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COVID-19: Nigeria records second death

…Osinbajo heads economic sustainability committee 

…Declares Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta lockdown illegal 

The Nigerian Government on Monday announced the second death arising from Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

Though the government did not give details of the victim, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire also said during the Presidential Task Force Briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja that the majority of the 111 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria were persons who came in from overseas.

He also explained that the highest number of confirmed cases in Nigeria are in Lagos and Abuja because they serve as the major gateways to the country.

According to Dr Ehanire, “majority of them are persons who came from overseas and others have been traced as close contacts of such returnees. The high number of cases in Lagos and Abuja is due to their function as country gateways for air travel.

“Till date, three persons have been discharged after successful treatment but sadly another fatality was recorded over weekend in the person of a patient who has severe underline illnesses. We have intensified contact tracing and our strategy remains to promptly detect cases, isolate them and follow up with their contacts and also isolate and treat in other to reduce the spread of the infection.”

The Health Minister said with the additional testing sites “to the case definition, persons with fever and either cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath in an area of medium or high prevalence of COVID-19, can test for the disease. To meet the demand that will arise as a result of this expansion of the case definition, the NCDC has added a new laboratory to its network of molecular laboratories for COVID-19. This is the Virology Laboratory of University College Hospital, Oyo State. We project that in three weeks, seven more labs in Abakiliki, Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt and Sokoto will be added to this network to further expand testing capacity nationwide.”

Dr Ehanire also said that “all retired but able-bodied staff” of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health were being recalled.

At the briefing, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, announced that the briefing would be daily “in order to minimise the incidence of fake news in the country.”

Mustapha stressed that the briefing would be the only approved briefing of the task force, although appearances on TV by relevant members would be allowed.

The federal government scribe also announced that President Muhammadu Buhari has constituted a committee headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to care for the economic challenges that the situation may bring for the time being.

Meanwhile, the federal government says that the lockdown of Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Delta, Rivers, Ekiti and Osun States by their State Governors is illegal. 

Said Mustapha: “As a nation, our response must be guided, systematic and professional. There is a need for consistency across the nation. All inconsistencies in policy guidelines between Federal and State agencies will be eliminated. I referred you to paragraph 29 of the President’s broadcast. We are mindful of the fact that there are those inconsistencies in policies. Such states began to implement their lockdown before the President’s broadcast. The President’s broadcast was very definitive and categorical, we are only locking down Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital. Those are the only three designated areas for the lockdown now. 

“I will make some calls to some security agencies in those borders. I expected that after Mr. President’s broadcast what should ordinarily happen is that, if you had stopped people from getting to their destinations that broadcast should have enabled you release those people to get to their destinations. You can put proactive measures like a toll gate to ensure that you test them and allow them get to their destinations. That was what we did at the airport before we finally locked down the airport. This lockdown like the President said in paragraph 29 of the national broadcast will be systematic, consistent and will be based on best practices.”

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