Nigeria: NCDC Traces 6,000 Contacts As COVID-19 Cases Rise to 131

COVID-19 Case Update from the Nigeria Centre from Disease Control
31 March 2020

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is now tracing 6,000 people in Lagos and Abuja suspected of having contact or being in proximity with those that have tested positive for COVID-19.

The figure, released yesterday by the agency, showed an increment of 1,630 over the number of people being traced as at last Thursday.

Besides, the NCDC also announced 20 fresh cases of COVID-19, bringing the tally to 131.

Among the new cases is Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, who confirmed that he tested positive for the virus.

The death toll from the pandemic also rose by one, bringing the number of people that have died from the virus since the index case occurred on February 27, to two.

However, five of the patients who had been receiving treatment were discharged yesterday in Lagos, the epicentre of the pandemic, after being certified free of the virus.

Amid the rain of donations from corporate organisations and individuals, President Muhammadu Buhari lauded All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu and Globacom Chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga, among others, for their contributions to the battle against COVID-19.

The NCDC, while giving an update yesterday on the virus and efforts to combat it, said 13 of the new cases were from Lagos, four from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), two from Kaduna State and one from Oyo State.

It said: "As at 09:00 pm March 30, there are 131 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Nigeria with two deaths."

Of the 131 cases, Lagos currently has 81, FCT 25, Oyo eight, Kaduna and Ogun three each, Enugu, Edo, Bauchi and Osun two each, while Ekiti, Rivers and Benue have one each.

NCDC Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, added that no fewer than 6,000 people are being traced in Lagos and Abuja over their contacts with COVID-19 patients.

Ihekweazu, while fielding questions when he appeared on Channels Television, said at least 2,000 people had been tested nationwide.

He said: "We appeal to Nigerians to bear the few weeks of pain to come and let's see whether we can get on top of this.

"These weeks will allow our teams to have access to the contacts that are living around Lagos and FCT. We are following over 6,000 contacts of these 111 confirmed cases across these two cities. Every time we have a new case, we add about 50 to 60 contacts that we then have to follow every single day for 14 days.

"We hope that we can really use this time to buy some time to get ahead of the cases and ultimately see that curve start going down but in the next few days, we still do expect an increase in cases.

"We have currently tested well over 2,000 people. We will update those figures today or tomorrow. We have increased the number of labs in our network to six.

"We are activating Abakaliki today. There would be a seventh lab in our network.

"We're maximising the opportunity of the equipment that we have and at the same time rolling out new labs. We're very focused on increasing the testing capacity. We are being boxed down by people who do not require the test."

Asked how long it takes for a test to be carried out and the result released, Ihekweazu said it took between 24 and 48 hours, but the NCDC is working on bringing it down to 12 hours.

He explained that some tests are delayed because it is carried out twice to ensure that the results are accurate.

"Molecular testing is carried out in runs. One run can take six to seven hours. We have now almost optimised the process to do three runs a day in each lab. And that's why you have seen the numbers rise because we are testing more samples and producing more results," he added.

Ihekweazu said while the government did not resort to force to make residents comply with the restriction orders in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States, it hoped Nigerians would voluntarily comply in their own interest.

"They need to do this for themselves and their country.

"But the key thing in the president's speech like you would have noticed is that we're not rolling out the military or the police to ensure that people stay at home. We are really appealing to Nigerians to do this for themselves and their country," he added.

Makinde Tests Positive to COVID-19

The Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, yesterday confirmed that he had tested positive to the virus.

He became the third governor to test positive after Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed and Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State.

Makinde, who tweeted via his personal handle, @seyiamakinde, said although he tested positive to COVID-19, he showed no symptoms and would remain in isolation.

He added that he had appointed a former Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Prof. Temitope Alonge, as the Head of COVID-19 Taskforce while he recovers.

Nigeria Records Second COVID-19 Death

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, yesterday said Nigeria had recorded its second COVID-19 death.

Ehanire, in a statement, said the fatality was recorded during the weekend.

