government to declare a national emergency as part of the containment measures when necessary and direct the deployment of any relevant national assets when deemed expedient.

Details shortly….

Coronavirus: Lagos Postpones Annual Regatta

By Segun James

Following the coronavirus pandemic the world over, the Lagos State government Tuesday announced the postponement of the Greater Lagos Regatta and Festival earlier scheduled to hold during the Easter period to promote local tourists in the state.

The state’s Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Uzamat AkinbiIe-Yusuf, who disclosed this at a press conference in Lagos, said it is part of measures to prevent the spread of the disease among tourists and entertainers who would be participating in the event.

Akinbile-Yusuf, however, said that the festival may still take place, but that would depend on what health experts say on the continued spread of the virus that is wreaking havoc the world over.

According to her, the state government is not cancelling the event entirely but would not allow the participation of foreign artistes, especially those invited from countries where the virus is still raging.

The Greater Lagos Regatta and Festival which is an initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture is being organized in collaboration with a consulting firm, Gradient Hill Company Limited, and has been designed to espouse the tourism potential of Lagos State, celebrate the aquatic splendour of the state and market the Lagos brand to tourism investors across the world.

According to AkinbiIe-Yusuf, “Our intention is to market Lagos tourism to investors beyond the shores of this country. We want them to see and appreciate the rich cultural heritage and aquatic endowment of the state.

“While we are being restricted to limit participants for this event to tourists and fun lovers within Nigeria, because we do not want to expose Nigerians to the raging coronavirus across the world, we believe that good media coverage could still help market the tourism potentials of Lagos State to the international audience.”

She said that the state government prioritizes the well-being of its citizens and would not compromise the safety of any resident in the state or organise an event without the health implication of such an event on the entire populace.

Speaking on the preparedness of the state government for the event, the commissioner stated that adequate measures is being put in place to guarantee the safety of participants at the event.

“We have concluded plans to provide a section where people can wash their hands. In addition to this, we are equally going to have enough provisions for sanitizers to complement other precautionary measures that would still be put in place through our working relationship with the Ministry of Health,” she said.

Coronavirus: Lawan Wants more Test Centres Established in Nigeria

By Chuks Okocha and Deji Elumoye

The President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, has lamented the inadequate presence of test centres across the country for the detection of the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19) disease.

The Senate President, while raising concerns over the unavailability of test centres in some geo-political zones of the country, said the fight against the disease should not be left for the government alone.

“I believe that the federal government has done well, so far, but I think there is need for them to do a little more, and that is in the area of testing centres.

“There is at the moment no testing centre in the entire South-east. The entire north has no testing centre, Abuja is the federal capital territory.

“So, the entire north has no testing centre, and when you have this situation, you need to take immediate action to test and confirm whatever it is.

“So, I believe the federal government is supposed to do that, and we as an Assembly are prepared to support them if the request is for resources.

“We are going to support it for those testing centres to be provided in the South-east and in the northern part,” he said.

According to him, “Even those that have been established, we want to suggest that we continue to upgrade the standard. We don’t want anything to tamper with the standard requirement for those testing centres to be very functional.

“The second issue is for isolation centres that state governments are doing. Many of our states, in fact, almost every state has established one isolation centre.

“I think the Federal Ministry of Health should come up with a minimum standard. That standard should be replicated in all the states.”

Earlier, the Senate Committee Chairman on Health, Senator Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC – Kwara Central), while coming under order 43 of the Senate rules, called on Nigerians to observe the practice of prevention control.

The lawmaker, while advising Nigerians to avoid travelling to countries worst hit by the pandemic, called on the federal government to consider disallowing citizens of highly infected nations from coming to Nigeria.

“Our response so far is commendable in terms of containment. However, Mr. President, given what is going on in the world now, particularly as we speak, 27 out of the whole African countries are already affected including our neighbour, Ghana and South Africa, which are on partial lockdown.

“It is on this note I wish to observe that Nigerians need to increase the observance of the practices of prevention control.

“This include avoidance of shaking of hands. The reason for this is that hands touch all other areas of the body.

“If this practice continues, it means we could have a transmission that will go out of hand.

“Also, we have to indulge in practising hand washing frequently with soap for not less than 20 seconds.

"Monsieur. President, the other one is that if it is possible, that people should not travel to countries where we have highest cases. Now the epicentre is in Europe. Many countries in Europe are already affected, including some countries in the Middle-East like Iran and so on.

“And it is spreading to African countries now. It means except it is absolutely important, Nigerians should be advised not to travel out of this country.

“As we go along, our government will also have to consider, with what we have heard so far, disallow non-Nigerians who are citizens of countries with high rates of infections from entering our country,” Oloriegbe said.

Coronavirus: House Urges FG to Halt Flights from UK, Italy, China, US, Others

By Udora Orizu

The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Government and the Ministry of Aviation to immediately halt all flights from coronavirus high-risk countries especially the United Kingdom, Italy, United States of America, China and South Korea except for Nigerian citizens who will be tested on arrival and quarantined if necessary.

The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Health to continue to work with federal and state medical establishments to update and upgrade facilities and prepare for all eventualities.

It further urged the Federal Government  and Ministry of Youth and Sports to immediately postpone the National Sports Festival scheduled for Edo State and other activities with a large gathering in the interest of the nation’s health and wellbeing till further notice.

These resolutions were sequel to  unanimous adoption of a motion on matter of urgent public importance titled, ‘Urgent need for the Federal Government to Postpone the National Sports Festival in Edo State and other Large Gatherings,’

sponsored by Hon. Luke Onofiok at the plenary on Tuesday.

Presenting the motion, Onofiok expressed gratitude on the fact that Nigeria has been fortunate to have only one index case that is said to be recovering.

The lawmaker while commending the efforts of Edo state government in organizing the sports festival, however said the festival would bring together thousands of young healthy Nigerians from all the states which will mingle and inter-mingle and go back to their states to further mingle with friends, family colleagues and community with the attendant implications.

He also expressed concerns on the increasing cases of the virus in countries all over the world, saying that flights  from high risk countries should be halted till further notice.

He said, “The House notes the seriousness of the current global epidemic, coronavirus, which the World Health Organization has branded a Global epidemic that has so far affected almost 200,000 persons worldwide and killed over 7,000 in over 60 nations. In the United States, only the state of West Virginia is yet to report a case of Coronavirus.”

“All sporting activities in the world such as the ATP (Tennis), Judo (International Judo Federation), London Marathon, NBA, EFL, Formula 1, The US Masters, Kentucky Derby, Boxing, FA Women’s Championships, FA Women’s Super League, UEFA, LaLiga, World Cup Qualifiers, Darts, and Cricket have been cancelled or postponed due to precautions about the spread of the coronavirus, including indoor games, with schools from pre-kindergarten through universities and research centers shut down.”

“We appreciate the far-reaching efforts of governments all over the world where gatherings of more than 50 persons have been prohibited, social distancing of at least 3 feet apart is encouraged, widespread use of sanitizers recommended, and citizens encouraged to stay indoors with some cities and nations on total lockdown.”

He added that without effective social distancing and drastic steps to avoid contacts this epidemic could be easily transmitted.

FG Postpones National Sports Festival

The 20th National Sports Festival scheduled to begin on March 22 in Benin City, Edo State has been postponed.

The Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, announced the postponement of the Edo 2020 on his Twitter handle a few minutes ago.

His tweet: “Following the briefing of Mr. President (Muhammadu Buhari) from myself and the Minister of State for Health on COVID 19, Mr. President has approved the immediate postponement of Edo Sports festival to a future date.”

More to follow….

Nigeria Records Third Case of Coronavirus

Martins Ifijeh

Nigeria has recorded its third case of Coronavirus after a 30-year-old female tested positive to the virus, the Lagos State Ministry of Health has said.

Announcing this on its Twitter handle, @lsmoh Tuesday, the ministry said the new case was independent of the Italian index case.

It said: “The 30-year-old Nigerian female returned from the United Kingdom on March 13. She observed self-Isolation upon arriving the country.

“Upon developing symptoms, she reached out to us, and she has now tested positive to the virus.”

The ministry said she was presently at the Mainland General Hospital in Yaba where she is receiving care.

Details later…

FG Extends Travel Caution to Germany, France, Spain

· Receives report on containment of COVID-19 outbreak

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government yesterday added three new countries- Germany, France and Spain- to the list of five high-risk countries with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 virus for which it has issued travel caution.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari has received the report of the committee set up by the federal government to assess the health and economic impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 on the country.

Briefing journalists on efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic in the country, the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, said despite the fact that Nigeria has not recorded another confirmed case in the last one week, the government has not lost sight that the country like others is still at high risk.

He said following the review carried out by health officials, Germany, France and Spain had been added to the list of high-risk countries for which Nigeria is paying closer attention on air travels.

He said: “We continue to monitor returning travellers that fit our case definition and improve our surveillance, detection and risk communications.
“Following the declaration of a pandemic and increasing spread in the countries, we carried out a review of our case definition. We have added three new countries to the existing list of five high-risk countries with widespread community transmission. These are France, Germany and Spain. Therefore, eight countries are in our priority list- China, Japan, Iran, Italy, Republic of Korea, France and Germany.”

Mamora explained that travellers from these eight countries will undertake secondary screening at the point of entry, adding that the passengers are also advised to self-isolate for 14 days on entry.
Giving further details on the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, Mamora said: “Between the 7th of January and 15h of March 2020, a total of 48 people, who met our case definition have been screened for COVID-19 in eight states- Edo, Lagos, Ogun, FCT, Yobe, Rivers, Kano and Enugu.

“Out of which 47 tested negative and have been cleared, one was positive (contact of the index case) and one result is pending.”

Also yesterday, Osinbajo at the launch of the Integrated Medical Outreach Programme (IMOP) at the primary healthcare centre in Bwari, headquarters of the Bwari Area Council said the committee that assessed the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on the economy and healthcare sector had submitted its report.

He said: “Only recently, the president directed that a readiness check be conducted on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak covering both the economy and our healthcare sector. That report has been submitted to Mr. President. We are also carrying out readiness checks on our healthcare facilities for whatever eventuality that may arise.”

According to him, the aim of the outreach programme is to offer immunisation to all children as it is the responsibility of the federal government to vaccinate all children.

Osinbajo added that the government is undertaking along with donor partners to make available vaccines needed to combat preventable diseases.

He implored all parents, guardian and community leaders to ensure that children benefit from the initiative.

“The outreach healthcare programme is part of our overall human capacity build-up. It is targeted at the vulnerable population and underserved communities like the riverine areas and other very difficult to reach places in the country,” he stated.

MONDAY MARCH 16TH,2020

UK Records 171 More Cases from Coronavirus

The total number of people in the United Kingdom to test positive for coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has risen to 1,543, according to the latest Department of Health figures.

On Sunday, the ministry said there had been 1,372 positive cases.

Some 44,105 people have now been tested, with 42,562 negative results.

The UK says it will publish more figures on coronavirus cases later today.

Frankline Myre, a UK resident said many cases were not being tested, adding that this may play a role in the wild spread of the virus currently experienced.

“The government is not testing people who are self-isolating with mild symptoms,” he said.

Wales Confirms First Death from Coronavirus

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr. Frank Atherton, has confirmed the country’s first death from Coronavirus.

He said the 68 years old deceased was being treated at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital, but that he had an underlying health conditions.

He said: “I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends and ask that their request for privacy is respected.”

Another 30 people have tested positive for the virus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed UK cases to 1,402. More than 40,000 people have been tested so far.

Coronavirus:  Patients Escape from Quarantine Facility in Afghanistan

Dozens of Afghan patients held in isolation, including at least one confirmed to have the coronavirus, escaped from a quarantine facility in western Afghanistan on Monday after breaking windows and attacking hospital staff, officials said.

The Head of Health Department, Herat Province, Dr. Abdul Hakim Tamana said the 38 people who escaped had all recently returned from Iran.

The border province of Herat is the frontline of Afghanistan’s efforts to contain the virus, as thousands of people cross the border there from Iran – one of the world’s worst-affected countries – every day.

Afghanistan has so far confirmed 21 cases of the coronavirus, mostly in Herat.

Wahid Mayar, spokesman for the country’s Ministry of Public Health, said that the patients had escaped with the help of relatives, after beating up health workers and breaking the hospital’s windows.

The incident is likely to compound concerns by experts and health officials over the vulnerability of Afghanistan’s health infrastructure, devastated by decades of war and a lack of funds, and likely to be hard pressed to mount any sort of concerted action against a coronavirus epidemic.

Algeria Places Travel Restriction on Europe over Coronavirus

Algeria will suspend air and sea travel with Europe from March 19 over the rising spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister, Algeria, Abdelaziz Djerad said in a statement on Monday.

The statement said the suspension will be temporary and “will be accompanied by arrangements for evacuating Algerian citizens currently abroad.”

Algerian authorities had earlier suspended flights with Morocco, Spain, France and China.

Algeria has reported four deaths from coronavirus and 48 confirmed cases, mostly of people who recently visited Europe.

The coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to at least 161 countries and territories.

The death toll worldwide is now over 6,500, with more than 171,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organisation, which has declared the outbreak a “global pandemic

Tanzania, Somalia Record First Cases of Coronavirus

Two more African countries; Tanzania and Somalia on Monday confirmed their first cases of the coronavirus.

Tanzania’s Health Minister, Ummy Mwalimu, who confirmed his country’s first case, called on citizen to remain calm, adding that the 46-year-old woman who tested positive for the virus was being isolated and treated.

Mwalimu said the woman had left Tanzania for Belgium on March 3 and she also visited Sweden and Denmark between March 3-13 before returning to Belgium and then to Tanzania.

Meanwhile, Somalia’s Health Ministry also announced the country’s first case of the coronavirus.

He said via the ministry of health’s Twitter handle Monday: “The government confirms a coronavirus disease case in the country. The case, which is confirmed today, is the first one. The patient is Somali citizen who travelled back to the country from China.”

Also, Somalia has suspended all international flights for 15 days starting from Wednesday, Aviation Minister Abdullahi Salad Omaar announced on Monday.

Coronavirus: South Africa Revokes 10,000 Visas to China, Iran

South Africa is set to revoke nearly 10,000 visas issued this year to people from China and Iran, and visas will now be required for other high-risk countries that had been visa-free, including Italy and the United States.

Health Minister, South Africa, Zweli Mkhize who announced this Monday, said a lockdown might be necessary if tough new measures announced Sunday, including travel restrictions and school closings, don’t work.

He warns of a high risk of internal virus transmission with “the problem of inequality in our society.”

South Africans worry about the spread of the virus to crowded townships or public transport.

Confirmed virus cases have doubled every two days over 10 days to 61, a rate he called “explosive.”

Elsewhere, Africa’s second most populous nation, Ethiopia, has suspended schools, sporting events and other large gatherings for 15 days.

Coronavirus Pandemic, Oil Price War have Reinforced Resolve to Diversify Economy, Says FG

*Osinbajo seeks collaborative approach to build commodities market

By Ndubuisi Francis

The federal government Monday declared that unfolding events of the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic and the oil price war have further reinforced its resolve to diversify the national economy.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, who gave the indication, observed that one of the ways of doing so is to develop a vibrant commodities trading ecosystem.

Ahmed spoke in Abuja at the opening of a two-day International Conference on the Nigerian Commodities Market (ICNM 2020), organised by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, also noted that the conference underscored the readiness of the government and other stakeholders to partner in order to explore opportunities and take the nation’s commodities market to the next level.

In her address at the conference with the theme, “Commodities Trading Ecosystem: Key to Diversifying the Nigerian Economy,” the minister recalled that several national plans, programmes and projects have been directed at diversifying the production and revenue structures of the economy.

According to her, while some level of achievements have been recorded, more still needed to be done to ensure that production and exports base become more robust, less vulnerable to external shocks and provide more opportunities to the teeming population.

She stated: “Interestingly, the unfolding events of the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic and the oil price war have further reinforced our resolve to diversify our national economy,” adding that the country is well endowed with various commodities, comprising agriculture, energy and metal resources.

“For instance, the agriculture sector employs about 40% of our labour force and accounted for 22% of the country’s GDP at the end of 2019. In the last five years, the sector has recorded positive growth rates, higher than that of the entire economy, and even positive in 2016 when the entire economy went into recession.

“The mining and quarrying sector, dominated by oil and gas, is also a major component of our output, accounting for 9% of GDP. The sector is responsible for the bulk of Nigeria’s foreign exchange and government earnings.

“A further examination shows that commodity-dependent activities dominate our manufacturing sector. Specifically, production of food, beverage, tobacco, textile and wood products accounted for about 7.5% of our GDP, while trading activities accounted for 15.5% with many of what is traded being agriculture-based.”

The minister noted that when all these endowments and activities are further expanded and formalised, greater prosperity for everyone would be guaranteed.

In a keynote address, the Vice-President Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Maryam Katagum, pointed out that one of the crucial initiatives of the 10-year Capital Market Master Plan (2015 – 2025) is the need to develop a thriving commodities trading ecosystem.

This, he stated, was designed as a strategy for improving the competitiveness and attractiveness of the Nigerian capital market and to improve the market’s contribution to the national economy, adding that the conference is a major step towards achieving this objective.

Osinbajo commended SEC and its partners for organising the conference, which he described as a major initiative in the history of the nation’s commodities market.

He said: “This conference is therefore well suited for this time as we identify and map out strategies for developing our commodities’ markets as a major driver of our economic diversification efforts.

“Our country is endowed with favourable atmospheric conditions for farming as well as abundant natural resources and a teeming youthful population. Hence, the efficient use of these resources will benefit both the public and private sectors of our economy.

“With a vibrant commodities market, jobs will be created, poverty will reduce and the macroeconomic situation of the country will improve. Definitely, every responsible government is interested in seeing these improvements and this is at the heart of our administration’s policies and project implementation.”

In the realisation of these, Osinbajo disclosed that the federal government had put many initiatives in place to develop the agriculture and solid mineral sectors, adding that it is working towards establishing agricultural industrial parks (AIPs) across the six-geopolitical zones, with the sole aim of creating jobs, ensuring food sufficiency and harnessing the comparative advantage in each geopolitical zone.

In her welcome address, the SEC acting Director General, Ms. Mary Uduk, pointed out that one of the key initiatives of the Capital Market Master Plan (2015-2025) is the development of a thriving commodities trading ecosystem as part of the capital market’s contribution to the national economy.

While it is clear that Nigeria is well endowed with agricultural, metals and energy commodities, she regretted that potential in these areas are unrealised.

“The good news however is that the capital market can be used as an avenue to unlock these potentials and diversify the nation’s economy, while providing jobs, creating values and contributing to governments’ revenue.

“We believe that if we can develop and institutionalise a vibrant commodities trading ecosystem in Nigeria, we can substantially address problems such as lack of storage, poor pricing, non-standardisation, as well as low foreign exchange earnings affecting our agriculture and other commodities sub-sectors,” Uduk said, adding that the conference was therefore a step in this direction, following from the recommendations of the Commodities Ecosystem Roadmap Implementation Committee set up by the Commission in 2017.

CBN Unveils Palliative Measures to Cushion Impact of Coronavirus on Economy

  • *Cuts rates from 9 to 5 percent per annum for one year effective March 1, 2020
  • *Grants extension of moratorium on all CBN intervention facilities effective March 1, 2020
  • *Creates N50bn targeted credit facility through NIRSAL Microfinance Bank for households and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) hard hit by Covid-19
  • *Approves leave for DMBs to consider temporary and time-limited restructuring of tenor and loan terms for businesses and households most affected by the outbreak of Covid-19
  • *Credit support for healthcare industry
  • *Strengthening of CBN LDR policy for DMBs

By James Emejo in Abuja

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele Monday announced some policy measures to douse the adverse economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

The measures include a moratorium of one year on all principal repayments, effective March 1, 2020 as well as interest rate reduction on all applicable CBN intervention facilities from nine per cent to five per cent per annum for one year effective March 1, 2020.

Speaking at a media briefing, the apex bank boss also announced the creation of a N50 billion targeted credit facility through the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank for households and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that had been particularly hard hit by Covid-19, including but not limited to hoteliers, airline service providers, health care merchants, among others.

Emefiele said: “As many Nigerians now realise, the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic is having significant adverse consequences for both the global and the Nigerian economies.

“It has already led to unprecedented disruptions in global supply chains, sharp reduction in crude oil prices, turmoil in global stock and financial markets, widespread cancellations in sporting, entertainment and business events, lockdown of large swaths of movements of persons in many countries, and intercontinental travel restrictions across critical air routes in the world.

“These outcomes have had serious adverse implications for key sectors including but not limited to oil and gas, airlines, manufacturing, trade and consumer markets.”

He said that in furtherance of its financial stability mandate, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was committed to providing support for affected households, businesses, regulated financial institutions, and other stakeholders in order to cushion the adverse economic impacts of this pandemic.

He said the bank stands ready to provide liquidity backstops as and when required in view of its role as banker to the Federal Government and lender of last resort.

Emefiele added that the CBN would continue to monitor developments and issue further updates as may be appropriate.

Below is the full statement read by the governor:

CBN POLICY MEASURES IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) OUTBREAK AND SPILLOVERS.

Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen for being here. The Central Bank of Nigeria has invited you all here today for two main reasons:

First, we are here to provide you with our understanding of the preliminary effects of the outbreak of the Coronavirus, which began in Wuhan, China in December 2019;

Second, and more importantly, we are to announce our immediate policy responses, which reflect our understandings of the effects.

As many Nigerians now realize, the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic is having significant adverse consequences for both the global and the Nigerian economies. It has already led to unprecedented disruptions in global supply chains, sharp reduction in crude oil prices, turmoil in global stock and financial markets, widespread cancellations in sporting, entertainment and business events, lockdown of large swaths of movements of persons in many countries, and intercontinental travel restrictions across critical air routes in the world. These outcomes have had serious adverse implications for key sectors including but not limited to oil and gas, airlines, manufacturing, trade and consumer markets.

In furtherance of its financial stability mandate, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is committed to providing support for affected households, businesses, regulated financial institutions, and other stakeholders in order to cushion the adverse economic impacts of this pandemic.

Accordingly, the CBN hereby announces the following policy measures:

1. EXTENSION OF MORATORIUM:

All CBN intervention facilities are hereby granted a further moratorium of one year on all principal repayments, effective March 1, 2020. This means that any intervention loan currently under moratorium are hereby granted additional period of one year. Accordingly, participating financial institutions are hereby directed to provide new amortization schedules for all beneficiaries.

2. INTEREST RATE REDUCTION:

Interest rates on all applicable CBN intervention facilities are hereby reduced from 9 to 5 percent per annum for 1 year effective March 1, 2020.

3. CREATION OF A N50 BILLION TARGETED CREDIT FACILITY:

The CBN hereby establishes a facility through the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank for households and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have been particularly hard hit by Covid-19, including but not limited to hoteliers, airline service providers, health care merchants, etc.

4. CREDIT SUPPORT FOR HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY:

To meet potential increase in demand for Healthcare services and products, the CBN hereby opens for its intervention facilities, loans to pharmaceutical companies intending to expand/open their drug manufacturing plants in Nigeria, as well as to Hospital and Healthcare practitioners who intend to expand/build the Health facilities to first class centres. This is in addition to growing the size of existing interventions to the Agricultural and Manufacturing sectors in Nigeria.

5. REGULATORY FORBEARANCE:

The CBN hereby grants all Deposit Money Banks leave to consider temporary and time-limited restructuring of the tenor and loan terms for businesses and households most affected by the outbreak of Covid-19 particularly Oil & Gas, Agriculture, and manufacturing. The CBN would work closely with DMBs to ensure that the use of this forbearance is targeted, transparent and temporary, whilst maintaining individual DMB’s financial strength and overall financial stability of the system.

6. STRENGHTENING OF THE CBN LDR POLICY:

In view of the success of the LDR Policy in growing credit to the economy and reducing interest rates, the CBN would further support industry funding levels to maintain DMBs’ capacity to direct credit to individuals, households, and businesses. We will also consider additional incentives to encourage extension of longer tenured credit facilities. DMBs are encouraged to continue to build capital buffers in order to improve resilience of the sector.

The Bank stands ready to provide liquidity backstops as and when required in view of its role as Banker to the Federal Government and lender of last resort.

The CBN shall continue to monitor developments and will issue further updates as may be appropriate.

Thank you for your attendance.

