Fed Govt. threatens to extend stay-at-home order

Information Minister – Lie Mohammed

The Federal Government of Nigeria has threatened a possible extension of the 14-day Coronavirus lockdown in places like the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos State and Ogun State if residents of the areas continue to violate the stay-at-home order.

The federal government warned on Friday that the only way to stop the spread of the deadly virus is for the people to play the part the government expects of them.

The virus claimed two more lives on Friday to take the country’s COVID-19 death toll to four.

Twenty additional confirmed cases were also recorded according to data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

There were also fears in Ilorin on Friday that the virus may have spread to Kwara State following the Thursday night death of a returnee from the United Kingdom.

The State government sought to play down the matter saying there was no evidence that Alhaji Jimoh Muideen, a chartered accountant, had the virus even after the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital Chapter’s asked its members who in whatever way attended to the deceased to immediately proceed on self-isolation.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State last night confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the state.

Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed, who dropped hint of a possible extension of the lockdown, said the stay at home order was not being strictly observed.

“If we don’t behave ourselves, there is a likelihood that the lockdown will be extended. But if we behave ourselves, there might not be an extension and I hope we do so,” he said at an interview session with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

He added: “If we stay at home for two weeks and we are doing everything we are supposed to do, we should be able to effectively contain the disease.

“Therefore, my appeal to Nigerians is that they should obey the directive on social distancing, personal hygiene and shun gatherings. After two weeks, we will resume our normal life.

“But if they think it is a joke, then we may have to stay at home more than the two weeks.”

President Muhammadu Buhari announced the lockdown in a broadcast last Sunday as part of the effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The President said the it would last two weeks in the first instance to “identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases.”

There were 111 cases in the country when he made the broadcast a week ago.

During the NAN interview, the Information Minister also said that government would not allow families of coronavirus victims claim their remains for burial.

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Mohammed   said such corpses are delicate hence the Federal Government has assumed responsibility for their handling and burial.

“Coronavirus is very dangerous and contagious; there is no medicine for it yet and it is not just capable of killing, overwhelming health care system but it will destroy the economy,” he said.

“In some countries, they are putting dead bodies in big refrigerators because the morgues have filled up.

“Nigerians should not forget that this is not the type of corpses that can be claimed for burial because it must be handled by the Ministry of Health.”

The minister who is a member of the Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus said the Federal Government had advised  state governors to provide, at least, 300-bed space facilities in their respective states in case of an upsurge in the coronavirus  pandemic.

He was optimistic that government would use the COVID-19 advantage and experience to further develop the health facilities in the country.

“We pray sincerely that we will not fall into the same error after we fought Ebola, and we relaxed,” he said.

“We intend to use the opportunity of this coronavirus to improve our health care system at the federal, states and local government levels.

“Nobody ever thought that what is worse than Ebola will come. The successes we have achieved so far is through technology, sharing data with WHO, US Centre for Disease Control.

“The governors must not wait for a deluge of patients before making the preparation.

“We are not asking them to build hospitals, but if they have facilities that can be converted such as hotels, conference centres, let us know and we will come and accredit them.

“We will tell them what equipment they would need and what type of training we are going to give as support.”

Mohammed said the Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus (COVID-19) was yet to receive any money from the funds donated by the private sector towards the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

When his attention was drawn to calls by some Non-Governmental Organisation for the probe of the task force over the disbursement of monies gathered from the donations, the minister said: “We have not received even one kobo; people want us probed for how we spent monies we have not even seen.

“I can say without any fear that as of this moment, the task force has not received a kobo from anybody.

“The only money we will be able to account for is whatever money we receive from the federal government.

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“The Nigeria Economy Group-led private sector has said it is not going to give a penny to the task force; it says it will only raise the money and ask us what our needs are.”

COVID-19 claims two more lives

One of the latest Coronavirus deaths occurred in Lagos and the other in Edo State.

Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Prof Lanre Adeyemo, confirmed the death of the COVID-19 patient at the hospital.

Contacted last night by The Nation to react to reports of a suspected case of Coronavirus dying in the hospital, Adeyemo said: “Yes, that is correct.”

Continuing, he said: “He had initially presented himself at the Infection Disease Hospital (IDH), Yaba.

“The policy for now is that when a patient presents they take the sample, and most of the time, they send the patient home. It is only when it is positive they bring them to Yaba.

“This one, before they announced that he was positive, the patient deteriorated and went to one hospital which referred him to LASUTH.

“LASUTH referred him to us but he came in at 4 am deteriorated.  When we suspected that he had COVID-19, we kept him in the holding area and he was the only person there.

“We then called our expert here in LUTH who is also part of the IDH Yaba to come and take sample so that we could confirm.

“In that process, he needed to get go ahead from IDH which eventually told him that the patient had, had his sample taken earlier and that it was positive.

“They came from Yaba to evacuate the patient. He eventually died at the holding area.”

Asked if the deceased visited the hospital alone, Prof Adeyemo replied: “He couldn’t have come alone to the hospital. I think some friends brought him, but we couldn’t find them again.”

He dismissed fears that more people might have been infected in the hospital as the deceased might have had contact with some patients at the hospital.

“It is all rumour.  This is a tertiary hospital. COVID or no COVID, we have universal precaution that we take.  The patient had no contact with any other patient. He was alone at the holding area,” he said.

There were no immediate details about the Edo State case.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed 20 additional cases, bringing the total cases in the country to 210.

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