President Muhammadu Buhari will this weekend determine whether or not to extend the 14-day lockdown he imposed last week on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun States, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, has said.
Mustapha, who also chairs the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, told reporters in Lagos yesterday that the president would make the decision based on an evaluation to be carried out by the presidential taskforce.
The president, in a national broadcast last week, had ordered the restriction of movements in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States to curb the spread of COVID-19, which as at the last tally released yesterday by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has infected 254 people.
However, eight more people were discharged yesterday, one in Lagos, and seven in FCT, bringing the count to 44 while six are reported dead.
Among the dead is a doctor who was confirmed dead in Katsina due to complications arising from the virus.
Also yesterday, the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), being driven by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and some key stakeholders, solicited financial support from 146 companies and individuals to curb the virus.
The SGF, who was at the head of the Presidential Task Force team's visit to Lagos, the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria lauded the efforts of the Lagos State Government towards curtailing the virus, assuring the people that Nigeria is on course to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Mustapha said the taskforce would do an evaluation of its objectives on the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria, this weekend and this would guide the president to determine whether or not to extend the lockdown.
According to him, the team has outlined its objectives and goals and within the next few days, it will determine if it has met them or not.
He added that this will be relayed to the president who would direct on the next step.
He said: "President Buhari alone will make the decision as to whether the lockdown will stop on its expiration at the 14th day or whether to extend it.
"The president would have to review the recommendations of the team set up to monitor the various measures to curtail the spread of coronavirus and cushion its effects on the people.
"We are looking at the objectives that were set when the lockdown or the quarantine declaration was signed by the president and subsequently by several other states.
"Before the end of the week, we will do an evaluation and part of the trip here was to do an evaluation to see how the objectives that were set were being met and at the end of that exercise, we would have the responsibility of reporting to Mr. President."
Mustapha said the president had in his broadcast explained how he arrived at the decision to impose the lockdown on the two states and the FCT.
He stated that Buhari took the decision on the advice of the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and this subsequently led to the signing of the Quarantine Declaration 2020.
Mustapha said Nigeria was at war with an invisible enemy, noting that the enemy could only be defeated if Nigerians stay at home, observe social distancing and report themselves to the health authorities if they present symptoms of COVID-19.
"One person who is infected in one community can infect everyone in that community. This is why we must eliminate the virus from our country so we can all stay safe. COVID-19 is a dangerous sickness, we must abide by the instructions to stay at home and report all suspected cases," he added.
The SGF explained that members of the taskforce were in Lagos to inspect the isolation centres in the state as part of the responsibilities of the team.
Nigeria on Course to Eradicate COVID-19, Says SGF
Mustapha also said that Nigeria was on course to eradicate the virus.
The SGF told the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, that "Lagos is doing a great job" on the containment of the pandemic.
Sanwo-Olu said the state had put measures in place to combat the virus.
He said: "For instance, we have established two quarantine centres in Badagry, one in Epe, and some other places. These facilities are where people, who come into the state through land borders, maybe from neigbouring countries, are placed for 14 days before they are allowed fully into the state to mix with the people."
The taskforce team inspected the isolation facilities at Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan; Lagos Island; the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Yaba; Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba; and Gbagada General Hospital, Isolation Centre, Gbagada.
Speaking to journalists after the inspection, Mustapha said: "So far, I think Lagos State is doing a great job. From what I've seen here, they're putting up a first-class and a world-class facility that will help us in the management of those that are affected with COVID-19.
"I think we are on course and the basic strategy of the national response is containment to try as much as possible to reduce the spread to tracking of those that have already been infected so that we minimise the case of community transmission.
"We are doing very well. So far, processes that have been put in place, the plans, the objectives are being achieved.
"I listened to the briefing of the Commissioner for Health in Lagos State yesterday, where there was quite a clear indication that the reason for the lockdown and the processes that have been put in place is achieving its desired objectives."
COVID-19 Cases Jump to 254, Spread to Delta, Katsina
An update yesterday by the NCDC showed that Nigeria has recorded 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing to 254 the total number of confirmed cases in the country.
A breakdown of the new cases showed that 10 were recorded in Lagos, two each in the FCT and Oyo with one each in Delta and Katsina States.
