The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has set-up a Special Investigation Team to unravel the cause of the explosion that occurred at Ogbese near Akure, the Ondo State Capital in the early hours of Saturday, March 28.
The team, which is headed by the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit, Maikudi Shehu, is made up of police officers from the Police Bomb Disposal Squad (Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit) which is a specialised arm of the Police that oversees explosives and ordinance operations of the Force.
This was disclosed in a statement signed on Monday by the Force Spokesperson, Frank Mba, adding that the investigation team will work jointly with experts from the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA).
Mba said the agency has a state-of-the-art laboratory with the capacity and expertise to carry out a wide range of geo-scientific examinations including Laboratory/Forensic Examinations, Geochemical Analysis of Rocks, Minerals, Water, Sewage, Soil Samples and Site Investigations amongst others.
“The IGP hopes that with the involvement of NGSA, the quality and integrity of investigations into the explosion will be greatly enhanced.
“The IGP however enjoins the citizens especially those living around the scene of the incident to avoid the area so as not to tamper with the scene of incident and the ongoing investigations,” he added.
The Police boss therefore sympathised with the government and people of Ondo State particularly victims that sustained injuries or lost their property as a result of the incident.
He called for calm and assures that the outcome of investigations will be made public.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it has ordered the manufacturing of Chloroquine for emergency stock for possible clinical treatment of Coronavirus.
The agency’s Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, in a statement made available to Channels Television on Monday said the old antimalarial is now being repurposed for the clinical trial treatment of Coronavirus.
Adeyeye said the decision follows the use of chloroquine in other countries to treat Coronavirus.
“Other researchers in France, US have used the drug for the clinical trial treatment of COVID-19 and they reported effectiveness of the drug.
“Lagos State will be starting a clinical trial on chloroquine to evaluate the effectiveness,” she said.
She also explained how Chloroquine was demonstrated in China to be effective in treating COVID-19.
“In a very recent publication, chloroquine was reported in a press briefing by the State Council of China, indicating that chloroquine phosphate had demonstrated marked efficacy and acceptable safety in treating COVID-19 associated pneumonia in a multi-center clinical trials conducted in China.
“The study involved 10 hospitals in Wuhan, Jingzhou, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Ningbo, and 100 patients.
“The investigators reported that Chloroquine phosphate is superior to the control in inhibiting the pneumonia associated with COVID-19, and shortening the course of the disease.”
Adeyeye explained further that Chloroquine was discontinued in Nigeria many years ago for use as antimalarial because of the resistance that the parasite developed against the drug but now she has approached a manufacturing company to make a batch of the drug for emergency stock.
“About four weeks ago, I approached a local manufacturing company (May and Baker), a member of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group of Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (PMGMAN), whose flagship product in the past was chloroquine to make a batch of the drug for emergency stock.
“The company had NAFDAC approval for the production of the drug as antimalarial many years ago before the discontinuation.
“The Managing Director expressed possible difficulty in getting the API due to the fact that the drug has been discontinued. He called shortly after that he was able to get the API and was asked to manufacture a batch for emergency stock just in case more people become exposed and infected with the virus.
“The batch has been manufactured and the company plans to make more batches if needed.”
NAFDAC, however, advised the public to desist from the use of Chloroquine without the guidance of a medical doctor or clinician for treatment of COVID-19.
NAFDAC boss noted that the drug has side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, blurred vision, headache and pruritis (itching).
She added that through her regulatory activities of NAFDAC, it will ensure that the clinical trial protocol guidelines are followed and wishes the clinical research teams great success in stopping the raging pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has continued to escalate. In Nigeria, more than 80 cases were reported this week; the number is expected to rise. The photos in this week’s collection mostly try to capture the staggering manner in which the pandemic is changing the way we live.
The Presidency on Saturday tweeted a video and pictures showing President Muhammadu Buhari meeting with the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu at the State House.
The minister and the NCDC boss were said to have briefed the President on their activities and efforts towards preventing the spread of COVID-19 outbreak across the country.
The meeting held amid reports that the presidential villa has been on partial lockdown after an aide of the President tested positive for coronavirus and is currently being treated at a secure location, according to the Minister of Health.
Trains packed with thousands of passengers arrived in Wuhan Saturday as the Chinese city that was Ground Zero for the global coronavirus pandemic partly reopened after months in lockdown.
Returnees, some wearing two face masks, latex gloves and protective suits, were greeted at the railway station by staff in similar anti-virus gear — a grim reminder that while the city was emerging from isolation, it was still far from normal.
“As the train neared Wuhan, my child and I were both very excited,” a 36-year-old woman told AFP. She and her daughter had been away from her husband for nearly 10 weeks.
“It felt like the train was moving faster than before, and my daughter said the driver must know we really want to go home.
