COVID-19: Lagos, Edo Record First Deaths, Cases Rise to 210

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•FG threatens to extend lockdown
•Chinese medical team on the way to Nigeria
•Over 4000 Britons seek evacuation
•Onyeama: No cause for alarm over countries evacuating citizens
•Sanwo-Olu, wife test negative
•Lagos discharges 4 more
•Lai Mohammed: Families of dead COVID-19 victims can’t claim bodies
•Ehanire declines to name drug healing patients
•UN commends FG
•U.S. records 1,169 deaths in 24 hours

Our Correspondents

Nigeria recorded two new deaths from Coronavirus yesterday, thus bringing the total death so far in the country to four. The number of confirmed cases also rose to 210, from 190 on Thursday.

The deaths, according to a tweet from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control last night, were recorded in Lagos and Edo states.

The NCDC tweeted: “Two new deaths have been recorded in Lagos and Edo State. As at 10:30 pm, 3rd April, there are 210 confirmed cases of #COVID19 reported in Nigeria. Twenty new cases of #COVID19 have been reported in Nigeria; 11 in Lagos, 3 in the FCT, 3 in Edo, 2 in Osun & 1 in Ondo.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, yesterday said government could extend the 14-day lockdown should Lagosians and residents of Abuja and Ogun State not behave themselves.

The minister, who is a member of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, disclosed this in Abuja when he featured in a forum to give an update on government efforts at containing the pandemic.

He said, “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.

“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.”

The minister also disclosed that the Federal Government was planning to meet with indigenous manufacturers to discuss and facilitate the local production of Personal Protective Equipment, to enhance the fight against the coronavirus.

Mohammed said that the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnibe Mamora, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Adeniyi Adebayo, would meet with the manufacturers on behalf of the government.

He said that the move had become necessary in view of the shortage of the equipment and the need to encourage and develop local manufacturing of medical equipment.
He said, “PPE is in short supply globally and we want to see how we can start manufacturing them locally.

“All over the world, people are making mask locally because there is a short supply of masks.

“Those ones we got from Jack Ma have been shared with the states.
“We call them starter packs and they contain masks and test kits. We have given them to states according to their needs. Naturally, Lagos got more because it is the epicenter of the virus.

“We are trying to source the PPE more locally, but one thing about PPE is that if you don’t get it right, you may lose more lives.”

The Minister also says the corpses of persons who died of COVID-19 cannot be claimed for burial.

He said such corpses would be handled by the ministry of health because they are contagious.

Ehanire Declines to Disclose Drugs Being Used for Treatment

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, yesterday declined to disclose the drugs being used, successfully, in treating COVID-19 patients in the country.

There are records to show that some patients have already been cured and discharged.

Ehanire, who spoke during the daily briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja yesterday, amid several fingers pointing at Chloroquine, said the most important thing was that people were getting treated and getting result.

He said revealing the name of the drugs being used could make people resort to self-treatment and possibly overdose.

Ehanire said: “The drug or drugs being used are matters of interest to doctors who are providing treatment. Doctors advise each other on which drugs they used and I believe as time goes on, they will compile a report on what worked and what didn’t work.

“As I said earlier, the treatment centres in Lagos are using certain drugs for clinical trial and they will be able to add from their experience to the body of knowledge and what worked and what didn’t work. You may have also read that some people suffered from chloroquine poisoning in Lagos because they thought this was the best way to treat themselves.

“It is not for you to go and purchase and treat yourself. So, I won’t advise anyone looking for the name of the drug when you are not even sure you have that sickness.”

Chinese Medical Team Coming to Nigeria

Enahire further disclosed that a medical team from China would arrive the country in a few days.

He also said a group of Chinese companies working in Nigeria had donated medical supplies to support the country’s fight against COVID-19.

He said the items include commodities such as personal protective equipment and ventilators.

“I have been notified of medical supplies from China, courtesy of a group of Chinese companies working here in Nigeria. A special cargo aircraft shall leave Nigeria in a few days to collect the items which include commodities, personal protective equipment and ventilators,” he said.

