•With 91 new cases, COVID-19 incidences rise to 873
•FG bans interstate movements of COVID-19 patients for treatment
•Awaits results of probe of Kano deaths
•Attributes rising cases to aggressive testing
•Task force to recommend review of lockdown to Buhari
•14-day isolation of Chinese doctors ends today
•El-Rufai tests negative for virus
Chuks Okocha, Olawale Ajimotokan, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, John Shiklam in Kaduna, Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano and Martins Ifijeh in Lagos
With the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the last few days, the governors of the 36 states of the federation rose yesterday from a virtual meeting with a unanimous decision to ban interstate movements of people for 14 days.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases, which hit a new high on Tuesday with 117 reported cases, stood at 873 yesterday with the discovery of 91 fresh incidences.
The federal government has also prohibited the movement of all persons diagnosed with COVID-19 to another state for treatment, saying they should be cared for in the state where the diagnosis was made, except there is a medical indication to the contrary.
It also said it was awaiting the results of the investigation being carried out by the Federal Ministry of Health, the Kano State chief epidemiologist, officials of Kano Public Health Department and those of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the deaths being recorded in Kano State to know what further steps to take to curb the situation.
The federal government, however, denied the insinuation that the unexplainable deaths being recorded in the state is connected to the fake vaccine currently in circulation in the state and warned the public against buying or using a locally brewed mixture being offered as COVID-19 vaccine.
The governors, in a communique after their virtual conferencing yesterday, said a restriction on interstate movements for two weeks was imperative to mitigate the spread of the virus from state to state.
Also, with over 25 states now affected by the spread of the virus and increasing evidence of community transmission, the governors called for the decentralisation of the COVID-19 response team to check community infection.
They pledged to work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to protect health workers.
In the communique which was signed by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the governors said: “Members expressed serious concern over the rising spread of the virus among health workers and resolved to work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure that health workers are adequately provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and are constantly trained on the use of protective gear.
“Governors unanimously agreed to the implementation of an interstate lockdown in the country over the next two weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus from state to state. Only essential services will be permitted.”
The governors said in order to strengthen coordinated implementation of public health recommendations across states, they would set up COVID-19 Committees at the regional level, headed by their state Commissioners of Health to interface with the State Task Force Committees on COVID-19 already established in each state.
The forum also said it received briefing from the governors of Lagos, Bauchi, Oyo and Ogun States who shared their experiences and lessons from the fight against COVID-19.
The communique said the governors held a minute’s silence in honour of all Nigerians killed by the virus, especially health workers who were in the frontline of the battle against the epidemic.
The governors also conveyed their condolences to President Muhammadu Buhari and the people of Borno State on the passing away of the Chief of Staff to the president, Mallam Abba Kyari.
FG Bans Interstate Movements of COVID-19 Patients
Also yesterday, the federal government announced a ban on the movement of COVID-19 patients to other states for treatment.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, told reporters in Abuja during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 that the ban was to avoid the high risk of exposure of other persons during patients’ movements.
He also said Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) and pharmacists have been prohibited from treating persons diagnosed of or suspected to be COVID-19 patients.
He said that any PPMVs that attempts to treat persons diagnosed of COVID-19 or suspected of contracting the virus.
He warned that a violation of the directive would result in the cancellation of the operating licences of the offenders.
Ehanire said: “All persons diagnosed with COVID-19 be henceforth treated in the state where the diagnosis was made, rather than be referred to their states of origin except there is a medical indication to the contrary.
“This is to avoid the high risk of exposure of other persons in the course of transfer.
“Private hospitals desiring to manage COVID-19 patients should apply to their state Ministries of Health for permits, meet IPC standards and be accredited by a FMoH-certified state team after compliance with protocols, before being granted.”
The minister noted that Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) have been deployed in Abia, Gombe and Sokoto States by the NCDC to support their COVID-19 response teams.
On the Chinese medical personnel whose 14-day isolation ends today, Ehanire said they would be subjected to tests to know their status before exiting from their isolation centres.
…..Awaits Results of Probe of Kano Deaths
Ehanire also said the federal government was awaiting the results of investigation into the incidents that led to the series of deaths recently recorded in Kano State.
According to him, the federal government has stepped in to assist the state health officials to unravel the cause of the deaths.
He said the Federal Ministry of Health, the state chief epidemiologist, officials of Kano Public Health Department and those of the NCDC were investigating the deaths.
On allegation of possible suspension of testing in Kano State due to shortage of test kits, the minister said testing was temporarily halted in order decontaminate the laboratory after some staff of the laboratory were infected while carrying out their duties.