The minister said the majority of those who had tested positive for COVID-19 came from overseas while the others were their close contacts.

"Till date, three persons have been discharged after successful treatment. But sadly, another fatality was recorded over the weekend in the person of a patient who had severe underlying illnesses.

"We have intensified contact tracing and our strategy remains to promptly detect cases, isolate them and follow up with their contacts and also isolate and treat, in order to reduce the spread of the infection," he said.

Lagos Discharges Five Patients

The Lagos State Government has discharged five patients who were admitted to and treated at the Infectious Disease Centre, Yaba Mainland Hospital.

The government, in a statement, identified the survivors as four males and one female, bringing the total number of survivors from the centre to eight.

The survivors were quarantined and treated at the isolation centre for two weeks after testing positive for the virus.

It said the survivors who preferred to remain anonymous looked stable and unruffled, adding that they felt happy they had been given a clean bill of health.

They expressed joy and satisfaction with the state government and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu over the treatments they received and his proactive approach towards the containment of the virus.

It was learnt that Sanwo-Olu has received the news of the full recovery of the five patients with excitement.

The governor, in a short message reassured Lagosians that his administration was doing all it could to curtail the spread of the virus so that life could return to normal.

He said: "We are very excited to hear that five of our citizens in the isolation centre have regained full recovery. It is another pointer to us that with a concerted effort, we can defeat the coronavirus in Lagos and Nigeria."

US Approves Emergency Use of Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine

Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the emergency use of Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine to treat patients hospitalised for COVID-19.

CNN reported that the authorisation came in a letter dated March 28.

The report noted that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) acknowledged the FDA's action in its March 29 news release.

US President Donald Trump has described the drugs - which are used to treat malaria and other conditions - as game-changers.

But the FDA limited the scope of its authorisation to drugs supplied from the Strategic National Stockpile.

The HHS announced that two pharmaceutical companies, Bayer and a division of Novartis, had donated the drugs to the stockpile.

"Anecdotal reports suggest that these drugs may offer some benefit in the treatment of hospitalised COVlD-19 patients.

"The safety profile of these drugs has only been studied for FDA approved indications, not COVID-19," the statement said.

While there's limited evidence on the efficacy of Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine, the FDA said the drugs' benefits outweighed their risk.

In its letter, the FDA encouraged randomised clinical trials that could assess the effectiveness of the drugs, noting that the known and potential benefits outweigh the risks.

According to HSS, the authorisation is limited to patients who are currently hospitalised and weigh at least 50kg or about 110 pounds.

"Under the emergency use authorisation, healthcare providers must contact their local or state health department to access the drugs," it added.

Adenuga Donates N1.5bn to fight COVID-19

Chairman of Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga, has donated N1.5 billion to combat the pandemic.

The amount, which is the highest individual donation so far in the country, is broken into two: an initial N1 billion to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 and N500 million to the Lagos State Government.

The donations were made in the name of Mike Adenuga Foundation.

Announcing the N500 million donation in a letter to Sanwo-Olu, Adenuga said: "We shall in addition to this contribution actively continue our ongoing efforts to assist various bodies and institutions in the country with the supply of such essential items as sanitisers, masks, test kits, ventilators, PPEs and other necessary requirements."

The Cable reported that the letter was delivered to the governor by Adenuga's daughter and Executive Vice Chairman of Globacom, Mrs. Bella Disu.

In his letter to the governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Adenuga wrote: "Given its broad scope and focused thrust, we are convinced that effective execution of the well-articulated objectives of the coalition are certain to yield the type of very positive results that will stand the country in good stead in the ongoing battle to checkmate the malignant COVID-19 virus."

Buhari Applauds Tinubu, Adenuga, Others for Contributions

The donation by Adenuga, Tinubu and others elicited applause from the president. Buhari yesterday in Abuja hailed them and oil magnate, Mrs. Folorunso Alakija, for their generous contributions to the war against COVID-19.