Table on Coronavirus Indices Globally (As at March 15th 2020)

Pays Total Cases Total Deaths Total Recovered Serious, Critical
Afghanistan

16

1
Albanie

42

1

2

Algérie

48

4

dix

Andorre

5

Antigua-et-Barbuda

1

Argentine

46

2

1

Arménie

26

Aruba

2

Australie

300

5 27

1

L'Autriche

860

1 6

1

Azerbaïdjan

23

1

6

Bahamas

1

Bahrein

214

77

2

Bangladesh

5

2

Biélorussie

27

3

Belgique

886

4 1

33

Bhoutan

1

Bolivie

dix

Bosnie Herzégovine

24

Brésil 191 1 2
Brunei 50
Bulgarie 51 2
Burkina Faso 3
Cambodge 12 1
Cameroun 4
Canada 321 1 11 1
VOITURE 1
Îles Caïmans 1
Channel Islands 3
Chili 75
Chine 80,849 3,199 66,934 3,226
Colombie 34
Congo 1
Costa Rica 35 3
Croatie 49 2
Cuba 4
Curacao 2
Chypre 33 1
Tchéquie 253 2
Danemark 864 2 1 2
Diamond Princess 696 sept 456 15
République Dominicaine 11
DRC 2
Équateur 37 2 1
Egypte 126 2 27
Guinée Équatoriale 1
Estonie 171 1
Eswatini 1
Ethiopie 4
Faeroe Islands 11
Finlande 244 dix
France 5,423 127 12 400
Guyane Française sept
Polynésie française 3
Gabon 1
Géorgie 33 1 1
Allemagne 5,813 11 46 2
Ghana 6
Gibraltar 1 1
Grèce 331 4 8 5
Guadeloupe 3
Guam 3
Guatemala 1
Guinée 1
Guyane 4 1
Honduras 3
Hong Kong 149 4 81 4
Hongrie 32 1 1
Islande 180 1
Inde 112 2 13
Indonésie 117 5 8
J'ai couru 13,938 724 4,590
Irak 124 dix 26
Irlande 170 2 1 6
Israël 213 4 2
Italie 24,747 1,809 2,335 1,672
Côte d'Ivoire 4
Jamaïque dix 2
Japon 839 24 144 36
Jordan dix 1
Kazakhstan 9
Kenya 3
Koweit 112 9 4
Lettonie 30 1
Liban 99 3 1 3
Liechtenstein sept
Lituanie 12 1
Luxembourg 77 1
Macao 11 dix
Malaisie 428 42 9
Maldives 13
Malte 21 2
Martinique dix
Mauritanie 1
Mayotte 1
Mexique 43 4 1
Moldova 23
Monaco 2
Mongolie 1
Maroc 28 1 1 1
Namibie 2
Népal 1 1
Pays-Bas 1,135 20 2 45
Nouvelle-Zélande 8
Nigeria 2 1
Macédoine du Nord 19 1
Norvège 1,254 3 1 27
Oman 22 9
Pakistan 53 2
Palestine 38
Panama 43 1
Paraguay sept 1
Pérou 71
Philippines 140 11 2 1
Pologne 125 3 13 3
le Portugal 245 2 9
Porto Rico 4
Qatar 401 4
Roumanie 139 9 1
Russie 63 8
Rwanda 5
Réunion sept
S. Korea 8,162 75 834 59
Sainte-Lucie 2
Saint Martin 2
Saint Marin 109 sept 4 11
Arabie Saoudite 118 2
Sénégal 24 2
Serbie 48 1 1
les Seychelles 3
Singapour 226 105 11
Slovaquie 61
Slovénie 219 1 3
Afrique du Sud 61
Espagne 7,843 292 517 272
Sri Lanka 18 1
St. Barth 1
St. Vincent Grenadines 1
Soudan 1 1
Suriname 1
Suède 1,040 3 1 2
Suisse 2,217 14 4
Taïwan 59 1 20
Thaïlande 114 1 35 1
Aller 1
Trinité-et-Tobago 2
Tunisie 20 2
dinde 18
U.S. Virgin Islands 1
Émirats arabes unis 98 20 2
Royaume-Uni 1,391 35 20 20
Ukraine 3 1
Uruguay 6
USA 3,557 68 59 dix
Ouzbékistan 4
Cité du Vatican 1
Venezuela 17
Vietnam 56 16
Total: 169,175 6,499 76,618 5,921

Coronavirus: WHO Rejects Calls for Postponement of Tokyo 2020

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defiantly rejected suggestions that it should advice the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to postpone Tokyo 2020 as a precaution to prevent the spread of the virus.

The spokesman of WHO, Tarik Jasarevic, in an exclusive email exchange with THISDAY, said it was not the role of the body to advice for the call off any event.

This position is coming in spite of the cancellation of several international sporting events by organisers to mitigate the spread of the disease.

WHO had on Thursday declared the virus, otherwise known as Covid-19, a pandemic, acknowledging that the outbreak, which has already afflicted dozens of countries and killed more than 4,600 people and infected more than 100,000 people is capable of spreading to all countries on the globe.

The Summer Olympics, the world’s most prestigious sporting games is seen as a potential catalyst for the spread of the pandemic given that the IOC has projected that 11,000 athletes from 206 countries will participate in the quadrennial events.

Jasarevic told THISDAY that onus on the making of proportional and evidence-based decisions about the cancellation of the 2020 Olympics falls on the national authorities of Japan.

The WHO spokesman said Japan should make such decision after it has carried out an assessment about the risk of holding the event in their country.

He also called on the Japanese local health authorities to be involved in these processes so that in the event a case of coronavirus infection occurs during the gathering, it can be taken care of immediately and effectively.

He insisted that the role of WHO is just to provide a guidance that can inform organisations and risk assessment and support on any potential impact on health.

“It is not the role of WHO to call off or not call off any type of events.

WHO works closely with countries and international organizations that plan mass gatherings to provide rational and science-based public health guidance and recommendations, when preparing for mass gatherings as well as recommendations on measures during and after gatherings so that risks can be managed and mitigated,” Jasarevic declared.
He noted that the Olympics and any other mass gathering can never be zero-risk, adding the IOC and the LOC must put in place a risk management strategy accordingly, so that risks can be managed based on the setting, the participants, the location and duration.

“WHO has a long-term collaboration with relevant international organisations, such as the International Olympic Committee. We have teams working on the organisation of Olympics in the last two decades and we have been in contact with the medical team of the Rio Carnival. WHO works every single year with organisers of religious events, such as the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. WHO is closely working with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in guiding the travel and tourism sectors’ response to COVID-19,” he said.

More Countries Tighten Control as Coronavirus Kills 6,000

Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu, Chinedu Eze, Martins Ifijeh in Lagos and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

More than 164, 000 people have been infected by Coronavirus globally and over 6, 000 have died from the virus, according to Worldometers compilation of government announcement.

However, more countries are tightening control as part of measures to curb the rising spread of the disease, which has hit virtually all continents.

Spain, for instance, placed the country on lockdown yesterday after more than 100 deaths were reported in Austria and Philippines resort, with an overall 2,000 new cases across the country.

Kazakhstan announced a state of emergency in a bid to contain the outbreak.

In Austria, the government banned gatherings of more than five people as Philippines sealed off Manila in the most aggressive response to the pandemic yet seen in South-east Asia.

Kenya, on its part, yesterday unveiled a series of strict measures to curb Coronavirus spread, blocking entry to the country to all except citizens and residents and shutting schools as the number of confirmed cases rose to three.

In Britain, the number of deaths of Britons with Coronavirus jumped by 14 in the last 24 hours to 35, while the number of people diagnosed rose by 20 per cent to 1,372, health authorities said.

The British government said earlier it would step up its response to the crisis, including isolating older people “in the coming weeks

Ghana Imposes Travel Restriction to all Travellers

As part of efforts to curb the spread of the disease, Ghana yesterday imposed travel restriction on all travellers, except Ghanaians or those resident in Ghana, coming into the country following six confirmed cases of Coronavirus recorded by the country.

Ghanaian Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said in a statement that “all travel to Ghana is strongly discouraged until further notice.”

According to him, any traveller, except for Ghanaian citizens and persons with Ghana residence permits, who, within the last I4 days has been to a country that has recorded at least 200 cases of Covid-l9, will not be admitted into the Ghanaian jurisdiction.

“Airlines are instructed not to allow such persons to embark. Border posts are instructed not to allow such persons into the jurisdiction,” he added.

Nkrumah said there would be a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for persons who are otherwise allowed to enter the Ghanaian jurisdiction.

He added that guidelines for self-quarantine would be available at the various Ghanaian ports of entry, stressing that enforcement protocols are being deployed in collaboration with state security and health authorities.

“Persons determined to be unable to satisfactorily self-quarantine will be quarantined by the State. Any admissible traveller, who exhibits symptoms of Covid-l9 will be quarantined and tested upon reaching Ghana,” Nkrumah added.

Enugu Coronavirus Suspect Tests Negative

The patient who was quarantined in Enugu on suspicion of coronavirus has tested negative for the disease.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed this in a tweet last night.

The centre had earlier said the result of the test conducted on the patient would be available on Monday but on Sunday night, it made the status of the patient known.

“The laboratory result of the patient in Enugu suspected to have #COVID19 is NEGATIVE. It is important to wait for confirmation from NCDC before spreading information on social media. NCDC will continue to provide updates to the public,” the tweet read.

The state government had earlier confirmed that it had quarantined a female septuagenarian suspected to be down with the dreaded Covid-19 at its isolation centre within the capital city.

The woman was said to have returned from United Kingdom recently and showed signs of having contacted the dreaded virus.

Following this development, the state government has released the sum of N20 million to the management of the State Isolation Centre to ensure that the facilities are optimally ready to deal with the situation and any other emergency that may arise over the weekend.

A statement by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chidi Aroh, stated that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has provided the required leadership and logistic support to ensure that the state Ministry of Health and the Emergency Operation Centre are functioning at optimal level and fully ready to deal with any emergency in the state.

UAE Bans Nigerians, Others

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also restricted access to the country, banning travellers from Nigeria, among others, from coming in.

The Emirates issued a statement yesterday, saying some countries can still get visa on arrival in Dubai International, according to Dubai Airports Authority.

This was confirmed by the source close to the Emirates in Nigeria, who explained that it was part of the process to protect the country’s borders from the pandemic.

“I can confirm that it is true. I received the information. Every government is trying to protect its own country because the disease is gradually affecting everybody. So they have to protect their borders.

“Passengers with passports from the following countries can continue to travel to and from the UAE, but they may be subject to additional screening,” the source said.

THISDAY learnt that from today, UAE would stop issuing visa to citizens whose countries were banned from travelling to the Middle East country, after utilisation of the current visa, such persons would not be allowed to travel to the country.

The countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece and Hong Kong.

Others include Hungary, Island, Ireland, Italy (from Rome only), Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Netherland, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Sam Marino.

The rest include, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Vatican, United Kingdom and the United States.

Meanwhile, more countries in Africa have banned passengers from certain countries from entering their borders.

South Africa has also placed travel ban on UK, US and others and revoked those already issued.

Five Valencia Players, Staff Test Positive for Coronavirus

Five Valencia players and staff are “in good health” after testing positive for coronavirus, the club announced yesterday.

Valencia and Argentina defender Ezequiel Garay became the first La Liga player to announce a positive test earlier on Sunday.

Spain’s La Liga was suspended on Thursday after the Real Madrid squad went into quarantine.

Spain is the second worst-hit country in Europe after Italy and is set to declare a national lockdown on Monday.

“It is clear I have started 2020 with bad luck,” Garay, 33, wrote on Instagram.

“I am very well and must obey health authorities and stay isolated.”

A Valencia statement said the affected players and staff were “in their homes in good health and under isolation measures”.

“We are confident that with solidarity, responsibility and good spirits we will beat this pandemic,” the club added.

In the case involving Real Madrid, a member of their basketball team – who used the same training facilities as the football team – tested positive, leading to the side’s quarantine.

Several players in Italy’s Serie A have tested positive for the virus, including on-loan Wolves forward Patrick Cutrone.

Also yesterday,Wayne Rooney insisted that the UK government and football authorities have treated footballers as “guinea pigs” during the coronavirus outbreak.

Elite football in Britain has been suspended until at least 3 April, with the Premier League saying “conditions at the time” will determine its return.

“For players, staff and their families it has been a worrying week,” he said.

“One in which you felt a lack of leadership from the government and from the FA and Premier League.”

Writing in his column in the UK’s Sunday Times, the former England captain said: “The rest of sport – tennis, Formula 1, rugby, golf, football in other countries – was closing down and we were being told to carry on.

“I think a lot of footballers were wondering, ‘Is it something to do with money being involved in this?’. Why did we wait until Friday? Why did it take Mikel Arteta (Arsenal manager) to get ill for the game in England to do the right thing,” queried the former Manchester United star.

NATIONAL SPORTS FESTIVAL

150 Medics to Screen Athletes, Others for Coronavirus

By Adibe Emenyonu

With less than a week to the hosting of the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF) in Benin City, the Edo State, the state government has said it is deploying 150 medical personnel to offer essential medical services and other measures to ward off the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak during the games.

Chairman, Local Organising Committee (LOC) and Deputy Governor of the state, Hon. Phillip Shaibu, disclosed this at the NSF Secretariat in Government House, Benin City at the weekend.

Shaibu noted that the state government has procured five scanners and Infrared thermometers to be stationed in the stadiums and the Benin Airport to check for high body temperature of athletes and fans during the games.

He stressed that the state government is taken necessary measures to ward off the Covid-19 outbreak at the NSF 2020.

According to him, “We will be monitoring the contingents as they arrive in Edo. We are going to screen them before they have access into the city and the Games Village where they will be accommodated.

“We will commence daily screening for all the athletes and officials before every game. We have two isolation wards put in place for eventualities.”

He said discussion was ongoing with the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports, and the Main Organising Committee (MOC) on whether to allow foreign athletes to participate in the games.

Chairman, Medical Sub-Committee of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Prof. Darlington Obaseki, said as part of preparedness for the Edo 2020 NSF scheduled to hold from March 22 to April 1, in Benin City, 150 medical personnel including orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthetists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, 45 paramedics, nurses and other auxiliary staff are ready to provide medical services.

Prof Obaseki who is the Chief Medical Director, University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), noted: “We are ready to provide medical services to cover about 11,500 athletes and coaches as well as spectators for the games,” he said.

He noted that comprehensive medical centres would be mounted at the Games’ Village, the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium as well as accommodation halls for athletes and coaches.

Prof Obaseki added that 30 mobile medical units had been constituted and would be stationed at the different sporting arenas, which will be supported with 10 ambulances with effective communication system to go around the different game centres.

He said five mobile ambulance carts would be procured for quick retrieval of injured athletes from the field, adding that to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), there will be continuous health awareness on the need to always wash hands with soap and water, and promote the use of hand sanitizers that would be provided at the game venues and accommodation centres.

Also, representative of the Chief Medical Director of Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Prof. Danny Asogun said test kits were available at the hospital to test samples for coronavirus and give results within eight hours.

He added that the two samples tested for coronavirus in the hospital were negative, assuring members of the public not to panic as there was no case of the virus in the state.

The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, said that different health teams are carrying out sensitisation campaigns across the state, including motor parks, on the need to have hands washing points, noting that contact information has been released to different transportation operators to report suspected cases.

How Coronavirus Pandemic is Sweeping Across Continents

Martins Ifijeh

As Coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, not less than 6,456 persons have died so far, with 167,693 persons infected by the respiratory disease in 159 countries across six continents.

Apart from Antarctica, other continents, including Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Oceania have been hit by the virus which started December 19, 2019 in Wuhan city, China.

One international conveyance; the Diamond Princess Cruise ship harbored in Yokohama, Japan has also been hit by the dreaded disease.

Asia is Worse Hit

In Asia, all countries on the continent, except East Timor, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Syria, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, have all reported cases of the virus, with China, which is the epicenter of the virus, worse hit by the spread.

So far, 110,000 cases have been recorded in Asia alone. Although reports of new infections outside of China have accelerated, it has outpaced new cases in China for the first time. China still accounts for most of the cases reported overall since the beginning of the outbreak.

As at March 15, China has recorded 80, 849 cases with 3, 199 deaths, while 66, 931 persons have recovered from the disease in the country. Presently, there are 3, 226 persons on critical care battling with the disease in China.

China Puts Entire Country on Lockdown

Chinese government has put the entire country on lockdown, and has taken other drastic measures to curtail the spread, including building emergency clinics for diagnosis, isolation and treatment.

It has mandated all residents to remain in their homes for almost 50 days; a policy that is controlling the movements of over a billion people.

Citizens are also financially rewarded for reporting those who fail to follow quarantine orders; a move the health ministry believed reflects a decades-long history of social control.

Iran, which is the second worse hit country in Asia, has had 13, 938 cases, with 724 deaths so far recorded.

Among those who have been infected are parliamentarians, its deputy health minister, and other high profiled government officials, including a 71-year-old senior adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who died last week.

How Iran is Curtailing the Spread

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Zavad Jarif said the government has ordered the ban on all public gatherings, including Friday prayers in Tehran and other major cities, schools, transport systems, and other places with high risk.

He said: “Strict preventive measures, including screening of air travelers at departure gates must be implemented.”

A few days earlier, he had pleaded for supplies for Iran, including masks, ventilators, test kits, and protective wear, blaming the United States sanctions for endangering Iranians.

South Korea has recorded 8,162 cases and 75 deaths, while Japan has recorded 832 cases and 24 deaths.

South Korea’s largest outbreak is in the city of Daegu, which accounts for more than three-quarters of cases.

South Korea Measures against Coronavirus

The Asian country, where the number of new cases has been on the decline, has been a model of coronavirus testing. The country has 50 drive-through screening clinics where people can get a medical examination and have a sample taken in just 10 minutes. Health workers are processing up to 15,000 tests every day.

The country also is subsidizing small- and medium-sized business owners so they can provide flexible work hours to employees who have children home from school, ABC News had reported.

Kindergartens and elementary schools are required to operate emergency child-care for those whose parents are working.

Europe is Second Most Hit Continent

Although COVID-19 spread has slowed down in Asia, especially China, same cannot be said of Europe which records increased cases daily, with Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Switzerland worse hit.

As at yesterday, about 49,000 people have been infected by the virus in Europe with about 2,300 persons said to have lost their lives.

The most hit country on the continent is Italy, with a total of 24, 747 cases and 1,809 deaths; an unfortunate scenario that has prompted the Italian government to put the country on total lockdown; banning all public events, as well as putting decrees in place to force residents to remain in their homes until the outbreak is defeated.

The 368 deaths Italy reported last Saturday exceeds the highest single-day number China reported at the height of its outbreak. China’s highest daily toll was on February 13 when the country reported 254 new deaths, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Italy’s Approach against Coronavirus

As part of measures to curtail the spread, the Italian government has banned public gatherings, with freedom of movement sharply curtailed. It also suspended all domestic sporting events in the country until April 3 — a big deal in soccer-prone Italy.

In a release last week, the Italian health ministry said the citizens must change their habits. It cited the rising number of cases and deaths as some of the reasons for the drastic measures. It also warned that with the spread of the virus, its health system was being strained; hence all residents must comply for the greater good.

Spain is the second most hit country in Europe with 7, 843 infected persons and 292 deaths. Although 517 persons have recovered from the disease in the country, 272 infected persons are said to be in critical condition with aggravated symptoms of COVID 19.

The Spanish government Saturday placed the entire nation on lockdown, calling all public and private institutions to suspend activities until further notice.

Germany has recorded 5, 813 cases with 11 deaths. The country has so far recorded one of the least deaths when compared to number of persons infected.

Same cannot be said of France which has recorded 5, 432 infected cases, as 127 are said to have died since the first outbreak was recorded in the country.

France Puts Country on Lock down

France announced a nationwide ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people, with exemptions for public transit. The Paris Marathon and a Six Nations rugby match against Ireland have both been postponed until October.

The government has placed additional restrictions on four zones with clusters of coronavirus cases: “Morbihan in Brittany, Haute-Savoie in eastern France near the Swiss border and the départements of Oise and Haut-Rhin in North east France. In these places, there is a ban on all public gatherings including markets, community groups and church services,” according to Local France reports.

President Emmanuel Macron yesterday also advised citizens nationwide against visiting older people as part of efforts to avoid spreading the disease to those most vulnerable.

Switzerland has recorded 2,217 cases and 14 deaths, while United Kingdom has recorded 1,372 cases and 35 deaths. Norway has recorded 1,242 cases and three deaths.

Considering the widespread of the virus in Europe, the United States President, Donald Trump last week, placed a travel ban on all European countries, including the United Kingdom and Ireland; a move the European Union frowned at.

North America is Not Left out

North America has become the third most hit continent with the United States recording the highest on the continent.

As of March 15, over 3,400 persons have been infected across several states in the US, while at least 317 persons have died so far.

Although the country did not take drastic measures on time, according to pundits, it has now placed several countries in Asia, including the whole of Europe on travel ban as part of measures to address the growing spread of the virus.

Trump Saturday underwent a test to ascertain whether or not he has been infected by the virus, after he had contact with the Brazilian president who eventually tested negative to the virus.

Canada has also experienced its fair share of the disease with at least 317 persons said to be infected so far. Only one death has been recorded in the country.

One of those who have been infected is the wife of the Canadian President Sophie Trudeau, although her husband has tested negative to the virus.

Africa Now Experiencing a Steady Spread of Coronavirus

Although it took Africa over 50 days after the outbreak in Wuhan before it recorded its first case of the virus, it has now started seeing a steady spread of the disease with 26 countries so far affected in three weeks.

Africa has 54 countries in total.

The countries affected on the continent are; Egypt, Algeria, South Africa, Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Togo, DR Congo, Congo, Seychelles, Rwanda, Central African Republic, Namibia, Sudan, Mauritania, Eswatini, Kenya, Guinea, Ghana, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Republic of Congo.

Eswatini, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritania, Namibia and Rwanda reported their first cases Saturday. All were brought to the continent by travelers from overseas, as with almost all the other cases reported in Africa, according to health authorities.

So far, Egypt is the 45e most affected country globally, and the most affect in Africa with 110 cases and two deaths.

Nigeria has recorded only two cases. One of the two has recovered, while the index case, an Italian, is said to be fast recovering, although he is still secreting the virus.

How Nigeria is Addressing Coronavirus

The Nigerian government has placed five countries with community transmission of COVID-19, comprising Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and China on its watch list.

It said travellers from these countries are asked to observe self-isolation for 14 days upon arriving in the country, and that additional information were given to persons from coming from these countries to enable them seek proper guidance should they come down with the virus during isolation.

The Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said the country has also strengthened its Ports Health Services and its various laboratories across the country for effective diagnosis and other protocols.

Ihekweazu said: “We have been preparing for this for the past six weeks. So far, we have done several tests and only two came up positive. This shows our system is actually working. We are testing people that meet our case definition.

“As you have seen in Lagos, we have had only two positive case and we have been able to mount a response in partnership with Ogun and Lagos States.

“This virus is circulating around the world and over 157 countries have been affected. We will do our very best to ensure it doesn’t further enter Nigeria and even if a few more cases happen, we can walk together to defeat it. Nigerians are also very cooperative. They have shown that truly, we can come together to address these incidents.”

According to him, one of the best investments the federal government has made is setting up NCDC, which has grown to become the pride of Africa.
He said the centre has a team of 250 persons who work 24/7 in the laboratories, surveillance, risk communication, among others; NCDC, he added, had built a team of scientific experts.

“We are building a long term investment in science, thinking and in knowledge base as this will help us respond to incidence like this.

“We have 23 emergency operation centres in the country as of today. This is an investment we have made over the past few years. We have five new molecular laboratories, which are actually not easy to set up. The buildings are actually the easiest part. The more difficult ones are the laboratory and scientific expertise, the reagents, and the likes,” he added.

He called on state governments to invest in health security, adding that the federal government cannot tackle issues around disease outbreaks alone.

Meanwhile, seven African countries recorded increases in their coronavirus tallies yesterday.

The seven countries are Cameroon, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Senegal, South Africa and Ethiopia. Seychelles, Mauritania, Rwanda, Namibia, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Eswatini all recorded index cases Sunday.

Cameroon’s Health Ministry late Sunday confirmed that the country had recorded its fourth case of the coronavirus. The March 15 statement read in part: “The fourth case involves a 34-year-old Cameroonian citizen living in Yaounde.”

Rwanda announced that it  has confirmed four more cases, bring its total to five after the index case was reported on Saturday. The cases involved three Rwandans and a Ugandan.

Ghana had reported four new cases bringing the tally to six. The West African nation announced first two cases last Thursday. The government also announced a travel ban for persons from countries that had 200 or more coronavirus cases.

In a statement yesterday, the Ghanaian government said it has imposed travel restrictions on all travellers coming into the country following six confirmed cases.

In a statement issued by the Minister of Health, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, it said “all travel to Ghana is strongly discouraged until further notice.”

“Any traveler, except for Ghanaian citizens and persons with Ghana residence permits, who, within the last I4 days. has been to a country that has recorded at least 200 cases of Covid-l9, will not be admitted into the Ghanaian jurisdiction. Airlines are instructed not to allow such persons to embark. Border posts are instructed not to allow such persons into the jurisdiction.”

Nkrumah said that there would be a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for persons who are otherwise allowed to enter the Ghanaian juridiction.

He added that guidelines for self-quarantine would be available at the various Ghanaian ports of entry, stressing that enforcement protocols are being deployed in collaboration with state security and health authorities.

Nkrumah added, “Persons determined to be unable to satisfactorily self-quarantine will be quarantined by the State. Any admissible traveler, who exhibits symptoms of Covid-l9 will be quarantined and tested upon reaching Ghana.”

In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta disclosed at a press conference on Sunday that two new cases had been confirmed. The government announced a raft of measures including ban on public gatherings.

Senegal’s Health Ministry in its daily updates disclosed that two cases had been confirmed bringing the total number of cases to 26 out of which two have recovered and the remaining still undergoing treatment.

Ethiopian authorities said contact tracing associated with the index case led to 117 persons out of which three tested positive. They are two Japanese and an Ethiopian. The index patient was a Japanese.

South Africa’s confirmed case toll hits 61 leading to a raft of stringent measures imposed by government. South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal have all banned public gatherings in order to curb the outbreak.

Amérique du Sud

While the number of coronavirus cases in South America remains relatively low, they are rising steadily.

Brazil now has 121 confirmed cases, Chile has 61 cases, Peru 38, Argentina 34, and Mexico 23. Uruguay and Venezuela each have fewer than 10.

Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Uruguay and other countries on the continent have outlined measures to combat the pandemic, including placing travel restrictions on high risk countries.

Océanie

Oceania is the continent least hit by coronavirus, although the spread is gradually on the rise, no death has been recorded. Australia has so far experienced 300 cases.

Guam, French Polynesia and New Zealand have all recorded one case each with no deaths.

Fiji is yet to record any case, but it has toughened border security. Fiji’s government said it has closed all borders to foreign nationals who have been in mainland China and other high risk countries within 14 days of their intended travel to Fiji.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, announced that from today, cruise ships will be banned from berthing anywhere in Fiji and international events will not be allowed in Fiji, adding that government ministers and staff will be restricted from traveling overseas.

SUNDAY MARCH 15TH, 2020

Coronavirus: Ghana Imposes Travel Restrictions

By Adedayo Akinwale

Ghanaian government has imposed travel restrictions on all travellers coming into the country following six confirmed cases of Coronavirus recorded by the country.

Ghanaian government disclosed this in a statement issued on Sinday by Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who announced that “all travel to Ghana is strongly discouraged until further notice.”

