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CORONAVIRUS CASES HIT 89: Gov El-Rufai tests positive as experts insist on total lockdown

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BREAKING: El-Rufai tests positive for coronavirus, goes into self-isolation
Gov Nasir el-Rufai

•Lagos dumps curfew, fumigates streets
•Benue gets index case
•Imo, Bayelsa, Enugu under lockdown
•Osun: 150 returnees quarantined
•Oyo partial shutdown: Makinde working on palliatives
•Kano disinfects streets, hospitals
•Anambra shuts markets
•Delta: London returnees forced into self-isolation

By Our Reporters

Coronavirus crisis in Nigeria escalated yesterday as the number of cases hit 89. The figure of infections was 81 as of Friday night.

The escalation happened on a day Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State tested positive for coronavirus, also called COVID – 19.

El-Rufai said, in a statement, last night, “Earlier this week, I submitted a sample for the Covid-19 test. The result came in this evening, and I regret to say that it is positive.

“According to the protocols for managing Covid-19, I am in self-isolation as required by the case management guidelines of the NCDC for someone that is not showing symptoms.

“I wish to appeal to the people of Kaduna State to continue to closely observe the preventive measures already announced.

“It is most important that everybody should do their utmost to stay safe, stay home and stay alive.

“The Deputy Governor is chairing our Covid-19 Taskforce and will continue to issue statements from time to time.”

The governor is the third high profile personality in Nigeria to test positive for COVID-19 after Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari.

The breakdown of the 89 coronarvirus cases in the country, as of yesterday, showed that Lagos has 59, FCT 14, Ogun 3, Enugu and Bauchi, 2 each, and Osun, Rivers and Benue, 1 each.

Benue recorded its first case of infection yesterday.

Worried health experts have, in the meantime, called for the total lockdown of the country as against the partial lockdown announced by some states to combat the ravaging virus.

The experts urged government to initiate a uniform strategy in the fight against the virus, saying the absence of decisiveness could be dangerous for the country.

In various conversations with Sunday Vanguard, they expressed disappointment at the Federal Government response to the virus, saying the nation was losing the opportunity to contain the spread. (See interview on pages 7—14).

Meanwhile, the government of Lagos State, the epicentre of the pandemic in the country yesterday, dumped its decision to introduce dusk- to-dawn curfew to fumigate the state.

In a tweet, the state said the curfew was called off following experts’ advice, adding that the fumigation would go on across major highways and bus stops.

In another development, anxiety over President Muhammadu Buhari’s health status seemed to have reduced following a meeting the President held at the Presidential Villa with Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.

Buhari receives briefing

In a tweet by the Personal Assistant to the President on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, on his Tweeter handle, @BashirAhmaad, the President was said to have received updates on the fight against the virus.

According to the tweet, the duo met with the President to update him on the campaign against the novel Coronavirus pandemic.

The tweet, which was made at about 12:55 pm said the meeting took place at the President’s residence in the Villa.

It read: “JUST IN: President @MBuhari receiving briefings from Minister of Health and Director-General of @NCDCgov on Nigeria’s fight against #COVID19 pandemic at his residence, Presidential Villa, Abuja.’’

President Buhari, in the last two days, had worked from home after testing negative to COVID-19. He was last seen at the office on Wednesday.

Stringent controls

On the heels of that, All Progressives Congress, APC, said speculations about Buhari’s health were being promoted by those it said had long wished the President dead.

The party added that Nigeria’s response to Coronavirus is working under the supervision of President Buhari.

A chieftain of the party, Jackson Ojo, restated growing calls for government to have a defined strategy in the fight against the virus.

He particularly called for the replication of stringent controls by Lagos and Kaduna states at the federal level.

Meanwhile, various state governments continued to scale up different measures against the virus, with Benue recording its index case yesterday.

IMO: Gov Uzodinma orders lockdown

Imo State, Governor Hope Uzodimma ordered a complete lockdown of the state effective from yesterday as part of measures to prevent the dreaded Coronavirus.

In a state broadcast, he ordered the closure of all markets indefinitely and prohibited all forms of marriage ceremonies.

He also banned funeral ceremonies and prohibited religious activities in churches and mosques.

Uzodimma further directed that all borders into the state be barricaded, adding that those coming into Imo must be given a clean bill of health by the health officials.

He equally directed all civil and public servants in the state, except those on approved essential duties, to stop work immediately

He said a combined team of military, police and other security agencies would be deployed to the streets to ensure strict compliance with the directives.

The governor, however, noted that although the new measures may cause some inconvenience or hardship to the people they were inevitable.

Further measures announced by the governor to contain the virus include the training of health educators and distribution of sanitizers to all the communities in the state

“There is no denying the fact that we are passing through a very dangerous time occasioned by the world wide Corona pandemic. Every policy directive and action we have taken as a government has only one objective; to protect our people and safeguard our children, “Uzodinma said.

ENUGU: Returnees asked to contact govt

In Enugu State, the Ministry of Health reacted to the two confirmed cases of Coronavirus, urging residents not to panic.

The state government had announced the closure of all markets and land borders. It also stopped inter-state transportation in the state until further notice, except those on medical emergency services.

Reacting shortly after the NCDC announced the two cases in Enugu, via its twitter account, the Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Health, Dr. Ifeanyi Agujiobi said: “The two patients, who presented on their own, tested positive for Corona Virus (COVID-19)”.

Dr. Agujiobi disclosed that the patients were returnees from the United Kingdom (UK).

BAYELSA: Govt orders dusk-to-dawn curfew

Bayelsa State government announced more measures to contain the pandemic with a travel restriction of movement from 7 pm—6am.

A statement by the state task force on Covid-19 which was signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Orientation, Freston Akpor, said all entry points into the state would remain closed.

