Fred Itua, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja, Fred Ezeh, Abuja and Doris Obinna
The Federal Government, yesterday, confirmed the third case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said stringent surveillance efforts of the Federal Government identified the new case bringing the number of cases to three.
Confirming it, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said the new case, a 30-year old Nigerian, female, who arrived aboard BA75 on March 13, from the United Kingdom observed self-Isolation after which she was unwell with fever and dry cough.
“We retrieved the samples and tested it and it came out positive. So, as at yesterday (Monday), we now have a third case of coronavirus in Nigeria.”
The minister said intensive contact tracing had begun to identify all persons who the patient had been in 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. The FMoH will continue to assess the situation and adjust response accordingly.”
The minister said the ministry would continue to carry out necessary risk assessments on daily basis.
He noted that the National Emergency Operations Centre and partners would work with Lagos State health authorities in their response.
Ehanire said that the ministry would continue to issue statements to give the public true and useful information.
FG may ban religious gathering, flights from high risks countries
As part of measure to checkmate the spread, the Federal Government is considering a ban on all forms of gatherings including as well as closure of schools. It also planned to suspend flights from high risk countries.
Already, President Buhari has directed the immediate suspension of the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF) in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
He said with over 11,000 people expected for the festival, it was better to err on the side of caution that sorry as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak during the games.
Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare made the announcement when he and the Minister for State Health, Olorunibe Mamora briefed President Buhari.
The decision to ban mass gathering, Mamora said, “is to avert the possibility of people carrying the virus even without knowing from spreading it.
“What we have so far is that up to 80 to 81 percent 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 congregation of 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.”
Asked if the Federal Government was considering banning all forms of religious gatherings and closing of schools like other countries, Mamora said: “What I can say for now is that the immediate issue before us is the national sports festival and our meeting with Mr President essentially was to convey our thoughts in that regards and Mr President did the right thing by approving the need for the postponement. But social distancing is desirable at this point in time.”
On when the country will ban flights from high risk countries, he said: “There will be subsequent briefings from the ministry because each situation is reviewed as it comes to us.”
High Commission in London suspends passport processing
To minimise exposure of staff and applicants due to ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Nigerian High Commission in London has suspended passport processing services until further notice.
“This is to notify that effective, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Nigeria high commission, London will suspend the processing of passport till further notice,” the notice read.
“This proactive measure is to protect and limit the exposure of both applicants and staff of the mission to the COVlD-19 outbreak. which is in line with the health advisory issued by the UK government.”
However, it said, persons in need of emergency travel certificates for urgent trips can contact the commission through mail or telephone.
Buhari gives taskforce 6-month marching order
President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Dr. Sani Aliyu as national coordinator for the fight against COVID19.
He is a member of presidential taskforce for the control of coronavirus (COVID-19), inaugurated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
Their terms of reference include to strengthen national response strategy particularly in the area of testing, containment and the management of COVID 19, strengthen collaboration with all tiers of government, private sector faith base organisations, civil society, donors and partners and beam awareness among the populace.
The Taskforce is also to direct the deployment of any relevant national asset when necessary, lay a foundation for scientific and medical research to address all emerging infectious diseases and advise government on the declaration of national emergency as part of the containment measures when necessary.
The taskforce chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) has six months to fashion out a masterplan to curb the virus.
No testing centres in South East, North -Senate
The Senate has decried non-availability of testing centres for the deadly Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the entire South East and in the three geopolitical zones of the North.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, while reacting to a motion moved by Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Senate Committee chairman on Health, urged the Federal Government to establish testing centres in the aforementioned regions.
He also urged the Federal Ministry of Health to come up with a template on how isolation centres established by the various States should be operated.
Lawan said more steps must be taken to protect every Nigerian, while urging citizens to shelve unnecessary trips to countries with high cases of the outbreak.
Oloriegbe, a medical doctor, urged Nigerians to take their personal hygiene important to avoid contracting the virus.
Reps seek halt of flights from China, UK, others
House of Representatives, yesterday, charged the Federal Government to halt flights from China, United Kingdom(UK), Spain, Italy, United States of America (USA) and South Korea from coming into the country, except for Nigerian citizens.
However, the House said those Nigerian citizens sould be tested on arrival and may be quarantined if necessary.
It equally urged the Federal Ministry of Sports to immediately postpone the National Sports Festival, scheduled to begin in Edo State next week, as well as other activities with large gathering of people, in line with global best practice.
This followed the adoption of a motion by Onofiok Luke on the need for government to take urgents to safeguard citizens from the coronavirus, which is currently ravaging several parts of the world.