As the country sits on edge following confirmation of four new cases of the pandemic novel coronavirus, codenamed COVID-19, the Senate has told 12 lawmakers to proceed on self-isolation.
The senators, who are members of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), headed by Bassey Akpan, who represents Akwa Ibom North-east, returned from London, United Kingdom, last weekend after attending a three-day international training programme organised by Skills and Career Support Center (SCSC).
Following their return from London, a city battling the effects of the deadly virus, the senators, Daily Sun gathered, did not observe the statutory 14-day self-isolation.
They attended plenary on Tuesday where they shook hands with other senators and exchanged pleasantries.
Spokesman for the upper legislative chamber, Godiya Akwashiki, told newsmen that Senate President Ahmad Lawan has already instructed the 12 senators to go for a medical test and confirm their status.
While the Senate gallery will remain closed to the public till further notice, lawmakers are mulling the possibility of shutting down the National Assembly.
Daily Sun gathered that the leadership of the National Assembly might soon summon an emergency meeting to take a decision on the issue.
Lagos confirms 4 new cases, begins contact tracing of 1,300 people
Lagos State government, yesterday, confirmed four new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of positive cases in the state to 11.
Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who made this known during the COVID-19 update, said the state has commenced contact tracing of 1,300 people.
Abayomi said 19 people were tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday, with four out of them testing positive to the virus, adding that they had been isolated for treatment at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Yaba.
He said one of the four new cases was a woman who had contact with the Nigerian woman who returned from the UK currently receiving treatment for testing positive.
“The second new case is a female who returned from France on March 14 on a Turkish Airline TK 1830,” the commissioner said.
He said that the third case was a Nigerian male in his 50s who had not travelled anywhere, but tested positive to the virus.
Abayomi said the fourth new case was a Nigerian male who arrived in Lagos from Frankfurt on Lufthansa Airline flight number LH568 on March 13.
He said more tests were ongoing with some suspected cases, while appealing to passengers on the two flights to self-isolate themselves and contact government.
Buhari’s daughter in self-isolation after returning from UK
One of the daughters of President Muhammadu Buhari just back from the UK is in self-isolation.
The First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, made this disclosure through her Twitter handle @aishambuhari: “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.”
Mrs. Buhari also announced that she has shut down her office for two weeks while those on essential duties would be working from home.
Federal tertiary institutions, unity colleges to close down
The Federal Government has directed heads of federal higher institutions and principals of unity colleges nationwide to close down.
Permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, told Daily Sun that the decision was to protect and safeguard students/pupils.
‘’We have directed all higher institutions to close this weekend. Unity Schools that have completed exams are to close immediately. Others are to hurry and close the latest by 26th March.’’
Already, some state governments and the management of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have closed down schools and the scheme.
Special adviser on education to the Lagos State governor, Mr. Tokunbo Wahab, said the state was assessing the situation and a decision would be taken soon, whether to shut down the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, Epe, and other state-owned institutions.
NSCIA asks Muslims to avoid social gatherings
Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has also directed its members and other Muslim faithful to strictly comply with the directive of the Federal Government regarding large social and religious gatherings.
NSCIA deputy secretary general, Prof. Salisu Shehu, who briefed journalists in Abuja yesterday, urged mosques and Islamic centres to strongly discourage members from attending any activities, in the event of confirmed emergence of the infection in several figures, even if they are only experiencing mild symptoms.
There are indications that several big mosques in Abuja may hold a low-key juma’at prayer, as against the usual gathering of large numbers of Muslim faithful.
In apparent compliance, the Ansar ud Deen Society of Nigeria has suspending religious activities in its mosques across Nigeria due to the pandemic.
The society, particularly popular among Muslims in south-west Nigeria, and with scores of mosques across Nigeria, announced this in a statement by its spokesperson, Muhammed Hassan.
Similarly, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) has directed all its parishes in Lagos and Ogun not to have more than 50 persons in one service.
