*Nigeria has increased testing labs to 100 — LAI MOHAMMED
*NIS warns travellers defaulting Covid-19 rules
*Lagos fixes Jan 18 for resumption of schools
*Edo records 36 new cases in 5 days
*Nasarawa shuts schools till Jan 18
*Mobile court seals 4 parks in FCT
By Dapo Akinrefon, Gabriel Enogholase, Adesina Wahab & David Odama
The Federal Government, yesterday, said that the economic and social implications may make it difficult for it to impose another lock-down in the country.
It also said that from just two national reference laboratories, Nigeria now has over 100 public and private laboratories across all the states for the testing of Covid-19.
These came as Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, directed relevant formations to enforce temporary travel restrictions by the Federal Government on 100 travelers that defaulted Covid-19 tests.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has fixed January 18, for the resumption of schools for the second term of 2020/2021 academic session, while Nasarawa State Government yesterday ordered public and private schools in the state to remain closed from the initial January 4, 2021, to a new resumption date in two weeks.
Also, Edo State has recorded 36 new cases of coronavirus in the last five days, bringing to 198, the number of cases of the virus since it started tracking the second wave of the pandemic in the state from December 1, 2020.
In another development, a mobile court in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, has ordered that four parks and gardens in the territory be sealed off for two weeks for violating the Covid-19 regulations.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who addressed newsmen in Lagos, however, urged Nigerians to adhere strictly to all Covid-19 protocols laid down by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
He said: “I don’t think there is anywhere the Federal Government said it will impose another lock-down. However, the Federal Government is not happy that Nigerians are not observing all the Covid-19 protocols like washing of hands and wearing of face masks. The Federal Government is aware of the economic and social implications of having another lock-down. The Federal Government will, however, urge Nigerians to follow all the Covid-19 protocols.”
Nigeria increases testing labs to 100
He added: “From just two national reference laboratories for the testing of COVID-19, we now have over 100 laboratories, public and private, across all the states of the federation.
“Treatment centres were also built, in collaboration with the states and the private sector (CA-COVID), across the country to isolate and treat cases of Covid-19, while the Federal Government, through the Sustainable Production Pillar of the PTF, has been encouraging local manufacturing companies to embark on the production of consumables such as face masks, ventilators, hand sanitizers and face shields.
“To mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the economy across all levels, the Federal Government unveiled the Economic Sustainability Plan to support families, small and medium enterprises and the manufacturing sector, among others.”
Immigration warns travellers defaulting Covid-19 rules
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, by its Public Relations Officer, Sunday James, said the defaulting passengers have been restricted for a period of six months — from January1 to June 30.
He noted that the passengers were restricted “due to non-compliance with the mandatory Day-7 post-arrival Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test by all in-bound travellers.
“All the affected passengers have been notified and will be prevented from travelling passport re-issuance and travelling outside the country during this period. The Nigeria Immigration Service hereby warns all affected passengers to comply, and avoid breaching public health protocols and refusal of departure.”
The Federal Government had earlier announced the details of the passports of the first 100 passengers who failed to undergo Covid-19 testing after returning to the country will be revealed publicly and the passports will also be suspended. The move came as the country is witnessing a second wave of the virus in recent weeks which has caused a spike in cases across the country.
Lagos fixes Jan 18 for resumption of schools
On its part, the Lagos State Government, speaking through the Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo, in a statement, said all public and private schools below tertiary level in Lagos should be re-opened on the date, advising the authorities to comply with Covid-19 protocols.
The statement said: “The Lagos State Government has announced that all public and private schools below tertiary level in Lagos State should be reopened for the second term 2020/21 academic session from January 18, 2021.
Mrs Adefisayo who revealed this today (yesterday) stated that this is in line with the Federal Government’s directive coupled with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She therefore, enjoined all schools to make efforts to comply with all the outlined Covid-19 requirements for resumption of schools. “Not just for the improvement of overall school operations, but for the safe re-opening of academic activities to support the Lagos State Government’s quest for a full return.”
The commissioner advised that schools should have flexible plans where students and teachers who feel sick can teach or learn from home via available online platforms, adding that schools should also strive to avoid any Covid-19 infection among all students and staff.
She also enjoined teachers, students and visitors to wear face masks at all times, observe physical distancing, embrace regular hand-washing with soap under running water and maintain a high standard of personal hygiene within the school premises.
Schools were initially scheduled to reopen on January 4, but the resumption date was shifted, raising concerns that the government may impose a lock-down over the second wave of coronavirus.
Nasarawa orders schools closure till January 18
It was not clear at press time, whether the extension of the school resumption date in Nasarawa State was in response to the second wave of the coronavarus pandemic reportedly being experienced in the state.
It will be recalled that the new wave of Covid-19 recently hit Nasarawa, leaving no fewer than 30 persons confirmed positive in one day.
The state Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in a statement by the Commissioner, Hajiya Fatu Sabo, yesterday, directed all public and private schools operating in the state and other stakeholders in the education sector to adhere strictly to the directive.
