FG searches for 4,370 contacts as coronavirus cases hit 65

…says COVID-19 cases explosion, community transmission imminent
  • NMA attacks govt, asks President to issue executive order on lockdown
  • Six of Lagos 12 new cases arrive Nigeria by sea, Abuja,

The Federal Government on Thursday said it was tracing   4,370 persons, who  came  into contact with people that were suffering from COVID-19.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja, said the country was on the verge of community transmission of the disease.

Mohammed said this just  as coronavirus cases in the country increased to 65  on Thursday.

The National Centre for Disease Control said as of 7:35pm on Thursday, 12 additional cases  had recorded in Lagos State, one in Bauchi State and one in the Federal Capital Territory.

The NCDC via its Twitter handle, said, “14 new cases of #COVID19 have been confirmed in Nigeria; one in Bauchi State, one in the FCT and 12 in Lagos. Of the 14, six were detected on a vessel, three are returning travellers into Nigeria and two are close contacts of confirmed cases. As of 7:35pm 26th March, there are 65 confirmed cases, three discharged and one death.”

The NCDC, had on Thursday said cases of the virus in the country increased to 51 from  46 on Wednesday.

Currently,  the majority of cases were imported to the country from high-risk nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom and other European countries.

Among those who have tested positive are the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, and the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, both of whom a few weeks ago, returned from Germany, where they were believed to have contracted the disease.

The disease has spread to eight states and the Federal Capital Territory. There are 44 cases in Lagos; 12  in the Federal Capital Territory; Ogun State, three;  Ekiti State, one;  Bauchi State, two; Oyo State, one; Edo State, one; Osun State, one   and Rivers State, one.

The minister of information, at the press conference on Thursday,   said unless those who had contact with confirmed cases came forward, in few days ahead Nigeria would record a rapid increase in the number of cases.

He  stated, “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.”

The minister said the Federal Government was considering a ban on non- essential inter-state travels, closure of motor parks as well as fumigation of some designated areas, as part of additional measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

He also expressed delight that measures so far taken by the federal and some state governments to contain the virus were yielding the desired results.

Mohammed said, “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. Already, all train movements nationwide have been stopped.

“Our strategy at containing this pandemic is working, but we still have a long way to go. We know our priorities and we know our challenges.”

According to him, government has taken very bold measures by stopping international flights into the country.

He also commended state governments that had  closed markets and  prohibited   large congregations.

The minister maintained that, “We are determined to be more aggressive in enforcing the measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus, such as social distancing, contact tracing, testing, isolation of suspected cases and ensuring that our messaging gets down to the grassroots.

Explosion in COVID-19  cases imminent, says FG

“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.”

He also said that the Federal Government had received donated safety and test kits from the Jack Ma Foundation in China. The supplies are 100,000 face masks, 1,000 pieces of personal protective equipment and 20,000 test kits.

Mohammed explained that the face masks and the PPE would be distributed to the front-line health workers while the test kits would be shared among the five test laboratories.

FG tests ministers for COVID-19

The minister, while answering a question as to whether he and his colleagues were tested for the virus, said, “We were tested yesterday but I am not at liberty to talk about my colleagues, my result was negative.”

Increase in number of isolation centres

The minister also said government at the federal level had taken additional measures to increase the number of bed spaces for the isolation of patients.

He said government had, in addition to the facility in the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, set up 40, 60, and 160 bed medical facilities in three locations across the FCT.

The minister noted that some Nigerians,  who flew into the country from overseas filled wrong addresses and phone numbers in their forms, making it difficult to trace them when the need arose.

“Some Nigerians defied orders to stay away from large gatherings while some religious leaders willfully flouted the directives to ensure social distancing. The government is doing its best but we need the citizens to do their best too. We have now gone past the stage of persuasion. It’s time for strong enforcement,” he added.

The minister also decried the spread of fake news on social and traditional media.

He faulted  speculations that there were only two ventilators in Abuja, out of which one had been commandeered for a top government official and that a British Airways flight was due to land in Nigeria on Wednesday despite the closure of all international airports.

He also denied a report  that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had been coughing and was on ventilator.

Bauchi  gov’s  62-year-old  friend tests positive

In Bauchi State,  the confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus increased to  two on Thursday. He is said to be a friend to the Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Aliyu Maigoro, at a press conference in Bauchi, said the second case was  a 62 -year old  friend of the governor.

He said, “We have taken 48 samples of high risk patients to Abuja.  Out of the results, as of today, there are two confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Bauchi State.”