“She rushed towards her father, and watching them from behind I couldn’t help but cry,” she added.
Wuhan, where the contagion was first detected late last year, was placed under lockdown in January, with residents forbidden to leave, roadblocks ring-fencing the city’s outskirts and drastic restrictions on daily life.
With the outbreak deemed under control, rules have been eased to allow people to enter the city and many trains had been fully booked days in advance.
Restrictions on residents heading out of Wuhan will not be lifted until April 8 when the airport will also reopen for domestic flights.
Travellers were allowed to leave the train station on Saturday after showing a green code on a mobile app to prove they are healthy.
Those who had been overseas were herded to reception desks to be tested for the virus as China battles to control infections brought from abroad.
A woman told AFP she was finally able to return to Wuhan after a cancelled flight two months ago left her stranded in the southern city of Guangzhou.
Elsewhere in China long lines of travellers queued up at train stations to board high-speed services back to the city.
Passengers in Shanghai had their temperatures checked by staff in goggles and masks after boarding.
Wuhan is the last area of Hubei province to see overland travel restrictions lifted, though some highways leading into the city had already reopened during the week.
“It almost feels like returning to an alien land, because I haven’t been back for more than two months,” Gao Xuesong, a worker in Wuhan’s auto industry, told AFP.
Zero cases, not zero risk
Wuhan has paid a heavy price for the outbreak, with more than 50,000 people infected and more COVID-19 deaths than any other city in China — with three more reported Saturday.
More than 2,500 people are still hospitalised with the disease, including nearly 900 “severe” cases.
Wuhan initially struggled to contain the outbreak, but numbers have fallen dramatically in recent weeks.
Official figures show there have been fewer than 20 new cases across the province in the past fortnight.
Life in the city is slowly returning to normal. Most of the subway network restarted on Saturday, while some shopping centres will open their doors next week.
Banks have reopened and bus services resumed but residents have been warned against unnecessary travel, especially those over 65.
A study this week found the lockdown in Wuhan succeeded in stopping the fast-spreading virus in its tracks — but cautioned against opening up the city too soon.
Communities were still blocked off Saturday, with streets mostly quiet.
“The sound of my suitcase wheels rolling seemed exceptionally loud,” one Weibo user wrote after returning to the city.
A tattered sign dated January 23 — the day Wuhan ground to a halt — hung on one shopfront, announcing the closure of all branches for a week.
More than two months later it was still shuttered.
Liu Dongru, of the Hubei Health Commission, warned Friday that although parts of Wuhan had been reclassified as “low-risk” areas, work to control the virus needed to continue.
“Zero reported cases does not equal zero risk,” he said.
Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje on Saturday launched a special fumigation exercise of public spaces in the state.
The exercise is part of measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fumigation is being done in partnership with the Lee Group, a company with Chinese origins.
“As part of their corporate social responsibility, the Lee Group of Companies heed to our request urging private companies to join hands with us in this fight against COVID-19,” Ganduje said during the exercise on Saturday.
“We are calling on other private hands to also join us in these measures the state is taking.”
From the Government House, fumigators proceeded to Muhammadu Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital, Nassarawa GRA, where the governor witnessed the fumigation exercise, along with the Commissioners of Environment and Information, Dr Kabiru Ibrahim Getso and Mallam Muhammad Garba, Managing Director of Refuse Management and Sanitation Board (REMASAB) Abdullahi Mu’azu Gwarzo, among others.
Ganduje explained that it was because his government didn’t want to cripple the economy of the state, that the closure of Kano borders, from today, does not affect essentials like foodstuffs and some raw materials among others.
“While we are in this emergency situation, we will still do our best to see that suffering for our people is minimized,” he said.
He also encouraged people to take social distancing very seriously and stay indoors.
“This is the major reason why we closed our schools and directed worked to stay off from their offices,” he said. “People should understand that even going to markets should be regulated, unless for essential reasons please.”
Below are more photos from the fumigation exercise:
President Donald Trump signed into law Friday the $2 trillion rescue plan to salvage a US economy crippled by the novel coronavirus, on a day the nation’s total count of COVID-19 cases surpassed 100,000.
Trump’s signature brings an end to a dramatic, weeklong legislative saga on Capitol Hill and triggers the distribution of millions of relief checks of up to $3,400 for an average American family of four.
Hours earlier lawmakers in the House of Representatives united to green-light the mega-plan as the number of recorded deaths from the virus hit 1,693.
“I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together and putting America first,” Trump said.
“This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation’s families, workers and businesses. That’s what this is all about.”
Trump signed a separate order late Friday allowing the Pentagon to bring former troops and members of the National Guard back to active duty to help the military combat the virus, the Washington Post said, citing a Pentagon spokesman.