“An 18-man team of Chinese medical experts, including doctors, nurses and other medical advisers shall come along with the flight to assist us. I must at this juncture commend our frontline workers who are doing a great job in case identification and management.

“As we prepare to contain COVID-19, we must not lose sight of other health challenges in our country. Routine health service must continue in our hospitals. Only a wing of tertiary health centres should be used for infected patients.”

The minister said nearly 3,000 samples have been tested for the disease, adding that Nigeria will witness an increase in confirmed Coronavirus cases despite the lockdown.

Also at the briefing, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had instructed security agencies to deploy tact while enforcing the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory.

Buhari had, on March 29, ordered the lockdown in the three locations for an initial period of 14 days to tackle the spread of the coronavirus in the country, while some other states followed suit.

Mustapha said reports indicated that there was a high level of compliance with the lockdown order in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said the Federal Government had ramped up its synergy with the state governments through video conferencing communication and the platform of the governors’ forum.

According to him, the President’s directive is that security agencies should enforce the lockdown order with discretion but Nigerians should be law-abiding.

The SGF said, “The PTF finds it very necessary to appeal to our law enforcement agencies to deploy tact and caution in the course of enforcing the rules even in the face of provocation.

“We similarly appeal to all Nigerians to be law-abiding, exercise patience and self-restraint. The message from Mr President is that no Nigerian should, on account of these rules, suffer any harm or pains during this period or any other time in our national life.

“To the Nigerian traders and businessmen and women, we appeal for resistance to the urge to hike prices of goods and commodities during this period as our compassionate nature must prevail.”

Mustapha stated that it was the best time for citizens to be considerate and to show empathy for their fellow countrymen.

Lagos Discharges 4 More Victims

The Lagos State Government has discharged four Coronavirus patients, bringing the total number of discharged persons in the state to 23.

Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, disclosed this at a news conference yesterday. The state had earlier discharged 19 patients.

Confirming the development, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos tweeted, “More great news from our Infectious Disease Hospital as four patients – three females and one male have recovered fully, tested negative twice and have been discharged.

“This gives us a lot of hope as we continue to listen to our health experts and provide the resources to beat COVID-19.”

UN Commends Nigeria

The United Nations has praised Nigeria for its handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, while speaking at a virtual news briefing in New York, referred to Nigeria as a “developing country that has shown a remarkable capacity to respond to the Coronavirus.”

“I have to say this; some of these developing countries have shown a remarkable capacity to respond. I was quite impressed to see, for instance, Nigeria putting in place and immediately establishing a hospital. And I saw difficulties in countries that are much more developed to do quickly the same.”

Lockdown: Falana Tells Buhari to Withdraw Soldiers

A Human Rights Activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has asked the federal government to withdraw armed troops from enforcing the lockdown order placed on the Federal Capital Territory; Lagos and Ogun States.

He said deploying armed troops was illegal and unconstitutional based on precedent judgements of the courts of the land.

He reminded the federal government of its legal obligation “to confine the Military to their demanding assignments, especially in these trying times of insurgencies and encroachment into the country’s territories.

U.S. Records 1,169 Deaths in 24 Hours

The United States has recorded 1,169 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, ending yesterday morning, the highest single-day toll from the disease so far in any country.

Data from the John Hopkins University show a total of 5,926 deaths have been reported in the US, which also has the highest number of cases worldwide at 245,570.

In Italy, which had the global single-day record of deaths at 969, a total of 13,915 have now been killed by COVID-19 — the highest death-toll globally.

About 115,242 persons have also been infected by the disease in the European country.

Spain, the third worst-hit country, has also recorded 112,065 infections so far.

Europe remains the most affected region with at least half a million cases — more than half of the total infections worldwide.

The picture is less gloomy in Africa with 7,028 cases and 284 deaths across 50 countries, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sanwo-Olu, Wife Test Negative

Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his wife, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu have tested negative to COVID 19.

The state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who announced this on his official Twitter account, also revealed that personal aides of the governor and the First Lady who got tested for the Coronavirus are all negative.

According to the tweet: “I am happy to announce that #COVID19Lagos Incident Commander, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu @jidesanwoolu, the first Lady of Lagos @jokesanwoolu and their immediate family members, as well as aides have all tested negative to #COVID19.

