UK Resists Calls To Ease Lockdown As Johnson Set To Return To Work

In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas' Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP
In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP.

 

Boris Johnson will return to work at the start of the week as pressure increases on the UK government over its handling of the coronavirus crisis which has claimed more than 20,000 lives.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News that Johnson would be back in his Downing Street office on Monday after recovering from the virus and was in “good spirits” and “raring to go”.

Johnson has been recuperating at the British prime ministerial retreat, Chequers, outside London since his release from hospital on April 12.

He spent three days in intensive care and later admitted “things could have gone either way.”

Raab on Sunday resisted growing calls for the government to relax strict social distancing rules and said they would “be with us for some time”.

He told the BBC: “We do want to look at when it’s safe, when it’s responsible, at ways to allow more outside activities to take place but, again, we have got to have the evidence that it’s a surefooted step and doesn’t allow the coronavirus to get a grip back on the country.”

Johnson ordered the country into lockdown on March 23. It was extended on April 16 and is due for review on May 7.

On Sunday, new Labour leader Keir Starmer wrote to the prime minister asking for details on any potential lifting of restrictions.

READ ALSO: China Seizes Over 89 Million Poor Quality Face Masks

He accused the government of making “mistakes” at the beginning of the crisis and added: “The government cannot fall short in its preparations for what happens when the time is right for lockdown measures to be lifted.”

The prime minister’s return to work comes after health department figures released Saturday showed a further 813 people had died in hospital after contracting COVID-19, pushing the official number of fatalities to 20,319.

Raab described reaching the grim landmark as “heartbreaking”.

Earlier in the crisis, senior health officials said that keeping the number of fatalities below 20,000 would be “a good outcome” for the UK.

The latest figures confirm Britain has been one of the worst-hit countries in the world and the actual toll could be much higher when deaths in the community are taken into account, particularly at care homes.

The rise in fatalities has put the spotlight on the government’s approach during the crisis and led to questions being asked over shortages in personal protective equipment and a lack of widespread testing, particularly of frontline health and social care workers.

Meanwhile there was a continuing row over the role played by Johnson’s controversial chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, after it emerged he attended meetings of the main scientific group advising ministers on the coronavirus pandemic.

Downing Street denied that Cummings and another advisor, Ben Warner, were members of what is supposed to be the politically independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) but said they did attend so as to “understand better” the scientific debates concerning this emergency”.

The government has not released the names of those sitting on SAGE and Raab said: “We don’t release as a matter of practice the names of all the members of SAGE because of the risk of them being subject to pressure, undue influence.”

A former Conservative frontbencher, David Davis, tweeted: “We should publish the membership of SAGE: remove any non-scientist members”.

AFP

Kano Govt To Extend Lockdown By Another Seven Days

 

The Kano State Government has said that it would extend the lockdown in the state for another seven days.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje revealed the plan during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today on Wednesday.

The state had initially imposed a seven-day lockdown which took effect from April 16 and was to expire on April 23, but with the rise of COVID-19 cases in the state, the governor said it had become necessary to extend the lockdown so as to curb the spread of the disease.

He, however, noted that tomorrow, April 23, will be declared a free day to allow residents to make preparations for the Ramadan period.

“The lockdown was initially for one week, which is expiring tomorrow but we’ve declared that (from 6:00 am) tomorrow (to 12 midnight), will be a free day so that people will make preparations for the fasting period but by midnight, the lockdown will continue for another seven days,” Ganduje said.

Addressing the issue of the number of deaths recorded in the state, the governor noted that contrary to news reports that scores of persons have died from the COVID-19, there has only been one death so far in the state.

He said a lot of the news making the rounds are false and the government is making efforts to arrest peddlers of such fake news.

“That information is not correct because we undertook some survey and investigation (about the initial report of 70 deaths). We found out that it was only 13 deaths in that place and we will soon get a complete report but I assure you that that information is not correct,” the governor said, adding, “looking at previous reviews, there is nothing to show that there is a usual frequency of deaths.

“The death recorded from coronavirus is only one and the NCDC is aware of that,”.

His comments come hours after the newly established testing centre for COVID-19 in the State suspended its operation.

The Director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Isah Abubakar who confirmed this to Channels Television said the centre had run out of test kits.

Abubakar added that the centre would remain closed until new test kits are supplied from Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Beyond the issue of lack of sufficient testing kits, the governor, while addressing the matter, disclosed that there might have also been cases of infections among the staff at the centre.

He, however, gave the assurance that the Federal Government is handling the matter.

“The laboratory has been closed down for today and we understand that there is an infection within the laboratory. Probably some of the technicians have tested positive but I think the Federal Government is taking care of the urgently.

“Also there is the issue of scarcity of reagents and scarcity of the bottles that convey the samples. That too has been discussed with the DG who has assured us that they are taking action,” Ganduje said.

Only One COVID-19 Death Has Been Recorded In Kano – Ganduje

 

The Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, has reacted to the controversy over the number of deaths recorded in the state from the COVID-19.

Speaking during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today, Ganduje said contrary to some reports that there have been several deaths from the COVID-19, only one death has actually been recorded since the disease hit the state.