According to him, “Any traveler, except for Ghanaian citizens and persons with Ghana residence permits, who, within the last I4 days. has been to a country that has recorded at least 200 cases of Covid-l9. Will not be admitted into the Ghanaian juridiction. Airlines are instructed not to allow such persons to embark. Border posts are instructed not to allow such persons into the jurisdiction.”

Nkrumah said that there would be a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for persons who are otherwise allowed to enter the Ghanaian juridiction.

He added that guidelines for self-quarantine would be available at the various Ghanaian ports of entry, stressing that enforcement protocols are being deployed in collaboration with state security and health authorities.

Nkrumah added, “Persons determined to be unable to satisfactorily self-quarantine will be quarantined by the State. Any admissible traveler, who exhibits symptoms of Covid-l9 will be quarantined and tested upon reaching Ghana.”

Enugu Quarantines COVID-19 Suspect

Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

The Enugu State Government on Sunday confirmed that it has quarantined a female septuagenarian suspected to be down with the dreaded Covid-19 at its isolation centre within Enugu, the capital city.

The woman was said to have returned from the United Kingdom recently and showed signs of having contacted the dreaded virus.

The Isolation Centre, which is domiciled at Colliery Hospital, Enugu had received patients with diseases like Lassa Fever among others in recent times.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Ifeanyi Agujiobi, who confirmed the development to reporters, said the ministry had sent the suspect’s specimen for test, urging residents in the state not to panic as the state awaits the outcome of the test.

He disclosed that the state had alerted the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control of the situation, adding that the patient was being closely monitored.

THISDAY checks revealed that the samples were taken to Irrua Specialist Hospital, Edo State for test.

The permanent secretary further disclosed that once the test result returns positive, the process of contact tracing would commence to ensure that all the people who had contacts with the patient were traced and taken to the isolation centre.

Newborn Baby Tests Positive for Coronavirus in UK

A newborn baby and thep mother have tested positive for the coronavirus in London.

The pair have been separated, and doctors are working to find out if the baby contracted Covid-19 in the womb or after being born.

According to The Sun, the expectant mother was rushed to hospital a few days before giving birth because she was showing signs of pneumonia.

She was said to have given birth to the child at North Middlesex Hospital, near Tottenham, before her test result came through.

The baby, whose sex is unknown, was tested within minutes of being delivered and was also found to have the disease.

It is reported that the child has stayed at Norths Mids, while the mother has been transferred to a specialist infections hospital.

A source told The Sun: “Staff in contact with both patients have been advised to self-isolate.

“Health officials are urgently trying to find out the circumstances behind their infections.”

A spokesman for North Middlesex University Hospital said: “Two patients at North Middlesex University Hospital have tested positive for coronavirus.

“One has been transferred to a specialist centre and one is being treated in an isolation room.

“The safety of our patients and staff is our top priority, so in following guidance from Public Health England, we are regularly deep cleaning the areas where the patients are cared for and staff who were in close contact with these patients were advised to self-isolate.” (Evening Standard)

Coronavirus: Trump Calls on God, Declares Day of Prayer, Adds UK to Travel Ban

Demola Ojo with agency reports

The President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump has declared today, March 15, a National Day of Prayer across the United States. This he did, not long after he officially declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has also added the United Kingdom and Ireland to a 30-day travel ban that includes 26 other European countries of the Schengen free movement zone, which came into effect Saturday.

Also late yesterday the White House said President Donald Trump tested negative for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Many Americans had expressed worry about his status after it was confirmed that some people he came in contact with in the Brazilian President’s delegation tested positive to the virus.

In a memo, Trump’s doctor said he received confirmation that the president’s COVID-19 test was negative, adding that Trump was “symptom free.”
After declaring a national emergency on Coronavirus on Friday, Trump took to Twitter to announce his “great honor” in declaring that a National Day of Prayer would be taking place two days later. An annual National Day of Prayer normally takes place on the first Thursday of May, which falls on May 7 this year, although Trump has previously given other days the designation during emergencies.

“It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer. We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these,” Trump tweeted. “No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL!”

A few hours before the president suggested Americans turn to God for protection against the pathogen, Trump appeared at a press conference to announce that he would be freeing up federal resources to combat the virus.

“To unleash the full power of the federal government … I am officially declaring a national emergency- two very big words,” said Trump. “The action I am taking will open up access to up to $50 billion of… very important, a large amount of money for states and territories or localities in our shared fight against this disease.”

Hours later, the UK and Ireland were added to America’s European travel ban over the pandemic. The new restrictions will begin at midnight on Monday (5am Tuesday Nigerian time). American citizens and permanent residents will still be allowed to return home to the US but they will be “funnelled” through selected airports, said Vice President Mike Pence, who is running the administration’s response to COVID-19.

Pence also announced that free coronavirus testing would be provided for every American. Speaking at the same news conference, President Trump said he had been tested himself and expected to get the results in the next 48 hours. The US has confirmed 51 deaths linked to the pandemic and 2,488 infections.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the travel ban was extended because of the growing outbreak in the UK. The UK yesterday saw the number of confirmed cases reach 1,140, with 21 deaths – up from 11 on Friday.

Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has ordered the closure of all non-essential public locations from midnight (Sunday morning) in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The measure applies to restaurants, cafes, cinemas and discos, as well as non-essential businesses. Philippe also called on French people to reduce their travel, especially between towns.

France reported a sharp rise in cases Saturday, from 3,661 to 4,499. It recorded 12 more deaths, bringing the toll to 79.

Meanwhile, Spain is also poised to declare a 15-day national lockdown tomorrow (Monday) to battle the virus, following similar measures by Italy last week.
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Europe was now the “epicentre” of the pandemic. Its head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilisation and social distancing to save lives.

Back in Nigeria, the government has intensified its surveillance against COVID-19 at the nation’s airports. Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, said the move came as it was inevitable that there would be more cases in Africa.

Abayomi revealed on Friday that the state government has eliminated the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak through the Italian index case. Concerted efforts of government and its partners assisted in breaking the cycle of transmission, the health expert said.

He said Lagos was intensifying its surveillance to ensure that the health facility does not get overwhelmed, in case there are new cases, and added that the state government had sent more health personnel to the airport to assist the Federal medical team to boost their surveillance.

According to Abayomi, all the 179 people who had contact with the index case had been identified, while the only person confirmed to have contracted the virus from the index case has now tested negative.

Covid-19 May Reduce Nigeria’s Oil Revenue, Says UN Report

  • Earning likely to drop from $38.9 billion to $14bn

Obinna Chima

The raging Coronavirus, otherwise known as Covid-19, may cause Nigeria’s total revenue from crude oil export in 2020 to drop to between $14 billion and $19 billion, compared to $38.9 billion previously predicted, a United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) report has stated.

The ECA, in a report titled, “Economic Impact of the COVID-19 on Africa,” and obtained yesterday by THISDAY, noted that Nigeria’s gross oil revenue stood at N1.564 trillion as at the end of fourth quarter 2019.

The prediction was, however, predicated on crude oil price falling to $35 per barrel as well as Nigeria’s export of about 1.9 million barrels per day, a 50 per cent drop.

The report also estimated that Nigeria and other oil-exporting nations in Africa could record revenue losses of up to $65 billion due to a likely drop in demand for the commodity.

On the average, the report estimated that between 2016 and 2018, yearly export revenues from fuels for Africa were $166 billion, with the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) average yearly price for the period at $ 57.6.

It assumed an identical volume of fuels to be exported in 2020 was an average of same volume between 2016 and 2018, with average 2020 price at $35.
The report listed top oil exporters to be mostly affected to include Nigeria, whose share of total oil exports on the continent is 91.7 per cent. Others are Algeria (95.7%), Angola (97.4%), and Libya (88.4%). It identified others also to be affected as South Africa, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, Gabon, and Ghana.

The report said, “COVID-19 could lead to Africa’s export revenues from fuels falling to around $101 billion in 2020.”
It predicted the trend of crude oil prices per barrel as follows: $61.6 (January), $53.4 (February), $35 (March), and $30 (April), saying it would continue through December due in part to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) policy differences.

The report also said further drops in demand occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic could compound price drops amid cancellation of flights, lower use of cars due to lockdowns, and quarantine measures, etc.

It, however, showed that of 118,000 known Covid-19 cases, less than 50 were in Africa.

Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia reported first cases on March 13, with only 15 countries in Africa numbering among 117 countries globally affected.
It predicted that the global pandemic was expected to weaken economic growth in the region, from 3.2 per cent, to 1.8 per cent, disclosing that the continent is increasingly interconnected with the rest of the world.

The UN report pointed out that Africa was directly connected through trade links with China and Europe, and indirectly, through trade links between China, Europe and the rest of the world, through remittances and tourism.

The disease is also expected to lead to decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, capital flight, and domestic financial market tightening, the report said.

Furthermore, it anticipated that in Africa, there would be disruption of global supply chains; drop in value creation; demand side shocks – oil, tourism, remittances; slowdown in investment, hence job losses; and inflationary pressures due to supply side shortages.

The report added, “There could be unanticipated increases in health spending of up to $10.6 billion and revenue losses could lead to unsustainable debt.
“The decline in commodity prices could lead to fiscal pressures for Africa’s largest economies, making it impossible to respond to COVID-19 crisis.”
The report disclosed that in past crises, Africa’s tourism experienced losses of up to $7.2 billion.

According to the report, “All African countries are net importers of medical and pharmaceutical products. COVID19 affected countries are Africa’s main exporters.

“Medical and pharmaceutical products imported from the EU27 (51.5% of Africa’s total imports) but also India (19.3%) and to a lesser extent Switzerland (7.7%), China (5.2%), the US (4.3%) and the UK (3.3%).

“From Africa, South Africa is the largest source of imports (2.2% of Africa’s total imports). African exports of medicinal and pharmaceutical products, although quite limited, are essentially directed to Africa (56.5% of Africa’s total exports), the EU-27 (16.5%) and to some extent Saudi Arabia (3.3%), the US (3%) and Yemen (2.6%).”

SATURDAY MARCH 14TH, 2020

Coronavirus: 179 Italian Contacts Declared Free of Virus

•Anglican Church bans use of same cup for communion wine, handshakes, hugs
•Trump declares emergency

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Martins Ifijeh in Lagos

The Lagos State Government yesterday stated that the 179 Nigerians who had contact with the Italian, Nigeria’s Coronavirus index case, and subsequently quarantined, have been declared free of the virus and released to integrate with the public.

On the same day, The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, banned the use of one chalice for the sharing of wine during Holy Communion in all its churches, as one of the steps to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
Of the 179 Nigerians, who had contact with the index case, 40 of them were quarantined in Ogun State while the remaining persons were monitored in Lagos State.

Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos yesterday, the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi said the 179 contacts were put on mandatory 14 days quarantine, and only one person, who tested positive to the virus, was sent to the Infectious Disease Centre in Yaba, along with the index case.
He said today marked the 15th day since the index case was confirmed positive to the virus. It also marked the 15th day those who had contact with him were placed on quarantine.

Abayomi said: “The index case is recovering very fast. He is still with us because the virus has not totally left his system. Once he stops secreting the virus, and his test returns negative, we will know he is safe enough to be integrated back into the society. If he is negative, we will conduct another test within 48 hours after and if he is still negative, we will set him free.

“We are close to discharging the index case, we want to be sure he poses no danger to the society anymore.”
On the Nigerian who was initially tested positive to Coronavirus for being in contact with the index case, Abayomi said he had now tested negative twice and might have been released by now.

“His tests initially showed that he was positive to Coronavirus twice and now, he has tested negative to the virus twice on two consecutive tests carried out. The remaining contact in Ogun and Lagos State remain symptom-free and they have exceeded 14 days surveillance, which means that we have been able to interrupt the transmission between the index case and others. The threat of the index case to Nigeria has been eliminated.
“Those isolated in Ogun State have been discharged; in Lagos, we will not follow up the contacts again because none of them had developed symptoms. We are discharging all,” he said.

In Ogun State, the state’s government confirmed the discharge of the 40 persons that had contact with the index case.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, disclosed this at a press briefing in Abeokuta.
Coker said since the first case was confirmed, the state had immediately activated a multi-sectoral emergency operation centre to access daily interventions and analyse situations.

She also said government had strengthened its activities across the state, adding that risk communication activities were also extended to wards, local governments, schools and communities as well as worship centres.
She said: “We can safely say that Covid-19 has been contained in Ogun State.”

Italian Covid-19 Patient May be Discharged Next Week

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has also confirmed that Nigeria’s Covid-19 index case is no more showing symptom of the disease and was undergoing tests preparatory to a possible discharge next week from isolation.

The minister, who gave reporters update on the Covid-19 virus, yesterday said that the federal government released about N930 million to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and N71 million to the Department of Port Health to support activities against the Covid-19 virus outbreak in the country.

As concerns mount over the intrusion of the deadly virus into the sporting world, the minister said that henceforth all sportsmen and women, including spectators at sporting events would be thoroughly screened by health officials for possible Coronavirus infection.
Speaking on the condition of the Italian index case, Ehanire said that he is “clinically stable and is much improved,” adding that a steady progress by the Italian would guide the medical team to recommend his discharge from quarantine early next week.

He also said that the second confirmed case, a contact of the index case, was testing negative for the virus, meaning he has been cleared of the virus and would be allowed to go home.

The minister said that following the declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and increasing spread of Covid-19 in countries, the ministry has begun a review of case definition.
He insisted that Nigeria has not yet placed a travel ban on any country, passport or flights, adding that health authorities merely issued a travel advisory to Nigerians, which they have been adhering to.

The minister, who disclosed that economic consideration was among reasons they decided not impose travel ban, said that the federal government has established a committee that would assess the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the country’s economy.

While giving update on the measures to check Coronavirus infection, Ehanire said that between January 7 and March 12 a total of 42 people who met case definition were screened for COVID-19 in six states of Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Yobe, Rivers, Kano and FCT.
He added that out of the 42 people that were tested, 40 returned negative and two were confirmed positive; the index case and a contact of the index case, but with no deaths recorded.

Ehanire further gave update on the case of a group of four children and their teacher who flew into Lagos from the United States recently, saying that they were promptly isolated and tested with their result turning negative.

Speaking on how the children were spotted, Ehanire said: “Prior to their arrival, Nigeria CDC was informed by US-CDC, that this group had been in the same space with a confirmed case. We therefore sent these travelers into isolation on their arrival. Tests were done, which came back negative for all of them. They will stay in self-isolation for 14 days.”

Ehanire assured that tthe Federal Ministry of Health would comtinue to monitor closely the global situation and work with WHO’s advice.
Aside from efforts against Coronavirus, Ehanire said the ministry had responded to the resurgence of yellow fever transmission by activating Nigeria’s Point of Entry Policy on Prevention and Control of Cross Border Transmission of Yellow Fever.

He said that new measures have been put in place in line with WHO’s recommendation, adding that for all international travellers, nine months and older, arriving in areas with evidence of persistent or periodic transmission of yellow fever, must show evidence of having been vaccinated.

He said that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ministry had reviewed the policy to allow passengers without Yellow Fever Cards or proof of vaccinations board their flights to Nigeria, with the understanding that they would be given Yellow Fever vaccination on arrival at the nation’s Points of Entry.

According to the minister, the effective date of the revised policy implementation was March 11, 2020.
“Consequently, the federal ministry of health has requested the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to communicate this to airlines for compliance,” he said.

Anglican Church Bans Use of One Cup for Sharing Communion Wine

Meanwhile, the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, has stopped the use of one chalice for the sharing of wine during Holy Communion as one of the steps to stop the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus.

The church has also suspended handshakes and hugs which are hitherto used for the “exchange of peace” during the services.
The church’s General Secretary, Gershinen Dajur, disclosed this in a letter addressed to all Archbishops and Bishops of the church yesterday on behalf of the church’s Primate, Most-Revd Nicholas Okoh.
The letter read: “His Grace, the Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh has directed that certain steps be taken as guides against contacting and communicating the virus among our people.

“Let the church be encouraged to trust God who is well able to help us in our times of trouble (Psalms46:1). This is the time to trust and obey God than to be anxious and panic (Phil 4:6-7).
“Since this virus is communicable, the church is to prayerfully put on hold the sharing of one chalice to all during Holy Communion. Other smaller communion cups should be used for individual communication.
“Also, handshakes and hugs during the exchange of peace should be substituted with non-contagious gestures such as hand waving, mutual bowing, or making the sign of the cross, etc.”

Trump Declares Emergency

President Donald Trump of the United States has declared a national emergency to help handle the growing outbreak of Coronavirus in his country.
The declaration – “two very big words”, according to Mr Trump – allows the federal government to tap up to $50bn (£40bn) in emergency relief funds.

The move loosens regulations on the provision of healthcare and could speed up testing – the slow pace of which has been criticised widely.
There are 1,701 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.S., and 40 deaths.

Several U.S. states have taken measures to stem the infections rate, including banning large gatherings, sporting events and closing schools.
The virus originated in China last December, but Europe is now the “epicentre” of the global pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization said yesterday, as several European countries reported steep rises in infections and deaths.
Italy has recorded its highest daily toll yet – 250 over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,266, with 17,660 infections overall.

VENDREDI 13 MARS 2020

179 Persons Quarantined over Contact with Coronavirus Index Case Freed

By Martins Ifijeh

The Lagos State Government has stated that the 179 persons who had contact with the Italian index case and subsequently placed on quarantine have been declared free of the virus and then released to integrate with the public.

Of the 179 people who had contact with the index case, 40 of them were quarantined in Ogun State while the remaining persons were monitored in Lagos State.

Announcing this at a press briefing in Lagos Friday, the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi said the 179 contacts were put on mandatory 14 days quarantine, and that only one person tested positive for the virus, who is still presently at the Infectious Disease Centre in Yaba, along with the index case.

Today marks the 15th day since the index case was confirmed positive to the virus. it also marked the 15th day those who had contact with him were placed on quarantine.

Abayomi said: “The index case is recovering very fast. He is still with us because the virus has not totally left his system. Once he stops secreting the virus, and his test returns negative, we will know he is safe enough to be integrated back into the society. If he is negative, we will conduct another test within 48 hours after and if he is still negative, we will set him free.

“We are close to discharging the index case, we want to be sure he poses no danger to the society anymore.”

On the Nigerian who initially tested positive for Coronavirus for being in contact with the index case, Abayomi said he had now tested negative twice and might have been released by now.

“His tests initially showed that he was positive to Coronavirus twice and now, he has tested negative to the virus twice on two consecutive tests carried out. The remaining contact in Ogun and Lagos State remain symptom-free and they have exceeded 14 days surveillance which means that we have been able to interrupt the transmission between the index case and others. The threat of the index case to Nigeria has been eliminated.

“Those isolated in Ogun State have been discharged, in Lagos, we will not follow up the contacts again because none of them has developed symptoms. We are discharging all,” he said.

Abayomi said the state will improve on its efforts to ensure the outbreak is contained.

(Updated) Brazilian President Tests Negative for Coronavirus

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested negative Friday for coronavirus, according to his son, Eduardo, in a report on Fox News, contradicting earlier reports that Bolsonaro had tested positive.

One of the major newspapers in Rio de Janeiro, Journal O Dia, had earlier reported that President Bolsonaro tested positive but a second test had been carried out and the result was being awaited.

Also major newspapers in the UK and US, including MailOnline, New York Post, The Sun, Independent and The DailyBeast.

However, speaking to host Sandra Smith on America’s Newsroom, on Friday, Eduardo said: “The information I have is the news that just came up telling he is negative for coronavirus. I heard it was positive in the first exam. This is something I don’t know. Everything is good now.”

He said his father was “okay”, adding: “The test is negative! The first one I don’t know how to tell you.”

United States President Donald Trump had dined with Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago where the two leaders shook hands on Saturday night.

The press secretary of the Brazilian leader, Fabio Wajngarten, who was also at the Mar-a-Lago dinner and took photograph with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, had earlier tested positive for coronavirus, prompting a test to be carried out on President Bolsonaro.

A second test has however been carried out on the Brazilian leader and the results are expected to be known on Friday.

Mailonline reported on Friday that several members of the US first family were at the Winter White House Saturday night where there was a birthday party for Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., in addition to the working dinner for the Brazilian delegation, which included the Brazilian leader’s press secretary, Wajngarten, who had also tested positive for coronavirus.

At the birthday party for Guilfoyle were Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, and Tiffany Trump. Also at the party were National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, new acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, Trump’s Personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz.

Trump had Thursday brushed aside concerns about the encounter with the Brazilian delegation, and resisted suggestions that members of the first family exposed to the Brazilian delegation – a member of which had tested positive for the highly contagious virus – should self-quarantine.

US Senator Lindsey Graham who was at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night and Senator Rick Scott who met with the Brazilian delegation have self-quarantined as a precautionary measure.

English Football League Suspended

The English Football League is to suspend all fixtures until 4 April, Sky News understands.

It comes as Premier League chiefs meet to discuss the top division’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, as Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta and Chelsea star Callum Hudson-Odoi were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Three Leicester City players are also being tested for COVID-19, while Everton announced on Thursday that the squad was in self-isolation after a player reported symptoms consistent with the virus.

Meanwhile, European football’s governing body UEFA has announced that all Champions League and Europa League matches scheduled for next week have been postponed.

More follows…

Second Patient Who Tested Positive for Coronavirus Now Negative, Says FG

By Martins Ifijeh

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has announced that the second patient who tested positive to Coronavirus last week has returned negative as the virus is no longer in his system.

Ehanire, who spoke during a press briefing in Abuja Friday, said the viral load in his body was now insignificant, and that he will soon be discharged.

The patient was the project manager of Lafarge Africa in Abeokuta who had contact with the Italian index case on February 26.

He said: “The Italian is responding to treatment and the virus is going down by the day in his system, but it is yet to clear out totally.”

Ehanire also called on Nigerians to get vaccinated for yellow fever at designated centres.

Details later …..

Ghana, Gabon Confirm First Cases of Coronavirus

Gabon and Ghana confirmed their first cases of coronavirus on Thursday, becoming the ninth and tenth countries in sub-Saharan Africa to register positive cases.

The region has so far been less badly hit by coronavirus than Europe or China. Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Togo, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Democratic Republic of Congo have also registered cases.

In a statement, Gabon’s government said its case was a 27-year-old Gabonese man who had returned from France on March 8.

Ghana’s health ministry said its two cases were people who had returned recently from Norway and Turkey.

“These are imported cases of COVID-19. Both patients are currently being kept in isolation and are stable,” the ministry said in a statement.

More than 127,000 people have been infected globally and over 4,700 have died since the virus first emerged in China late last year, according to a Reuters tally.

Sub-Saharan Africa did not confirm its first coronavirus infection until Feb. 28 in Nigeria, but experts warn that rising cases could test already fragile health systems. (The New York Times)

Canadian Prime Minister’s Wife Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will isolate himself for 14 days after his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for coronavirus.

Grégoire Trudeau has mild symptoms and is feeling well, and will remain in isolation for 14 days, the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement late Thursday.

She came down with mild flu-like symptoms Wednesday following a speaking engagement in the UK. Health officials are reaching out to those who’ve been in contact with her, the office said.

“The Prime Minister is in good health with no symptoms. As a precautionary measure and following the advice of doctors, he will be in isolation for a planned period of 14 days,” the office said.

It added that on the advice of his doctors, he’ll not be tested since he has no symptoms. He’ll continue with his duties, and plans to address Canadians on Friday.

“For the same reason, doctors say there is no risk to those who have been in contact with him recently,” his office said.

Grégoire Trudeau thanked those who’ve reached out to her and said she’s doing well.

“Although I’m experiencing uncomfortable symptoms of the virus, I will be back on my feet soon,” she said. “Being in quarantine at home is nothing compared to other Canadian families who might be going through this and for those facing more serious health concerns.”

Canada has 147 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including one death. The virus has caused dozens of government officials around the world — from administrators to heads of state — to take precautionary measures after finding out they’ve been in contact with infected people. (CNN)

THURSDAY  MARCH 12, 2020

Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta has Tested Positive for Coronavirus

The Gunners have closed their training ground and club staff who had recent contact with Arteta will now self-isolate.

The Premier League will hold “an emergency club meeting” on Friday to discuss future fixtures.

“This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly,” said Spaniard Arteta, 37. “I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”

Arsenal expects a “significant number of people” will self-isolate, including first-team staff and coaches.

“The health of our people and the wider public is our priority and that is where our focus is,” said club managing director Vinai Venkatesham.

“We are in active dialogue with all the relevant people to manage this situation appropriately, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.”

Arsenal are due to play at Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday (15:00 GMT).

Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy is self-isolating as a precaution after a member of his family was admitted to hospital displaying symptoms of coronavirus.

Three Leicester City first-team players have also self-isolated after showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Brazilian President’s Press Secretary Tests Positive to Coronavirus Days after Meeting Trump

Fabio Wajngarten, the Press Secretary to Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, has tested positive to Coronavirus, just days after meeting the United States President, Donald Trump, in Florida.

Sources told CNN that Wajngarten hd  been placed under isolation and treatment, while the president’s health was being monitored closely.

Bolsonaro’s aide had posted an image of himself standing with Trump and US Vice President Mike Pence at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend.

He was accompanying Bolsonaro on a trip to the US, during which the two leaders dined together. Earlier in the day, the pair had spoken to reporters about the Coronavirus outbreak.

“I’m not concerned at all,” Trump told the press. He had been asked about his attendance at the CPAC conference, where another person also tested positive for coronavirus.

Trump said he was aware of the aide’s diagnosis during remarks in the Oval Office on Thursday.

“We did nothing very unusual, we sat next to each other for a period of time,” he added, referring to Bolsonaro.

Trump on Wednesday announced sweeping travel bans for people coming into the United States from mainland Europe, as his administration attempts to tackle the ongoing pandemic.

Quarantined Family of Four, Teacher Test Negative to Coronavirus

Martins Ifijeh

The Lagos State Government has stated that the recently quarantined family of four children and their teacher at the Infectious Disease Centre have tested negative to Coronavirus.

Sharing this on his Twitter page Thursday, the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said the five cases came into Nigeria from the United States where they were presumed to have had contact with a suspected case of Coronavirus.

Abayomi was silent on the 6e person quarantined at the isolation centre, whose result was also being expected.