He also commended Modupeola, the husband of Mrs. Alakija; notable businessman, Sir Emeka Offor, and the Senior Pastor of Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Dr. Paul Enenche, and his wife, Becky.

A statement by the media adviser to the president, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president also acknowledged the kind gesture of the captains of industries, corporate organisations, missionaries, musical artistes and individuals who have consistently supported ongoing efforts to mitigate COVID-19 pandemic that is plaguing the global economy.

According to the statement, the president thanked a group of oil companies that partnered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to raise $30 million to fight the pandemic.

Buhari appreciated the contributions of Tinubu, Adenuga, Modupeola and Folorunsho Alakija and Offor, whom he said joined a list of other public-spirited Nigerians in contributing health and educational facilities for the fight.

He also welcomed the generosity of Zenith Bank Plc to the public healthcare system as well as the interventions of Keystone Bank and First Bank Plc.

The president lauded Enenche and his wife for hitting the streets to sensitise citizens on the virus.

The statement added: "President Buhari appreciates the efforts of Stallion Empowerment Initiative of the Stallion Group, and the entertainment industry, particularly renowned musician, Innocent Idibia, Tuface, for their contributions."

Senators Donate 50% of Salaries

Efforts to fund the fight against COVID-19 have also received backing from the National Assembly as senators have decided to forgo, from this month, half of their salaries as donations to the federal government to fight the pandemic.

A decision to that effect was reached at the weekend by the lawmakers with the arrangement subsisting till Nigeria is certified free of the epidemic.

Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, said in a statement yesterday that they decided to contribute 50 per cent of their salaries to the efforts to stop the pandemic and boost the treatment of the infected.

Nigerian Dies in US

A Nigerian who is a student of Western Michigan University in the US, Mr. Bassey Offiong, has died of the virus.

The 25-year-old chemical engineering student passed away on Saturday. He was expected to complete his degree in a few weeks.

TheCable quoted Detroit News as saying that Asari Offiong, Bassey's sister, said her brother had told her that he was experiencing fever, fatigue and shortness of breath, which were symptoms of COVID-19.

She said her brother also told her that he was turned down several times for the COVID-19 test in the Kalamazoo area.

"I told him to ask them to test him. He said they refused to test him," she said.

Although she refused to disclose the hospitals where Bassey was denied test, she said a medical staffer told him he had bronchitis.

Prince Charles Out of Self-isolation

Also yesterday, the royal residence in London, Clarence House, said that Prince Charles of Wales was out of self-isolation one week after testing positive to COVID-19.

The British heir-to-the-throne was diagnosed of the virus after showing mild symptoms.

Prince Charles went into isolation at his Birkhall home on the royal Balmoral estate in Scotland.

According to the palace spokesman, the 71-year-old prince is in good health and following government restrictions.

"Clarence House has confirmed today that, having consulted with his doctor, the Prince of Wales is now out of self-isolation," a spokesman said.

According to the palace, Camilla, his wife and Duchess of Cornwall, who tested negative to the virus remains in isolation.

We are Not in War Emergency, Soyinka Tells Buhari

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has faulted the lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by Buhari.

Soyinka in a statement issued yesterday wondered if the president had the power to order such lockdown.

He called on constitutional lawyers and lawmakers to clarify the legality or the illegality of the lockdown.

He also warned against "constitutional piracy" in the fight against the pandemic in the country.

"Constitutional lawyers and our elected representatives should kindly step into this and educate us, mere lay minds. The worst development I can conceive of us is to have a situation where rational measures for the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic are rejected on account of their questionable genesis.

"This is a time for unity of purpose, not nitpicking dissensions. So, before this becomes a habit, a question: does President Buhari have the powers to close down state borders? We want clear answers. We are not in a war emergency," he said.

US Confirms Emergency Evacuation of Its Citizens

The United States government yesterday confirmed the emergency evacuation of its citizens from Nigeria this week.

The US embassy Abuja, in a statement posted on its Facebook page, also directed its citizens not to come to the airport until they are contacted directly.

It therefore urged them to continue to shelter in place and await further information.

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