“That information is not correct because we undertook some survey and investigation (about the initial report of 70 deaths). We found out that it was only 13 deaths in that place and we will soon get a complete report but I assure you that that information is not correct,” the governor said.

READ ALSO: Oyo Confirms First COVID-19 Death

He added that “looking at previous reviews, there is nothing to show that there is an unusual frequency of deaths”.

According to him, there has been a rise in the spread of fake news but the government has started making efforts to arrest peddlers.

“You know that there is a lot of fake news going around and we have already started arresting all those who are peddling such rumours.

“The death recorded from coronavirus is only one and the NCDC is aware of that,” the governor stressed.

His comments come hours after the newly established testing centre for COVID-19 in the State suspended its operation.

The Director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Isah Abubakar who confirmed this to Channels Television said the centre had run out of test kits.

Abubakar added that the centre would remain closed until new test kits are supplied from Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Beyond the issue of lack of sufficient testing kits, the governor, while addressing the matter, disclosed that there might have also been cases of infections among the staff at the centre.

He, however, gave the assurance that the Federal Government is handling the matter.

“The laboratory has been closed down for today and we understand that there is an infection within the laboratory. Probably some of the technicians have tested positive but I think the Federal Government is urgently taking care of it.

“Also, there is the issue of scarcity of reagents and scarcity of the bottles that convey the samples. That too has been discussed with the DG who has assured us that they are taking action,” Ganduje said.

On the issue of the one-week total lockdown in the state which took effect from April 16, and is expected to expire by tomorrow, April 23, the governor explained that because of the increase in the number of cases, there has to be an extension of the lockdown.

He, however, said April 23, would be declared a free day to allow residents to prepare for the Ramadan.

“The lockdown was initially for one week, which is expiring tomorrow but we’ve declared that (from 6:00 am) tomorrow (to 12 midnight) will be a free day so that people will make preparations for the fasting period. By midnight, the lockdown will continue for another seven days”.

 

Romania Makes Wearing Of Mask Compulsory After Coronavirus Lockdown

A church volunteer wearing protective equipment brings holy light to the people at their home during Christian Orthodox Easter celebration prior to the religious service held with closed doors due to the social distancing rules imposed by the state of emergency in Bucharest April 18, 2020. Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP.

 

Romania will make wearing masks in public transport and other enclosed public spaces compulsory from May 15 when a lockdown imposed to stop the new coronavirus’s spread is lifted, its president said Wednesday.

“Maybe we’ll be able to give up wearing masks next year, when this pandemic will be under control,” Klaus Iohannis said as he appeared on camera wearing a mask.

Movement restrictions introduced as part of a state of emergency will be lifted, Iohannis added, though mass gatherings remain banned.

“We will move more freely, but life won’t return to the normalcy we knew before this pandemic,” Iohannis said.

“We must find a way to live with this virus… So while some measures will be relaxed, the personal responsibility of each of us will grow,” he added.

Romania has reported more than 9,700 cases of new coronavirus infections so far with 512 deaths.

READ ALSO: Fight Climate Change Like Coronavirus – UN

On April 14, the EU member of almost 20 million people extended its nationwide lockdown for another month in a bid to slow the virus’s spread.

Under the restrictions enforced by the police and the army, citizens are banned from going outside except for work and essential shopping during the day.

Schools have been closed and most foreigners are barred from entering the country.

AFP

South Africa To Deploy More Troops For COVID-19 Lockdown

South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers drive in an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town, on March 30, 2020, during a patrol to enforce the 21-day nationwide lockdown in Sout Africa. PIETER BAUERMEISTER / AFP

 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa plans to deploy more than 73,000 extra troops to help implement a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, the defence minister said.

The country is four weeks into strict police and military-enforced shutdown during which jogging, dog-walking and the sale of alcohol have been banned until the end of April.

Security forces have struggled to keep people indoors — particularly in overcrowded townships — and the police have been grappling with illegal alcohol sales, sometimes involving its own men.

In a letter to parliament tweeted by an opposition party leader, Ramaphosa announced his decision to deploy an additional 73,180 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) until June 26.

The operation is expected to cost around 4.5 billion rand ($2.4 million / 2.2 million euros), said the letter, which was dated Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Germany To Start First Clinical Tests On COVID-19 Vaccine

Those deployed comprise regular, reserve and auxiliary personnel.

In March, 2,820 soldiers were mobilised for the lockdown.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula confirmed the letter’s authenticity on Wednesday.

“If you look at the numbers and the rate at which the infection has gone up, you will realise that at some point we may actually need the kind of human deployment which has never been seen before,” Mapisa-Nqakula told local radio.

“We need to tighten and foresee (and) make sure that our people understand fully the dangers of getting this virus,” she said, adding that soldiers were also deployed to assist the public and medical personnel.

“People need to understand that the laws and regulations… have been put in place to protect them,” Mapisa-Nqakula added.

To date, South Africa has recorded 3,465 cases of coronavirus, the continent’s second-highest number of infections after Egypt.

The death toll remains relatively low, with 58 fatalities recorded so far. But health experts are bracing themselves for an exponential increase in cases in September.