“The first index case (Governor Mohammed) is recovering fast and is doing extremely fine and up to this moment, there is no sign or symptoms  of COVID-19 except the confirmatory result. He is still in isolation and we are following the case management of this patient.

“The second case, who is 62-year-old, is a friend to the first victim (Governor Mohammed). He is also being isolated. He  has already started  receiving treatment as well as any other supportive case management. Apart from that, we are continuing with our other activities of surveillance and contact tracing.

“We’re are tracing the primary contacts of the first case and we have taken their samples to Abuja to know their situation. We have started contacting the contacts of this second case and we are also going to take their samples based on the createria   for analysis.

Also  the Executive Chairman of the state Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Rilwan Mohammed, said the second case had secondary cases stating that “we don’t know how many people he has come in contact with.”

NMA hits FG, states , over coronavirus spread

…Asks Buhari to issue executive order on lockdown

The Nigerian Medical Association lashed out at the federal and state governments  for failing to contain the spread of the disease.

The  NMA, in a statement by its President, Dr Francis Faduyile,    raised the alarm over  the absence of respirators and other equipment at some of the designated coronavirus isolation centres across the country.

The NMA said efforts to contain COVID-19 in Nigeria would only have impact if states and the Federal Government arrived at a compromise to work in the same direction. Faduyile said that so far, both levels of government had been working at cross purposes.

It  said, “(We) note that certain key strategies have been largely absent or sub-optimally implemented. The most important of this being effective coordination between the federal and state governments, as well as other stakeholders which will ensure that efforts are not wasted, knowledge and health intelligence are shared for better results.

The association   lamented the absence of purpose-built isolation centres in the country. It stated, “To make matters worse, in most of our hospitals, there is severe inadequacy of critical care facilities like purpose-built intensive care units. These ICUs with ventilators/artificial respirators make the difference between life and death in complications from Covid-19. It is scary that the dearth of these facilities is the same in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.”

The NMA stated that states and the Federal Government  should be  comparing notes and sharing intelligence on issues such as modalities for effective implementation of social distancing and case detection.

It  called on government to ensure strict compliance with self-isolation policy for those returning to the country from countries with high prevalence of coronavirus.

The association noted that some stated had closed schools and called for compliance with lockdown orders by states.

“The NMA demands uniformity in implementing the lock-down orders on non-essential services. We, therefore, call on President Buhari to issue an Executive order to enforce compliance,” it added.

The association stated, “Given these defaults/inadequacies, NMA therefore calls for immediate commencement of supervised self-isolation in any manner that will protect public health. This would ensure that returnees from the countries with high prevalence would adhere to instructions and confine themselves to a location in order to protect members of the public.

“Physical visits by the designated officials to the returnees to track their locations, taking their vital signs and those of each of their contacts rather than voluntary reports of failing health and serial testing of their samples will deliver better results.”

The NMA however said it acknowledged efforts put in place so far by the FG and some other states, especially Lagos State, as well as the philanthropic gestures of Aliko Dangote and Mrs Folorunsho Alakija towards the fight against COVID-19 in the country.

It  called  on its state chapters to mobilise volunteers (doctors who are active as well as those in the private sector) to assist in the area of service delivery at health facilities, contact tracing and wholesome information/public health education campaigns in collaboration with the public authorities.

Ogun doctors  raise the alarm, want   lockdown

In Ogun State, the branch of the association raised the alarm over the possible spread of COVID-19  in the state.

It therefore  asked  the state Governor, Dapo Abiodun, to lock down the state for at least two weeks in view of the increasing cases  of  COVID – 19 across the country.

The State Chairman of the association, Dr Ismail Lawal, said this  while addressing journalists at the NMA House in Abeokuta.

Lawal said the lockdown would allow the government and health officials to track down some undetected cases in the state.

He further said  shutting down of all the  activities in the state would prevent the state from getting more cases in the coming weeks.

The NMA chairman  warned  that the number of coronavirus patients and the contacts so far identified in the state “are  just infraction of cases” that were  looming  in the state.

He  maintained that the situation on the ground had shown that the  state was not prepared to  manage multiple cases of COVID-19.

He stressed that the total lockdown would be for the benefit of everybody in the state at the end of the day.

He described  the situation as  an emergency which he said  must be tackled with seriousness   to safe  people  from contracting  the virus.

He said,   “This is the  time for  emergency, whatever resources anywhere should  be put together to curb  the menace.

“It is only when we manage our people that  we can work and government can get money in the long run or in weeks to come.

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