By Clifford Ndujihe, Chioma Obinna, Bashir Bello & Abdulmumin Murtala
LAGOS—Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, said yesterday that every state of the federation would have its share of coronavirus.
At present, 17 states are free of the virus which index case in the country was recorded in February.
This came as Lagos and Kano recorded three deaths yesterday from the virus, with Lagos recording its 10th death and Kano its first. Meanwhile, Kano’s confirmed cases spiked from 12 to 21 yesterday.
This is even as the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, said 90 persons who showed COVID-19 symptoms tested negative for the disease, while operatives of Kaduna State Command of National Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, arrested a COVID-19, patient who attempted to escape from isolation centre in the state.
Speaking, yesterday, on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise, Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said there was no reason the virus would not spread to every state of the country, being a respiratory virus.
He said the federal government was making efforts to curb the further spread of the disease, admitting that it had been a tough task.
“We have responded to Lassa smoothly and nobody shut down the country because it wasn’t necessary, the response was fairly efficient.
It will spread to all states — NCDC
“Now, COVID-19 is on a much larger scale, at the moment in 22 states, but it will grow to every state in Nigeria, there is no reason it won’t, it is a respiratory virus,” the NCDC boss said.
He also reacted to the differences in the figures of confirmed COVID-19 cases released by the NCDC and the numbers in some states, especially in Lagos and Kano, adding that the agency had been working hard to tackle coronavirus while the authorities in various states had their roles to play.
He insisted that Nigeria could not run away from the outbreak and that NCDC would continue to be transparent with the results, to stimulate more response from various aspects of the government.
The NCBC boss added: “We just activated the lab in Kano a few days ago. So, these are the results of the increased testing capacity that we are providing for the country.
“The tests are fairly robust; I can’t say 100 per cent but they are as close to that as possible. We had the highest number of positive cases in a single day.
“Since the onset of the outbreak, we are testing a lot more (and) that is beginning to show. It is only so much we can do from NCDC; we are working with the state governments.
“They actually own the response at the state and local levels, and we need all of them now. We really have to face the reality that this is an outbreak, this is a virus.
“It will circulate in Nigeria, absolutely no doubt and our responsibility as a country is to prepare more, to be able to detect, isolate, treat, list contacts, and stop transmission.’’
Kano records first death; cases spike
Similarly, Kano State Ministry of Health Wednesday night confirmed the first death from coronavirus, even as positive cases of the virus spiked to 21, yesterday.
The ministry late Wednesday night confirmed 12 new cases, bringing the total to 21 within one week.
On its verified Twitter handle @KNSMOH, the ministry said: “As at Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at 11:55 p.m., one death from COVID-19 was recorded in Kano State. As at the same time, 12 additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, bringing the total number to 21.”
Meanwhile, ahead of last night commencement of the seven daylockdown announced by the state government, residents of the ancient city made last minute effort to stock food items and other necessities that could last them during the duration of lockdown.
Many people were seen trouping to the commercial banks to make withdrawals to buy food stuff and other basic needs.
While the banks witnessed long queues of customers, the markets were crowded by people making last minute purchases.
Lagos records three more deaths
The Lagos State also, yesterday, recorded three more deaths to bring the total number to 10.
The Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, disclosed this, even as the state discharged five new patients from isolation centre.
Abayomi, who announced this on his Twitter handle- @ProfAkinAbayomi, explained that two patients, all male, died from the disease in the state on Wednesday.
According to him, the two deaths bring the number of COVID-19 deaths in the state to 10, while 90 patients have also been discharged.
He explained that the two persons had no travel history or contact with an infected person.
Also on his twitter handle; the governor of state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, explained that three females and two males were discharged yesterday after testing negative twice to the virus.
“Dear Lagosians, today (yesterday), 5 more patients; 3 females and 2 males, have been discharged from the Mainland Infectious Diseases Hospital to reunite with the society.
“They were discharged, having recovered fully and tested negative twice consecutively to #COVID19. This brings to 90, the number of recoveries in Lagos,’’ the governor said.
90 persons test negative in Abuja
In a related development, the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, said yesterday that 90 persons who showed COVID-19 symptoms have tested negative for the disease.
The FCTA broke the news via its Twitter handle, explaining that those tested were from the Mpape community in Abuja Municipal Council, AMAC.
It said during community active case search, its department of public health detected and tested the persons whose test came back negative.
As FCTA Continues Community Active Case Search in various communities of Abuja, results of 90 clients from Mpape community testing, have all returned negative to #COVID19,” it wrote.
It added that in the course of the case search, “everyone with a history of cough, fever, catarrh, chest pain and difficulty in breathing will be screened.
“This is to detect everyone with COVID-19 and get them treated promptly to break the chain of transmission in FCT, ” the FCTA said.
On Wednesday, Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, said the majority of confirmed coronavirus cases in the FCT were from AMAC.
