PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE TAKES FIRST STEP AGAINST CORONAVIRUS

As countries around the world continue to receive brutal knocks from the Coronavirus pandemic, President Muhammadu Buhari, is doing so much to prevent a reversal of the present successes as Nigeria remains one of the nations that has wrestle down the viral attack, write Adeyinka Aderibigbe, Kelvin Osa Okunbor, Frank Ikpefan, Sanni Onogu, Bolaji Ogundele, Okungbowa Aiwerie, Oziegbe Okoeki, Nwanosike Onu, From Tony Akowe: Vincent Ikuomola,, Sanni Onogu, Toba Adedeji, Mike Odiegwu, Tokunbo Ogunsami

IN response to the spreading Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Federal Government has banned all foreign travels by all public servants indefinitely.

Government also advised all Nigerians with non-essential international travel plans, especially to countries with prevalent cases of the COVID-19, to shelf such plans forthwith.

These were some of the guidelines released by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, at the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) the Control of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, held at the SGF’s office in Abuja yesterday.

Mustapha, who is also the Chairman of the PTF, said the Committee had decided to upgrade the nation’s health emergency system to the highest level as a result of the wave of damage the pandemic had been doing globally.

The said further that the committee had advised that all persons returning to Nigeria from abroad observe self-isolation for a period of 14 days, adding that authorities would pay more attention to those returning from nation’s that had been designated as high risk.

The task force committee chaired by Mustapha had as members; Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, Mr Hadi Sirika, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Services.

Others were, Mr Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Adeleke Mamora, Minister of State, Health, Alhaji Sulaiman Adamu, Minister of Environment.

Mr Yusuf Bichi, Director-General, Department of State Services, Mr Chikwe Thekweazu, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu.

Nigeria not experiencing community transmission – Minister

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says Nigeria is not among the countries that are experiencing community transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Community transmission is a situation whereby many people become infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Ehanire said this while responding to questions from journalists at a news conference on COVID-19 on Tuesday in Abuja.

The minister told the journalists that the country would not be in a hurry to take decision to ban social activities or shut down schools and offices because of the virus.

“We are guided by experts, those who understand public health issues so they will guide us appropriately on what to do.

“We do not have community transmission, we have only three cases, and they are recovering.

“We can be taking decisions like those countries that have outbreak; we are studying the situation day and night to know what measures to take.

Dangote’s Indian contractor isolated

The Dangote Industries has confirmed that an Indian citizen working at its mega fertiliser plant in Lekki, Lagos State has been quarantined after showing symptoms synonymous with the deadly coronavirus.

The Indian male is receiving treatment and undergoing tests at the Lagos coronavirus treatment centre, the company said.

“The attention of the management of Dangote Industries Limited has been drawn to a flash report of a suspected case of personnel currently being kept in isolation at the Mainland hospital, Yaba, Lagos.

We will like to state that an Indian national who is a staff of Onshore Construction Company-a mechanical, electrical and instrumentation contracting firm that specializes in fertilizer construction reported at the Site clinic complaining of high temperature and fever.

Senate expresses concern 

The Senate yesterday said the lack of testing Centres in the entire North, South East and South-South zones of the Country that could detect the Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection coul;d reverse the successes.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan who spoke during plenary said there is need to urgently establish functional testing and isolation centres in all states of the Federation.

He said this would adequately prepare the country to detect and fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lawan’s remark followed a point of order moved by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central) on the Coronavirus.

He said the fight against the disease should not be left to government alone.

“We are going to support it for those testing Centres to be provided in the South East and in the northern part.

Sanwo-Olu visits MMIA

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Tuesday visited  the Murtala Muhammed International Airport , Lagos.

His visit came on the heels of the new case of Coronavirus recorded in the state.

The British – returnee tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Sanwo-Olu warned   officials at the airport not to allow any passenger slip through unscreened.

He said:  “We need to heighten our level of preparedness,  our level of monitoring and our level of engagement.