NCDC said: "As at 09:30 p.m. on April 7, there are 254 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Nigeria. Forty-four have been discharged with six deaths.
"The breakdown of the figures shows that Lagos has recorded 130 cases, FCT 50, Osun 20, Oyo and Edo 11 each, Bauchi six, Akwa Ibom and Kaduna five each, Ogun four, Enugu, Ekiti, Kwara and Rivers two each, while Benue, Ondo, Delta, and Katsina have recorded one each.
Lagos, FCT Discharge Eight More Patients
However, the Lagos State Government and the FCT discharged eight more patients yesterday to rally the count to the 44 announced by the NCDC.
Of the eight persons, Lagos discharged one and FCT seven.
According to Sanwo-Olu, who broke the news, the patient, a female, was discharged yesterday.
Sanwo-Olu said the state was resolute in fighting the virus and asked residents to stay at home for their safety.
Also, the Minister of FCT, Malam Muhammad Bello, announced the discharge of seven people who had been on treatment for COVID-19 at the Isolation Centre in Abuja.
In a statement issued yesterday, the minister was also optimistic that the 39 who are still on admission would soon be discharged.
Bello said: "Let me begin by appreciating the high level of compliance so far exhibited by residents of the FCT with regards to the 14-day restriction of movement as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, with a view to curbing the Coronavirus pandemic. This restriction was necessitated by the need to contain the spread of the virus within our community in order to safeguard lives.
"The level of compliance from residents is proof that we all understand the magnitude of the challenge before us and we are ready to come together to fight this enemy, so we can return to our normal way of life as quickly as possible."
The minister also said that a 300-bed isolation centre for COVID-19 cases at Idu District had been completed and ready to be put into use.
The facility has the capacity to be expanded to 500 beds.
WHO Assures Africa Won't be Testing Ground for Vaccine
But amid the controversy over the trial of a vaccine for the virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that Africa will not be used as a testing ground for the COVID-19 vaccine.
WHO's Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, gave the assurance yesterday while reacting to statements credited to two French doctors, Jean Paul Mira and Camille Locht, who were discussing "Africa as best destination to conduct a test for COVID-19 vaccine."
The two doctors reportedly cited the use of prostitutes in Africa to carry out vaccine test for the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) as an example.
Mira, head of the resuscitation department at Cochin Hospital also said the continent should be considered because of its perceived toughness to disease outbreaks.
But Ghebreyesus described the statement as "racist" and a hangover of "colonial mentality."
He condemned the statement, saying it is a "disgrace" to scholars in the 21st century.
The WHO director-general said the continent would not be used for such an experiment except in line with the rules governing the test of vaccines all over the world.
"On the vaccines' issue, there was I think a comment last week from a couple of scientists who said that the testing ground for these new vaccines will be Africa. To be honest, I was so appalled because it was at a time when I said we need a kind of solidarity - this kind of racist comment will not help. It goes against this solidarity.
"Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine. We will follow all the rules to test any vaccine or therapeutics all over the world using exactly the same rule, whether it is in Europe, Africa or wherever, we will use the same protocol.
"It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st Century, to hear from scientists that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen," he said.
CACOVID Appeals for More Financial Support Meanwhile, CACOVID has appealed for financial support from Nestle Nigeria Plc, Shell Petroleum Development Company, Seplat Exploration Development Company and 143 other individuals and organisations as the country continues to fight against the spread of the virus.
The appeal was contained in a statement issued on behalf of the coalition by the Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor.
The statement said COCAVID invited them to join the fight against COVID-19.
"Nigeria needs you now more than ever before. We are counting on you," it added.
Some of the organisations and individuals invited by COCAVID are Frieslandcampina Wamco Nigeria Plc, Promasidor Nigeria Limited, De-United Foods Industries Limited, UACN Group, Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Oriental Food Industry Limited, CFAO Nigeria Plc, AG Leventis, Dangote Industries Limited, Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited, Lufthansa Airline, British Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, African World Airline, Airfrance, Unilever Nigeria Plc, PZ Cussons and Eko Supreme Group.
