COVID-19: Dangote, Wigwe, Others Set Up Tents For Testing, Treatment In Lagos

Dangote has topped the Forbes list for Africa nine times in a row. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

Business tycoons including Aliko Dangote and Herbert Wigwe are spearheading a coalition of private-sector organisations to support the Federal Government in tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) virus in Nigeria.

The initiative, which is called the Coalition Against Coronavirus (COCAVID), will involve the erection of fully-equipped medical tents to house patients and serve as training, testing, isolation, and treatment centers. This also includes an additional facility in Victoria Island, Lagos.

The initiative according to a statement made available to Channels Television by Aliko Dangote Foundation on Wednesday is led by Dangote Industries Limited and Access Bank Group in collaboration with Zenith Bank, GTBank, MTN, ITB, and others.

READ ALSO: FG Considering To Stop Interstate, Intertown Travels

They are tasked with the responsibility of mobilising the private sector thought leadership and resources; creating public awareness, and directing support to private and public healthcare institutions.

This gesture according to the statement is in addition to the N200 million earlier pledged by the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) to help curb the spread of Coronavirus in Nigeria.

Dangote, explained further that the mission is to pull resources across industries to provide technical and operational support while providing funding and building advocacy.

According to him, the centers will be fully equipped with medical supplies and trained personnel to cater to patients who may become affected.

“COVID-19 affects us all and threatens our collective health (economic, social, psychological) and physical wellbeing. Hence, the urgent need to collaborate and work together to beat this common enemy. The task ahead is daunting and bigger than any one organisation. To win this battle, it is critical we all come together as one,” Dangote added.

He assured that work has commenced to ensure these facilities are completed in good time to serve the growing need of the population during this period.

He also sought government’s support to have private laboratories test alongside government centers to reduce the waiting period for suspected COVID-19 cases.

FG Considering To Stop Interstate, Inter-Town Travels

 

The Federal Government has said that it is considering to stop inter-state and inter-town travels in the country.

In a statement on Thursday, the Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says that the nation’s strategy at containing the pandemic is working, adding that the country still has a long way to go.

While stressing that he does not mean to spread panic, the minister noted that bold measures have been taken and more steps of such nature need to be taken to ensure that Nigeria beats the virus.

Lai Mohammed’s communique partially read:

“Gentlemen, I don’t intend to sound apocalyptic. But the truth is that time is running out. If we don’t urgently and more aggressively enforce the measures I have just listed, we have a short window within which to stop this pandemic or face an explosion in terms of the
cases. We cannot afford to be complacent.

“In view of this, we are considering tougher measures to enforce compliance, stop the exportation of the disease to states that do not have it and minimize spread. Possible measures include:

“Stopping inter-state/inter-town travels, except for essential services.

“Closing all motor parks and inter-state rail stations. Already, all
train movements nationwide have been stopped.

“Using fire fighting and other adaptable vehicles and personnel to fumigate
cities and towns”.

The minister who had earlier told Nigerians to brace up for tougher measures in the efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic told newsmen that the government knows its priorities and challenges.

He hailed the state governments that have taken bold measures to ensure that people are safe, including the closure of markets and the prohibition of large congregations.

Mr Mohammed, however, noted that the Federal Government is determined to be more aggressive in enforcing the measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus.

READ ALSO: FG To Release N6.5bn For Coronavirus Emergency Intervention

Below is a full statement by the minister for information and culture.

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON MINISTER OF
INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON THURSDAY, 25 MARCH 2020

Good afternoon gentlemen, and welcome to this press conference, called
to update you on the measures being taken by the Federal Government to
tackle the Coronavirus pandemic.

2. I want to say straight away that our strategy at containing this
pandemic is working, but we still have a long way to go. We know our
priorities and we know our challenges. We have taken very bold
measures in stopping international flights into the country, and we
hail the state governments that have take equally bold measures in
their states, which include the closure of markets and the prohibition
of large congregations.

3. However, we are determined to be more aggressive in enforcing the
measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus, such as:
– Social distancing
– Contact tracing
– Testing
– Isolation of suspected cases
– And ensuring that our messaging gets down to the grassroots

4. Gentlemen, I don’t intend to sound apocalyptic. But the truth is
that time is running out. If we don’t urgently and more aggressively
enforce the measures I have just listed, we have a short window within
which to stop this pandemic or face an explosion in terms of the
cases. We cannot afford to be complacent.

