By Soni Daniel,
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rise in Nigeria, the Federal Government is considering adopting more stringent measures to stem its rapid spread across the country.
This is because the government is worried that no fewer than 4370 Nigerians might have had contacts with index cases and are actively trying to trace them for possible isolation and treatment to prevent further spread.
Top on the range of measures being contemplated by the federal authorities are the banning of all inter-state and inter-town movements and the closure of all motor parks across the country.
Besides, the government has also warned that it would be more aggressive in enforcing social distancing among Nigerians, contact-tracing, testing and isolation of suspected cases and ensuring that its messages on the coronavirus pandemic gets to the grassroots.
This comes as Nigeria receives 100,000 face masks, 20,000 test kits, and 1000 personal protective equipment from the Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, for the prosecution of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, who announced the planned actions, said the federal government was determined to stop the spread of the coronavirus in order to save the lives of Nigerians.
The minister pointed out that the tougher actions had become necessary since it had become clear to the government that it needed to adopt more strategies despite the fact that current effort at containing the spread was working while the nation still had a long way to go.
The Minister said: “Gentlemen, I don’t intend to sound apocalyptic. But the truth is that time is running out. If we don’t urgently and more aggressively enforce the measures I have just listed, we have a short window within which to stop this pandemic or face an explosion in terms of the cases. We cannot afford to be complacent.
“We have 4,370 people of interest whom we are tracing. We urge those who have had contact with suspected cases to immediately report to the authorities. We urge Nigerians to support the authorities in this regard. We are on the verge of reaching the level of community spread. We must stop this immediately or we will record exponential cases in the days ahead. There is no better way to say this.
“In view of this, we are considering tougher measures to enforce compliance, stop the exportation of the disease to states that do not have it and minimize spread. Possible measures include: stopping inter-state/inter-town travels, except for essential services, closing all motor parks and inter-state rail stations and using fire-fighting and other adaptable vehicles and personnel to fumigate cities and towns. Already, all train movements have been stopped.
“Let me say, without mincing words, that we are not getting the kind of cooperation that this moment deserves from Nigerians. Many are busy engaging in meaningless criticisms instead of complying with the stipulated directives to keep people safe.
The minister regretted that tracing some travelers who might have had contacts with the coronavirus index cases had become difficult due to the fact that some of them gave wrong addresses and phone contacts while others had continued to defy the order to stay away from large gatherings some religious leaders have continued to flout the order on social distancing.
The minister described as fake news media reports that President Muhammadu Buhari was coughing and on a ventilator as a result of contacts with the coronavirus index case, that there were only two functional ventilators in Abuja out of which a top government official had hijacked one and that a British Airways flight was due to land in Nigeria on Wednesday despite the closure of all international airports in the country.
The minister appeal to Nigerians not to panic as the government was determined to work with the Nigerian people to defeat the pandemic, assuring that even if any Nigerian is confirmed to test positive to the virus, there was room for recovery as it does not amount to death sentence.