The president also took the long-called-for step of invoking the Defense Production Act to compel auto giant General Motors to quickly honor its commitment to making ventilators, machines crucial to keeping critically ill coronavirus patients alive but which are in short supply in hospitals.
“GM was wasting time,” the president said.
Nationwide the number of coronavirus cases surpassed 104,000. The need for medical supplies is acute in New York state, the US hotbed of the epidemic where 44,635 infections have been confirmed.
The death toll there increased Friday to 519 — up from 385 the previous day — but Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed optimism that the increase in the hospitalization rate has slowed.
Cuomo announced the creation of temporary hospitals at large facilities in each borough of New York City — including at a horse racing track in Queens — modeled on an already-constructed space in Manhattan’s Javits Center.
The national rescue bill pumps $100 billion into hospitals and health facilities in critical need of medical gear like personal protective equipment and intensive care beds, creates a $500 billion loan reserve for large corporations including airlines, and provides $377 billion in grants to small businesses.
It also dramatically expands unemployment assistance, aid that will cushion the blow for a staggering 3.3 million people who filed jobless claims in the week ending March 21.
Americans ‘can’t wait’
“Our nation faces an economic and health emergency of historic proportions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the worst pandemic in over 100 years,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told colleagues shortly before the chamber passed the measure.
Several lawmakers including top House Republican Kevin McCarthy hailed the bill as a critical lifeline for workers and small businesses.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pledged a speedy distribution of checks.
“Americans need that money now, they can’t wait for government to take three or four or six months like we normally do,” Mnuchin said on Fox Business Network, adding he expected direct deposits of the cash to arrive in three weeks.
US stocks sank Friday despite the legislative breakthrough. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 4.1 percent, the broad-based S&P 500 shed 3.4 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq tumbled 3.8 percent.
The Senate had passed the huge bill earlier this week.
The vote in the House was notable for the implementation of social distancing rules that prevented lawmakers from all gathering on the floor, leading to unprecedented scenes of members sitting in the upper galleries to allow for sufficient spacing.
With the House in recess this week, leaders had wanted a quick voice vote requiring just a few members present.
But Republican Thomas Massie, who opposed the bill, threatened to stall the measure.
Ultimately the House defeated Massie’s maneuver and passed the legislation but not before Trump savaged his fellow Republican on Twitter as a “third rate Grandstander.”
Pelosi said the $2 trillion rescue plan — the third and by far largest coronavirus legislative measure — will not be the end of government assistance to battered communities.
“We must advance a fourth bill to address continued needs,” she said, noting that state and local governments would need “vastly more” funding to address the crisis.
Nigeria’s 43 cabinet ministers have donated 50 percent of their March salaries towards the federal government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, said on Saturday.
According to Mohammed, the donation was coordinated by the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki.
In a statement issued by Mohammed’s office on Saturday in Abuja. Saraki was quoted as saying it (the donation) was a gesture of solidarity and support for the federal government’s efforts to tackle the disease.
”This global virus outbreak will require nations, continents and smaller communities to pull together to contribute their resources and support one another. This will facilitate an early resolution of the problem,” Saraki was quoted as saying.
The Ministers also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his leadership role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
Nigeria now has 81 confirmed cases of the coronavirus after 11 new cases were confirmed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) late Friday.
Italy on Friday recorded the most daily deaths of any country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and Spain had its deadliest day, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first major world leader to test positive.
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu on Saturday visited the scene of an explosion that rocked a suburb of Akure, the state capital.
Residents of Iluabo were shocked by an explosion that occurred in the area at about 1 am on Saturday.
The explosion made a large excavation on the road and the impact was felt kilometres away from the scene. Residents trooped towards the scene.
According to the State’s Commissioner of Police, Undie Adie, the explosive belonged to a construction company based in Edo state.
The Governor confirmed the commissioner’s explanation, adding that the convoy had been transporting the explosives to “a storage facility in a neighboring state.”
While en-route, “security personnel and other individuals transporting the ordinances noticed smoke from the vehicle,” the Governor added.
“After several attempts to extinguish the resulting fire failed, the vehicle and its consignment ignited causing a massive explosion that was felt in Akure and its environs.”
I have been briefed by the security chiefs that in the early hours of Saturday March 28th, a vehicle in a convoy transporting explosives to a storage facility in a neighbouring state developed a fault while in transit along the Akure Owo Road about 2km from the Akure Airport. pic.twitter.com/3EnmmQBd1E
Akeredolu noted that efforts are still being made to ascertain if there are casualties.
“Following my visit to the scene, I have directed that the area be cordoned off to allow the explosive ordinance department/bomb squad to extricate the vehicle buried underground because it is unclear if there are still explosives that are yet to be detonated.
“Everything is under control and I will be updating the public on any new developments.”