READ ALSO: Enugu govt reacts to two confirmed cases of COVID-19

Meanwhile, activities at all worship centres including churches and mosques were suspended with immediate effect.

OYO: Gov Makinde working on palliatives

Governor Seyi Makinde informed residents of Oyo State that his government was already working on palliatives to ease the pressure on residents following the partial shutdown of activities as part of the precautionary measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.

He, however, stated that the state would need to work on accurate data and design to ensure that the palliatives get into the hands of residents with genuine needs for them and not get cornered by middlemen.

A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said Makinde stated these during a phone-in interview programme on Fresh FM 105.9 and a one-hour Tweetchat on Twitter yesterday, noting that the government has stepped up enlightenment campaigns on Covid-19 and enforcement measures on the lockdown of activities.

The governor maintained that as part of measures to contain the spread of the disease in the state, the state government in collaboration with College of Medicine and University College Hospital has set up a diagnostic centre to handle testing of samples, noting that the state was only awaiting NCDC endorsement.

He explained that once the centres are certified, they would become easier to test more people.

Governor Makinde added that apart from the preventive measures, the state has set up isolation centres, with a 4-bed isolation unit in Ogbomoso, 10-bed at Jericho, 4-bed at UCH and 100-bed capacity at Olodo, Ibadan, which will be ready on Thursday.

He noted that the ICU beds in the state currently have ventilators.

The governor further noted that the state has Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers in all 33 Local Government Areas, LGAs, and 35 Local Council Development Authorities, LCDAs.

TARABA: Borders closed, movement restricted

The government of Taraba State ordered the closure of its borders.

That is in addition to the restriction of movement in and out of the state which takes effect today.

Chief Press Secretary to Governor Darius Ishaku, Hassan Mijinyawa, disclosed this in a statement.

The statement said: “Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku has banned travels in and out of the state with effect from today.

“The Commissioner of Police and the Commandant of National security and Civil Defence Corps have been directed to ensure strict compliance.”

OGUN: Borders shut

Ogun State government, yesterday evening, announced the closure of its borders with neighbouring states and the international border with the Republic of Benin.

The closure, according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kunle Somorin, will be effected at 12 midnight today. It will be in force for two weeks in the first instance.

With this restriction order, movement in and out of the state is thus banned as a further measure to contain coronavirus.

The statement explained that the state is constrained to effect border closure in order to stem and flatten the curve of the spread of the dreaded corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic, not only in the state but in the country and in the West African sub-region.

“The position of Ogun State is peculiar. It not only shares an international border with the Republic of Benin, it does so with all other states in the South West (except Ekiti), including Lagos State, which has understandably recorded the highest number of infections in the country largely because it hosts the busiest air and sea ports and it’s the nation’s economic capital”, it said .”The border closure will not only be beneficial to Ogun State but the national efforts to curtail and contain the virus. Lessons from other climes strongly indicate that closure of borders has the potential to drastically flatten the curve of spread whilst unrestricted movement portends grave dangers”, Governor Abidoun explained.

The only exceptions to the interstate restrictions are vehicles conveying personnel involved in essential services such as security agencies, health workers, food and medical items and petroleum products”.

EDO: Red Cross inaugurates surveillance volunteers

AS part of efforts to curtail the spread of the disease, Edo State Red Cross, yesterday, inaugurated its surveillance volunteers.

They are to take the campaign and awareness about the disease to the rural areas.

State chairman of the organisation, Festus Alenkhe, said there is insufficient information about the disease in the rural areas.

ABIA: Govt denies alleged case of Coronavirus

In Umuahia, Abia State government denied any case of Coronavirus in Aba or any other part of the state, stressing that it was prepared to contain the virus if it eventually comes to Abia.

An online news portal had reported that a Lebanese had lodged at Hotel Du Golf in Aba and showed symptoms of the dreaded Covid-19 and urged the state government to not only seal the hotel but also track and quarantine all guests and staff who may have come in contact with the foreigner.

DELTA: London returnee apprehended, forced to embark on self-isolation

A London returnee at Okpanam, Oshimili North Local Government Area, Delta State, name withheld, who reportedly assaulted surveillance officers of the Emergency Operation Committee on COVID-19 has been arrested and forced to embark on self-isolation.

The man, who reportedly returned from London on March 23, refused to isolate himself.

He was said to be moving freely in the town without observing the 14 days mandatory self-isolation.

Peeved by his behaviour, some residents of the community according to a reliable source, reported the matter to the Emergency Operation Committee on COVID-19, adding that the returnee assaulted the team members who went to his residence to advise him to go on self-isolation.

The returnee was subsequently apprehended and taken to Okpanam Police Station for questioning but was not detained for fear of spreading the virus in case he has been infected.

Confirming the incident in a statement, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye, said:”Surveillance Officers who acted on information of a returnee from London that failed to self-isolate in line with government directives were assaulted by the returnee.’’

ANAMBRA: Govt closes 63 markets

Governor Willie Obiano announced the closure of 63 major markets in the state as part of measures to ensure that people remained in their homes.

The state had earlier closed all schools and ordered civil servants to remain at home, while its borders with six states would be shut.

Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. Son Adinuba, who said the closure would take effect tomorrow, explained that the exceptions were foodstuff and medicine markets.

According to him, the new order followed a series of consultations with various stakeholders in the markets across the state.

KANO: Govt disinfects streets, hospitals

Also, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State spearheaded the fumigation and disinfectant exercise of some strategic public places against the spread of Coronavirus.

Ganduje kick-started the exercise with the fumigation of the entrance of

Government House, state roads and Muhammadu Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital.

The exercise was carried out in collaboration with Aspira Limited – a subsidiary of Lee group of companies.

Vanguard

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