5. In view of this, we are considering tougher measures to enforce
compliance, stop the exportation of the disease to states that do not
have it and minimize spread. Possible measures include:
– Stopping inter-state/inter-town travels, except for essential services
– Closing all motor parks and inter-state rail stations. Already, all
train movements nationwide have been stopped.
– Using fire fighting and other adaptable vehicles and personnel to fumigate
cities and towns.
We will be considering and announcing new measures from time to time,
but rest assured that whatever decisions we take will be in the best
interest of Nigerians.

6. Let me announce that we have received donated safety and test
kits from the Jack Ma Foundation in China. The supplies are:
– 100,000 Face Masks
– 1,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
– 20,000 test kits
The face masks and the PPE will be distributed to the front-line
health workers while the test kits will be shared among the five test
laboratories.

7. We are also taking measures to increase the number of bed spaces
for isolation of suspects. The facilities we have now include the
40-bed DSS Hotel, the 60-bed Medical Centre in Zuba and the 160-bed
Women Development Centre in Abuja, We are still looking at other
facilities within the Federal Capital Territory.

8. As we said during our last press conference, contact tracing is
very critical to stopping the spread of the virus. Today, we have 51
cases covering 8 states:
Lagos – 32
FCT – 10
Ogun – 3
Ekiti – 1
Edo – 1
Bauchi – 1
Osun – 1
Oyo – 1
Rivers – 1
We have 4,370 people of interest whom we are
tracing. We urge those who have had contact with suspected cases to
immediately report to the authorities. We urge Nigerians to support
the authorities in this regard. We are on the verge of reaching the
level of community spread. We must stop this immediately or we will
record exponential cases in the days ahead. There is no better way to
say this.

9. Let me say, without mincing words, that we are not getting the
kind of cooperation that this moment deserves from Nigerians. Many are
busy engaging in meaningless criticisms instead of complying with the
stipulated directives to keep people safe. Some Nigerians who flew
into the country from overseas filled wrong addresses and phone
numbers in their forms, making it difficult to trace them when the
need arises. Some Nigerians defied orders to stay away from large
gatherings while some religious leaders willfully flouted the
directives to ensure social distancing. The government is doing its
best but we need the citizens to do their best too. We have now gone past
the stage of persuasion. It’s time for strong enforcement.

10. This brings me to the rising instances of fake news associated
with coronavirus. The epidemic of fake news is now competing with the
pandemic of coronavirus, and this is not helping the fight against the
disease. Instances of such fake news include
– That there are only two ventilators in Abuja, out of which one has
been commandeered for a top government official
– That a British Airways Flight was due to land in Nigeria on
Wednesday despite the closure of all international airports.
– That President Muhammadu Buhari has been coughing and is now on ventilator.
Fake. Fake. Fake. It’s all fake news.

11. A section of the traditional media has also been engaging in
scaremongering and irresponsible reporting on the disease. It is wrong
to speculate on those who are positive or negative for coronavirus
without any empirical information. In any case, being positive to
coronavirus is not a death sentence, as we can see around the world.
There is no need for the kind of scaremongering we are seeing in a
section of the
media. The danger is that this scaremongering can even discourage some
who may want to come forward for testing. We therefore wish to appeal
to the media to be more circumspect in their reporting.

12. Gentlemen, we have noted the decision of at least five domestic
airlines – Air Peace, Aero and Azman, Dana and Arik – to suspend their flight
operations. The suspension is a boost for the efforts of the
government to check the spread of the pandemic. Some of the airlines have also
announced one form of support or another for the government’s efforts
to tackle the
pandemic. This is very commendable. We are aware of more private sector support
to the FG and will be announcing this after full compilation. We seek
the support and
cooperation of more capable individuals and organizations in order to
defeat this pandemic.

13. Finally, we appeal to Nigerians not to panic. It is said that
panic is our greatest enemy. The Federal Government is determined to
work with the good people of Nigeria to defeat Covid-19. And defeat
the disease we will.