The health commissioner, however, urged Lagosians to keep up with the social distancing practice, saying that the state was poised to winning the battle against the coronavirus.

“We thank Lagos residents for their concern and support. We urge all to maintain social distancing. Together we can defeat #COVID19! Please stay safe #ForGreaterLagos,” he said.

Onyeama Says No cause for Alarm over Foreign Countries Evacuating Citizens

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama has said there was no hidden agenda behind some countries evacuating their citizens from Nigeria.

At least, 637 Europeans were evacuated from Nigeria and Benin Republic on Thursday, a move that left many wondering if there was cause for concern.

During the press briefing of the presidential task force on COVID-19 in Abuja yesterday, a journalist had asked Onyeama if leaving the country was an indictment on Nigeria’s health system, to which the minister responded that it was not necessarily so.

Onyeama said those who had left did so to enable them make use of a system that they are familiar with, should the need arise.

He added that the diplomatic staff of most of these countries were still in Nigeria, and that they have no plans of leaving.

“It is basically a case where people are more familiar with the health system in their various countries and so prefer to go to the various countries so in the event that they might have to be confined, they would be in more familiar surroundings and they would also have access to medical practitioners and facilities that they are used to,” Onyeama said.

“So, that is really the reason. And you will find that a large number of those countries evacuating citizens still have their heads of mission and ambassadors and other staff here in Nigeria and there are no plans of leaving.”

FG to Evacuate Nigerians Abroad

The federal government said it was pondering the option of evacuating many Nigerians that are stranded outside the country as a result of the escalation in the global cases of coronavirus infection.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema gave this hint yesterday in Abuja when the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefed the media on the containment of the pandemic.

Onyema said the federal government had raised concerns about the plight of stranded Nigerian citizens. The disease, which has been categorized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), has disrupted the global aviation industry and has forced many countries to shut their borders.

The minister said government had put its foreign missions in the know about the plan and has asked them to verify the number of those affected.

The Chairman of PTF on COVID- 19, Boss Mustapha similarly disclosed that the federal government was working with other stakeholders to structure medical and life insurance cover for the frontline health workers exposed to coronavirus.

Mustapha, who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said the move was in recognition of the danger to which the workers were exposed.

He urged them to put in their utmost best as the country stands up to the ravaging pandemic, in addition to assuring them of government’s commitment.

The SGF added that the government had, through the Ministry of Agriculture, approved the restocking of the national grains reserve with 100,000 metric tonnes.

On the guidelines on market operation, the SGF clarified that what federal government did was to tighten the process, while adding that markets closed by the governments of Lagos, Ogun and FCT would remain closed.

He said the consideration of four-hour business that was given for markets to operate within a limited time had to do with satellite markets in the neighbourhoods, which he said could function every other day, not on daily basis.

The Director General, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweze has said that there remains no specific treatment for coronavirus.
He said the best treatment for the pathogen was to sustain the respiratory culture of the patients until they recovered on their own.

Ihekweze said that about 4,000 people have so far been tested, and that a new lab was activated in Abuja yesterday to bring the number of labs in the country to eight, which improves the centre’s capacity to run tests. He said a new lab will also be commissioned in Kano on Tuesday.

4,000 UK Citizens Seek Evacuation

Over 4,000 citizens of the United Kingdom have indicated interest in returning to their country amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The British high commission in Nigeria broke the news in a tweet yesterday.
This is coming despite Nigeria’s less number of coronavirus cases compared to the figures in the UK.

In UK, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is 38,168, according to Worldometer, a website which provides real-time updates on the disease situation globally.
With only 135 recoveries so far, 3,605 persons have been confirmed dead over there.

The commission said it was working to evacuate its citizens, especially “stranded United Kingdom travellers who aren’t long term residents in Nigeria”.

“We fully understand the anxiety many of you face around #COVID19. Our offer of help is to stranded United Kingdom travellers who aren’t long term residents in Nigeria. Over 4000 people have expressed interests in return flights. We’re working around the clock to support you all,” the tweet read.