In a related development, the Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said the country was already feeling the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak as barrel of dollar has slumped from N58 per barrel to N30 per barrel.

Ihekweazu who spoke to the media during his visit to the NCDC Centre in Yaba Thursday, said China, which is the epicenter of the outbreak, was heavily depended on by many countries, including Nigeria, for goods and services, but that the country’s productivity has reduced significantly because of the disease and its impact.

He said: “One significant thing about this disease is that it does not respect status. It affects both the rich and the poor. We have heard of the Minister of Health in the United Kingdom coming down with the virus. Today we heard of a Hollywood super star. So it cuts across everyone.

“It is not yet time for us to be happy because we have had only two cases. The threats are still there. A lot of countries are experiencing large outbreaks, and this also makes us vulnerable. But we will continue to do our best to ensure the outbreak is contained.

“If you check the pattern of travel by Nigerians you will understand we travel more to Europe than Iran, South Korea, Japan and other countries where the outbreak spread earlier. With Europe experiencing large outbreaks of Coronavirus, we still have cause to be alert. We are not out of the woods yet,” he added.

The DG, who explained why China, South Korea, Iran, Japan and Italy had been put on watch list said passengers coming into Nigeria from these countries were given extra vetting during point of entry, adding that these passengers were also asked to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days before integrating into the country.

He also called on Nigerians to postpone none essential travels, and that it was every one’s duty to ensure basic hygiene behaviours were being followed.

NYSC Takes Proactive Steps against Coronavirus, Lassa Fever in Niger

By Laleye Dipo

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Niger State has taken proactive steps to protect corps members against coronavirus and Lassa fever diseases.

The state Coordinator of the NYSC, Mrs

Funmilayo Ajayi, who disclosed this in Minna on Thursday, said among the steps taken are the acquisition of infrared thermometers for the testing of corps members and hand sanitisers.

Ajayi added that the NYSC secretariat will also print and distribute sensitization leaflets on Lassa fever and coronavirus diseases to the corps members.

Speaking at the swearing-in of the batch A stream 1 orientation programme for the corps members at the NYSC permanent orientation camp in Paiko, Ajayi said 1,774 corps members, made up of 907 females and 867 males, have so far been registered for the programme.

She said since the camp opened, the corps members have displayed a high degree of discipline and good moral behaviour.

The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, in an address, urged the corps members posted to the state to be involved in the Skills Acquisition Entrepreneurship’s Development Programme because “there will be no automatic employment for them after the service year”.

Bello, who was represented by the Commissioner for Education, Hajiya Hannatu Jibrin Salihu, told the corps members that: “It is better to take advantage of the skills and learn a vocation so that you can have something to fall back on after the programme.

“Make yourselves conversant with as many entrepreneurial skills as possible, because there maybe no automatic jobs for you after the service year.”

The Secretary to the State Government and Chairman of NYSC Board, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, in an address, assured the corps members that the state government will continue to do all within its power to improve the facilities in the camp towards ensuring that the corps members have conducive and safe environment.

India Suspends Tourist Visas over Coronavirus

The Indian government has announced the suspension of all tourist visas into the country as part of measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

The move comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) Thursday declared the outbreak a pandemic, with countries worldwide already scrambling to contain the spread of the disease.

A statement released by the India Ministry of Health on Twitter Thursday said: “All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, United Nations-international organisations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till April 15, 2020.

“Visas of all foreigners already in India remain valid and they may contact the nearest FRRO/FRO through e-FRRO module for extension/conversion of their visa or grant of any consular service, if they choose to do so. A notification to this effect is being issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BOI).”

The statement also said all incoming travellers will be quarantined for 14 days before being integrated into the country.

Coronavirus cases have doubled to 73 in India.

Coronavirus: Republic of Ireland to Close School, Colleges

Schools, colleges and other public facilities in the Republic of Ireland are to close in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar said the measures would take effect from 18:00 on Thursday to 29 March.

The first death linked to coronavirus has been recorded in the Republic of Ireland.

The elderly woman died in a Dublin hospital on Wednesday.

Mr Varadkar said schools, colleges and childcare facilities will close from Friday.

He said indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled.

He added that where it is possible to work remotely people should do so.

Mr Varadkar said the public and businesses needed to take a sensible approach, adding that the Irish cabinet would meet later and that Northern Ireland and GB would be briefed. (BBC)

Trump Restricts Travel from Europe to Fight Spread of Coronavirus in US

Président Trump on Wednesday said the U.S. would restrict travel from Europe for the next 30 days and use executive orders to offer financial relief to individuals and small businesses in his most extensive steps to date to address the crisis of the coronavirus.

Trump said the extraordinary restrictions would not apply to Great Britain, which formally left the European Union at the end of January.

Trump, in just his second Oval Office address since taking office, sought to assure a worried nation about the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 1,000 Americans and killed more than 30 thus far.

The president used the sober 11 minute address to detail the new travel restrictions and targeted economic relief for small businesses and individuals impacted by the virus, while calling on Congress for further action on payroll tax relief and benefits for hourly workers.

“We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus,” Trump said, reading from prepared remarks.“We made a lifesaving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe.”

“I will never hesitate to take any steps to protect the lives, health and safety of the American people. I will always put the wellbeing of America first,” Trump said.

The virus has presented a unique challenge for Trump, who has proven immune to scandals and statements that would likely have doomed other presidencies.

Trump struck a measured tone after facing days of criticism from Democrats and former government officials that he was not taking the outbreak seriously enough. He urged the public to wash their hands and stay home if they were feeling ill and projected confidence that the U.S. was well prepared for the situation.

But the president has in the past delivered serious and thoughtful scripted remarks after national tragedies and critical moments, only to revert back to partisan swipes and Twitter attacks.

Trump urged Americans to “put partisanship aside” and come together as “one family,” a plea that may be difficult to accept from a president who last week labeled the governor of Washington a “snake.”

And the White House was forced to walk back his initial remarks about the extent of travel restrictions on Europe, underscoring the dysfunction that has engulfed the administration for much of Trump’s presidency.

Trump touted his decision last month to curb travel to the United States from China, South Korea and Iran, and he argued Europe increased its own exposure to the virus by failing to do the same.

“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots,” he said. “As a result, a number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travel from Europe.”

Trump said that the new travel restrictions will be put in place Friday at midnight and that there would be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screening.

A proclamation later issued by the White House says that the restriction does not apply to U.S. citizens and their immediate family members. The ban applies to foreign nationals who have been physically present in the European Union during the 14 days before their attempted entry into the U.S.

The president indicated in his address that the restrictions would apply to trade and cargo coming from Europe, in addition to people but the White House later clarified that the proclamation by definition only applies to people and that goods would be allowed into the country while people transporting goods would not.

The president did not explain why the restrictions would not apply to the U.K., which currently has over 400 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. This is more than other European countries subject to the ban, but far lower than the numbers reported by Italy, France, Spain and Germany.

Trump has come under criticism for his handling of the coronavirus thus far, particularly from Democrats for contradicting top health officials and repeatedly downplaying the severity of the outbreak. He argued as recently as two weeks ago that the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. would soon be “close to zero.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier Wednesday declared the coronavirus a pandemic and the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged over 1,400 points, closing in a bear market.

The number of American citizens confirmed to have the coronavirus, referred to as COVID-19, topped 1,000 overnight Tuesday, and there have been over 30 deaths in the U.S. as a result of infections of the disease.

Trump on Wednesday maintained that the risk to average Americans remains “very, very low,” even as public health officials have increasingly warned of the spread of the virus and told the public to expect changes in their daily lives.

But he also cast the battle against the virus as being above politics, and said all Americans needed to work on the issue together.

“Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus,” he said.

He called on the country to “put politics aside” in order to chart a path forward together on the response to the virus.

Doing so may be difficult given the high tensions in Washington.

Trump was impeached by the House in December and his trial concluded in February.

During the coronavirus outbreak, he has at times criticized members of the other party. He described Washington Gov. Jay Inslee as a snake just last week during a trip to the CDC over Inslee’s criticism of his administration’s response.

Trump in his address avoided alarmist language, telling viewers that the situation did not amount to a “financial crisis.”

“This is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world,” he said.

Still, the president laid out multiple executive actions aimed at boosting a sagging economy and calm nervous investors. Trump said he would direct the Small Business Administration to provide capital to firms affected by the coronavirus and instruct the Treasury Department to defer tax payments for three months without interest or penalties for specific individuals and businesses adversely impacted by the virus.

Trump called on Congress to pass legislation to extend relief to workers worried about missing a paycheck if they are feeling ill or put into quarantine. The request is likely to be well received among Democrats who have pushed for paid sick leave for hourly workers.

The president also urged Congress to consider a payroll tax cut. Trump on Tuesday pitched Congress on a payroll tax holiday through the end of the year, but the proposal has been received coolly in Capitol Hill.

If the president’s goal was to calm uneasy investors, he initially appeared to be unsuccessful. U.S. stock futures dipped immediately following the remarks amid concerns about impact additional travel restrictions could have on global trade.

The Democrat-controlled House is prepared to vote Thursday on its own emergency legislation on Thursday that includes provisions to expand unemployment insurance, extend paid sick leave and make sure children from low-income families don’t miss meals as a result of school closures.

Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just before 8 p.m. to discuss the House legislation and the president’s planned remarks, according to a spokesman for Pelosi. The two also spoke with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.J.), who pressed them on the lack of availability of testing kits in the U.S., according to a spokesman.

Trump was scheduled to fly to Nevada on Thursday to attend a fundraiser and speak at Saturday’s Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas, but the White House said the trip had been canceled out of an “abundance of caution.”  (The Hill)

NBA Suspends Season after Player Tests Positive for Coronavirus

The NBA abruptly suspended its season on Wednesday after a Utah Jazz player was found to have tested positive to Coronavirus moments before a game began in Oklahoma City.

The league announced that the suspension would begin on Thursday, and the final game of Wednesday’s slate, between the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans, was canceled soon after the announcement.

It was a surreal day for the N.B.A. — starting with the news that one team, the Golden State Warriors, was barring fans from home games and ending with the season in peril for the entire league.

They added: “The club is taking steps to prepare all necessary procedures.”

Juventus Player, Daniele Rugani, Tests Positive to Coronavirus

Juventus’s centre back, Daniele Rugani has tested positive to Coronavirus, the club’s management has announced Thursday.

The Serie A side said it was “activating all the isolation procedures required by law”, including for those who have come into contact with Rugani.

The club added that Rugani, 25, was currently asymptomatic.

All sports in Italy has been suspended until April 3, with the country in lockdown because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Rugani has made only seven appearances for Juventus this season and was an unused substitute in his side’s last match – a 2-0 win over Inter Milan held behind closed doors on Sunday.

Inter, whose Europa League game against Getafe that was set for Thursday has been postponed, said that “all competitive activities are suspended until further notice” following Rugani’s positive test.

They added: “The club is taking steps to prepare all necessary procedures.”

Rugani has won four Serie A titles with Juve and played for Italy seven times, last featuring for the national team in 2018.

On Sunday he posted a photograph from the dressing room as he celebrated Juve’s win over Inter with his team-mates

WEDNESDAY  MARCH 11, 2020

Italy’s Coronavirus Death Toll Rises to 827

The death toll from Coronavirus outbreak has risen by 31 per cent in 24 hours in Italy as governments across Europe have cancelled events, shut schools and imposed travel bans on residents.

Italy’s civil protection service said the number of deaths rose to 827 on Wednesday, which represents a 31 per cent surge.

Also, the total number of cases in the EU member state that has been by far the hardest hit by the virus rose to 12,462 from 10,149.

The country, which on Monday banned its 62 million people from all travel unless certified as justified on professional or health grounds, faced calls to impose even tighter restrictions in the country’s most Coronavirus-affected areas.

Italy’s Civil Protection Chief, Angelo Borrelli, said requests from senior politicians, including the opposition League leader Matteo Salvini, to “close everything” bar supermarkets and pharmacies in the orthern Lombardy and Veneto regions “must be examined, considered and assessed”.

US Coronavirus Death Toll Rises to 31

The Coronavirus outbreak intensified overnight in the United States as the numbers of death have surged to 31, with over 1000 persons said to be infected by the virus.

Testifying before Congress on Wednesday, the Head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Anthony Fauci, who is a key member of the White House taskforce formed to tackle the US response the outbreak, said: “The bottom line is it’s going to get worse.”

Fauci urged a more aggressive approach to limit the spread of the virus

“Even in areas of the country where there are no or few cases, we’ve got to change our behavior. We have to essentially assume that we are going to get hit. And that’s why we talk about making mitigation and containment in a much more vigorous way.”

Fauci said it was impossible to make projections on how far the virus would spread in the US as too much depended on what steps were taken to mitigate it, but he added: “If we are complacent and don’t do really aggressive containment and mitigation, the number could go way up and be involved in many, many millions.”

NBC reported that the official doctor serving both Congress and the Supreme Court, Brian Monahan, had told Senate staff on Tuesday that he expected between 70 million and 150 million people in the US to contract coronavirus.

The Trump administration said it planned to urge US states and localities to take stronger steps to fight the coronavirus, with new information from the federal public health agency the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“You’re going to hear from CDC today and the White House that we’re going to be making recommendations to those local communities about aggressive steps that we think they should be taking,” the health secretary, Alex Azar, told Fox News.

Azar added that federal leaders were working with local officials in the hardest-hit states so far, including Washington state, California, New York, Massachusetts and Florida, as they grappled with the virus, saying “strong mitigation steps” could help buy valuable time to control the virus.

Lagos Quarantines Six Persons over Suspected Case of Coronavirus

*Finds two missing persons in contact with index case

By Martins Ifijeh and Ayodeji Ake

The Lagos State government has quarantined six persons in its Infectious Disease Centre in Yaba over suspected case of Coronavirus disease, officially known as COVID-19.

It has also found the two missing Nigerians who sat close to the Italian index case during his flight from Istanbul to Lagos on February 27.

Stating these during a press briefing in Lagos Wednesday, the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Abayomi Ajayi said the six cases comprise of a family of four children and their teacher who came into Nigeria from the United States, and were believed to have been in close proximity with someone suspected to be infected with the disease prior to their trip, and a traveller from the United Kingdom who showed certain symptoms associated with the disease.

He said: “We have kept the family in our centre now for two days. Their first test came out negative. We will repeat it within the next 48 hours. The one from the UK will be tested this evening.

“The three persons who were in isolation earlier this week have been released because they tested negative to the virus.”

Abayomi said the two names released Monday to the media by the Lagos State were persons who had contact with the index case, but that they have now been identified, adding that necessary protocol has been instituted to ascertain their status.

“The media really did well. It was very quick to have them identified. I was surprised at the speed at which they reached us.”

He also stated that the Italian index case was recovering fast even though he was still secreting the virus.
He said: “The other confirmed case is in a stable condition. He had little symptoms which have now been taken care of. We will repeat his test tomorrow to be sure he is no longer secreting the virus.”

Abayomi also cautioned Nigerians against buying face masks, noting that the commodity should be left for sick persons and healthcare workers.

“What Nigerians need to do is wash their hands under running water. We have now moved to address issues of shortage of hand sanitisers in Lagos State. The Ministry of Health has started producing its own sanitisers. In a matter of days, we will release it into the market.

“We embarked on this because it is not good for people to start profiteering from hand sanitisers because of coronavirus. This product is very easy to make. It is a simple combination of alcohol, gel, glycerine, water and other materials in the correct proportion. It is not rocket science. Everyone can actually make it.”

He said in situations where sanitisers are not available, Nigerians can actually use alcohol.

WHO Declares Coronavirus a Pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) just declared the novel coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic.

The novel coronavirus outbreak is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Wednesday.

“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do,” he added.

The specific criteria for a pandemic are not universally defined, but there are three general criteria: a virus that can cause illness or death; sustained person-to-person transmission of that virus; and evidence of spread throughout the world. (CNN)

Coronavirus Kills 168 People in a Single Day in Italy

Coronavirus has killed 168 more people in Italy in the past 24 hours, the highest toll in a single day since the start of the outbreak in the country.

The whole of Italy – a country of some 60 million people – was placed under quarantine yesterday, as the government stepped up efforts to tackle the dreaded outbreak that has killed 631 people and affected more than 10,000.

Globally, more than 4,000 people have died from Coronavirus and over 113,000 cases have been confirmed, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). About 64,000 people have recovered around the world.

The Italian Prime Minister GiuseppeConte, who has now placed the entire country on lockdown, said measures introduced just two days ago in much of the North were no longer sufficient after a jump in deaths tied to the highly infectious disease, and said the entire nation had to make sacrifices to stop its spread.

“The right decision today is to stay at home. Our future and the future of Italy is in our hands. These hands have to be more responsible today than ever before,” Conte said.

Turkey Records First Case of Coronavirus

The Turkish government has announced its first case of Coronavirus (CVID 19) early Wednesday.

The Health Minister, Turkey, Fahrettin Koca, who made the announcement, said a male citizen tested positive for the coronavirus, and that precautionary measures were being put in place to contain the spread.

He said: “The infected individual contracted the virus after returning from Europe. He has been completely isolated.

“The patient’s general condition is good. All of his family members and those who came into contact with him are under surveillance,” he added.

He said an early diagnosis of the patient was made, adding that if there is a virus infection in the country, it will be very limited. “One or more cases of the coronavirus should not be considered an epidemic,” he noted.

He said: “The coronavirus is not stronger than the measures we will take. A quarantined patient cannot threaten society. Please do not go abroad unless it is compulsory. We must follow the ministry’s guidelines for safeguarding against the coronavirus,” he said.

Turkey last month closed its border with Iran, which has been hard-hit by the virus, and cancelled all flights to the country.

EU Pledges $28bn to Tackle Coronavirus

The European Commission has set up a European Union fund worth 25 billion euros ($28bn) to tackle the economic crisis caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, the Head, Executive Branch, EU, Ursula Von Der Leyen, has said.

Speaking after an emergency video conference of EU leaders, he said the investment fund should be financed with 7.5 billion euros of EU money and help vulnerable sectors of the economy.

“This instrument will reach 25 billion euros quickly. To realise this I will propose to council and parliament this week to release 7.5 billion euros of investment liquidity,” Von Der Leyen told a news conference in Brussels.

Algeria Suspends Political, Sports Gatherings over Coronavirus

The Algerian government has cancelled political and sports gatherings because of the threat posed by coronavirus,

Announcing this Tuesday evening, the Health Minister, Algeria, Abderrahmane Benbouzid, said the government was taking the measure in order to slow the spread of the disease, with 20 confirmed cases already in the country.

He said: “All sports, cultural, political and economic gatherings are cancelled. We do not take any risk,” he said.

There was no immediate comment from leading figures in the political opposition, known as the Hirak, over the move.

However, one student demonstrator, Riad Mekrez, 25, said: “I disagree with it. Hirak must go on even if I acknowledge that we need to protect people from corona.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad said the country faced an unprecedented “multi-dimensional crisis” and urged people to make fewer demands of the government and reduce their street presence.

Arsenal Players Quarantined, as EPL Postpones Match over Coronarovirus

Arsenal has quarantined its players over possible cases of Coronavirus infection, thereby forcing the club’s game against Manchester City to be postponed indefinitely.

Arsenal said players and four staff had been isolated at their homes after coming into contact with the owner of Greek club Olympiakos, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are strictly following the government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact,” an Arsenal statement said.

“As a result, the players are unavailable for tonight’s (Wednesday’s) match against Manchester City and the Premier League has decided the game should be postponed.”

The first postponement in the Premier League, which has a worldwide following of billions of TV viewers, follows widespread disruption to football and other sports across the globe.

Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League by Olympiakos in late February. Vangelis Marinakis, owner of the Greek club and England’s Nottingham Forest, announced on Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

But Arsenal said the players and staff, who met Marinakis after the game at the Emirates Stadium, will return to work on Friday ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton.

“The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing COVID-19 at extremely low,” it added.

The Premier League called the move a “precautionary measure” and said there were no plans to postpone any other games.

Football’s Serie A and all other sports have been put on hold in Italy, while the top two divisions in Spain and France will be played in empty stadiums for at least the next two weeks.

UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League have also been both forced to arrange matches behind closed doors as the epidemic spreads.

Olympiakos host Wolverhampton Wanderers in Athens this week in the Europa League, in one of the last-16 games that will be played in front of an empty stadium.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo has joined a number of managers, including Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, in voicing disquiet at being asked to play without fans.

“If we have to go we will. But we don’t agree — we’re not happy to go,” he told Sky Sports.

“Behind closed doors doesn’t make sense,” he added. “We’re pretending to live a normal life when things aren’t normal.”

Wednesday’s postponement could also frustrate Premier League leaders Liverpool, as a Manchester City defeat would have taken them to the brink of their first top-flight title in 30 years.

UK Health Minister Tests Positive to Coronavirus

The United Kingdom Health Minister and Conservative MP, Nadine Dorries, says she has been diagnosed with Coronavirus.

Dorries, the first MP to test positive, said she had taken all the advised precautions after finding out, and had been self-isolating at home.

This comes as a sixth person died from the virus in the UK, which has a total of 382 cases.

The latest person to die was a man in his early 80s who had underlying health conditions.

Meanwhile, NHS England said it was scaling up its capacity for testing people for the infection, with the number of cases set to rise.

That will mean 10,000 tests a day can be done – currently 1,500 are being carried out.

Confirmation of any positive test results will also be accelerated with most people getting a result back within 24 hours

TUESDAY MARCH 09, 2020

Coronavirus: Turkish Airlines Suspends Flight Operations to Nigeria, Others

  • Many Airlines operate ‘ghost flights’ to protect slots

Chinedu Eze with agency reports

As precautionary measure to check the spread of Coronavirus, Turkish Airlines has announced the cancellation of all its flights to its destinations in Nigeria: Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

The airline has also cut back its operations to other international destinations.

The airline, which brought in the index case, the Italian to Nigeria in a statement, said the cancellation of flights to its three destinations in Nigeria was due to the Coronavirus situation all over the world.

The statement said the cancellations would start for flights originally scheduled to arrive Lagos on March 17, 23 and 29th, and flights for Abuja scheduled for March 13, 16th, 20th, 25th, 27th and April 1, 2020.

Flights to Port Harcourt would not operate on March 11e, 13th 18th, 25th and 25th.

The statement however did not say when the airline would resume flights again into the country, although it is projected that virus devastation would begin to diminish by end of April.

However, reports indicate that many international carriers are operating a number of ghost flights when they fly back to their operational hub without passengers due to fear of the virus

It was reported that certain airlines are wasting vast quantities of fuel by flying empty aircraft to various destinations in order to maintain rights to their slots.

These flights, nicknamed ‘ghost flights’ are being carried out due to rules around airport slots – something that is especially important at busy airports where a slot at an ideal time of day may be hard to come by.

The Times reported that these ghost flights have been taking place because of European rules, which state that operators can lose their airport slots if they aren’t being used.

The rule is that airlines operating out of the continent need to run 80 per cent of their slot allocations.

According to the policy, if this isn’t done then the airline can risk losing its slots to a competitor.

There were no airlines or airports specified in the reports of ‘ghost flights’.

There are indications that demand for flights has fallen drastically around the world due to government restrictions on travel.

Additionally, demand is low due to personal precautions and worries about the outbreak.

MONDAY MARCH 09, 2020

Nigeria Confirms Second Case of Coronavirus

  • Says infected Nigerian in US visited Lagos February

Martins Ifijeh

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has confirmed a second case of Coronavirus (officially known as COVID-19) in Nigeria.

He also said the Nigerian who tested positive to the disease in Washington DC was in Nigeria February, but that it was unlikely he got infected in the country.

In a statement made available to THISDAY Monday, Ehanire said the patient who tested positive Sunday to the virus, was an Ogun State contact of the index case, and that he had no significant symptom.

He said: “This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria to two. The newly confirmed case in Nigeria is not a new importation, but a contact of the index case, who has since been in isolation and is under clinical follow up. The new case presently does not have any clinical symptoms, but he is comfortable and in care at Infectious Disease Hospital, Lagos.

“We have diligently and conscientiously pursued contact tracing and monitoring of people who met with the index Italian patient.”

The minister had last week said 40 persons in Ogun and 20 in Lagos who had contact with the index Italian patient were under isolation.

He said those monitored had remained free of any symptoms but in line with the ministry’s practice, it decided to test these persons for possible presence of Coronavirus, adding that one unfortunately tested positive yesterday.

“Since beginning of the outbreak in China and subsequent spread to other countries, one of the important response strategies at the containment stage, has been to identify all contacts, ensure their strict isolation and to follow up daily with checks for any symptoms of the disease.

“Following recent experience from other countries and evidence from newly published studies on non-symptomatic infections, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control NCDC, advised that samples should be taken from all contacts of the Index case for testing. It is in this process that this new case was detected.

“Recent studies in China have shown that increased surveillance, self-isolation and in particular, contact tracing do reduce risk of spread, because further opportunities for transmission of the virus by the infected patient in the community are limited.”

He emphasized that all other contacts of the index case in Ogun and Lagos will remain in isolation and testing will be carried out on those not yet tested, including some in other states.

Ehanire said: “On the case reported in the US of Nigerian origin, we are in touch with colleagues at the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and here in Abuja. The case visited Lagos in February 2020. However, given the timelines between the time he was in Nigeria briefly and when he became ill, the likelihood that he was infected in Lagos is very low.

“We are assuring Nigerians of our commitment to do all needed to control spread of this outbreak. Since the first case was confirmed in Nigeria on February 27, 2020, the National Emergency Operations Centres (EOC) in Abuja, continues to work closely with Lagos and Ogun State EOCs to coordinate response activities.”

He advised against spreading misinformation to cause fear and panic.

SUNDAY MARCH 08, 2020

Coronavirus: Northern Italy Quarantines 16m People

Italy has placed up to 16 million people under quarantine as it battles to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Anyone living in Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces will need special permission to travel. Milan and Venice are both affected.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the whole country.

The measures, the most radical taken outside China, will last until 3 April.

Italy has seen the largest number of coronavirus cases in Europe and reported a steep rise in infections on Saturday.