14. I thank you, gentlemen, for your kind attention. I will now take
your questions

FG To Release N6.5bn For Coronavirus Emergency Intervention

 

As the battle against the novel Coronavirus intensifies, the Federal Government is releasing additional N6.5billion as an emergency intervention to the National Centre for Disease Control(NCDC).

This is according to a statement by Mr Bashir Ahmad, the personal assistant on new media to President Muhammadu Buhari.

READ ALSO: Respect Message Line, Do Not Spread Panic – NCDC

According to Mr Ahmad the move which was confirmed by Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, is to aid in the fight to curb the spread of the #COVID19 in the country.

Respect Message Line, Do Not Spread Panic – NCDC

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu is head of the NCDC
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu is head of the NCDC

 

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has raised an alarm over the activities of some Nigerians who are toying with the helplines dedicated to fighting the Coronavirus>

In a tweet on Thursday, the NCDC urged Nigerians to be civil and responsible for the way they go about reporting cases with regards to the virus, using the dedicated phone lines.

The health body said it received several messages and calls, over an Instagram video.

NCDC noted that the individual was said to be very sick and reported that NCDC did not respond.

According to the NCDC, on reaching out to the individual, he said what he did was a skit, adding that he is well.

The NCDC urged all Nigerians to respect the call and message lines and advised that no one should spread panic.

READ ALSO: Obaseki Tests Negative For COVID-19, Remains In Self-Isolation

Moscow To Shut Cafes, Shops In ‘Unprecedented’ Virus Measure

A man wears a protective suit and a gas mask as he walks along a street in central Moscow on March 21, 2020
A man wears a protective suit and a gas mask as he walks along a street in central Moscow on March 21, 2020 as Moscow city officials have limited public gatherings of more than 50 people and schools across the country will close for three weeks from March 23 in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 infection caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) / Russia OUT
Moscow will close cafes, shops, parks and other non-essential services for one week starting Saturday, its mayor said Thursday, in an “unprecedented” move to fight the spread of coronavirus.

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a non-working week from March 28 to April 5 to keep Russians at home. But the measures imposed by Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin take the president’s measures a step further.

Sobyanin had already ordered Muscovites aged over 65 to stay home starting Thursday, but stopped short of ordering a strict quarantine.

The closures announced Thursday “are not a holiday, it is a serious measure to prevent COVID-19,” the mayor said in a statement on his website.

All cafes and restaurants must stop admitting customers and may only deliver food or prepare orders to go, according to the decree. 

Stores selling non-essential items must close, as well as beauty salons and spas. Moscow’s parks will also shut.

The mayor first hinted at the new measures in a televised interview Wednesday evening, saying “there will be nothing to do in Moscow” next week.

“The restrictions ordered today are unprecedented in Moscow’s modern history and will create many inconveniences,” Sobyanin said in his message Thursday. 

“But trust me, they are absolutely necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus infection and decrease the number of the ill,” he said, also asking Russians from other regions to put off travel to the capital.

Moscow registered two coronavirus-linked deaths on Wednesday, the first nationally. A total of 840 cases have been recorded nationwide, according to official statistics on Thursday.
-AFP

Obaseki Tests Negative For COVID-19, Remains In Self-Isolation

Governor Godwin Obaseki addressing a gathering in Abuja on July 19, 2019.

 

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has tested negative for coronavirus but has decided to remain in self-isolation.

In a statement, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said the result is that of the rapid diagnostic test, while the Governor awaits the result of the PCR test.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Nigeria Records Five New Cases, Total Infections Now 51

According to him, “I can confirm that the governor tested negative for coronavirus when he ran the rapid diagnostic test for the virus. However, we are currently awaiting the result of a more conclusive PCR test.”

“In the meantime, the governor has decided to continue to work in self-solation and he is asymptomatic,” he added.

Governor Obaseki had on Wednesday said he went into self-isolation and sent his samples for testing after two persons he met some days ago, tested positive for coronavirus.

COVID-19: Nigeria Records Five New Cases, Total Infections Now 51

 

Five new cases of the COVID-19 have been confirmed in Nigeria, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 51.

According to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), two of the cases are in the FCT, two are in Lagos, while one is in Rivers State.

The NCDC further explained that three of the infected persons are returning travellers into Nigeria while the other two are close contacts of a previously confirmed case.

