Nigeria: Coronavirus - Rivers Refuses to Open Borders for NLNG, Total E&P, Others

The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said the state government has declined a request to open its borders for Nigeria LNG Limited, Total E&P Nigeria Limited, International Breweries PLC, Oilserve Limited, and Nigerian Gas Company.

Mr Wike disclosed this on Thursday in a statewide broadcast to update residents of the state on the coronavirus and the preventive measures by his administration.

"Government cannot grant their requests now because the protection of human life is more important than any other thing and we shall do everything necessary to fulfill our obligation in this direction.

"However, we shall review our restrictions concerning their activities when we are fully convinced that it will be reasonable to do so. Let me reiterate that we have taken these painful decisions because we cannot afford to lose any life in this state," Mr Wike said.

The governor, in the broadcast, explained the circumstances around the confirmed case of coronavirus in the state.

"The positive case is a 19-year-old female model from Edo State who resides in Port Harcourt. Her travel history reveals that she travelled to France, Italy, and Greece before returning to Port Harcourt on the 16th of March, 2020.

"On arrival to Port Harcourt, she was asymptomatic and commenced self-isolation in her family house before her samples were collected and sent to the Reference Laboratory, Irruan in Edo State.

"The patient is presently being managed at the State Treatment Centre and she is doing excellently well," the governor said.

Measures

The governor said officials have begun tracing people she has been in contact with and that samples have been collected from high risk contacts for further evaluation while the decontamination process has also commenced.

He appealed to the residents to remain calm. "The state government is fully prepared to ensure that the incident is contained to avoid further spread," he said.

Before the confirmed case of the virus in the state, Mr Wike had announced a complete lockdown of Rivers, with vehicles banned from entering or leaving the state.

Mr Wike, in the latest broadcast, announced the closure of all the markets in the state from Saturday, March 28. He also ordered government workers from grade level 1 to 10 to stay at home "until further notice".

"All local government chairmen are to head task forces in their various local government areas that will ensure that markets remain closed. Council chairmen are empowered to confiscate the goods of defaulters.

"All commissioners and special advisers are to monitor the compliance of the above directives in their various local government areas.

"Security agencies have also been directed to enforce all the decisions taken by the security council," the governor said.

He advised residents to continue to practice personal hygiene and maintain social distancing.

Outbreak

So far, Nigeria has a total of 65 confirmed cases and one death as at March 26. Three persons have been discharged.

The number of new cases has been rising in the country in the last two weeks. Lagos State still has the highest number of confirmed cases in the country at 44.

Most of the cases confirmed in the country are returnees from countries with high burden of coronavirus.

Earlier on Thursday, the minister of information, Lai Mohammed, and his health counterpart, Osagie Ehanire, lamented that most of the returnees have not been following the advisory of self-isolation after returning from overseas travels.

Some returnees who flouted the advisory and later tested positive for Covid-19 are top government officials. These include President Muhammadu Buhari's Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed.

While contact tracing and testing of suspected persons are still ongoing, public health experts have said Nigeria should be prepared for more cases.

To contain the spread, the federal government has banned international travels while various state governments have restricted public gatherings, closed schools, markets and other public places.

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