He allayed fears over the pandemic, saying despite the rising cases confirmed so far, the virus has a cure rate of over 90 per cent.
He added that if those with the typical symptoms report early for testing and treatment or quarantine, their chances of full recovery are high.
On his part, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the deaths in Kano State were not connected to the fake vaccine currently in circulation in the state.
FG Warns against Use of Local Brew Offered as Vaccine
However, the NCDC warned members of the public against buying or using a locally brewed mixture being offered as COVID-19 vaccine.
The agency gave the warning yesterday via its verified Twitter handle @NCDCgov.
The agency, in a tweet, said: “A liquid mixture is being sold with claims that it is”#COVID19 vaccine. This is false!
“There is currently no vaccine or drug approved for #COVID-19 prevention by health authorities.”
COVID-19 Cases Hit 873 with 91 Fresh Discoveries
The NCDC, in its update on the pandemic yesterday, said Nigeria had recorded 91 new cases of COVID-19, bringing to 873, the total number of confirmed cases in 25 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The agency, in a breakdown, said 74 new cases were recorded in Lagos, five in Katsina, four in Ogun, two each in Edo and Delta, and one each in Kwara, Oyo, FCT and Adamawa State.
It said: “As at 11:25 pm on April 22, there are 873 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Nigeria. 197 have been discharged with 28 deaths.
A breakdown of the total number of cases shows that Lagos now has 504 cases, FCT 119, Kano 73, Ogun 24, Katsina 21, Osun 20, Oyo and Edo 17 each, Kwara 10, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom and Borno nine each, Bauchi eight, Delta six, Gombe five, Ekiti four, Ondo and Rivers three each, Jigawa, Enugu, Niger and Abia two each, while Benue, Anambra, Sokoto and Adamawa recorded one each.
FG Attributes Rise in Cases to Aggressive Testing
Reacting to the upsurge in number of confirmed cases, Chairman of PTF on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, ascribed the rise in number of positive cases to the expansion in the testing capacity.
He said given the dynamic nature of the response plan, the strategy for testing had been modified while house-to-house testing had been intensified in some communities in Lagos and FCT.
Task Force to Recommend Review of Lockdown to Buhari
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), added that the PTF will today study the report of the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu,
and the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Nigeria on nine states and use it as the basis of the recommendation to Buhari on extension or review of the four-week lockdown imposed on FCT, Lagos and Ogun States to prevent the spread of the virus.
Nigerian Evacuees to Bear Cost of Repatriation, Says FG
Also speaking at the briefing, Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Godfrey Onyeama, said the federal government would not be responsible for the flight and isolation cost of Nigerians to be evacuated from some foreign countries with high cases of COVID-19.
Onyeama said Nigerians forced to return home as a result of the pandemic would solely cater for their wellbeing because the federal government lacked the financial resources to do so.
“The financial aspect of this is one that we are very mindful of. We had some students who were trapped in Khartoum, Sudan and we had to bend backward to find the resources to try to pay for their return and two weeks of isolation because they are young students. But unfortunately for all the others, we just don’t have the financial resources because you can see the huge amount of money we have to pay for the various aspect of the challenges. It’s unfortunate that the government is not in a position to pay for everybody to come home and for their stay in isolation centres for two weeks,” Onyeama said.
El-Rufai Tests Negative for Pandemic
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, yesterday said he had tested negative for the virus, adding that he felt relieved for recovering from the COVID-19.
He said with his sound health and prayers from the people, he would continue to spearhead efforts at curtailing the spread of the disease.
The governor, in a live broadcast after he was discharged from the isolation centre, said he had amended the Quarantine Regulations, which now require everyone in the state to wear a face mask when going out.
El-Rufai on 28 March 28, had announced that he tested positive for the virus and had proceeded into isolation.
“I am delighted to report today, that after nearly four weeks of observing a strict medical regime, I have now received the all-clear after two consecutive negative test results,” he said.
He commended the medical personnel of the state Ministry of Health and the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital who managed his case for their dedicated and professional care.
Kano Records 320 Suspected Cases
The Kano State Government has confirmed that it recorded over 320 suspected cases of COVID-19 in which 73 were confirmed positive.
The state Coordinator of COVID-19 Task Force, Dr. Tijjani Hussaini, at a media briefing yesterday, said that two out of the 73 confirmed cases were health workers.
“We were able to monitor 53 cases of passengers of interest that came from epicentre from some states and outside the country,” he added.
He stated that 63 out the 73 cases were admitted and the remaining evacuated to the isolation centre.
However, the state government has relaxed the lockdown from 6am today to midnight in order to allow people to prepare for the forthcoming Ramadan fast.