This comes as states across the country are scaling up efforts to combat the spread of the virus.

Residents have been asked to stay at home, stricter restrictions have been placed on public gatherings and people including governors and top officials are being forced to self-isolate.

Among those who are self-isolating is Vice President Yemi Osinbajo after the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari, tested positive for the coronavirus.

This was disclosed in a tweet by his aide, Laolu Akande, who stated that his boss had been working from home. Mr Akande disclosed on Wednesday morning that Professor Osinbajo tested negative for the virus.

Also on Wednesday, the presidency announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had tested negative for the virus.

As contact tracing and tests continue to be carried out daily, there are fears that the healthcare system in the country and on the continent (Africa) could become overwhelmed with cases.

The battle by the NCDC and relevant agencies to battle the pandemic received a boost earlier on Wednesday as Nigeria received its share of materials donated by philanthropist and Chinese business tycoon, Jack Ma.

The billionaire had donated a total of 1.1 million testing kits and six million masks to help in fighting the disease in Africa.

Nigeria’s share which was received by government officials in the nation’s capital Abuja included 100,000 masks, 20,000 test kits, PPEs, among others.

According to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, who received the items at the airport, the 20,000 test kits will be distributed to the five laboratories in the country.

Spain Overtakes China With 3,434 Coronavirus Deaths

A passenger wearing a face mask and gloves as a preventive measure pushes a trolley at the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez Airport in Barajas on March 20, 2020. Spain has ordered all hotels in its territory to close to help stem the spread of coronavirus, under a new measure announced in the state official bulletin yesterday. Spain is the country that has been fourth-hardest hit by COVID-19, with 833 deaths and 18,077 infections. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP.

 

Spain’s coronavirus death toll overtook that of China on Wednesday, rising to 3,434 after another 738 people died as Madrid announced a multi-million-euro deal with Beijing for critical supplies.

The spike in fatalities means that across the globe, only Italy — with 7,503 deaths — now has a higher death toll than Spain.

In China, where the virus emerged late last year, the COVID-19 epidemic has claimed 3,281 lives.

The latest figures were announced as Spain entered the 11th day of an unprecedented lockdown to try and rein in the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has now infected 47,610 people, the health ministry said.

Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo, who has been in hospital since Monday, has tested positive for the virus and is improving, the government said.

Two other ministers in Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government are infected.

The surge in numbers has brought the medical system to the brink of collapse, with Spain struggling with a lack of medical supplies for testing, treatment and the protection of frontline workers, and a growing number of cases among healthcare personnel with more than 5,400 infected.

READ ALSO: UK Parliament Shuts Early Over Coronavirus 

To address the shortages, Health Minister Salvador Illa said the government had inked a major deal with China.

Worth some 432 million euros ($467 million), the deal will cover 550 million masks, 5.5 million rapid test kits, 950 respirators and 11 million pairs of gloves, he told a televised news conference.

“We have secured entire production chains (in China) which will be working solely for the Spanish government,” he said.

The supplies will be delivered “on a staggered basis, every week, with the first — a major delivery — arriving at the end of this week,” he said.

He also said Spain would continue producing its own materials on a national level.

– NATO help sought –

The announcement came a day after Spain’s armed forces asked NATO for humanitarian assistance to secure supplies to help curb the spread of the virus both in the military and in the civilian population.

The request specified 450,000 respirators, 500,000 rapid testing kits, 500 ventilators and 1.5 million surgical masks.

Despite the national lockdown imposed on March 14, which is to be extended until April 11, both deaths and infections have continued to mount, with officials warning this week would be particularly bad.

“We are approaching the peak,” the ministry’s emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon said in announcing the figures.

Health authorities are hoping it will soon become clear whether the lockdown is having the desired effect.

The Madrid region has suffered the brunt of the epidemic with 14,597 infections — just under a third of the total — and 1,825 deaths, or 53 percent of the national figure.

Madrid mayor Jose Luis Martinez Almeida warned the coming days would be “complicated” “psychologically” for the entire city.

– Airbus resumes production-

With hospitals on the brink of collapse, troops have set up a massive field hospital in Madrid’s vast IFEMA exhibition centre which currently has 1,500 beds but which could be expanded to take in up to 5,500 people — making it the largest hospital in Spain.