In a memo by Folorunsho Odesola, RCCG assistant general overseer of administration and personnel, the church said parishes that had an average attendance of 50 members or less could hold their service without making any changes while those with over 50 members “should run simultaneous services with the main church through their house fellowship centres.”
El-Rufai heads NGF solution-finding committee
The 36 states of the federation, on the platform of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, have set up a six-man sub-committee, headed by the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, to tackle the effects of COVID-19. Other members are Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, Gov. David Umahi (Ebonyi), Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule, Edo State Godwin Obaseki and Gov. Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State.
Chairman of the NGF, Gov. Kayode Fayemi, disclosed this at the end of their meeting, saying they were to review the trend of the COVID-19 pandemic and falling oil price and advise states on actions required to address challenges in the economy.
NLC to FG: Strengthen emergency response mechanism
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the Federal Government to strengthen emergency response mechanism towards curtailing the spread of COVID-19.
NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, who made the call during an emergency world news conference in Abuja yesterday, said the the emergency response mechanism was imperative as the actions of government would be critical in containing COVID-19.
“States should set up disease surveillance activities. Persons arriving Nigeria from countries with up to 1,000 COVID-19 cases should be quarantined in suitable healthcare facilities.
“The self-quarantine advice is counter-productive, given the socio-economic realities in Nigeria.
“Contact tracing of positive cases should be stepped up. Health givers should be resourced with personal protective equipment (PPE), face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers,” he said.
Shutdown of schools, daily activities unwarranted – NCDC
However, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said in its latest COVID-19 advisory guidelines that the situation in Nigeria did not warrant a total shutdown of daily activities, including schools.
It, however, urged Nigerians to access and disseminate already published guidelines for safe gatherings to ensure preventive measures during such convergence.
The NCDC said, “If there is sustained community transmission in Nigeria, various additional measures may be instituted. But for now, schools are advised to circulate NCDC’s public health advisory and related materials on COVID-19 to staff, students and parents.
“Corporations are also advised to circulate NCDC’s public health advisory and related materials on COVID-19 to all employees, clients and visitors, and also provide facilities for regular hand-washing.”
Jigawa may shut down mosques, public schools
There is every indication that Jigawa State government may consider shutting down mosques and public schools, following the gradual spread of coronavirus in the country.
The governor, who stated this yesterday in a BBC Hausa service interview, said the meeting with other state governors in Kaduna was considering a broader discussion with the Sultan of Sokoto on better avenues to approach the possible control on public prayers.
According to the governor the state government was also considering the closure of public schools to mitigate against the spread of the pandemic.
Also, the permanent secretary of the ministry of health Dr. Salisu Mu’azu assured residents of the state government’s readiness to combat the coronavirus through the establishment of an isolation/management centre. He further disclosed that the state had trained medical personnel, even though there was no confirmed case of the pandemic in the state, and it had provided critical equipment and preventive measures, in line with the NCDC advise.
“We will soon introduce hand sanitisers before getting access to all government offices to avoid the spread of COVID-19,” he said, adding that Jigawa students studying in the Republic of China would not be evacuated due to the pandemic, as no students was infected.
His words:- “We have made telephone calls with some of our students studying there and they told us that they are safe and none of them is affected, the students are barred from going to classes for lectures, but they received their lessons online, they are safe and stayed indoors”, he stated .
The Ebola center already in place in the state according to the commissioner will officially be converted to management/diagnostic center for the control of the spread of Coronavirus.
Unilorin screens 4 returning International students
The University of Ilorin says it has screened four returning international students to prevent spread of Coronavirus in the institution.
Dr Idayat Adurotoye, chairperson of Unilorin Coronavirus Prevention Committee, said three of the students were Ghanaians while one was a Chadian.
She said this was part of the university proactive measures to ensure the international students were free of the virus.
She, however, explained that the results were yet to be released.