“The grand majority of positive cases in Abuja are in AMAC region, perhaps with a few scattered in other places,” the minister had said.
The nation’s capital has 58 of Nigeria’s 407 coronavirus cases; 23 of those cases have been discharged, while two have died.
NSCDC arrests patient trying to escape
Also yesterday, operatives of Kaduna State Command National Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, arrested a coronavirus patient who attempted to escape from isolation centre in the state.
It was gathered that the patient attempted to leave the center for morning prayers without the permission of doctors.
He was said to have been apprehended by NSCDC operatives, led by Corps Assistant Joshua Philip who was posted to Infectious Disease Control Center, Down Quarters, Kaduna South to provide security services in and around the isolation centre
Confirming the arrest, Media Assistant to the Commandant-General, Ekunola Gbenga, in a statement, said: “The suspected COVlD-l9 patient tried to leave the center for morning prayers without the permission of doctors.
‘’A confrontation ensued between our personnel and the patient who forcibly picked the keys of the gate of the center and tried to open the gate to escape.
“The patient was arrested by Corps Assistant Joshua Philip who was among the officers on duty at the isolation center. The COVID-19 patient is said to have engaged the Civil Defence Officer Joshua Philip in serious fracas after he stopped him from leaving his quarantine ward at the isolation center, this exposed the officer to the patient.
‘’The keys were disinfected, and despite that, the doctor gave the personnel some drugs; he was instructed to self-Isolate for two weeks and to call the center if he develops any symptoms. The Corps has since strengthened its security measures in the internal isolation centre.”
Meanwhile, Kwara State government has discharged two of its four COVID-19 patients after they both tested negative twice.
They were discharged alongside five members of their families who were also at the state’s isolation centre who equally twice tested negative, according to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.
AbdulRazaq reiterated that testing positive for the virus was not a crime as anyone could contract it, but warned against stigmatisation of patients or their families.
“I’m glad to announce to you that we are discharging a total of seven persons from our isolation facility,” AbdulRazaq told journalists.
“Among these are our first two (index) cases (a male and a female) who have twice tested negative for COVID-19.
“The remaining five are members of their families who were on quarantine and have also twice tested negative to the virus.
“With the exit of the seven persons, we have 11 persons left in the facility. Two of these 11 are COVID-19 patients while the remaining nine are people with varying contacts with them.
“We commend our health workers for their professionalism and commitment. We assure them of our support now and always. We are working out incentives for every health worker at this facility to deepen their confidence in the system that we will always look after them.
“Our two remaining patients are in the best spirit and are doing pretty good. We wish them quick recovery.
“Government restates that COVID-19 is not a death sentence. Government will punish anyone who stigmatises any of our patients or members of their families.
“The government is proud of all the people of Kwara State for their support and understanding at this time of lockdown. It is to flatten the curve of transmission and save all of us from this pandemic,’’ the governor said.
As at yesterday morning, Kwara State has just two cases, while test results are awaited for 43 samples.
Skewed distribution of palliatives
Meanwhile, for some days now, the polity has been awash with complaints over skewed distribution of palliatives including the Federal Government’s N20,000 conditional cash transfer scheme to the poorest and vulnerable households in the country to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 plague.
According to a data from the National Cash Transfer Office, NCTO, Abuja as of April 9, five states – Lagos, Delta, Borno, Ogun, and Ebonyi were yet to benefit from the cash transfer.
And among the 31 benefiting states including the Federal capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, the South-East and South-West states were the worse off with North-West states being the most favoured (see chart).
The data so far 1, 126, 211 households are currently benefiting from the conditional cash transfer programme. The most favoured states include Katsina (133,227 households), Zamfara (130,764), Jigawa (99,044), Kano (84,148), Plateau (78,439), and Kebbi (76,026). The least favoured include Sokoto (3,165), Enugu (3,305), Ondo (3,812), and Ekiti (4,709).
Taken on zonal basis, the North-West has 561,758 households receiving N20,000 cash transfers each totalling N11.235 billion. North-Central has 321,434 households (N6.429 billion); North-East, 109,442 households (N2.189 billion); South-South, 68,324 households (N1.367 billion); South-West, 37,904 households (N758.080 million); and South-East, 27,977 households (N559.540 million).
The cash transfer scheme, which is part of the Social Investment Programme (SIP) of the current administration is under the newly-created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and being superintended by the Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq.
Lagos is the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria and is one of the states that no household has benefited.
Farouq had approved the immediate termination of the contract of two Payment Service Providers (PSPs) following their inability to meet the contractual agreement to commence Conditional Cash Transfer to beneficiaries in four states, namely Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Abia and Zamfara. She said that that the Federal Government cannot accept delays in the current payment round of N20,000 stipends to beneficiaries under any excuses in the four states or any other state of the country.