And with the city’s funeral services overwhelmed, officials have commandeered the Palacio de Hielo ice skating rink to serve as a temporary morgue.

In a separate development, unions have been up in arms over a decision by Airbus to resume production in Spain, despite the outbreak, saying it endangered workers’ lives.

So far, a total of 138 employees have tested positive for the virus with hundreds more in quarantine, but the European plane-maker resumed production on Monday, prompting unions to call an indefinite strike.

AFP

PHOTOS: Nigeria Receives Test Kits, Protective Gears Donated By Jack Ma

Photos: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television on March 25, 2020.

 

The Nigerian Government has received its share of test kits and protective gears donated to Africa by Chinese business tycoon, Jack Ma.

The materials arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Wednesday morning.

They include 100,000 masks, 20,000 test kits, PPEs, among others.

Read Also: Nigeria Receives Test Kits, Protective Gears Donated By Jack Ma

See photos below.

COVID-19: Kaduna Govt Begins Fumigation Of Markets

A map showing Kaduna, a state in Nigeria's North-Central region.
A map showing Kaduna, a state in Nigeria’s North-Central region.

 

The Kaduna State Government has commenced fumigating all markets across the state in an effort to stop the spread of Coronavirus in the state.

This follows the closure of all markets with the exemption of those selling food items and medicals on the orders on the orders of the state governor, Mr Nasir El-Rufai.

After enforcing the closure of all shops that deal with non-essential stuff, officials of the state Market Development Agency with other taskforce team members began the exercise on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: Sule, Obaseki And Fayemi Go Into Self-Isolation

The fumigation of the markets kicked off with Sheikh Abubakar Gumi Market in the state capital.

Governor El-Rufai visited the market to monitor compliance with the earlier directive that all shops that deal with non-essential stuff must be closed to protect people against COVID-19.

Arik Air, Aero Two Others Suspend All Flight Operations

 

Arik Air has announced that it will temporarily suspend all scheduled commercial flight operations effective 11:00 pm on Friday, March 27, 2020.

According to a statement by the airline’s CEO, Captain Roy Ilegbodu, the decision is being taken to mitigate the risk of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst its customers and staff.

It also noted that customers who have confirmed tickets can still use their tickets when operations resume.

“Such tickets can be modified at no extra charge,” the statement read as the CEO stated that they hope to resume services as soon as feasible.
“We regret any inconveniences this may have caused you.

“Your safety and well-being is paramount at this period of health emergency. We implore everyone to keep safe and abide by all directives issued by governmental authorities”.

Read Also: COVID-19: Use Of Chloroquine Has Not Been Approved, NCDC Warns Nigerians

In the same vein, Aero Contractors has announced that effective March 26, 2020, it will suspend flight operations for 14 days in line with the exigencies of COVID-19.

The airline said it regrets any inconveniences caused to its customers as the safety of passengers and staff remain their focus.

Other airlines that have also suspended operations include Dana Air and Air Peace.

COVID-19: Use Of Chloroquine Has Not Been Approved, NCDC Warns Nigerians

 

The Nigeria Center For Disease Control (NCDC) has insisted that Chloroquine has not been approved as a cure for the coronavirus disease.

The NCDC said this in a tweet on Wednesday while also warning Nigerians against self-medicating with the drug.

“Please remember that the use of chloroquine and its derivatives for the management of coronavirus disease has NOT been validated and approved. Self-medication can cause harm and lead to death. Do not misuse drugs,” the tweet read.

There has been controversy over whether or not the anti-malarial drug, Chloroquine can cure the disease especially after US President Donald Trump said on March 19 that it had been approved to treat the new coronavirus.

His announcement followed encouraging research into chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in France and China, but many in the wider scientific community cautioned that more work is needed to prove they really work for COVID-19.


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The Food and Drug Administration also later stated that though antimalarials have not been formally approved as a cure for the Coronavirus, the agency is expanding access so that authorities could gather more data.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn speaking on the matter said the access being granted falls under what is called “compassionate use.”

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) approved the production of Chloroquine for clinical trials.

Director-General of the agency, Mojisola Adeyeye, however, pointed out that NAFDAC is not approving Chloroquine for the treatment of  COVID-19 but for clinical trials to find treatment for the virus.