The strict new quarantine measures affect a quarter of the Italian population and centre on the northern part of the country that powers its economy.

The death toll in Italy has passed 230, with officials reporting more than 36 deaths in 24 hours. The number of confirmed cases jumped by more than 1,200 to 5,883 on Saturday.

“We want to guarantee the health of our citizens. We understand that these measures will impose sacrifices, sometimes small and sometimes very big,” Mr Conte said early on Sunday.

Under the new measures, people are not supposed to be able to enter or leave the whole northern region of Lombardy, home to 10 million people, except for emergency access. Milan is the main city in the region.

The same restrictions apply to 14 provinces: Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, Treviso and Venice.

“There will be no movement in or out of these areas, or within them, unless for proven, work-related reasons emergencies or health reasons,” Mr Conte told reporters.

“We are facing an emergency, a national emergency. We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed.”

However transport in and out of the regions affected continues. At least seven flights from other European cities arrived at Milan’s Malpensa airport on Sunday morning according to flight tracking websites. (BBC)

Nigerian Tests Positive to Coronavirus in US

Martins Ifijeh

A Nigerian has tested positive to Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, in the United States, the Mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Bowser, has said.

Announcing this at a press briefing Sunday, she said the Nigerian who passed through the US capital city underwent the test in Maryland, and that the state has commenced contact tracing on those he met in Washington DC.

Bowser had earlier announced that a man in his 50s had tested positive for Coronavirus, marking the first presumptively confirmed case in the capital.

She said: “The man started exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 in late February and was hospitalised Thursday.”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said he was not concerned “at all” about the outbreak getting closer to the White House after the first Washington case and an attendee of a recent political conference where he spokn also tested positive for the virus.

19 people have died in the US from the virus, while number of infections in the country has surged to 400.

Italy Announces Lockdown as Coronavirus Death Toll Rises to 233, Confirmed Cases Now 5,883

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree early Sunday that will put millions of people across northern Italy under lockdown due to the novel coronavirus.

The sweeping move puts the entire Lombardy region, as well as 14 other provinces, under travel restrictions, and is one of the toughest responses implemented outside of mainland China to get the Covid-19 epidemic under control.

CNN is verifying exactly when the lockdown will go into effect.

The announcement came after Italy saw a dramatic spike of 1,247 confirmed novel coronavirus cases on Saturday, the Civil Protection Department said in a statement.

The country has now recorded 5,883 cases and 233 deaths, the most fatalities outside mainland China and the biggest outbreak in Europe.

Announcing the new measures, Conte said: “There will be an obligation to avoid any movement of people who are either entering or leaving” the affected areas. “Even within the areas moving around will occur only for essential work or health reasons,” he said, according to Reuters.

While the lockdown only applies to northern Italy, other measures will be applied to the entire country. These include the suspension of schools, university classes, theaters and cinemas, as well as bars, nightclubs, and sports events. Religious ceremonies, including funerals, will also be suspended.

Other countries in Europe are also struggling to contain outbreaks as cases continue to rise.

On Saturday, France’s general director of health, Jerome Salomon, confirmed 16 dead and 949 infected nationwide, and Germany now has 795 cases. The United Kingdom confirmed a second death from the novel coronavirus on Saturday, while 206 people have tested positive, British health officials said in a statement.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on “all countries to continue efforts that have been effective in limiting the number of cases and slowing the spread of the virus.”

In a statement, the WHO said: “Allowing uncontrolled spread should not be a choice of any government, as it will harm not only the citizens of that country but affect other countries as well.”

Meanwhile in China, search and rescue efforts continued on Sunday for survivors from the collapse of a hotel that was being used as a coronavirus quarantine center.

The hotel, in the southeastern city of Quanzhou, in Fujian province, came down Saturday night with 80 people inside. Four people died, one person remains in critical condition and four others are seriously injured, according to China’s Ministry of Emergency Management.

“We are using life detection instruments to monitor signs of life and professional breaking-in tools to make forcible entries. We are trying our utmost to save trapped people,” said Guo Yutuan, squadron leader of the Quanzhou armed police detachment’s mobile unit.

The building’s owner is in police custody, according to state news agency Xinhua and an investigation is underway.

The total number of worldwide cases stands at more than 105,000, with 3,599 deaths. China’s National Health Commission reported 27 new deaths from the coronavirus on Sunday, and 99 new infections.

As Italy and Iran suffer from the most deaths outside of China, South Korea continues to battle the worst outbreak.

On Sunday, South Korea announced 367 new infections, bringing the country’s total to 7,134, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 50 deaths.

Among the new cases, 294 are from Daegu city and 32 are from North Gyeongsang Province, the most heavily infected areas in the country.

In the United States, 444 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local governments, and 19 people have died.

This includes presumptive positive cases that tested positive in a public health lab and are pending confirmation from the CDC, and confirmed cases have received positive results from the CDC.

A volunteer from Blue Sky Rescue uses fumigation equipment to disinfect a residential compound in Beijing on Thursday, March 5.

On Saturday, the American Conservative Union announced that one of the attendees at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, tested positive for coronavirus.

President Donald Trump and vice president Mike Pence were attending the event, though the ACU said the attendee did not come into contact with either of the men.

When asked by reporters if he was worried about being exposed to coronavirus after he attended CPAC, Trump said, “I’m not concerned at all.”

Trump, who was speaking alongside Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ahead of their dinner at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, also noted that the administration would not cancel any political rallies as the virus spreads.

“We’ll have tremendous rallies. We’re doing very well. We’ve done a fantastic job, with respect to that subject, on the virus,” Trump said.

Meanwhile, 14 out of 16 coronavirus deaths in the US state of Washington are associated with a nursing home in Kirkland, according to a Seattle & King County Public Health press release. The Life Care Center is at the center the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

Some Life Care Center patients have gone from no symptoms to acute symptoms within an hour, according to Tim Killian, spokesperson for Life Care Center of Kirkland.

“We’ve had patients die relatively quickly under those circumstances,” he said, adding that the virus was “volatile, unpredictable.”

There were 180 staff members employed at Life Care Center as of February 19 and 70 employees now have symptoms of novel coronavirus. The Center of Disease Control has provided “extra nurses, practitioners and doctors,” to the nursing home. (CNN)

Oxford University Student Tests Positive to Coronavirus

A student at the University of Oxford has tested positive to Coronavirus after returning home from an unspecified country, a statement on the University’s website reveals.

The affected student reportedly did not attend any university or college events before self-isolating and Public Health England has told the University that the risk to other students and staff is very low.

Meanwhile, more than 16 million people were placed under forced quarantine in Northern Italy early Sunday as the government approved drastic measures in an attempt to halt the spread of the deadly Coronavirus that is sweeping the globe.

Aid agencies are moving to prevent a novel Coronavirus outbreak in conflict-plagued Northwestern Syria, where damaged health infrastructure and massive displacement make containment a nearly impossible task.

Syria has not yet confirmed any Coronavirus cases but its “fragile health systems may not have the capacity to detect and respond to an epidemic, Hedinn Halldorsson, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, told AFP.

SATURDAY MARCH 07, 2020

China Hotel Where Coronavirus Patients are Quarantined Collapses

Approximately 70 people were trapped in a collapsed hotel in the city of Quanzhou, in southeastern Fujian province, the city government said on its website.

The collapsed hotel is used for coronavirus quarantine, according to the official People’s Daily. Twenty-three people were rescued, the city government said. (Aljazeera)

Coronavirus Spreads in French Parliament
A second member of France’s National Assembly has been taken to hospital after contracting coronavirus and five other lawmakers are being tested for the illness, the lower house’s presidency said in a statement.

The Assembly did not name the two legislators who have caught the disease but local media in the eastern region of Alsace have reported that the first of the two MPs is Jean-Luc Reitzer, who represents one of the departments most affected by the outbreak and is currently under intensive care.

The second one is a woman, according to the statement by the parliament. (Aljazeera)

Pope to Deliver Sunday Prayer by Livestream
Pope Francis has cancelled his main public appearances to avoid crowds gathering to see him and will stream them on the internet from inside the Vatican because of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

The Vatican said the pope would not address crowds from a window overlooking St Peter’s Square and would not hold his general audience there either on Wednesday

They will be held without general public participation from inside the Vatican.

The 83-year-old pope cancelled a Lent retreat for the first time in his papacy, but the Vatican has said he is suffering only from a cold that is “without symptoms related to other pathologies”. (Aljazeera)

Iran Death Toll Rises to 145
Over the past 24 hours, Iran has registered 21 more deaths due to the coronavirus, bringing the total to 145.

A health ministry official also said the people testing positive for the virus had risen to 5,823. (Aljazeera)

Coronavirus: Over 100,000 Now Infected in 91 Countries, Italian Suffers Depression

•93 Turkish Airline passengers wanted
•Three new suspected cases in Lagos test negative
•FG releases N984m to combat virus

Ndubuisi Francis and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Segun James and Chinedu Eze in Lagos

Coronavirus has infected more than 100,000 people across 91 countries globally, according to statistics released friday by French news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP) and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

The death toll reached 3,406, while the total number of infections, according to AFP, hit 100,002, after a surge in cases worldwide since Thursday, notably in virus hotspot Iran.

The Johns Hopkins University’s CSSE also updated its global death toll to 3,460 people and the total number of cases to 101,733.
Also yesterday, while providing update on the state of the virus attack, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said only 55 of the 148 passengers on board Turkish Airlines with the Nigerian index case, an Italian, had come forward for testing.

The figures showing over 100,000 infected globally by Coronavirus were compiled from data collected by AFP offices from the competent national authorities and information from the World Health Organisation.
The over 100,000 figure is a grim milestone that now appears inevitable with self-sustaining clusters continuing to expand in South Korea, Japan, parts of Europe, Iran and the United States.

Health experts have suggested that newly emergent clusters in Europe and the Middle East could accelerate the global spread of the disease. India has so far identified 31 cases, at least 17 of which have been linked to travelers from Italy, leading to fears that the world’s second most populous country could see its own outbreak in the coming days. Cases linked to Iran have also emerged elsewhere in the world.

In neighboring South Korea, infections have surged dramatically, with more than 6,500 confirmed cases after the government tested tens of thousands of people as part of a mass screening drive aimed at better mapping and controlling the virus’ spread.

By Thursday afternoon, there were at least 228 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, with 70 in Washington state alone, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local governments.
South Korea has the highest number of cases outside China, with over 6,500 infections and 42 deaths, prompting the country to extend school breaks by three weeks.

Japan imposed quarantine on arrivals from South Korea and China, angering Seoul which summoned the Japanese ambassador to protest the “irrational” move.
Italy, which has the biggest outbreak in Europe, has ordered schools and universities shut until March 15, and on Thursday reported a sharp rise in deaths, bringing the total to 148, with the contagion in Europe’s worst-hit country showing no sign of slowing.

The government, which has imposed draconian measures to try to contain the outbreak, said it would double the money pledged to help the economy cope with the impact of the epidemic.
The accumulative number of cases in the country totalled 3,858, up from 3,089 on Wednesday.
The increase in both the number of deaths and the number of infections was by far the largest since the outbreak began in northern regions two weeks ago.

As the strain on hospitals increased, the northern Lombardy region, Italy’s industrial and financial heartland that has reported by far the highest number of patients and deaths, told inhabitants not to go to hospitals with anything other than urgent problems.

The epidemic is focused on a handful of hotspots in the north of Italy. However, cases have now been confirmed in each of the country’s 20 regions, with 44 in central Lazio around Rome, and 45 in southern Campania, around Naples.
In Malaysia, the Health Ministry has confirmed five new cases of Covid-19, bringing the tally of infections to 55.

Ehanire Pleads with Turkish Airlines Passengers to Come Forward

Also yesterday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said that it plans to commit N1.674 billion in the next 28 days on activities aimed at containing Coronavirus in the country.
The Deputy Director, Special Duties at NCDC, Dr. Priscilla Ibekwe, who spoke at the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the Ministry of Health in Abuja, said from the assessment the centre made, it would need N1.674 billion to carry out its surveillance, testing and isolation activities in the next one month.

“We have met with donor partners on how to access funds to tackle Covid-19 virus. For the first 28 days we have a budget of about N1.674 billion to tackle Covid-19 and so we have spoken to our international partners and local partners and we are going to continue that conversation,” she said.

At the briefing, the Director General of the Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Adigwe disclosed that the agency has successfully developed a hand sanitizer to address the looming scarcity of the liquid used as part of the prevention for Coronavirus.

He said that the agency responded to the outcry of concerned Nigerians and the subsequent directive by the minister of health to assist in checking the anticipated shortages in local supply of drugs and materials needed to manage the outbreak of Covid-19 disease.

Adigwe, who said that the new product was undergoing process of certification by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), added that NIPRD was engaging further research to help actualise government’s vision on drug security.
At the forum, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire spoke on the claim by former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu that he had developed a medicine that can cure the Covid-19 virus.

He said that he was aware that Prof. Iwu had sent his research to the United States for further analysis, adding that the federal government would not hesitate to cue into any credible effort to contain the disease outbreak.

While providing update on the state of the virus attack, Ehanire said that there was no new confirmed case of Covid-19 in the country.
He said that so far, health officials engaged in contact tracing of all those that have had contact with index patient- the Italian consultant have 61 persons in Ogun and Lagos states.

Ehanire said that 21 suspected people who met the case definition were tested, and put under observation but that they reported negative.
The minister also gave update on the progress being made to trace co-passengers of the Italian Covid-19 patient, saying that 55 of the passengers of Turkish airline that brought the Italian had been traced and were being followed up by health officials.
The minister said that between the 7th of January and 5th of March 2020, a total of 21 suspected cases had been identified across four states in Nigeria.

“The states are Lagos, Ogun, FCT and Kano. There is still only one confirmed case of COVID- 9 in Nigeria, which is the index case and no death.
“Therefore as of today, 6th of March 2020, I repeat that there is no confirmed case of COVID-9 in Nigeria,” he said.

The minister also spoke on the state of health of the index case, saying “he is clinically stable, with mild symptoms and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.”

Ehanire said that health officials were following up with 61 contacts of the index case, 21 in Lagos State and 40 in Ogun State.
He said the contacts of the index case are currently under supervised self-isolation and the states have provided them with temperature monitoring tools.

Of the 148 passengers on the manifest of the index case flight, the minister said 55 are actively being followed up, adding that the NCDC and Port Health Services are in touch with them to monitor their temperatures and possible appearance of COVID- 9 symptoms.

The minister further appealed to other passenger of the Turkish Airlines Flight to Lagos on February 24 to contact relevant officials.
He said: “I urge any passenger of the Turkish Airlines Flight to Lagos on February 24 listening to me to contact us on 080097000-10.”

Suspected Patients Test Negative in Lagos

The three suspected patients quarantined in Lagos have tested negative to the deadly disease.
This leaves only the Italian patient as the only confirmed case in the country so far, the Lagos Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi said yesterday.
Abayomi had on Thursday said three people had been quarantined at the state’s isolation centre in Yaba on suspicion of Coronavirus.

The commissioner tweeted yesterday evening that the three suspects had tested negative to the deadly disease and they had since been discharged and allowed to go.
He however maintained on Thursday that the index case, an Italian was responding to treatment at the isolation centre, as his clinical situation was stable.

He stated that the Italian was in high spirit, but that he required psycho-social support as he was getting depressed for being in isolation, adding that the patient was in touch with his family and friends in Italy.
Abayomi, however, said the level of viral load in his body had gone down and if that continued, in the next few days, he might be discharged if he tested negative to the disease.
He said government would not just release him immediately he tested negative to the disease, but would still keep him and run a second test in few days to ascertain he was completely free of the disease before letting him go back to his country.

FG Releases N984m to Combat Virus

The federal government disclosed yesterday that it had released a total of N984 million to relevant agencies to help combat Coronavirus.
The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning said in a statement that the federal government released N620 million yesterday, having released N364 million earlier, bringing the total so far released to fight the global scourge, to N984 million.

The statement issued by Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, Special Adviser on Media and Communications to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said: “The approval by President Muhammadu Buhari for the release of funds to tackle COVID-19 was an emergency and the process of releasing the fund was also an emergency as it was an unexpected expenditure. However, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning had released the first tranche of N364 million sometime ago and the process of releasing the second tranche has been concluded with the release of N620 million this morning (yesterday), bringing total release to N984 million.”

Vatican Records First Case

The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni reported yesterday that the first case of coronavirus infection had been reported in the Vatican City.
He noted that the patient was discovered on Thursday and that emergency services are sanitising the area.
The Vatican is not the first holy site to be affected by the coronavirus this week.
Saudi authorities previously suspended pilgrimages to Mecca due to health concerns, while Israel shut down travel to and from Bethlehem.

Togo Confirms First Case

Togo yesterday confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus after a 42-year-old woman tested positive following her return from a trip to Benin, Germany, France and Turkey.
The presidency in the West African nation of eight million people said the patient, who lives in the capital Lome with her family, was “currently isolated in a treatment centre for infectious diseases” after testing positive on Thursday.

“From February 22 to March 2, 2020 she visited Benin, Germany, France and Turkey before returning to Togo via the land border with Benin,” the presidency said in a statement.
It said all people who had contact with the patient in the country “have been identified and put in quarantine.”
In sub-Saharan Africa, Senegal has registered four cases, all foreign nationals.

Foreign Airlines Record 20% Decline in Passenger Traffic, Says NANTA

President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents, (NANTA), Bankole Bernard has said that Nigeria’s aviation sector has seen about 20 per cent decline in passenger traffic as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Just as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) projected that globally the airline industry would lose between $63 billion and $113 billion to the Coronavirus epidemic.

Bernard said in Lagos yesterday that since the spread of the Coronavirus from China, the travel industry has been affected, especially because Nigeria is an import driven country but Nigerians however are now diverting to other countries such as Turkey to import their goods.

Speaking during a press conference to announce NANTA elective Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos, the NANTA president said the level of resilience and tenacity of Nigerians is second to none, as Nigerians now go to Turkey to bring in their goods instead of China.

FRIDAY MARCH 06, 2020

Coronavirus: 3 Quarantined Patients Tested Negative, Lagos Commissione

By Segun James

As Coronavirus continues to spread in countries around the world, three suspected patients quarantined in Lagos have tested negative to the deadly disease.

This leaves only the Italian patient as the only confirmed case in Nigeria so far, the Lagos Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said Friday evening.

Abayomi had on Thursday said three people had been quarantined at the state’s isolation centre in Yaba on suspicion of contracting Coronavirus.

But tests carried out on the suspects have proved negative even as he revealed that one of the suspects quarantined was a Nigerian who travelled to France eight days ago and arrived the country four days later.

He said that the man developed headache and respiratory symptom which led to him being quarantined.

Two other travellers from England and China were also quarantined for coronavirus after they developed same symptoms but samples were collected for tests to ascertain if they had been affected by Coronavirus.

However, the commissioner tweeted on Friday evening that the three suspects had tested negative to the deadly disease and had since been discharged.

In the tweet, Abayomi wrote: “Breaking! #COVID19Lagos All the three #COVID19 suspected cases; travellers from France, England and China whose samples were collected yesterday for analysis have tested negative and they have been discharged.”

He however maintained on Thursday that the index case, an Italian, was responding to treatment at the isolation centre, as his clinical situation was stable.

He stated that the Italian was in high spirit, but that he required psycho-social support as he was getting depressed for being in isolation alone, adding that the patient was in touch with his family and friends in Italy.

Abayomi, however, said the level of viral load in his body had gone down and that if that continued, in the next few days, he might be discharged if he tested negative to the disease.

He said government would not just release him immediately he tested negative to the disease, but would still keep him and run a second test in few days to ascertain he was completely free from the disease before letting him go back to his country.

On the people who alighted from the Turkish Airline on arrival in Lagos, he said government had been able to trace 13 of the remaining 15 contacts, leaving only two that had not been reached, saying that if at the end of today, they could not be reached, he would release their names to the media.

COVID-19 Hits January Passenger Demand

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced global passenger traffic data for January 2020, showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) climbed 2.4 per cent compared to January 2019. This was down from 4.6 per cent year-over-year growth for the prior month and is the lowest monthly increase since April 2010, at the time of the volcanic ash cloud crisis in Europe that led to massive airspace closures and flight cancellations. January capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 1.7 per cent load factor climbed 0.6 percentage point to 80.3 per cent.

“January was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the traffic impacts we are seeing owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, given that major travel restrictions in China did not begin until 23 January. Nevertheless, it was still enough to cause our slowest traffic growth in nearly a decade,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.

In January international passenger demand rose 2.5 per cent compared to January 2019, down from 3.7 per cent growth the previous month. With the exception of Latin America, all regions recorded increases, led by airlines in Africa and the Middle East that saw minimal impact from the COVID-19 outbreak in January. Capacity climbed 0.9 per cent, and load factor rose 1.2 percentage points to 81.1 per cent.

African airlines’ traffic climbed 5.3 per cent in January, up slightly from 5.1 per cent growth in December. Capacity rose 5.7 per cent, however, and load factor slipped 0.3 percentage point to 70.5 per cent.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 5.4 per cent traffic increase in January, the fourth consecutive month of solid demand growth, reflecting strong performance from larger Europe-Middle East and Middle East-Asia routes, which were not significantly impacted by route cancellations related to COVID-19 at that time. Capacity increased just 0.5 per cent, with load factor jumping 3.6 percentage points to 78.3 per cent.

THURSDAY MARCH 05, 2020

South Africa Records First Case of Coronavirus

The South African government has confirmed the first case of Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, in the country.

Announcing this Thursday, the Minister of Health, South Africa, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has ran a test on the patient, and it turned out positive to the virus.

He said: “The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on March 1, 2020.

“Meanwhile, two South Africans who tested positive to the disease aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess have now tested negative and will shortly be making their way back to South Africa,” the minister said.

The pair who initially tested positive for Coronavirus had been hospitalised in Japan after being taken ashore from the cruise ship where they worked.

The Diamond Princess was first quarantined in January when a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong tested positive for Coronavirus.

South Africa, which last week said it would evacuate its nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan, adding that those plans are at an ‘advanced stage’, said, “A total of 184 South Africans have indicated their desire to be repatriated.”

They are said to be mostly “students, teachers and other professionals.”

Coronavirus: NCAA Orders Airlines to Issue Health Forms to Passengers, Crew Members

By Chinedu Eze and Martins Ifijeh

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has ordered all airlines operating international and regional flights into Nigeria to issue Health Declaration Forms to their passengers including crew members before arriving Nigerian airports.

The agency said this warning was coming on the heels of failure of some airlines operating international and regional flights into Nigeria to provide Health Declaration Forms (Passengers self-reporting forms).

NCAA said a letter to this effect has been issued to all airlines and other stakeholders.

In view of the above, airlines are to remind passengers to provide factual address and phone numbers to enhance contact tracing in case there is need to do so.

“The Health Declaration forms (Passenger self-reporting forms) will be collected and evaluated by the personnel of Port Health Services on the arrival of the passengers and crewmembers alike.

“Airlines are to collect the Health Declaration forms (Passenger self-reporting forms) from the Port Health Services at the various international airports of the country,” NCAA said in a statement signed by its spokesman, Sam Adurogboye.

The authority insisted that failure to comply with the directive by any airline would attract severe sanctions.

With Two New Coronavirus Cases, Senegal Now Has Total of Four

  • Iwu’s ‘isolated compound’ for the virus cure undergoing test in US, says FG

Omololu Ogunmade, Ndubuisi Francis, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, Chinedu Eze, Martins Ifijeh and Nume Ekeghe in Lagos

Senegal wednesday confirmed two new cases of coronavirus bringing the country’s tally to four. A statement by the country’s Ministry of Health said the two cases had been confirmed by the Institut Pasteur de Dakar.

This development is coming as an ‘isolated compound’ considered to be capable of curing COVID-19, which was reportedly discovered by a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Maurice Iwu, is currently being subjected to scientific test in the United States.

Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who confirmed the testing of the drug wednesday while answering questions from State House reporters at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, explained that Iwu did not say he had discovered the cure for Coronavirus but only said he had “an isolated compound” on the disease, which drew American interest.

Besides, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said Angola has reversed the travel ban placed on Nigerians as a result of Coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The Lagos State government has also said the Italian patient who tested positive to Coronavirus was fast recovering from the disease

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has, however, cautioned against the spread of the virus in Africa.
One of the new patients in Senegal is connected with the second confirmed case.

The 68-year-old French national is the wife of the patient diagnosed on Tuesday, while the other patient is a 33-year-old English national who arrived in Dakar on February 24 from London.

On Monday, Senegal announced the first case of coronavirus in the country, becoming the second in sub-Saharan Africa after one was confirmed in Nigeria last week.

The country’s Minister of Health, Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr told journalists that the index patient was a French man who lives in Senegal and came back from a skiing holiday in France on February 26 on an Air Senegal flight,
However, the man has since been quarantined at Dakar’s Fann Hospital. North African countries -Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt have also confirmed cases of the virus.

Meanwhile, Onu said following Iwu’s claim, experts from the United States came to Nigeria and took the product made from Nigerian herbs away.

Onu said when Iwu expressed concern that the product might be hijacked from him by the United States if found capable of curing Coronavirus, he drew the attention of the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, to it and also invited the President of the Academy of Science to ensure that the credit is not taken away from Iwu.

He said consequently, America entered into an agreement with him, noting, however, that if the US did not find Iwu’s isolated discovery promising, it would not have cared to enter into any agreement with him.

The minister also said the ministry was working on what he described as voting solutions which would make it possible for all Nigerian elections, ranging from local government, state assemblies, governorship, National Assembly and presidential elections to be conducted in one day.

According to him, this “voting solution” won’t be done on paper and hence, would give no room for ballot snatching and would be powered by solar energy to avoid any disruption by power failure.

Onu added that the ministry was conducting a research aimed at finding solution to breast cancer, which he described as the major cancer disease affecting women, as well as another research seeking cure for prostate cancer and epilepsy using natural herbs in the country.

He also said the ministry was carrying out another study meant to evolve a food supplement with the capacity to help the patient of sickle cell to effectively manage his ailment and avert sinking into crisis.
Onu also said a project called third eye navigator was being researched upon with the intention of helping the physically challenged to move.

