Nigeria: 'Govt Should Have Quarantined Arrivals Before Shutdown'

27 March 2020

An aviation analyst, Capt. Ibrahim Yunusa, in a chat with our correspondent said the federal government should have used its powers and quarantined both Nigerians and foreigners who arrived the country days before the shutdown of airports.

Daily Trust reports that that was what the Ghanaian authorities did after banning entry to anyone who had been to a country with more than 200 coronavirus cases in the last 14 days.

It was learnt that Ghana closed all borders from March 22, and ordered a mandatory quarantine for anyone who entered the country prior to the time.

Passengers from many parts of the world who came with various airlines were picked up at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) via Ghanaian military and police buses and taken to a hotel for quarantine with their bills paid for by the government.

Capt. Yunusa said Nigeria should have adopted the same measure which would have helped in curtailing the spread.

He said the advice to self-quarantine was not taken seriously by those concerned, adding, "That is the problem with Nigeria; people didn't take the advice seriously.

Daily Trust had earlier reported how hundreds of people arrived the country few hours to the closure of the airport without observing the self-isolation procedure.

Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), a former commandant of MMIA, Lagos, had told Daily Trust that foreigners who showed the symptoms of the infection at the entry points should have been sent back on the return flights that brought them.

He said the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should take full responsibility for that lapse which contributed to the increasing cases in the country.

Dr. Ifeanyichukwu Casmir, national publicity secretary of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (ALMSN) said screening for coronavirus at the airports in the country were not properly done even before the outbreak in the country.

He said that if the country had carried out thorough screening, the index case would have been detected at the airport when he arrived the country.

A source who returned from Germany in the last few days said the discrimination in screening at the airports was responsible for the huge number of people to trace. The source said it does not augur well that some people were screened at the airport while others were just allowed to go.

Presidential aide tests positive

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has said that one of the aides of President Muhammadu Buhari has tested positive to coronavirus disease.

He said the aide was also receiving treatment in a secure treatment facility in the country.

The minister made the disclosure yesterday while fielding questions from newsmen during his daily updates on the disease in Abuja.

He said that there were four categories of COVID-19 treatment and that the aide does not fall into category four treatments, so he only required general medical treatment in a facility.

The minister said tests have been conducted on the contacts of the presidential aide but that he would not disclose who they were or their results in line with medical practices.

Ehanire said he and other government functionaries including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Abdullahi Mashi Abdullaziz all tested negative for the COVID-19.

Bauchi gov's friend too

A friend of Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed has tested positive to the coronavirus disease, the state Commissioner of Health, Dr Aliyu Muhammed Maigoro, has disclosed.

He told newsmen yesterday that out of the 48 high risk persons tested, two have been confirmed positive and 37 returned negative and that they were waiting for the results of nine samples.

The commissioner did not disclose the identity of the person, but said the second case is a 62-year-old friend of the governor.

"We are now tracing the contacts of the second case. I will not disclose the identity of the person because it is unethical," he said.

Governor Mohammed also yesterday appealed to the entire citizens of the state not to relent in their prayers for his speedy recovery from the coronavirus attack.

The governor, in a statement by his Special Assistant on New Media, Lawal Muazu, made the request in a special message to the people of the state.

Mohammed, who is still in isolation and receiving treatment, however, said he was doing great without showing any symptom of the disease.

Lawan urges FG to provide relief for poor Nigerians

Senate President Ahmad Lawan has cautioned the federal government against lockdown of business activities without providing relief for poor Nigerians.

Many state governments have shut down markets and imposed restrictions on movements as part of measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a meeting with some ministers and heads of government agencies in Abuja, Lawan warned that not making provisions ahead of time to address the basic needs of poor Nigerians may likely lead to more problems for the government, and less result in controlling the spread of the novel disease.

The Senate president said to alleviate the suffering of poor Nigerians, government must put in place plans such as release of funds specifically for the purchase of food and pharmaceutical supplies.

"Our prayer is that we are able to overcome this menace of COVID-19 in good time, because it is really taking a toll on our people's lives.

"If we have to eventually shut down our country, then as a government we must be prepared to have some relief for the ordinary people.

"As a government, we must find our own money to fund something for our people.

"I'm not seeing anything at the moment targeted at providing some relief. If we lock up Nigeria today, then we will be waking up trouble, because majority of our citizens go to market every day before they can get something to eat," he said.

Africa's window to contain coronavirus narrowing, says WHO

About half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa still have a "narrowing" opportunity to curb the spread of coronavirus in the local population, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.

WHO Africa Head, Matshidiso Moeti, said this at a news teleconference.

Moeti said, "The virus has multiplied across Africa more slowly than in Asia or Europe but more than 40 nations on the continent have now reported a total of 2,850 with 73 fatalities.

"Governments across the region need to invest their efforts in aggressively tracing all those who have been in contact with imported cases to isolate them and prevent transmission of the disease locally.

"Countries need to work on this containment while preparing for a possible broader expansion of the virus."

The effort needs to be accompanied by public education campaigns to ensure people are maintaining physical distances, something that could help limit the spread of the virus.

This should also complement other measures put in place like halting passenger flights.

South Africa has ordered a lockdown of its population for three weeks while Kenya has imposed a night-time curfew to prevent the disease from spreading.

"We still have a window... it is narrowing every day as data on the geographic spread to more and more countries tell us," she said.

John Nkengasong, Head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a health body of the AU, said African leaders were preparing to engage with their wealthier counterparts to secure vital equipment.

Equipment supplies are respirators and ventilators in case infection rates worsen.

Nkengasong told the same teleconference that countries with advanced industrial bases like South Africa, Egypt and Morocco could be used to produce such equipment if needed. (Reuters/NAN)

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