Others are: Baker Magunda (Guinness Nigeria Plc); Zad Maalouf (Seven-Up Bottling Company); Ernest Obiejezie Azudialu (Neconde Energy Limited); Wole Abegunde (Meristem); Anthony Attah (Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas); Ken Etete (Century Energy Services Limited); Yinka Adekoya (Wapic Insurance); Oye Hassan-Odukale (Leadway Assurance Company Limited); Tony Okpanachi (Development Bank of Nigeria); Ebelechukwu Nwachukwu (NSIA Insurance Limited); Kayode Falowo (Greenwich Trust Limited); Bolaji Balogun (Chapel Hill Denham Limited): Johnson Chukwu (Cowry Assets Management Limited) and Nnamdi Ezeigbo (Slot Systems Limited).
So far, CACOVID has raised a total of N21.588 billion, in an account domiciled at the CBN.
Okorafor, while urging more Nigerians and corporate bodies to contribute to the fund, charged Nigerians to do their part in checking further spread of the virus.
ECOWAS Orders 120 Ventilators, 240,000 Diagnostic Kits
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has ordered 240,000 diagnostic kits, 240,000 extraction kits, 250,000 viral sample transport equipment, 285,100 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and 120 ventilators, among others, for member states to help fight the pandemic.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean Claude Kassi Brou, said in a communique issued on yesterday in Abuja that the commission would continue to monitor the pandemic in the world and particularly in West Africa.
According to him, as of April 5, 15-member states are affected by the pandemic with 1,739 confirmed cases of contamination, 55 deaths and 328 persons who have fully recovered.
He, however, noted that approximately 95 per cent of deaths are patients with comorbid conditions.
Brou said in light of the spread of the pandemic, the ECOWAS Commission reaffirmed its solidarity with member states and welcomed all the measures already taken to contain the spread of the pandemic and care for the sick.
He added that the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), its specialised health institution responsible for coordinating the response at the regional level has drawn up a regional strategic plan with all member states.
The president explained that to address the pandemic, the commission has given financial support for the purchase of medical supplies and equipment essential.
He stated that WAHO had already purchased and dispatched to the 15-member states 30,500 diagnostic test kits, 10,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) (coveralls, aprons, gowns, gloves, goggles, boots) and 740,000 prescription tablets (Chloroquine and Azithromycin).
Buhari Sends Get-well Message to Johnson
Buhari yesterday sent a goodwill message to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Boris Johnson, who has been hospitalised after being infected with COVID-19, wishing him a speedy recovery.
The president, according to a statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, expressed his sympathy and solidarity with Johnson and the UK over his critical state of health.
Johnson. who had tested positive for COVID-19, was rushed to the intensive care unit of Thomas Hospital, London on Monday when his health condition worsened.
Buhari prayed that Johnson gets well soon so that he can return to his duty post and continue with the battle against COVID-19.
The statement read: "On behalf of the government and people of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari wishes Prime Minister Boris Johnson a quick recovery and restoration to full health.
"President Buhari's sympathy and solidarity are with the British leader as he battles COVID-19 personally, and with the British people as their country battles the devastating effects of the pandemic.
"President Buhari prays that Prime Minister Johnson will soon be well enough to resume his great leadership of his country at this most trying time in global history," the statement added.
Doctor Dies from Complications of COVID-19 in Katsina
A medical doctor based in Katsina State, Dr. Aliyu Yakubu, has died from the complications of COVID-19.
The Governor of Katsina State, Hon. Aminu Masari, broke the news at a media briefing yesterday.
He said the doctor, aged 60, died at the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Reference Hospital in Daura, three days ago.
The governor said the deceased owned a private hospital in Daura and had visited Kogi State, where he hailed from, and later travelled to Lagos.
Masari said on returning to the state, Yakubu became ill and was admitted to the hospital, where he died.
He said the deceased's samples were taken to the NCDC for diagnosis before his death and he was confirmed positive for COVID-19.
"We have received bad news of COVID-19. The deceased's samples showed COVID-19 positive. Before his death, he was also diagnosed with hepatitis and hypertension three years ago," he said.
The governor said the state medical response team was in Daura, taking samples of all those that had contact with the doctor before his death.