Ehanire explained that the index case of Coronavirus was not discovered at the airport last week when an infected Italian visited the country because the ailment could not be easily discovered until its symptoms manifested.
He said if the victim had come the following day when the symptom first manifested, it would have been easily detected at the airport.

On why the identity of the Italian, whom he said is currently stable, has not been disclosed, he said it is unethical to do so.

Angola Reverses Travel Ban Placed on Nigerians

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said Angola has reversed the travel ban placed on Nigerians as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak in the country.

A senior officer from the Crisis Communication Department of the ministry, Mr. Kimiebi Ebienfa, in a statement yesterday, said: “Grateful be informed that the Government of Angola has reversed the travel ban earlier placed on Nigerian nationals over the case of Coronavirus in Nigeria.”

Italian Patient Fast Recovering from Coronavirus

The Lagos State government also Wednesday gave an update on the condition of the index case, saying the Italian patient is fast recovering from the disease.

The Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said apart from him, there was no suspected case currently isolated at the centre.

He said: “We test the Italian patient every day to ascertain whether the virus is still in him or not. This gives us the indication whether he is still contagious or not.

“Sometimes, there is a little bit of rebound in the virus’ pattern before it finally goes away. The tests that we are performing are extremely sensitive. So far, he is doing well and recovering.”

Abayomi identified one of the difficulties the state is having in tracking down persons who travelled via Turkish Airlines with the index case into Nigeria was the inaccurate contact details in their forms.

“Some of the travellers didn’t provide accurate figures, so we are unable to get them.

“Of the 159 passengers that boarded the aircraft with the index patient, 84 resides in Lagos and only 49 have been contacted, while the remaining 35 are still unreachable. 65 people have left Lagos either to other states or other countries. We have contacted the World Health Organisation (WHO) and state epidemiologists to reach out to them because they are no longer in our jurisdiction.

“The young man that was on Ethiopian airline tested negative to the virus. So that means we no longer have a suspected case in our centre,” he added.

He said the state’s priority was to stop the virus from spreading within the country, adding that the major focus was at the airport.

IMF Cautions against Spread of Coronavirus in Africa

IMF, however, has cautioned against the spread of the Coronavirus in Africa.
The Managing Director, IMF, Mrs. Kristalina Georgieva, said yesterday during a joint media briefing with the World Bank, held in Washington DC that

as part of the IMF and World Bank’s contribution towards tackling this disease, the Fund has made available $10 billion to low income countries at zero per cent.

Georgieva said: “We have done a quick assessment of countries of highest risk, because of combinations of four factors, week health systems, exposure to price shocks because of commodity export orientation, vulnerability due to spill over impacts from other countries and limited fiscal space.

“It is unfortunately clear from this analysis that Sub-Saharan Africa presents a particularly area of focus. We do have up to $10 billion available for low income countries to tap in with zero interest rates and obviously we would prioritise countries especially in Africa that have already been faced with difficulties.

“And we have a trust fund that allows the low-income countries to pay their obligations to the IMF so they can use this fiscal pace to fund priority investments.”

World Bank Pledges $12bn in Emergency Aid

The World Bank Group has also confirmed that it is making available an initial package of up to $12 billion in immediate support to assist countries coping with the health and economic impacts of the global outbreak.

This financing is designed to help member countries take effective action to respond to and, where possible, lessen the tragic impacts posed by the COVID-19.

Through this new fast-track package, the World Bank Group will help developing countries strengthen health system, including better access to health services to safeguard people from the epidemic, strengthen disease surveillance, bolster public health interventions, and work with the private sector to reduce the impact on economies.

The financial package, with financing drawn from across International Development Association (IDA), International Bank for Reconstruction (IBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), will be globally coordinated to support country-based responses.

The COVID-19 support package will make available initial crisis resources of up to $12 billion in financing — $8 billion of which is new — on a fast track basis. This comprises up to $2.7 billion new financing from IBRD; $1.3 billion from IDA, complemented by reprioritisation of $2 billion of the Bank’s existing portfolio; and $6 billion from IFC , including $2 billion from existing trade facilities.
It will also include policy advice and technical assistance drawing on global expertise and country-level knowledge.

“We are working to provide a fast, flexible response based on developing country needs in dealing with the spread of COVID-19. This includes emergency financing, policy advice and technical assistance, building on the World Bank Group’s existing instruments and expertise to help countries respond to the crisis,” said World Bank Group President, David Malpass.

Airlines Face Revenue Drop on Reduced Passenger Traffic

The Coronavirus epidemic has weakened demand for air ticket in the world and travel experts have projected that the impact of the disease will hurt airlines’ profitability.

As at February 20, 2020 the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had projected that airlines had lost over $29 billion, but passenger traffic has continued to drop since then and airlines have cut back their operations to some destinations.

Confirming this development, the Director of Consumer Protection, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr. Adamu Abdullahi, said there was a significant drop in passenger traffic on international routes, adding that there is no statistics to know the exact figures yet, till the end of the month.

“So many international meeting that usually attract high passenger traffic have been cancelled, so airlines just fly about with empty seats. Of course this will have adverse financial effect on the airlines,” he said.

Also the Managing Director of Air France/KLM, Mr. Benjamin Smith, said losses being incurred by airlines due to the Coronavirus would force the carrier to go into merger because of competition, especially airlines that are already weak.

But the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised against suspension of flights, saying that it is a wrong strategy to end the spread of the virus.

Senegal Confirms 2 New Cases of Coronavirus

Senegal on Wednesday announced two new cases of coronavirus bringing the number of cases confirmed in the West African country to four.

The country’s Health Ministry in a statement said the two cases had been confirmed by the Institut Pasteur de Dakar, according to Africanews.com.

Accirding to the statement, one of the new patients is connected with the second confirmed case. The 68-year-old French national is the wife of the patient diagnosed on Tuesday, while the other patient is a 33-year-old English national who arrived in Dakar on February 24 from London.

Senegal on Minday had announced the first case of coronavirus in the country, becoming the second in sub-Saharan Africa after one was confirmed in Nigeria last week.

The index patient was a French man who lives in Senegal and came back from a skiing holiday in France on Feb. 26 on an Air Senegal flight, Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr told reporters.

“The patient is a French national, married and father of two children, who has been living in Senegal with his family for two years. He stayed in France, in Nîmes, and at the a ski station in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, between 19 and 25 February 2020,” the Minister said at the time.

The man has since been quarantined at Dakar’s Fann Hospital. North African countries Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt have also confirmed cases of the virus.

The World Health Organization, WHO, Africa region has so far boosted testing capacity of 33 out of 47 nations and have hinted that the remaining countries will be receiving necessary equipments and training soon.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 04, 2020

Lawan: Coronavirus Isolation Centres Not Ready in Abuja

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday evening expressed concern that the two isolation centres meant for the treatment of Coronavirus patients in the Federal Capital Territory were yet to be ready.

Lawan, also frowned at the non release by the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, of N620 million earlier approved by the federal government for the emergency response to Coronavirus (COVID -19) outbreak.

The Senate President, who spoke after inspecting facilities at the two isolation centres at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada, stated that the isolation centres were far from being ready going by what he saw.

He stressed that “from our inspection here, the temporary isolation centre is really not in good shape, it doesn’t look ready to receive any patient, and I believe that this is something that we need to fix between now and tomorrow.

“We are in an emergency, even if we don’t have people who are affected, we shouldn’t just rest on our oars. We have to do everything and anything possible to fix that temporary isolation centre to be prepared to receive anyone who falls sick in this respect”.

Lawan further lamented that Nigeria, despite being a country with the largest economy in Africa, is yet to have a completed Isolation Centre in any of the geo-political zones that would provide emergency response to disease outbreak in the country.

He charged those saddled with leadership responsibilities in the country to live up to expectations through timely discharge of their mandates and duties.

His words: “There’s no way that Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, with a population of two hundred million, and yet the Federal Capital and six surrounding states of the North Central, you don’t have one room that you can call an isolation centre, where anyone who unfortunately falls into this crisis will be taken to. This is not acceptable.

“I also believe that we should have a replication of the permanent site, we should be able to complete this and then have five others across the remaining geo-political zones of the country.

“The contractor said by the end of this month this should be ready, we pray it should be faster, but by the end of tomorrow, that temporary site must be ready.

“There’s no generator, no electricity, nothing. There were two or three air conditioners brought this morning, maybe because yesterday we said we were coming here. This is not acceptable”.

He assured Nigerians that the relevant committees of the Senate will carry out a follow-up on Thursday to ensure that work on the isolation centres begins and is completed.

“The Senate Committee on Health will come back tomorrow (Thursday), we want to see that temporary isolation centre fixed. We need to be committed, we need to be very serious, and this is the essence of our oversight, but because it is very important, we decided that the leadership of the Senate should lead this oversight,” Lawan said.

Lawan also asked the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to immediately release the sum of N620m to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), an amount budgeted for emergency response to the Coronavirus (COVID – 19) outbreak.

“I am sad, we are indeed actually sad, that of the N620 million that was supposed to be released to this place for fixing of everything here to NCDC, not a kobo has been released. “We are going to get across to the Minister of Finance and all the other authorities that have anything to do with this to release this money latest between today and tomorrow. So, we are going to ensure that the money is released, we are not going to put pressure. This is what they are supposed to do, and they must do it.

“As leaders given responsibilities, we have to do what is right. This is unfortunate. So, the Ministry of Finance should release the N620 million between today and tomorrow,” Lawal said.

Italian Patient Recovering from Coronavirus, Says Lagos Govt

Martins Ifijeh and Ayodeji Ake

The Lagos State government has said the Italian patient who tested positive to Coronavirus last week was recovering from the disease.

Stating this at a press briefing in Alausa Wednesday, the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi said apart from him, there was no suspected case currently isolated at the centre.

He said: “We test the Italian patient every day to ascertain whether the virus is still in him or not. This gives us the indication whether he is still contagious or not.

“Sometimes, there is a little bit of rebound in the virus’ pattern before it finally goes away. The test that we are performing are extremely sensitive. So far he is doing well and recovering,” he said.

Abayomi said one of the difficulties the state was having in tracking down persons who travelled via Turkish Airlines with the index case into Nigeria was the inaccurate contact details in their forms.

“Some of the travellers didn’t provide accurate figures, so we are unable to get them.

“Of the 159 passenger that boarded the aircraft with the index patient, 84 resides in Lagos and only 49 have been contacted, while the remaining 35 are still unreachable. 65 people have left Lagos either to other states or other countries. We have contacted the World Health Organisation (WHO) and state epidemiologists to reach out to them because they are no longer in our jurisdiction.

“The young man that was on Ethiopian airline tested negative to the virus. So that means we no longer have a suspected case in our centre,” he added.

He said the state’s priority was to stop the virus from spreading within the country, adding that the major focus was at the airport.

“We have deployed 60 staff to the airport, although it is a huge amount of manpower. We have embarked on campaigns in schools through the Ministry of Education. We are working with the three levels of healthcare systems.

“We are looking particularly at people for fever and body pain. If it’s not malaria or cold, then we can test for coronavirus,” he added.

Coronavirus: 8,300 Masks Stolen from Hospital in France

Health officials in France Wednesday raised the alarm that about 8,300 masks and 1,200 bottles of sanitising health gel have been stolen from Paris hospitals.

Another 2,000 surgical masks have disappeared from a hospital in Marseilles.

The French government says it will take legal measures to rein in the soaring prices being demanded for bottles of hand gel.

Adding that anyone wanting to buy masks from a pharmacy will have to get a medical prescription.

Lufthansa Grounds 150 Planes over Coronavirus Outbreak

The German airline Lufthansa has grounded 150 aircraft due to the fast-spreading Coronavirus outbreak.

The airline told the Guardian UK that 125 of the grounded planes were continental and 25 were intercontinental.

Lufthansa has 752 aircraft according to its website.

Earlier, Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, pledged to look into reports that airlines were flying half empty planes around the world just to retain lucrative slots under international allocation rules after a drop in demand for air travel.

UK’s Coronavirus Cases Rise to 85

The number of Coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom has jumped by 34 in a day, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 85.

The Department for Health said the figures included 32 new patients in England.

The department added in a statement: “29 patients were diagnosed who had recently travelled from recognised countries or from recognised clusters which were under investigation.

“Three additional patients contracted the virus in the UK and it is not yet clear whether they contracted it directly or indirectly from an individual who had recently returned from abroad. This is being investigated and contact tracing has begun.

“The total number of confirmed cases in England is now 80. Following previously reported confirmed cases in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, the total number of UK cases is 85.”

Buhari Commends Dangote Foundation for N200m Donation to Fight Coronavirus

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday in Abuja commended Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) for donating N200 million to assist in combating the influx of Covid-19 into the country.

The president recalled that the organisation had in the past donated N1 billion to fight Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Africa, challenging other well-to-do individuals and groups to emulate the foundation.

In a statement, the president’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying, “Hand in hand, standing shoulder to shoulder, we can confront our challenges as a country. This is a path for us all to follow as a people.”

The statement said the president reiterated his earlier charge to Nigerians to take the necessary hygiene precautions, rather than panic about the disease as a result of the discovery of the index case in the country last week.

It added that the president said governments at various levels had the responsibility of ensuring that the country and her people remain safe from the virus, which he said is spreading rapidly in many parts of the world.

Hundreds Wait for Hospital Bed in South Korea as Coronavirus Surges

Hundreds of persons infected by the Coronavirus disease are awaiting bed spaces in Daegu, South Korea; the city at the center of the worst outbreak outside China.

The new cases bring South Korea’s total to 5,621, with at least 32 deaths, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said Wednesday.

Most cases were in and around Daegu, the country’s fourth-largest city, where the flu-like virus has spread rapidly through members of a fringe Christian group.

Health officials expect the number of new cases to be high for the near future as they complete the testing of more than 200,000 members of the sect, as well as thousands of other suspected cases from smaller clusters.

“We need special measures in times of emergency,” South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a cabinet meeting, referring to extra medical resources for hotspots and economic measures including a $9.8 billion stimulus.

“In order to overcome COVID-19 as quickly as possible and minimize the impact on the economy, it is necessary to proactively inject all available resources.”

COVID-19 is the illness caused by the new coronavirus which emerged from China late last year to spread around the world.

Hospitals in South Korea’s hardest hit areas were scrambling to accommodate the surge in new patients.

WHO Warns of Global Shortage of Medical Supply to Fight Coronavirus

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of a global shortage and price hiking for protective equipment to fight the fast-spreading Coronavirus.

Speaking Wednesday, it asked companies and governments to increase production by 40 per cent as the death toll from the respiratory illness surges.

Crowds wearing protective masks, following the outbreak of the coronavirus, are seen at the Shinjuku station in Tokyo, Japan, March 3, 2020.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates on Tuesday in an emergency move to try to prevent a global recession and the World Bank announced $12 billion to help countries fight the coronavirus, which has taken a heavy toll on air travel, tourism and other industries, threatening global economic growth prospects.

The virus continued to spread in South Korea, Japan, Europe, Iran and the United States, and several countries reported their first confirmed cases, taking the total to some 80 nations hit with the flu-like illness that can lead to pneumonia.

Coronavirus: World Bank Pledges $12bn in Emergency Aid

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

As the Coronavirus epidemic otherwise known as COVID-19 hits over 60 countries, the World Bank Group is making available an initial package of up to $12 billion in immediate support to assist countries coping with the health and economic impacts of the global outbreak.

This financing is designed to help member countries take effective action to respond to and, where possible, lessen the tragic impacts posed by the COVID-19.

Through this new fast track package, the World Bank Group will help developing countries strengthen health systems, including better access to health services to safeguard people from the epidemic, strengthen disease surveillance, bolster public health interventions, and work with the private sector to reduce the impact on economies. The financial package, with financing drawn from across International Development Association (IDA), International Bank for Reconstruction (IBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), will be globally coordinated to support country-based responses.
The COVID-19 support package will make available initial crisis resources of up to $12 billion in financing — $8 billion of which is new — on a fast track basis. This comprises up to $2.7 billion new financing from IBRD; $1.3 billion from IDA, complemented by reprioritization of $2 billion of the Bank’s existing portfolio; and $6 billion from IFC , including $2 billion from existing trade facilities. It will also include policy advice and technical assistance drawing on global expertise and country-level knowledge.

“We are working to provide a fast, flexible response based on developing country needs in dealing with the spread of COVID-19. This includes emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance, building on the World Bank Group’s existing instruments and expertise to help countries respond to the crisis,” said World Bank Group President, David Malpass.

The financial package will provide grants and low-interest loans from IDA for low income countries and loans from IBRD for middle income countries, using all of the Bank’s operational instruments with processing accelerated on a fast track basis. International Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, will provide its clients with the necessary support to continue operating and to sustain jobs.

The World Bank support will cover a range of interventions to strengthen health services and primary health care, bolster disease monitoring and reporting, train front line health workers, encourage community engagement to maintain public trust, and improve access to treatment for the poorest patients.

The Bank will also provide policy and technical advice to ensure countries can access global expertise.
IFC will work with commercial bank clients to expand trade finance and working capital lines. IFC will also directly support its corporate clients — with a focus on strategic sectors including medical equipment and pharmaceuticals — to sustain supply chains and limit downside risks. These solutions will leverage the lessons learned from similar events in the past with a goal to minimize the negative economic and social impacts of COVID-19 globally.

Countries face different levels of risk and vulnerability to COVID-19, and will require different levels of support. The Bank Group support will prioritize the poorest countries and those at high risk with low capacity. As the spread of COVID-19 and its impact continues to evolve, the World Bank Group will adapt its approach and resources as needed.
The World Bank Group is actively engaged with international institutions and country authorities to help coordinate the global response.

World Bank Group Announces $12bn Immediate Support for COVID-19 Country ResponseNdubuisi Francis in Abuja As the Coronavirus epidemic otherwise known as COVID-19 hits over 60 countries, the World Bank Group is making available an initial package of up to $12 billion in immediate support to assist countries coping with the health and economic impacts of the global outbreak.

This financing is designed to help member countries take effective action to respond to and, where possible, lessen the tragic impacts posed by the COVID-19.Through this new fast track package, the World Bank Group will help developing countries strengthen health systems, including better access to health services to safeguard people from the epidemic, strengthen disease surveillance, bolster public health interventions, and work with the private sector to reduce the impact on economies. The financial package, with financing drawn from across International Development Association (IDA), International Bank for Reconstruction (IBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), will be globally coordinated to support country-based responses.The COVID-19 support package will make available initial crisis resources of up to $12 billion in financing — $8 billion of which is new — on a fast track basis. This comprises up to $2.7 billion new financing from IBRD; $1.3 billion from IDA, complemented by reprioritization of $2 billion of the Bank’s existing portfolio; and $6 billion from IFC , including $2 billion from existing trade facilities. It will also include policy advice and technical assistance drawing on global expertise and country-level knowledge.“We are working to provide a fast, flexible response based on developing country needs in dealing with the spread of COVID-19. This includes emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance, building on the World Bank Group’s existing instruments and expertise to help countries respond to the crisis,” said World Bank Group President, David Malpass. The financial package will provide grants and low-interest loans from IDA for low income countries and loans from IBRD for middle income countries, using all of the Bank’s operational instruments with processing accelerated on a fast track basis. International Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, will provide its clients with the necessary support to continue operating and to sustain jobs.

The World Bank support will cover a range of interventions to strengthen health services and primary health care, bolster disease monitoring and reporting, train front line health workers, encourage community engagement to maintain public trust, and improve access to treatment for the poorest patients. The Bank will also provide policy and technical advice to ensure countries can access global expertise.IFC will work with commercial bank clients to expand trade finance and working capital lines. IFC will also directly support its corporate clients — with a focus on strategic sectors including medical equipment and pharmaceuticals — to sustain supply chains and limit downside risks. These solutions will leverage the lessons learned from similar events in the past with a goal to minimize the negative economic and social impacts of COVID-19 globally.Countries face different levels of risk and vulnerability to COVID-19, and will require different levels of support. The Bank Group support will prioritize the poorest countries and those at high risk with low capacity. As the spread of COVID-19 and its impact continues to evolve, the World Bank Group will adapt its approach and resources as needed.The World Bank Group is actively engaged with international institutions and country authorities to help coordinate the global response.

TUESDAY MARCH 03, 2020

Fear of Coronavirus Forces House to Suspend Plenary for Two Weeks

Udora Orizu in Abuja

In a bid to protect lawmakers from contacting coronavirus, the House of Representatives has resolved to adjourn for two weeks while they seek measures to tackle the deadly virus.

The House reached this resolution after unanimously adopting a motion of urgent national importance moved by Hon. Idem Unyime at the plenary on Tuesday.

Contributing in support of the motion, Ndudi Elumelu called for the adjournment of plenary for two weeks, while the lawmakers work with relevant agencies to tackle the deadly virus.

He also suggested that all lawmakers should be tested.

“It’s a very serious matter. The driver carrying the Italian man has gone missing, he could be hiding anywhere,” he said

On his part Hon. Nasir Ali Ahmed lamented that it was worrisome that Nigeria as the most populated country in Africa, has only three isolation centres.

He cited the case of Iran’s vice president who contacted coronavirus and two of its cabinet members that died recently after contacting the disease, saying alot needs to be done to tackle it.

Also Hon. Dagomie Abiante said Nigeria was not ready for the virus, adding that there’s need for all hands to be on deck.

He said, “We are now faced with our worst fears. When the motion to bring back our brothers from Wuhan, China was brought up, why did we bring it down? Finally our fears have caught have up with us. There’s urgent need for all hands to be on deck. We don’t have enough information about this virus. We need to sit up, we do not have a single thermometer and we are not ready for what is coming to us.

The lawmakers voted in favour of Hon. Elumelu’s prayer, agreeing that the house should adjourn for two weeks.

More details later

Coronavirus: Nigeria Places Italy, Iran, S’Korea, Japan on Watch List

•Tracing 156 co-passengers of infected Italian
•Cautions schools against forcing students to wear face masks
•Fayemi orders screening of passengers at motor parks

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Martins Ifijeh in Lagos, Francis Sardauna in Katsina and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

The federal government has placed five countries with community transmission of COVID-19, comprising Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and China on its watch list.

The federal Ministry of Health is also tracing 156 passengers that boarded the Turkish Airline flight with the Italian that tested positive to Coronavirus on arrival in Nigeria. It is believed that some of the passengers may have left the country after stopping over for days.

Besides, the federal government has cautioned schools against forcing students to wear face masks, adding that the virus is treatable.

Also, following the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Lagos, the Katsina State Government has inaugurated an emergency operation centre to tackle any outbreak of the disease in the state.

The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has also directed medical experts to start screening passengers coming into the state from border states to prevent the spread of the virus to the state.

However, as the federal government stepped up efforts to curb the spread of the virus into the country, the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said yesterday that the government had decided to place four more countries on the watch list.

He told Channels TV that the four nations were added to China, which has been on the list since January.
He explained that the federal government has now added four more countries to enable authorities to heighten surveillance for travellers from these countries.

He said: “Anyone travelling from these nations who fall ill within 14 days is advised to reach us to enable us to take their samples and then do tests to check whether or not they are positive to the virus.

“We have been preparing for this for the past six weeks. So far, we have done 15 tests and only one came up positive. This shows our system is actually working. We are testing people that meet our case definition.

“As you have seen in Lagos, we have had only one positive case and we have been able to mount a response in partnership with Ogun and Lagos States.

“This virus is circulating around the world and over 50 countries have been affected. We will do our very best to ensure it doesn’t further enter Nigeria and even if a few more cases happen, we can walk together to defeat it. Nigerians are also very cooperative. They have shown that truly, we can come together to address these incidents.”

According to him, one of the best investments the federal government has made is setting up NCDC, which has grown to become the pride of Africa.
He said the centre has a team of 250 persons who work 24/7 in the laboratories, surveillance, risk communication, among others; NCDC, he added, had built a team of scientific experts.

“We are building a long term investment in science, thinking and in knowledge base as this will help us respond to incidence like this.

“We have 23 emergency operation centres in the country as of today. This is an investment we have made over the past few years. We have five new molecular laboratories, which are actually not easy to set up. The buildings are actually the easiest part. The more difficult ones are the laboratory and scientific expertise, the reagents, and the likes,” he added.

He called on state governments to invest in health security, adding that the federal government cannot tackle issues around disease outbreaks alone.

FG Tracing 156 Co-Passengers of Italian Patient

The federal government also said the 156 passengers that boarded the flight with the Italian that tested positive to Covid-19 on arrival in Nigeria are being traced as some of them may have left the country after stopping over for days.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, told journalists in Abuja that apart from some of the phone numbers that were not connecting, there was the likelihood that some of the passengers might have left the country.

He said the ministry, which was leading the efforts to arrest the further spread of the virus had so far done well.

The minister added that the team of health officials had been able to identify and quarantine 19 persons in Lagos who had met the index definition.
Besides, a total of 39 persons have been identified in Ogun State under the ongoing contact tracing operation.

“The only ones we know for sure is the number of people that were in the aircraft with the Italian who imported COVID-19 into the country, 156 persons. Those ones are still being traced and contacted. We are having a huge challenge contacting these passengers; whereas some of them didn’t leave phone numbers, others left numbers that were not connecting. Some were arriving in the country for the first time and probably haven’t registered their SIM cards, some also left the country after a day or two, but there are ways we can track them through the passenger manifest,” the minister said.

Ehanire explained that the owner of the aircraft has been notified as well as the embassies of the travel agencies involved in the flight operation.
However, Ehanire said the four Chinese, who were tested for Coronavirus, all came out negative.

“Contact tracing is a specialised activity that is carried out by experts and technologists who know what information to look out for. And so far, we have been able to trace 19 persons in Lagos and 39 in Ogun who had contacts with the Italian COVID-19 victim,” he added.

Regarding the incidence and scope of fatality of the virus disease, he said China was leading with over 95 per cent cases while it had so far claimed 2,977 lives from 59 countries.

