*NCDC to test 1500 days per day by next week
*Newspaper Vendors exempted from restriction, FG caution Security Agencies
*Moves to decongest Custodial Centres as Kaduna inmates riot
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Tuesday, said that more Nigerians who are victims of the Novel Coronavirus disease COVID-19 would soon be released once all their results turn out negative.
Disclosing this development during a media interface by the Presidential Taskforce PTF on COVID-19, Ehanire said: “As of today we have recorded 135 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria. The majority of persons are from overseas and others were traced as their close contacts.
“The incidence of new cases into Nigeria as a result of the closure of the airports and the land borders will reduce the number of importations so that we shall be dealing largely with those which have already been brought into the country and are being transmitted from person. to person.
“Five persons have been discharged and sent home. Nigeria has unfortunately recorded two fatalities and both of them had underlying illnesses.
“Persons with fever and cough or shortness of breath and other symptoms in the areas of high COVID-19 prevalence in Nigeria can be tested for the disease. More laboratories will join the network for molecular diagnosis for COVID-19 in Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt and Sokoto.
“I want to emphasize that testing is at no cost to anyone in the public and only results from any of the accredited molecular laboratories are recognised.
“There are some (patients) that are due to be discharged. Quite a few are due but the protocol is that they must test negative twice within 24 or 48 hours and if they do not test negative twice they are held back. Treatment normally takes a month or between three to five weeks depending on how your body responds”, he added.
Reviewing restriction guidelines
Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha said the government was reviewing its guidelines in respect of the 14-day lockdown of the nation’s capital, Abuja as well as Lagos and Ogun states.
The SGF said; “Today, we have just begun the first day of restrictions in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja. We are observing developments around the country as we receive reports.
“The PTF has however met with the Security Chiefs to smoothen the rough edges of implementation and within the first day of implementation and an appropriate restriction protocol and exemption guidelines will be issued.
“Initial feedback is that there are violations of restrictions by the citizens that we desire to protect. Let me emphasize that the decision to lockdown is to prevent community spread which may be dangerous to manage. It can only be done by Nigerians and for Nigerians”, he declared.
Newspaper Vendors exempted
Mustapha reminded security agencies that the media including newspaper vendors are exempted from the restrictions, saying the president’s speech was clear on that. “I used to have a friend who was the Chairman of the Newspaper vendors association amd they have their identities. Provided they can establish that that is their trade, and of course a vendor cannot operate from his house, he has to be on the streets to distribute the papers, I believe Paragraph 41 of Mr President’s speech adequately covers that”.
Speaking on the epidemiological situation in the country, Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control NCDC, Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu said the country was still at a point where it feels it can identify all those affected hence the decision to lockdown Abuja and two other states.
“This is a tedious process, we are following up about 5000 contacts across the country. The focus of all our efforts is to increase and improve our testing capability. As at last week, we were testing about 500 per day and by the end of this week, we will be testing a thousand per day.
By next week, we plan to take it to 1, 500 just by increasing the number of laboratories and also increase the capacity of the laboratories that we have”, he said.
Also speaking, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika said Nigerians should not be worried when they see certain flights come into the country, explaining that there are exemptions on flight restriction.
He said; “certain flights that are considered to be essential will continue to happen. So Nigerians will continue to see aircrafts flying but those aircraft are qualified. Aircraft in distress or technical stop is allowed; medical evacuation and essential cargo, as well as certain diplomatic flights and humanitarian items, are allowed. Security flights are allowed. And we have set out protocols for each of these flights”
On her part, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Farouk said the school feeding programme would continue as earlier announced by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Relief materials are being deployed in the affected states. The food items would be deployed from the general grain reserves across the country and it would take at least 24hours to reach the target audience.
“On school feeding, it is the directive of the president that we continue with it. We are exploring different options either by way of food packs or providing them the food items. We will do a web conferencing with state governors to agree on modalities”, she said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Enyeama said the ministry is in touch with all its embassies across the world to evacuate Nigerians whenever the need arises.
He said; “We are in touch with our embassies in all the countries around the world. So if there are those who want to be evacuated it has to be done within the framework of the embassies. As of now, we have not had any request from any of our embassies indicating any significant number of Nigerians wanging to be evacuated.l but certainly of we recieve any communication from our embassies, we will take that into consideration”, he added.
Kaduna inmates riot
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola also announced that the federal government was taking measures to decongest the prison, explaining that condemned inmates at the Kaduna Custodial Centre had gone rioting on the false assumption that government had sanctioned their release from jail.
“Long before now, we had taken measures to ensure a very high level of hygiene at the Custodial Centres which to a large extent will minimise any basis for infection or contamination.
“But with the outbreak of this pandemic, I had a meeting with the Attorney General of the Federation and the Chairman of Presidential Taskforce on Prisons Decongestion and we all agreed that we should propose to the president some measures that will relieve the Custodial Centres and I am happy to announce to Nigerians that the President has approved our recommendations on measures to take to bring relief to some of the overburdened Custodial Centres which we are going to work upon very soon.
“Let me throw some light on developments at the Custodial Centre in Kaduna. The inmates at the condemned section of Kaduna Custodial Centre, on the misinformation circulated on the social media on the false amnesty granted to some sets of prisoners, began a mutiny, which I will call a riot. I want to assure Nigerians that we have put it under control. We have sent circulars round the custodial centres in Nigeria to tell the managers and the inmates that the information is fake and false and that we are working on appropriate measures to decongest the Custodial Centres”, he added.