Nigeria: Coronavirus Threat Not Over Yet - Govt

17 March 2020

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has advised Nigerians to continue to observe hygiene advisories because the threat posed to Nigeria by the Coronavirus is not yet over.

Osinbajo gave the advice yesterday in Abuja while flagging off the free nationwide Integrated Medical Outreach Programme at Bwari Area Council Primary Health Centre.

He spoke on the issue while commenting on the efforts so far taken by the Federal Government to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "The threat is not over and as you know only a few days ago, Mr. president directed that a readiness review be undertaken covering both the economy and healthcare services and that report has been submitted to him. We are also examining the readiness of our healthcare facilities for whatever eventualities may arise."

Osinbajo, according to a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, said President Muhammadu Buhari's vision of taking 10 million Nigerians out poverty every year for the next 10 years was on course.

He said it would be "largely" actualized by the quantum leap in our human capacity development attainment, especially healthcare.

He said "the Integrated Medical Outreach Programme is a crucial feature of our overall human capacity development effort."

Osinbajo, who spoke on the significance of the programmes especially in impacting the population in the rural parts of the country" said "... despite our best efforts, there is a significant gap in bringing public health services to vulnerable populations especially in the rural, mountainous, riverine, peri-urban and other difficult to reach areas in the country.

The Federal Government will today in Abuja inaugurate the 12-man Presidential Task Force for the control of Covid-19.

The committee, chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, has Dr Sani Aliyu, a former Director-General, National Agency for Control of AIDS as national coordinator.

Other members are the Ministers of Health, Interior, Aviation, Education as well as Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Services; Information and Culture, Environment as well as the Director-General of the Department of State Security, Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation Country Representative.

In a related development, the Minister of State for Health, Adeleke Mamora, told reporters in Abuja yesterday that travellers from eight high risk countries for coronavirus would undergo secondary screening at the point of entry to Nigeria.

He said the government added three new countries, France, Germany and Spain to the five high risk countries in its initial priority list. They are China, Japan, Iran, Italy, Republic of Korea, France and Germany.

The minister said the eight high risk countries were also advised to isolate for 14 days on entry.

He said samples collected from a woman in her 70's in Enugu who had returned from the United Kingdom with symptoms of fever and mild respiratory illness tested negative to COVID-19 .

He said between January 7 and March 15, 48 people had been screened for COVID-19 in eight states: Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Federal Capital Territory Yobe, Rivers, Kano and Enugu "out of which 47 tested negative and have been cleared, one was positive (contact of the index case) and one result is pending. There has been no death. "

He said though Nigeria did not record a confirmed COVlD-19 case in the last one week, it is still at high risk like other countries. "We continue to monitor returning travellers that fit our case definition and improve our surveillance, detection and risk communications," he said.

He insisted that there was no travel restriction yet, but that the government was monitoring the situation.

"The fact that we have not put in place travel restrictions at this point in time does not mean that if the realities on ground dictates that even before the end of the day it will be announced, that announcement will be done because we are monitoring and interacting with various bodies in the world and we also have the WHO guidelines. "

According to him, the country does not at this time consider it necessary to impose compulsory isolation for arriving passengers when they have not shown any suspicion of coronavirus.

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