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COVID-19: With 14 new cases, Buhari pleads for strict adherence to health guidelines

With Nigeria recording 14 new cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) to make the total number of infections in the country to 65, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday night pleaded with Nigerians to follow to the letter the health guidelines issued by the Federal Ministry of Health and the 36 State Governments.

In a statement by Presidential Spokesperson, Malam Garba Shehu, President Buhari asked Nigerians to “wash your hands thoroughly many times throughout the day. Observe ‘social distancing’ of a minimum of two metres. Do not make unnecessary journeys outside of your homes. Do not attend public meetings or public gatherings – including religious events – which is where, through social contact, the virus can easily be transmitted.”

President Buhari also directed the escalation of the nation’s capacity for testing and detection with the acquisition of testing kits and establishment of additional test centers, acquisition of Personnel Protection Equipment and the mobilization of experts and trained staff serving and recall of some of those retired.

Reeling out what the federal governments have been doing to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the President said that as the Federal Ministry of Health continue to issue daily updates on all developments, all citizens should “refer to public announcements by the Ministry on radio, television, www.health.gov.ng and @Fmohnigeria.’’

The President announced that the federal government has released a total of N10 billion to the Lagos State for financial support to combat and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, adding that he has “approved and ensured the prompt release of N5 billion special intervention requested by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to equip and expand their facilities and laboratories.

Noting that President Buhari has also given approval to NCDC’s request for an aircraft from the Presidential Air Fleet for emergency situations.

In addition, he has furthermore authorized the evacuation of three critical members of the NCDC team who are stuck in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo where they went for a training organized by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The statement said that “these measures are in addition to the ones approved and announced by the Presidential Task Force, PTF including the closure of land borders to human traffic for four weeks; the conversion of all Hajj transit camps to be utilized as COVID-19 isolation centers; the directive that all non-essential government employees to work from home and for a daily briefing of the nation through the PTF.

“Other approved measures already put into place include the ban of flights from and into the country, suspension of the Federal Executive Council and National Council of State meetings and a directive for engagements, at the highest levels between the Federal Government and the state governments. The closure of schools and tertiary institutions and the suspension of religious and other gatherings above the fifty prescribed number are also parts of the measures approved and are in place.”

The statement added that the “President is keeping a close eye on international developments on the spread of COVID-19 and will intensify or introduce new measures if they become necessary to protect Nigerians.”

In announcing the new figures of Coronavirus infections, the NCDC said in a tweet on Thursday night that of the 14 additional cases, 12 new cases were discovered in Lagos while the remaining two were confirmed in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Six of the 12 cases in Lagos, NCDC said, were detected on a vessel and three others were returning travellers into the country while the remaining case was a close contact of a confirmed case.

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