The minister said there were speculations that about 80 per cent of infected persons do not have severe symptoms, adding that the severity of the infection is based on the level of one’s immune system.
According to Ehanire, the Covid-19 aliment is largely treatable if there are early signs of infection.

Also the minister used the opportunity to counsel Nigerians against panic measures but to always adhere to health advice on hygiene practices.

He advised against the idea of schools forcing students to wear face masks to classes.
He said even where such a measure might be necessary for those students who reported sick, the authorities of the school may have to think of subsidising the face mask.

Katsina Inaugurates Emergency Operation Centre

Meanwhile, the Katsina State Government has inaugurated an emergency operation centre to tackle any outbreak of COVID-19 in the state.

The state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Yakubu Danja, who briefed journalists yesterday on the preparedness of the state government, said the government had also reactivated its Emergency Response Committee and purchased personal protective equipment.

He reiterated that members of the committee would monitor, supervise and coordinate the state government’s response to the disease in rural and urban areas.

He explained that the state government has commenced the training of health workers, including disease surveillance and notification officers and clinicians on COVID-19.

Fayemi Orders Screening of Passengers at Motor Parks

In Ekiti State, Governor Fayemi had directed medical experts to start screening passengers coming into the state from border states to prevent the spread of the virus.
The governor also set up a 40-man task force to work for the prevention of the spread of the epidemic in the state.

The taskforce, chaired by Fayemi, has members drawn from medical bodies, religious and traditional institutions, civil society organisations, among others.
The government has also set up an isolation centre at the state specialist hospital for quarantining those suspected of being infected.

Fayemi, at a press conference on the virus infection in Ado Ekiti, yesterday, said he had co-opted the leadership of the drivers’ unions to join the task force in a bid to tackle the spread of COVID-19, especially in the area of proper screening of disembarking passengers at motor parks and report those manifesting the symptoms to the appropriate quarters.
The Bishops of Anglican Communion, Ekiti State, Bishop Christopher Omotunde; Catholic Bishop of Ekiti, Bishop Felix Ajakaye; and the Chief Imam of Ekiti, Alhaji Jamiu Kewulere, are also members of the task force.

The governor, who allayed the people’s fears, stated that 24 emergency centres had been provided across the state with enough internet facilities containing the already specified hotlines that can be contacted for emergency situations.

“As a responsible government, Ekiti will beat the virus and minimise its spread. Protective materials will be provided for all health facilities in the state within the next 24 hours,” he said, adding: “Well trained health officers will be available in all our facilities that can handle all information while passengers coming to the state will be screened at the motor parks and entry points.”

MONDAY MARCH 02, 2020

Senegal Gets First Case of Coronavirus

Senegal has become the fourth African country to be affected by Coronavirus after a French national tested positive to the virus Monday.

Confirming this, Senegal’s Health Minister, Diouf Sarr said the French man who lives in Senegal visited France in mid-February where he contracted the virus before returning to Senegal, adding that he has been quarantined in the capital Dakar.

“The results of the tests carried out by the Pasteur Institute in Dakar came back positive.

“So far the patient’s condition has not raised any major concerns.

“The patient, a father of two who has been in Senegal for two years, stayed in the Southern French city of Nimes as well as an unspecified ski resort last month,” Sarr said.

He said the man then returned to Senegal on February 26 where he went to a medical centre and registered a fever of 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) as well as a sore throat and headache.

Sarr said the centre contacted the country’s coronavirus alert unit and the patient was quarantined, the minister said.

“The surveillance and response system for COVID-19 has been bolstered and all measures are being taken to contain the disease,” Sarr said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had warned Sunday that the outbreak could reach all countries. So far, it has affected 72 countries.

Top Iranian Official Dies of Coronavirus

A top member of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Expediency Council, Mohammad Mir-Muhammad, has died of Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, according to Associated Press report.

The Expediency Council advices the supreme leader of Iran.

Mir-Muhammad, who showed symptoms and was diagnosed of the virus days ago, reportedly died in North Tehran Hospital. He was 71.

The country is currently facing a hard time as she happens to have recorded the highest death toll in the world after China.

It has recorded 1,500 confirmed cases, and the virus has killed 66 people as at Monday, March 2.

Other top officials of Iran have contracted the virus, including Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, and the Head, Iranian Government Task Force on Coronavirus, Iraj Harirchi.

Coronavirus Quick Updates (06:06pm, March 2, 2020)

1 new case in the United States, first in New Hampshire
1st case in Saudi Arabia: the person had come from Iran through Bahrain
4 new cases in Qatar
1 new case in India: an Italian national in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, a major tourist destination.
1st case in Tunisia: a 40-years-old Tunisian man who traveled from Italy. A week ago, Transport Minister Rene Trabelsi said they were considering whether to suspend some Italy flights, but nothing came of it.

3 new cases in Lebanon
1 new case in Austria. Distribution of the 16 cases so far:
9 in Vienna
2 in Tyrol
2 in Lower Austria
2 in Salzburg
1 in Styria
4 new cases in the UK
Description: https://www.worldometers.info/img/alert.png 1st case in Jordan: a Jordanian coming from Italy.

36 new cases in Spain. Total now exceeds 100.
2 new cases and 4 new discharges in Singapore.
8 new cases in the Netherlands, almost all have traveled from northern Italy or are family contacts of a previous patient. Cases include a 45-year-old woman in Helmond who returned from Lombardy, Italy.
1 new case in Russia (first in Moscow): a Russian citizen returning from Italy
Description: https://www.worldometers.info/img/alert.png First 2 cases in Portugal, both in Porto:
– a 60 years-old man with “an epidemiological link to the North of Italy”, where he was on vacation. His first symptoms appeared on Feb. 29, and he is now hospitalized in stable condition at the Santo António Hospital in Porto.
– a 33-years-old man with “an epidemiological link to Spain” whose symptoms appeared on Feb. 26 and is now at the Hospital de São João, in Porto.

6 new cases in Belgium: all had returned from northern Italy
UK: “It is likely that we will see in due course wide spread transmission in the UK. What we don’t know is exactly how wide spread that will be” Professor Paul Cosford from Public Health England told BBC

1 new case in Taiwan
18 new cases in Japan
Description: https://www.worldometers.info/img/alert.png 523 new cases and 12 new deaths in Iran, Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said in an announcement on state TV.
2 new cases in Iraq detected in Baghdad’s Rassafa district: they had recently visited Iran
3 new cases in Italy:
– Alessandro Mattinzoli, Councilor for Economic Development in Lombardy, has tested positive to the virus. All members of the council will undergo testing. – a police officer in Rome who had been in contact with a friend from Lombardy.
– the first case in Sardinia, currently hospitalized in Cagliari.
Lombardy region urges people over 65 years of age to stay home and not go out for 2-3 weeks

6 new cases in Belgium: all had traveled to Italy.
27 new cases in Germany
2 new cases in Spain (Barcelona): a 40-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man who came in contact with a German infected person. Both are in mild condition.
Description: https://www.worldometers.info/img/alert.png 1st case in Andorra: a 20-year-old man who had been to Milan, Italy and was admitted to the Nuestra Señora de Meritxell Hospital on Saturday. Symptoms are light, according to the Andorran government. He will remain in the hospital until 2 negative tests are obtained within 24-48 hours.

2 new cases in India: 1 in New Delhi (first case there) with travel history from Italy and 1 in Telangana with travel history from Dubai
1 new case in Croatia: believed to be connected to another case in Rijeka
10 new cases in Kuwait: all associated with travel to Iran and all in stable condition and recovering.

1 new death in Iran: a 71-year-old senior Iranian official, Seyyed Mohammad Mirmohammadi , who was a member of the sixth and seventh Iranian parliaments and was appointed in 2017 by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as a member of the Expediency Discernment Council.

1 new case in Australia (first in Tasmania): a man who had recently returning from Iran.
1 new case in Thailand: a 22-year-old Thai woman who works with another Thai patient, a Thai driver for foreign tourists.
Description: https://www.worldometers.info/img/alert.png 13 new cases and 1 death in the United States:
1 in Rhode Island, a teenager contact of the previous case. An additional contact is being tested. “All three people went on the same trip to Italy. This is precisely why we are being so aggressive in identifying contacts, ensuring monitoring, and testing people who are symptomatic.”

3 in California (Santa Clara County), including a couple who has recently traveled to Egypt.
1 in Oregon: a contact of the first case in Oregon, recovering at home.
2 new cases (first) in Florida
1 in Washington State: a man in his 40s hospitalized in critical condition in Kirkland.
4 cases and 1 death in Washington State: a man in his 70s, in Kirkland, King County, with underlying health conditions

1 case (first) in New York
599 new cases and 5 deaths in South Korea
202 new cases, 42 new deaths (all in Hubei) and 2,837 new discharges occurred in China on March 1, as reported by the National Health Commission (NHC) of China.
*This summary is culled from www.worldmeters.info

Coronavirus: Fayemi Orders Screening of Passengers at Motor Parks

Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has directed medical experts to start the screening of passengers coming into Ekiti from border states to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the state.

The governor has also set up a 40-man task force to work on the prevention of the spread of coronavirus in the state.

The task force chaired by Fayemi, has other stakeholders drawn from medical, religious and traditional institutions and civil society organisations, among others.

The governor said an isolation centre where victims can be quarantined has been provided at the state specialist hospital that can easily handle any emerging case of the infection in the state.

Fayemi gave the revelation at a press conference on coronavirus infection held in Ado Ekiti, on Monday.

The governor said he had coopted the leadership of the drivers’ unions to the task force in a bid to tackle the spread of Corvid-19, especially in the area of proper screening of disembarking passengers at motor parks and report those manifesting the symptoms to the appropriate quarters.

The Bishop of the Anglican Communion, Ekiti State, Bishop Christopher Omotunde; Catholic Bishop of Ekiti, Bishop Felix Ajakaye; and the Chief Imam of Ekiti, Alhaji Jamiu Kewulere, are also members of the task force.

The governor, who allayed the people’s fears, stated that the activation of all the health facilities in the state to be able to manage the spread of Covid-19 is in top gear.

He added that 24 emergency centres have been provided across the state with enough internet facilities containing the already specified hotlines that can be contacted for emergency situations.

“As a responsible government, Ekiti will beat the virus and minimise its spread. Protective materials will be provided for all health facilities in the state within the next 24 hours.

“Well trained health officers will be available in all our facilities that can handle all information, while passengers coming to the state will be screened at the motor parks and entry points.

“The disease has spread to 69 countries, including USA, Brazil, France, Italy and Nigeria, among others and the rate of human-to-human spread is very high.

“As a responsible government, we have to do enough sensitisation so our people can be conscious of the symptoms which included cold, malaria, coughing and sneezing, respiratory symptoms, shortness of breath and other respiratory problem.

“If you see anyone with any of these signs, try and report to any of our facilities or call those lines that will be provided by the Ministry of Health,” he said.

The governor revealed that the state has done the vulnerability map, saying people will be checked at the entry points to the state, which he said helped in curtailing the Lassa virus despite the state’s proximity to Ondo State, the epicentre of the scourge.

Fayemi warned against the rumour making the rounds, especially on the social media that black people cannot contract coronavirus.

“Please, please and please, except experts tell us, don’t believe in all those things. The National Centre for Disease Control is our source of information,” he warned.

The governor stated that the government will provide dispensers for all public institutions to sterilise the people and prevent the spread of the scourge.

He also advised anyone manifesting any of the symptoms to stay indoor and call the medical experts to be able to transport him to the point of treatment.

Coronavirus: UN Releases $15m to Vulnerable Countries

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the United Nations has released 15 million dollars emergency funds to help vulnerable countries fight coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Director-General, WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, disclosed this on the agency’s twitter handle, @WHO, Monday.

Ghebreyesus said that the potential spread of COVID-19 to countries with weaker health system was one of the agency’s biggest concerns.

He said: “WHO thanks UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock for releasing 15 million US dollars from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help fund global efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus.

“We thank the agency for releasing the fund to help weak countries battle the spread of the virus,’’ he said.

WHO is calling for 675 million dollars to fund the fight against coronavirus.

The UN announced on Sunday that WHO and UNICEF will use the funds to undertake essential activities such as monitoring the spread of the virus, investigating cases and operating national laboratories.

In a statement released by Lowcock, he said that it was not too late to contain COVID-19.

“We do not yet see evidence that the virus is spreading freely. As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing it.’’

However, “swift and robust action must be taken to detect cases early”, he added, to “isolate and care for patients, and trace contacts. We must act now to stop this virus from putting more lives at risk”.

The emergency grant will support countries with fragile health systems to boost their detection and response efforts and, says Mr Lowcock, it “has the potential to save the lives of millions of vulnerable people”.

UNICEF will use its share of the funds to support the agency’s global efforts to inform children, pregnant women and families about how to protect themselves, agency chief Henrietta Fore said.

Death Toll from Coronavirus Hits 3,000, as More Countries are Affected

Martins Ifijeh

Not less than 3,000 people have so far died from the Coronavirus outbreak that has now spread to 61 countries, with Indonesia becoming the latest country to be affected after two cases were confirmed Monday.

This is even as the United States has recorded its second death in Washington State from the virus, prompting authorities to call on Americans to imbibe basic hygiene more.

Of the 3, 000 deaths, 136 of them are outside of mainland China, where the outbreak began. Over 88,400 people around the world have been infected, necessitating experts to call on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare it a global pandemic.

Apart from Indonesia which recorded two cases for the first time Monday, South Korea has reported an additional 476 infections today, raising the national total to 4,212 cases, with 26 deaths already recorded.

Iran has reported 11 more deaths from the virus, bringing its death toll to 54 – the highest outside China.

Coronavirus: It’s Wicked to Hoard Sanitisers, Face Masks, Says Sanwo-Olu

Martins Ifijeh

The Chief Incident Commander for the counter measures against Coronavirus outbreak in Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said no pharmacy or business ventures must hoard face masks and hand Sanitisers, describing it as wickedness.

Sanwo-Olu, who spoke on Sunday during his visit to the State-owned bio-security and containment facility at Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Yaba, where the Italian index case is being managed, was accompanied by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, and Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso.

The governor said both the state and federal government healthcare officials had been working round the clock with infectious disease control professionals from the international agencies to ensure the counter measures being deployed to contain the virus achieved the desired results.

He said: “Let me express a confession that I am very delighted with the level of preparedness and our response to stop coronavirus from spreading in our country. The kind of structures we have put in place and the strategies being deployed have raised my confidence that the nation, at the end of the day, will win this battle and will put it behind. I keep on expressing to the Commissioner for Health that we must stop at nothing to achieve the very best result.”

Reacting to the report of scarcity of sanitary materials at pharmacy shops across the state, the governor condemned the action, saying it was wicked for people to take the advantage of emergency situation to hoard and jerk the prices of face mask and hand sanitizer.

He said: “This should not be the means for anyone to enrich themselves. It is unfortunate people are hoarding these important sanitary materials. We need to speak to ourselves. People are just abusing a rare opportunity, because the outbreak is not an event everybody wishes for. I think it is unacceptable for people to sell above the prices they used to sell before the outbreak. These people should search their conscience and ask themselves what kind of people are we. We should be our brother’s keeper.”

Sanwo-Olu also frowned at misinformation trailing the COVID-19 case being managed at the IDH, saying the public deserved to get accurate information about the management of the patient in isolation. He urged the media practitioners to approach the appropriate quarters for updates and developments on the case being managed.

Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, likened the state’s response towards containing the outbreak of COVID-19 to “a war”, saying Lagos had deployed three levels of counter measure to stop the spread of the virus, which include medical, security and research.

He disclosed that Lagos and Ogun governments were constantly exchanging information, following the outbreak, adding that the movement of the index case had necessitated more cooperation between the two States.

Coronavirus: 12 More Cases Confirmed in England

Twelve more patients in England have tested positive for Coronavirus, taking the total number of UK cases to 35.

Three patients were confirmed as close contacts of a man from Surrey, who was the first to be infected within the UK.

One person from Essex had “no relevant travel” and it was unclear how they had got the virus, while the remaining eight had visited affected areas.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK was still in the containment phase of the outbreak.

He said the government contingency plans, which will be published this week, included banning big events.

SUNDAY MARCH 01, 2020

Coronavirus: Plateau Quarantines 43 People

Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

The Plateau State government has said that it has now quarantined 43 suspected cases of the dreaded coronavirus in the state.

Addressing a press conference in Jos on Sunday, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nimkong Lar Ndam, said the 43 persons are now being quarantined in Wase Local Government council of the state, adding that 25 of them are natives, while 18 are foreigners.

He stated that four Chinese nationals are involved as against three being reported by the media.

The commissioner said that the Chinese nationals travelled all the way from Ethiopia to Abuja and finally to Wase in Plateau State, where they engaged in mining.,

According to him, “They first came on the 26th of February. They flew from China to Addis Ababa and then Abuja and from Abuja they went to Wase. While in Addis Ababa, they were screened for coronavirus and then they were also screened at Abuja for the same coronavirus.

“But what happened was that the people that came on the 26th February went to a village called Bakin Kaya, one of their mining sites in Wase and met their two Chinese colleagues there. The people they met were not comfortable and decided that they should be isolated and put in another apartment within the camp.”

He added that all of them have to be isolated until March 10, 2020 before their status is confirmed on that day by the medical team. He also said that the Chinese have their travelling documents checked and found to be valid and genuine, stating that the initial three Chinese who were earlier quarantined should continue their isolation.

Ndam pointed out that the security agents there have been briefed not to allow them to go out to mix with the people, adding that there is no coronavirus at the moment but only suspicion, fear and anxiety, hence the isolation.

The Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Dan Manjang, who was with Ndam during the conference, said that there is no known case of coronavirus in the state.

“There is no known case of coronavirus in Plateau State. You know, we have a mining site in Wase. There are Chinese nationals that are mining that site. Three of them came in from China via Ethiopia Airways via Abuja.

“Commissioner for Health in a swift reaction, sent a health team to go and isolate and investigate them. The investigation is supposed to take 14 days. We will now know after 14 days whether they did contract the virus or not,” Manjang said.

He explained that being quarantined or isolated does not automatically mean that one has contracted the virus.

“We are being proactive as a government to make sure the situation is put under control.

“And as I talk to you, the Jos University Teaching Hospital and Plateau Specialist Hospital have isolated wards, rooms that are going to be kept for the purpose and these are what we used in those days during the Ebola outbreak. This is so should the issue of that nature arise which we don’t pray for, we will be on top of the situation,” he said.

Manjang advised Plateau citizens to observe basic hygiene standards to avoid the virus and other diseases.

He said: “Hand washing, avoidance of crowded places. Those are the basic things. Make sure you clean your vegetables before you eat them. It is a contagious disease. It is something that is viral. It is something that is carried by the air. If you maintain minimum hygiene, it will minimize or prevent it completely.”

Coronavirus: NCAA Activates Contingency Plans

Martins Ifijeh

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said it has activated all airport-specific Public Health Emergency Contingency Plans (PHECPs) as part of efforts to reduce the spread of Coronavirus in Nigeria.

In a statement made available to THISDAY Sunday, the Director General, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu said travellers returning from countries experiencing community transmission of the COVID-19 must present themselves to Port Health Services on arrival at the Point of Entry.

“There will be minimum disruption to facilitation of travel due to the thorough screening at entry post. We appeal to travellers who develop signs and symptoms of the disease after returning from a trip abroad to seek immediate medical attention at the nearest health facility.

“We are working in assistance with airlines to track passengers who may have come in contact with suspect or ill persons as well as other measures the National Surveillance Systems requires.”

Nuhu advised airlines and other airport users to heed the guidance of Port Health Services on the use of screening forms, assessment of suspect or ill travellers and any other measures they may adopt.

According to him, the NCAA has ensured that all measures adopted at Nigerian airports are in accordance to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and WHO International Health Regulations (IHR 2005).

“In line with the guidelines of ICAO and Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA), we have been working with the Federal Ministry of Health, and other stakeholders in the aviation industry to ensure all travellers coming into the country are adequately screened while causing minimum disruption to facilitation of travel.”

The NCAA boss advised the travelling public to remain calm and alert, take necessary precaution in protecting themselves while traveling, including alerting crew members and airport facilitation staff to travellers that may look ill or showing signs and symptoms of the disease.

“Airlines, Airport operators, Security agencies and other aviation industry stakeholders are advised to take appropriate precaution to protect their staff.”

Coronavirus: Benue Sets up Emergency Response Committee

Martins Ifijeh

The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has set up an Emergency Response Committee to tackle the spread of Coronavirus.

The 17-man committee is headed by the Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr. Sunday Ongbabor, with Dr Samuel Ngise as Secretary.

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Terver Akase, Sunday and made available to THISDAY , the committee has the Commissioner for Information, Culture, and Tourism, Rt. Hon. Ngunan Addingi; Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Dondo Ahire and the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Timothy Ijir as members.

He said: “Other members of the taskforce are Mr. Apir Ityu, Dr. Terna Kur, Mr. Agwaza Iorkpiligh, Mr. Matthew Uyina, Mr. Moses Leva, Dr. Edward Amali, Mr. Claude Bitaronga.

Also not left out are Dr. Peteru Inunduh, Professor Terrumun Swende, Dr. Alli Cornelius, Dr. Patrick Echekwube and Mr. Micheal Adejo.

The governor charged members of the panel to proactively monitor, supervise and coordinate the state government’s response to the dreaded disease.

NCAA Harmonises COVID -19 Preventive Measures at Airports

Chinedu Eze

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has announced that it would harmonise all preventive measures deployed by port health and other members of the medical teams at the airports in the country.

The regulatory authority noted that following the first recorded confirmed case of COVID-19 on 27th February 2020, of an Italian traveling from Milan who came in through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on Monday, February 24 2020, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Lagos State Ministry of Health, and Ogun State Ministry of Health have swiftly responded to ensure there is no further spread of the disease.

In a statement signed by the Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, the agency said that in line with the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA) has been working with the Federal Ministry of Health, and other stakeholders in the aviation industry to ensure all travellers coming into the country are adequately screened while causing minimum disruption to facilitation of travel.

“NCAA will continue to ensure that airlines assist with the tracking of passengers who may have come in contact with suspect or ill persons as well as other measures the National Surveillance Systems requires,” Nuhu said.

The statement disclosed that all contingency plans for public health events in aviation have been activated including airport-specific Public Health Emergency Contingency Plans (PHECPs), adding that NCAA has ensured that all measures adopted at Nigerian airports are in accordance to ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and WHO International Health Regulations (IHR 2005).

“Airlines and other airport users are advised to heed the guidance of Port Health Services (a division of the Federal Ministry of Health and Competent Public Health Authority at Point of Entry) on the use of screening forms, assessment of suspect or ill travellers and any other measures they may adopt. Airlines, airport operators, security agencies and other aviation industry stakeholders are advised to take appropriate precaution to protect their staff.

“We advise the travelling public to remain calm but alert and take necessary precaution in protecting themselves while traveling, including alerting crew members and airport facilitation staff to travellers that may look ill or showing signs and symptoms of the disease.

“Travellers returning from countries experiencing community transmission of the COVID-19 should present themselves to Port Health Services on arrival at the Point of Entry – International Airport. Travellers who develop signs and symptoms of the disease after returning from a trip abroad are to seek immediate medical attention at the nearest Health facility or call the NCDC on 0800-970000-10,” the statement also said.

The agency said it is committed to the safety of travellers and Nigeria’s national health security and would continue to do all that is necessary to ensure both.

SATURDAY February 29, 2020

US Records First Death from Coronavirus, Places Travel Ban on High Risk Countries

By Martins Ifijeh

The United States has recorded it’s first death from Coronavirus.

This is even as President Donald Trump’s administration has placed a travel restriction on Iran, Italy and South Korea in response to the death from the virus in Washington State.

Speaking Saturday, US Vice President Mike Pence said the existing travel ban on Iran would extend to foreign nationals who had been in that country in the past 14 days.

“We are also increasing warning to Americans not to travel to parts of Italy and South Korea affected by the virus,” he said.

Right before White House’ news conference, health officials in Washington State confirmed that a person diagnosed with coronavirus in the state’s King County had died.

President Trump described her as a “wonderful woman” and a “medically high risk patient” in her late 50s, at a news conference at the White House.

More coronavirus infections were additionally reported from South Korea to France to Qatar on Saturday after health officials in Washington State, Oregon and California on Friday reported another worrying development.

The four new cases Friday bring the total number of covid-19 cases detected through the U.S. public health system to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Washington state announced late Friday that a high school student in Snohomish County, just North of Seattle, tested positive for the deadly virus and was in home isolation in a suspected community transmission case.

State health officials also said a woman in her 50s in King County tested positive after traveling to Daegu, South Korea, the site of a major Coronavirus outbreak. She, too, is in home isolation.

Iranian Parliamentarian Dies of Coronavirus

Martins Ifijeh

A Member of Parliament in Iran, Mohammad Ali Ramazani Dastak, has died of Coronavirus disease.

Iranian State TV reports Saturday that the MP who tested positive to the virus few days ago was recently elected as the representative for Astana Ashrafieh.

“He died on Saturday morning after being taken to hospital for treatment,” the station reports.

Meanwhile, deaths in Iran from coronavirus have hit 43, the highest number outside China, and the total number of infected people has risen to 593, an Iranian health official said on Saturday.

As several countries in the Middle East reported cases of the coronavirus stemming from Iran, the country is at the epicentre of the outbreak in the region.

“Unfortunately nine people died of the virus in the last 24 hours, increasing the death toll to 43 … the total number of infected people is 593,” Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV, calling on people to stay at home.

Coronavirus: 3 Chinese Quarantined in Plateau

Martins Ifijeh

Three Chinese Nationals have been placed on self-quarantine in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State.

Confirming this to THISDAY Saturday, the Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the Chinese Nationals do not have symptoms of Coronavirus, but that as it is the policy of the the Nigerian government, they have been asked to go into self-isolation for 14 days.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the incubation period for the virus is nine to 14 days, between which symptoms are expected to develop if the suspect is indeed infected by the virus.

Details later ……

Coronavirus: Lafarge Activates Medical Protocol at Ewekoro Plant

By Kayode Fasua in Abeokuta

Authorities of Larfarge Africa Plc, a cement company, have explained that the company is playing a pivotal role with the federal Ministry of Health, and the Lagos and Ogun State Government in fighting against the Coronavirus which infected the Italian consultant to one of its clients at the Ewekoro plant in Ogun State.