“We have come in here to see things for ourselves, to encourage you and to tell you that we understand that it is a very difficult assignment that you have and that nothing must be put to chance.

“Everybody that goes through the airport must be properly screened. Nobody is an exception. It is not a case of I know this person or this person is above all or this person is a VIP.

‘Halt flights from viral burdened nations’

The House of Representatives on Tuesday asked the Nigerian government to halt flight from into the country like the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, United States of America, China and South Korea which are countries with high incidents of corona virus infections.

The House said only Nigerian citizens who will be tested on arrival and may be quarantined if necessary should be allowed into the country, while also asking the Federal Ministry of Health to continue to work with Federal and State medical establishments to update and upgrade facilities and prepare for eventualities.

The House also threw its weight behind the postponement of the National Sports Festival.

Airline operators calls for restriction

Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have also urged the Federal Government to take urgent steps to announce a comprehensive travel restriction to only two entry points for Nigerian travelers coming into the country and foreign nationals of countries that have been confirmed to have over 100 cases of the COVID19 Virus popularly known as Corona Virus.

Lagos targets local tourists for Greater Lagos Regatta

Lagos State Government has said that it will restrict participants for the Greater Lagos Regatta and Festival earlier scheduled to hold during the Easter period to local tourists, and fun lovers alone.

The development according to the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharmacist (Mrs.) Uzamat AkinbiIe-Yusuf is part of measures to prevent the spread of the globally pandemic Coronavirus among tourists and entertainers who would willing to participate in the event.

The Commissioner, who addressed a Press Conference today at Alausa Ikeja, disclosed that the three days event, Greater Lagos Regatta and Festival has been put on hold pending when the issue of Coronavirus ravaging the world generally subsides.

She said that the State government is not cancelling the event but would disallow participation from foreign countries given the dimension which the Covid19 is gaining globally at the moment.

The Greater Lagos Regatta and Festival which is an initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture is being jointly organized in collaboration with a consulting firm, Gradient Hill Company Limited and has been designed to espouse the tourism potentials of Lagos State, celebrate the Aquatic splendour of the Centre of Excellence and market the brand of Lagos to tourism investors across the world.

AkinbiIe-Yusuf stated that arrangements had already been concluded to give wider coverage to the event through various media platforms including online streaming to give the event a wider reach and global participation.

“We intend to market Lagos tourism to investors beyond the shores of this country, we want them to see and appreciate the rich cultural heritage and Aquatic endowment of the State.

ECOWAS: no more meetings

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has suspended all meetings involving participants travelling on international flights.

It also discouraged all meetings involving more than 50 participants at a specific point in time.

The commission, in its latest measures put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 which has spread to

seven countries within the region also urged staff members and other stakeholders to make use of ICT as a means of communication.

The latest measures by the regional body was contained in a statement issued yesterday and signed by Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President, ECOWAS Commission.

Agency calls for national biosecurity policy

The National Biosafety Management Agency of Nigeria (NBMA) has called for a harmonised national biosecurity policy guideline and emergency response strategy to prevent harmful biological agents in the environment.

Dr Rufus Ebegba, the Director-General said the need to develop a biosecurity policy and emergency response strategy for Nigeria was timely as COVID-19 pandemic had brought to the fore the need to control biological agents.

According to him, those agents may be harmful to human health and the environment.

“You see everything has its own time and globally the issue of biosecurity has not been brought into international discuss in an elaborate way.

“But what has happened is going to give the globe a different perspective on the issue of biosecurity. So Nigeria coming in with a policy and strategy is very timely.

According to him, what happened is as a result of harmful biological agents that are hazardous to human health, so the strategies needed are to tackle emergencies.

Aviation conference put off

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has suspended its national aviation conference following the spread of coronavirus.

The Authority explained that the suspension was due to the need for it to adhere to safety precautions in the face of the Coronavirus presently spreading across nations globally.

The Conference was scheduled for 1st to 4th April 2020 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

The announcement was made via the official twitter handle of the Agency @FAAN_Official.

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