The statement read:
“The ministry wishes to inform members of the public, particularly parents, guardians, students, pupils, chief evaluation officers, principals, head teachers and other stakeholders in the education sector, that based on the outcome of consultations with the state Ministry of Health, all public and private schools in the state will now re-open on January 18, 2021.
“This directive and arrangement supersedes earlier communication on the matter. All concerned are therefore, required to strictly adhere, please” the statement added.
The state government had disclosed that the state has so far recorded 15 deaths including former provost of the College of Education, Akwanga, Dr Rebecca Umaru since the outbreak of the pandemic..
Speaking at the enlarged meeting of the Covid-19 council at Government House, Lafia, then acting governor, who is also the Covid-19 task force chairman, Dr Emmanuel Akabe disclosed that the number of patients discharged stood at 668 between March and December.
He stressed the need for the state to take measures to curtail the spread, considering the proximity of the state to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, which is among the cities with high number of positive cases of Covid-19.
“We are aware of what is happening now in the world as far as the Covid-19 pandemic is concerned, there have been upsurges and we never knew that it was going to affect us this much.
“In Nasarawa State, the surge has come, it’s real. We had gone as low as below 100 positive cases diagnosed, but in the last one month, it became a different story altogether,” he said.
Edo records 36 new cases in 5 days
In Edo State, Covid-19 Incident Manager, Dr Andrew Obi, disclosed, yesterday in Benin at a meeting of the State Emergency Operation Centre headed by Governor Godwin Obaseki, that of the 36 new cases, 12 were reported from the PCR molecular laboratory at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, in Benin City, while 24 cases were at the laboratory at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, ISTH, Irrua.
He said: “We recorded 36 new coronavirus cases in the last five days. A total of 198 cases have been reported in the state since December 1, 2020 when we started tracking the second wave of the pandemic.
“We currently have 104 active cases in the state. We have a case positivity of 12.5 per cent.”
He disclosed that the state government has reactivated its disease surveillance system to manage the spread of the pandemic, urging residents in the state to take personal responsibility to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“We are prepared to deal with the second wave of the pandemic, but the people must play their role.
“They should ensure to abide by the precautionary measures set by the government to curb the spread of the virus,” he said.
Mobile court seals 4 parks in FCT
Mr Ikharo Atta, Head of Media and Enlightenment of the Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, Covid-19 Protocols Enforcement Task Force, disclosed during a news conference, yesterday, in Abuja, that the affected gardens were Eden Park and Garden in Utako, Byuan Resources Ltd, Skychef Park and Garden as well as 7th Option Park and Leisure Services, all in Garki II, Abuja.
He also disclosed that 12 persons arrested at the gardens “very late in the night,” would be arraigned after two weeks.
“What we observe is that most of them (gardens) operate beyond the period allowed. The persons who were in the shops didn’t comply with physical distancing. Face masks weren’t there at all and no hand washing points.
“They were totally in breach of the Covid-19 protocol and the judge in his wisdom, Magistrate Egbe Arafe, issued the seal-off order for two weeks.
“After the two weeks, we will now come back to the court and continue the trial,” Attah said.
Attah, who said that the task force will focus on night clubs, advised gardens and parks operators “to do the needful.”
He also said that the authority will not yield to undue demands by children and parents for FCTA to re-open Millennium Park, Jabi Lake and other parks shut down due to Covid-19
He said that the measure was to save the lives of the people.
Residents plead for enforcement of protocols at public places in Kano
Meanwhile, residents of Kano have appealed to the state government to enforce and ensure full compliance with the Covid-19 rules at public places.
Some of the residents of the state, who spoke with NAN in Kano, yesterday, said that many public institutions have relaxed the rules in their places.
Mr Muhammed Ismaila, a civil servant, said that at height of the first wave of the coronavirus, public places maintained the safety protocols.
“At that time, markets, supermarkets, hospitals and almost all places were not accessible to people without face masks. But the reality is that they have all relaxed it in spite of the warning about the second wave of the virus,” he said.
Another resident, Mr Abdurrahaman Ibrahim, also said that it has been a trend that government needed to use force for people to do what is right.
“People just display irresponsible attitudes most times and they don’t care what happens to others. We all heard that some people don’t show symptoms but can infect others; that is the reason we need to be responsible,” he said.
Mrs Amina Usman, a civil servant, also decried how people deliberately do not want to be responsible regarding the rules.
“We know that December is always a busy month with so many weddings and other social gatherings, yet we need government to force us to do what is right,” she said
Usman said that many public places in Kano had defied the Covid-19 rules despite the awareness and warning signals for the second wave of the virus.
State Health Educator, Kano State Ministry of Health, Mr Auwal Abdu, said that the ministry had been at its best in advocating effective compliance with the protocols.
“The ministry has embarked on community and media mobilisation to ensure that residents keep themselves and others safe,” he said.
He appealed for a collective responsibility towards curbing the second wave of the virus in Kano State and the country in general.