A statement issued on Saturday by the Director, Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development of the company, Mrs. Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, said, “The Lagos State Government has reported a first case of n-COVID19 (Coronavirus) in Nigeria. The individual concerned works for a vendor that provides services to Lafarge Africa Plc in Ogun State.

“As a business, we have immediately identified the persons who had direct contact with the concerned individual. We have equally initiated isolation, quarantine and disinfection protocol.

“We thank the exemplary leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health, Ogun and Lagos State Governments for swiftly providing response and testing facilities and we are working in full co-operation with all local authorities.

“Lafarge Africa is also working in close partnership with International SOS, our medical service provider, a leading global health company.

“Health and Safety remains a core value at Lafarge Africa and we intend to leverage this strength at this critical time.”

Reacting too, the Ogun State Government declared that it had quarantined 28 persons with whom the 44-year-old Italian who came to Ewekoro had contacts with.

The state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, at a news conference in Abeokuta said the affected victim was a consultant to a third-party supplier to the Lafarge Cement Company in Ewekoro.

He also said the company was on lockeddown while its two guest houses had been turned to isolation centres by the state government’s health team.

“Twenty-eight persons who had been in touch with this man had been quarantined, while the company in question has locked down.

“Besides, its two guest houses have been turned to isolation centres while we are also investigating other people that these quarantined 28 people had had contacts with,” the governor clarified.

He said there was no cause for alarm as both his administration and that of his Lagos State counterpart, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, were on top of the situation.

He described the Coronavirus as an imported disease and that the Minister of Heath had assured the National Executive Council in Abuja that the ministry had been conducting exit checks for all visitors to the country at the airports.

He noted that the coronavirus was no respecter of persons, having infected the deputy health minister of Iran, advising everyone to obey all the rules of hygiene.

He thanked the federal ministry of health for lending a helping hand in handling the Ewekoro situation.

Reports of Second Coronavirus Case in Nigeria False, Says NCDC Boss

By Martins Ifijeh

Following social media reports that the driver who took the Italian index case from Lagos to Abeokuta has tested positive to Coronavirus and that he has refused to be quarantined, the federal government has said the reports are false, as no other person has so far been tested for the virus.

Speaking with THISDAY on Saturday, the Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said there was presently no other suspected or confirmed case of Coronavirus in the country apart from the 44-year-old index case, adding that only its three laboratories have the capacity to test anyone in the country.

“The test cannot be done outside of our laboratories. No one can claim there is a second case because we are the only ones with the facilities and reagents to test for it. We haven’t done that.

“Since the outbreak started in Wuhan city in China, we have so far conducted test for 12 persons. 11 came out negative, and the only one that has come out positive is the Italian index case who is responding to treatment. The public should disregard rumours of an escaped second patient.

“If we diagnose any case, we will definitely let Nigerians know whether it comes out negative or not because we want to be very transparent about the whole thing. It takes four hours to get the results out, and another two hours to announce the results, so within six hours Nigerians can actually know of any case,” he said.

He also described as false reports that the index case attempted to escape from isolation, noting that the expatriate has been cooperating with the authorities.

“He was the one who contacted the authorities through his doctor in Abeokuta. He knows we are doing the best to ensure he is given quality treatment. He came from a developed country, so definitely, there may be one or two minor issues he may not be used to here, but he definitely did not attempt to escape. The report is untrue,” he added.

FRIDAY February 28, 2020

Ogun Quarantines 28 Persons Who Had Contact with Coronavirus Patient

  • Shuts firm visited in Ewekoro

By Martins Ifijeh

The Ogun State government has said 28 persons who were in contact with the Coronavirus index case have been identified and quarantined.

Those put on surveillance are mostly staff of Lafarge Africa Plc, a cement factory where the index case, an Italian, had gone to after leaving Lagos February 26.

The Commissioner for Health, Ogun State, Tomi Coker, Friday said the entire Lafarge facility in Ewekoro has been quarantined.

She said the state government, with support from the federal government and Lagos State government, has started line listing every possible contact with the Italian patient.

She said: “We are going to reach every individual that has had contact with him, which means we are going to phone them, get in touch with them, quarantine them and monitor their temperature for two weeks.

“Also, I am urging everyone to maintain healthy hygiene. Every single one of us has to have good respiratory hygiene which means if we have a cough or we have a cold, we have to cover our mouths with tissues or handkerchiefs and dispose of them responsibly.

“Don’t leave them on surfaces because the virus could still be in those things, use them and dispose of them immediately, don’t put them back in your pockets,” she said.

Coronavirus: Nigerians Panic as Lagos Scouts for Persons in Contact with Italian

By Martins Ifijeh

Following the confirmation of a case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Lagos State Friday, Nigerians have expressed fears over the nature of spread of the disease, especially since the index case had contacts with some people in Lagos and Ogun State.

This is even as the virus has so far killed 2,873 persons, infected 83,654, and affected 47 countries, including Algeria and Egypt in Africa.

A Lagos resident and dentist, Tijani Kolawole, said although Lagos was one of the most technologically advanced state in the country, its population may play a role in the wild spread of the virus.

“My only concern is that the index case may have had contact with people, who may in turn spread it to others. Have you noticed how we clump ourselves into buses, Nigerians normally do not respect personal space, and it is a fast way to spread diseases like this. And compared with the heat, it will be easy to transmit this virus from human to human.”

An Uber driver, Joel Ugo, said with the level of spread of the virus, he may start wearing gloves and masks while plying his trade, noting that he was still presently shaken by the case in the country.

He said: “I can only hope it stops with the man that has been quarantined.”

A former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, called on Nigerians to be united as that was the only way to fight the outbreak.

In a message on his Twitter account, @realFFK, said: “Let us put our differences aside and stand as one to fight this evil plague called coronavirus that has afflicted our shores.

“The federal government must be proactive and we must do our part and pray. May God defend our people and protect our shores,” he said.

Another Twitter user, Victor Babatunde (@vhic_tore) called on Nigerians to stop making funny tweets about the outbreak, saying it was an important issue.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State government said it had commenced tracing of persons who have been in contact with the index confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.

In a press briefing Friday, the Governor, Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the airline with which he flew into Nigeria February 25 had been contacted to provide details of travellers who sat close to the index case, so that they can be tracked and placed under surveillance for possible infection.

He said: “We have also contacted the company in Ogun State where he went to work on February 26. We have put the staff of the company who were in contact with him under surveillance.

“We will ensure everyone who have had contact with him is contacted and monitored.”

He called on Lagos residents to go about their normal business, noting that until it reaches the point of human-to-human spread, the state will not escalate the process it currently has in place.

Sanwo-Olu said the isolation centre in Yaba has the capacity to take in a minimum of 80 confirmed or suspected cases, adding that plans were being put in place to expand the facility to accommodate more people.

The Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi said air travel was one of the commonest ways the virus could come into the country, adding that it has, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health beefed up surveillance at airports.

He also said: “For sea borders, it takes a minimum of three weeks for ships to enter Lagos from China. This means before it gets here, the occupants of the vessel must have manifested the symptoms.

“Land borders have longed been closed by the federal government, which means we need to intensify efforts at the borders.”

He said there was no point closing public institutions, as the thread has not reached that point. “We do not want to cause panic,” he added.

Sharing his thoughts in an interview on TVC Friday, the Deputy Governor, Lagos State Dr. Femi Hamzat, gave insight on how the index case, an Italian expatriate came into Nigeria.

He said: “The Italian came in from Milan on February 25. He had a consultant job in Ewekoro in Abeokuta where he spent all his February 26. He eventually fell ill, and the doctors who attended to him were smart enough to call us.

“We went there with an ambulance and then brought him to our isolation centre in Yaba.  He was brought in yesterday morning, and within hours he was diagnosed. Testing tools normally take eight hours on the average, but ours worked faster than we expected; within four hours, he was diagnosed and confirmed to be infected.

He said at the moment the index case is the only person at the Yaba centre which can house almost 100 people, adding that he was hopeful other beds will not be occupied.

Coronavirus: Ogun Confirms Italian Visited Ewekoro

By Kayode Fasua in Abeokuta and Segun James in Lagos

The Ogun State Government on Friday confirmed that the Italian infected by the Coronavirus visited Ewekoro, an industrial town in the state.

Addressing a press conference at the Oke-Mosan Governor’s Office in Abeokuta, the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, said the Italian who was infected with the Coronavirus disease came to Ewekoro from Lagos and had a short stay before returning to Lagos for medical attention.

He however dismissed speculations that many people had contracted the deadly virus in the state, insisting that Italian visit was brief.

THISDAY investigations revealed that the Italian is a consultant to a company in the locality.

The Health Commissioner said, “The state government has quarantined the location visited by the Italian in Ewekoro and so, Ogun residents should not panic.”

She, however, listed the symptoms of the Coronavirus disease to include illnesses such as the common cold, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

She advised anyone with the symptoms to go to the general hospital, as against visiting a private hospital or a herbal home, to enable the government track any patient identified with the disease.

Coker also advised members of the public “to keep at least five meters away from anyone found with cold or fever.”

She said the Ogun State Government already has an Infectious Centre at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, for anyone diagnosed with the Coronavirus disease, but noted that the infected Italian is currently being treated at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in Yaba, Lagos.

She urged members of the public in the state to call 0818897893 or 08188978393 to report any health emergency.

Meanwhile, one of Nigeria’s leading pharmacists, Prof (Mrs) Peace Chinedu-Babalola, has warned that precautionary method was most desired in keeping the widespread coronavirus away from Nigeria, noting that it could cost the federal government at least $2 billion (about N700 billion) to evolve any new medicine.

She gave the advice in Abeokuta while speaking with THISDAY, on the heels of her return from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she was presented with the Kwame Nkruma Award for Scientific Excellence, at an African Union (AU) summit which held in the country.

Chinedu-Babalola, who is the Vice-Chancellor of Chrisland University, Owode-Abeokuta, said finding cure for the coronavirus, which is the latest epidemic that has wiped off thousands of souls, especially in China, is capital intensive.

While commending the federal government for promising to release N36 million to aid research into killer diseases, she, however observed that in the face of lean resources, the government and the citizenry must take utmost precautions to prevent the disease from spreading to the country.

“This is because an equipment needed to embark on research into diseases such as Ebola Virus, Lassa fever and coronavirus could cost as much as N36 million,” she said.

The don, who is the first female professor of Pharmacy at the University of Ibadan, also said, “When it comes to epidemics, Nigerians know how to take precautions. There is awareness in the country and people are taking their personal precautions.

“In terms of government input, government is doing its best. At the various airports, the government has set up various processes to detect the virus. Government is checking those who are coming into the country at the various ports of entries.”

But she said a lot still needed to be done in terms of drug discovery.

“In terms of drugs discovery, that is another cup of tea. For you to discover drugs and vaccines is not bread and butter. Many times, researches have been going on for years. To produce one medicine, it can take us 10 to 15 years. Although, we now have processes that can reduce drug discovery time.

“For us to discover these things, we need to empower research centres. Nigeria needs to inject money to ensure that scientists are working round the clock, testing different viruses so that if one comes up, we can easily detect it, to start with.

“But we should go beyond detection; as a pharmaceutical scientist, when you study the genetics of a disease, when you study the properties of a particular disease or disease agent, we should use it and target medicines, and molecules that can also kill it or cure it.

“We should go beyond diagnoses, we should also empower centres to be able to discover, design and develop drugs. These things take time.

“It will cost about 2 billion dollars to develop one medicine, so Nigeria needs to think seriously about this.”

Italian Infected by Conronavirus Lodged in Lagos Hotel on Arrival, Visited Ogun

More details have emerged about the movement of the Italian infected by the coronavirus in Nigeria as Lagos State Governor Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olu confirmed on Friday that the man, whose identify he refused to disclose, spent a night in a hotel in Lagos before heading for a company in Ogun state where he worked with some people before the Coronavirus symptom manifested

Sanwo-Olu, has warned Lagosians not to panic following the confirmation of Coronavirus in Nigeria.

The governor who is the Chief Incident Commander on the COVID-19 virus in the state disclosed that even though the Italian on a business visit to Nigeria had been confirmed to have the virus, he was in stable condition at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (LDC), Yaba, where he has been quarantined.

He assured that there was no cause for alarm yet on the incident adding the government would do everything in its powers to contain it.

“He will remain in strict isolation,” says the governor, adding that the movements of the Italian from the moment he left his Turkish Airline flight to Nigeria is being traced to know all the people he came in contact with.

He assured that others who were in contact with him in Ogun state had been placed under watch.

“We are trying to identify anybody who has come in contact with him to break any spread,” Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said.

“We are working to identify all the contacts of the patient, since he arrived in Nigeria. Please, be reminded that most people who become infected may experience only a mild illness and recover easily, but it can be more severe in others, particularly the elderly and persons with other underlying chronic illnesses. All Lagosians should take care of their health and maintain hand and respiratory hygiene to protect themselves and others, including their own families.”

He urged Lagosians to call the Lagos State Emergency hotlines 08023169485 or 08033565529 or 08052817243 which are available day and night if the suspect any symptom of the very contagious disease.

Coronavirus: FG Deploys Rapid Response Teams Across States

By Kuni Tyessi

The federal government says it has deployed rapid response teams across the country to ensure that Coronavirus doesn’t spread across the country.

Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, stated this during a press briefing in Abuja on Friday following the confirmation of the first case of the virus in Lagos.

Asked how prepared the government was in ensuring the virus doesn’t escalate, the minister assured Nigerians of the preparedness of the government to tackle the viral disease, adding that there is no reason to panic.

“The Federal Ministry of Health, through Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, will continue to provide updates and will initiate all measures required to prevent the spread of any outbreak in Nigeria,” the minister said.

“The multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has immediately activated its national Emergency Operations Centre and will work closely with Lagos State Health authorities to respond to this case and implement firm control measures.

“I wish to assure all Nigerians that we have been beefing up our preparedness capabilities since the first confirmation of cases in China, and we will use all the resources made available by the government to respond to this case.”

Earlier speaking, Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of NCDC, stated that Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has deployed its rapid response teams in Lagos state and other parts of the country to manage the situation adequately.

As it stands, Nigeria becomes the third country to confirm the disease in Africa and the 52nd in the world.

The patient, an Italian citizen, was said to have entered Nigeria on February 25 from Milan, Italy on a business visit.

Over 80,000 cases of coronavirus have been recorded globally, out of which more than 33,000 people have recovered.

Ihekweazu said health facilities must remain on high alert and he assured Nigerians of their safety against COVID-19.

“The NDCD has escalated the multi-sectoral coronavirus preparedness group to an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), at level II to lead response activities,” he said.

“The NCDC will continue to keep Nigerians informed. It is important for them to be focused on facts and not fear.

“Nigerians should protect themselves by staying calm, drink lots of water.” il ajouta.

Lagos Begins Contact Tracing for Coronavirus

By Martins Ifijeh

The Lagos State government has commenced tracing of persons who have been in contact with the index confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.

In a press briefing Friday, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the airline with which he flew into Nigeria February 25 had been contacted to provide details of travellers who sat close to the index case, so that they can be tracked and placed under surveillance for possible infection.

He said: “We have also contacted the company in Ogun State where he went to work on February 26. We have put the staff of the company who were in contact with him under surveillance.

“We will ensure everyone who have had contact with him is contacted and monitored.”

He called on Lagos residents to go about their normal business, noting that until it reaches the point of human-to-human spread, the state will not escalate the process it currently has in place.

Sanwo-Olu said the isolation centre in Yaba has the capacity to take in a minimum of 80 confirmed or suspected cases, adding that plans were being put in place to expand the facility to accommodate more people.

The Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi said air travel was one of the commonest ways the virus could come into the country, adding that it has, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health beefed up surveillance at airports.

He also said: “For sea borders, it takes a minimum of three weeks for ships to enter Lagos from China. This means before it gets here, the occupants of the vessel must have manifested the symptoms.

“Land borders have longed been closed by the federal government, which means we need to intensify efforts at the borders.”

He said there was no point closing public institutions, as the thread has not reached that point. “We do not want to cause panic,” he added.

Italy’s Coronavirus Spread Up 50% in 24 Hours, Reports 650 Cases, 17 Deaths

Martins Ifijeh

Italy’s number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases spiked by more than 50 per cent in just 24 hours and now stands at 650 cases and 17 deaths, the Italian Ministry of Health says.

More than 400 of the cases are in the hard-hit Lombardy region, where some towns are under a lockdown.

The Commissioner for Coronavirus Emergency, Ministry of Health, Italy, Angelo Borrelli, said yesterday that nearly 250 of the people who were infected are currently in the hospital, including 56 patients who are in intensive care.

“Another 284 people who have been infected are in home isolation to try to stop the coronavirus from spreading further.

Table Showing All Cases, Deaths from Coronavirus (As of 9:53am, February 28, 2020)

PLACES CONFIRMED CASES REPORTED DEATHS
Chine 78,824 2,788
Corée du Sud 2,337 13
Cruise ship (Diamond Princess) 705 4
Italie 655 17
J'ai couru 245 26
Japon 202 4
Singapour 96
Hong Kong 93 2
États Unis 61
Allemagne 45
Koweit 45
Thaïlande 41
France 38 2
Bahrein 33
Taïwan 32 1
Malaisie 25
Espagne 25
Australie 23
Royaume-Uni 16
Vietnam 16
Emirats Arabes Unis 13
Canada 11
Macao dix
Irak 6
Russie 5
Oman 4
Suisse 4
L'Autriche 3
Croatie 3
Grèce 3
Inde 3
Philippines 3 1
Finlande 2
Israël 2
Liban 2
Pakistan 2
Suède 2
Afghanistan 1
Algérie 1
Biélorussie 1
Belgique 1
Brésil 1
Cambodge 1
Danemark 1
Egypte 1
Estonie 1
Géorgie 1
Lituanie 1
Népal 1
Pays-Bas 1
Nouvelle-Zélande 1
Nigeria 1
Macédoine du Nord 1
Norvège 1
Roumanie 1
Sri Lanka 1
TOTAL 83,654 2,858

Coronavirus: No Country Will Be Spared, WHO Warns

Considering the rapid global spread of Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, the Director General, World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Tedhros Ghebreyesus, has warned all countries to prepare for the outbreak of the deadly virus.

Speaking during its Thursday briefing, the WHO DG said with new infections reported around the world now surpassing those in mainland China,  even rich countries should prepare for the outbreak.

“No country should assume it won’t get cases, that would be a fatal mistake, quite literally,” Tedros said, pointing to Italy, where 17 people have died in Europe’s worst outbreak.

Nigeria has become the third African nation to be affected by the outbreak, with the Italian index case said to be under isolation since Thursday night.

Clinical Trial of Coronavirus Vaccine Begins April, Says US Agency

By Martins Ifijeh

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) has said a United States biotech firm, Moderna, has developed an experimental vaccine against Coronavirus (COVID-19), which will be ready for first clinical trial in April.

In a statement by the Director, NIAID, Anthony Fauci, yesterday, the agency said the vaccine had been shipped to researchers just six weeks after it started working on the immunisation.

Fauci said the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine called mRNA-1273, would be used in a planned phase 1 study in the US, which typically involves testing a vaccine on a small number of healthy humans.

He said the clinical trial could start by the end of April, and that this represents the first step in potentially making a vaccine available for use.

The Wall Street Journal, which was first to report the development, said that two doses of the vaccine would be tested on volunteers to see if it produces an immune response that protects against the virus.

Fauci told CNN that 45 people would participate in the trial.

“Even if the clinical trial is successful, further testing and regulatory approvals would be needed before the vaccine could be deployed widely,” he said.

Health officials and pharmaceutical companies around the world are working at a breakneck pace to identify treatments or a vaccine to help fight the coronavirus, which has infected more than 80,000 people around the world, and killed over 2800 persons.

Fauci previously told CNN that researchers could expedite the approval process for a vaccine following a successful Phase 1 trial in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

But even when proceeding at an “emergency speed,” a vaccine would not be available for use for at least a year or 18 months, according to him.

Moderna is not the only drug company hoping to find an immunization for the virus.

Pharma giants, Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline are working on vaccines, as are government scientists including some at NIAID.

While the experimental vaccine developed by Moderna remains unproven, the speed at which it was created represents a breakthrough. According to Moderna, the vaccine was developed within 42 days of the company obtaining genetic information on Coronavirus.

By comparison, it took researchers about 20 months to start human tests of the vaccine for SARS, an older Coronavirus, according to a journal paper written by Fauci.

First Case of Coronavirus Confirmed in Nigeria

The Federal Ministry of Health has confirmed a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) case in Lagos State, Nigeria.

A statement issued by the Minister of Health,  Dr Osagie Ehanire, in the early hours of Friday said the case, which was confirmed on  February 27, was the first case to be reported in Nigeria since the beginning of the outbreak in China in January 2020.

The statement said, “the case is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and returned from Milan, Italy to Lagos, Nigeria on the 25th of February 2020. He was confirmed by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, part of the Laboratory Network of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.”

Noting that the government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Health has been strengthening measures to ensure an outbreak in Nigeria is controlled and contained quickly,  it said “the multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has immediately activated its national Emergency Operations Centre and will work closely with Lagos State Health authorities to respond to this case and implement firm control measures.”

The minister however reassured all Nigerians that government had been beefing up preparedness capabilities since the first confirmation of cases in China, and  will use all the resources made available by the government to respond to the confirmed case.

Ehanire said Citizens must not abuse social media and indulge in spreading misinformation that causes fear and panic,  adding that the Federal Ministry of Health, through Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, will continue to provide updates and will initiate all measures required to prevent the spread of any outbreak in Nigeria.

He further said, “We have already started working to identify all the contacts of the patient, since he entered Nigeria. Please be reminded that most people who become infected may experience only mild illness and recover easily, but it can be more severe in others, particularly the elderly and persons with other underlying chronic illness.”

With the confirmed case in Lagos, Nigeria becomes the third African country to record a case of the deadly virus. Egypt and Algeria had earlier reported cases of the virus in their countries.

The new coronavirus has spread to all the continents of the world except the Antarctica, with 82,000 cases in 48 countries. Italy, with the largest outbreak outside Asia, has 650 cases as of Thursday night – up from 400 a day earlier – with 17 deaths.  China however remains the worst hit with 78,000 cases and 2,747 deaths. 32,531 of those infected by the virus have recovered so far.

The minister urged all  Nigerians to take care of their health and maintain hand and respiratory hygiene to protect themselves and others, including their own families, following the precautions below:

1.    Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

2.    Maintain at least 1 & half metres (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

3. Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance, but not mix in crowd.

4. Make sure you and people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene, meaning cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or into your sleeve at the bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

5. Stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. Please call NCDC toll free number which is available day and night, for guidance- 0800-970000-10. Do not engage in self-medication

6. Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19 through official channels on TV and Radio, including the Lagos State Ministry of Health, NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health.

THURSDAY February 27, 2020

Iran’s VP Infected by Coronavirus, Saudi Arabia Halts Travel to Mecca, Medina

Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, has tested positive to the coronavirus, according to a report on Aljazera.

Iranian officials had on Tuesday confirmed that Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi had tested positive to the virus and was under quarantine.

The report said Ebtekar was the English-language spokeswoman for the 1979 hostage-takers who seized the US embassy in Tehran and sparked the 444-day diplomatic crisis.

The country’s health ministry  said the new coronavirus had killed 26 people while there are 245 confirmed cases.

As part of steps taken to halt the spread of the virus,  the report said Iran had cancelled Friday prayers in the capital, Tehran, and around the country.

Iran has also banned Chinese citizens from entering the country.

With more than 220 confirmed cases of the virus in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has halted travel to its holiest sites months ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The new coronavirus has spread to all the continents of the world except the Antarctica, with 82,000 cases in 48 countries. China however remains the worst hit with 78,000 cases and 2,747 deaths. 32,531 of those infected by the virus have recovered so far.

11 Persons Tested Negative to Coronavirus in Nigeria, Says NCDC

By Martins Ifijeh

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has stated that 11 persons have so far tested negative to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria.

The Director General, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who confirmed this to journalists in Abuja Thursday, said the tests were conducted by the NCDC National Reference Laboratory and Virology Laboratory at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and that Nigeria was free from the virus.

He said:  “Four laboratories in Nigeria have the capacity to test for the coronavirus. These laboratories are within the NCDC laboratory network and are open 24/7. If a new case is confirmed, it will be reported accordingly.

“We are in close communication with the Lagos State Ministry of Health and other states, and will inform the public once there is a confirmed case in the country.”

Ihekweazu, who said the centre will continue to monitor the outbreak globally, urge Nigerians to disregard rumours over spread of the virus.

He said when a high-risk traveller with symptoms arrives in the country, the person would be taken from the airport to an isolation centre and samples would be collected immediately for testing.

“If confirmed, appropriate management will commence, but if negative, the person would still be monitored for 14 days and retested.

“When a high-risk traveller that is not symptomatic comes into the country, the person is advised to stay at home for 14 days and report immediately if he/she develops symptoms. We also ensure we collect contact details of the person while an official is attached to the person to monitor him/her daily for 14 days.

“If the person develops symptoms within 14 days of arrival in the country, samples would be collected for confirmation. If confirmed, the person goes into our isolation centre where he would be managed appropriately,” he said.

Ihekweazu described a high-risk traveller as someone who has had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case or was travelling from China, particularly Wuhan.

While calling on Nigerians not to panic, he said that the Chinese authorities have intensified measures to prevent the exportation of COVID-19 such as screening travellers leaving China.

“In Nigeria, the NCDC conducts daily epidemic intelligence gathering to monitor the spread of the outbreak,” he said

He said that the Government of Nigeria through NCDC is working very hard to be better prepared in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

He disclosed that NCDC in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) reviewed strategies to work together in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT to ensure that Nigerians are well informed.

Furthermore, Ihekweazu said that NCDC had revised the national case definition in line with changes in the epidemiology of the outbreak.

“With the ongoing local transmission in countries outside China, the focus had been expanded to include travellers from other countries.”




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