Ramaphosa imposed a 21-day lockdown from March 27 and has since extended the shutdown until April 30.

On Tuesday, the president announced a $26-billion relief package to support the economy and the vulnerable during the pandemic.

AFP

PHOTOS! COVID-19: Mobile Court Tries FCT Lockdown Defaulters

Defaulters of COVID-19 lockdown being tried by a mobile court at (AYA roundabout) in Asokoro, FCT., Abuja on 16th April 2020. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has activated mobile courts to try violators of the lockdown directives.

The violators if found guilty will be fined and their vehicles impounded until after the lockdown.

Defaulting individuals will pay #10,000 with community service for seven days.

Those with tricycles will pay #7,000 while motorbike operators will also pay #7,000.

Cars will pay #20,000 and trucks will pay #50,000.

All penalties go with seven days of community service.

See Photos Below:

UK Extends Lockdown By Three Weeks

A man wearing a protective face mask takes a selfie on London Bridge on March 21, 2020, on the day that UK regions traditionally desperate for tourists, pleaded for people not to visit the coast or the countryside for fear of spreading the coronavirus. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP.

 

Britain will extend its coronavirus lockdown for “at least” another three weeks, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday, as hundreds across the country continue to die daily from the outbreak.

“The government has decided that the current measures must remain in place for at least the next three weeks,” said Raab — who is standing in for prime minister Boris Johnson who is recovering from the virus.

AFP

NCDC Explains The Goal Of COVID-19 Lockdown

NCDC Director General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.

 

 

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has urged Nigerians to be patient with the government, especially the residents of Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where the lockdown is being enforced.

The NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made the appeal on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

He stated that although the government was working hard to curtail the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the objective of the lockdown was not to end the outbreak.

Dr Ihekweazu, “The goal of the lockdown is not to get to the end of this outbreak because that is not a realistic goal; the goal of the lockdown was to keep people a little bit apart to stop transmission to some extent.

“The second goal was to enable the public health response to build up its efficiency and that is really what we have focused on in the last two weeks and what we will work very hard on in the next 10 days to make sure that we finalise.”

 

Although it has not been perfect, the NCDC boss insisted that there were indicators that there have been fewer contacts among individuals by 60-70 per cent.

He stressed that tackling COVID-19 was easier said than done in a complex country like Nigeria which has population density and unique challenges.

According to Dr Ihekweazu, what the health agency is trying to achieve in the short term is not to stop transmission because that will be very difficult to do as no country in the world has achieved that.

He also reacted to the differences in laboratory test results and called on the authorities in various states to mall disputes and face the challenge

“We have a big problem ahead of us … we must focus on the problem at hand and that is really what we are encouraging all of us to do at state, federals.

“We can get ahead of this but we can’t do that if we keep disputing lab results and fighting over details of things that are not really relevant in the big response,” the NCDC boss said.

This Is Not The Time To Resist COVID-19 Lockdown, FG Appeals To Nigerians

A file photo of the SGF, Boss Mustapha, addressing a press conference in Abuja.

 

 

As the country battles to contain COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has appealed to Nigerians to comply with the lockdown directive and not resist or encourage others to resist it.

The Chairman Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, made this appeal on Wednesday while briefing Nigerians on the measures to combat the virus.

Mustapha noted that even President Muhammadu Buhari attested to the fact that the restriction of movement is a difficult decision but it is essential in the interest of every Nigerian.

“The President himself attests to the fact that it is a difficult, painful decision, a decision that must be taken in the interest of the people of Nigeria. We are cognisance of the fact that our social life has been disrupted by the lockdown.

“Our constant appeal to the people of Nigeria is to see the long-term gain that will come out of this temporary dislocation in our communal life and try all possible to accommodate the processes put in place by the Federal Government.

“So, this is not the time to encourage resistance to the lockdown. This is the time to appeal to our people to respect the advice that has come out from experts, state ad federal government,” the PTF Chairman said.

He also noted that the decision by the Federal Government and some state governments to restrict movement is not done in isolation as it is done in every other country combatting the virus.

“We are not operating in isolation, we see what is happening all over the world and how some governments have reacted. Some countries have been on lockdown for the past one month, and they are not thinking about lifting the lockdown,” he added.

As at Thursday, April 16, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria is 407 with 34 new cases confirmed by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) on Wednesday night.

20-Year-Old Man Reportedly Shot Dead By Police In Anambra

Trailer Crushes Seven People To Death In Onitsha

 

 

A 20-year-old man has allegedly been shot dead by policemen at New Tyre Market in Nkpor, Anambra State.

Police Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed in a communique stated that the incident was caused by an unprovoked attack on police patrol team with substance suspected to be acid by some miscreants.

The PPRO in his statement claimed that the youths also tried to snatch some rifles from the police operatives.

READ ALSO: 150 Suspects Arrested In Connection With Unrest In Ogun Communities

Though the police say the youths stirred the unrest, some eye witnesses maintain that the security operatives caused the problem when they tried to disperse some people at a drinking point.

Channels Television gathered that a discreet investigation into the matter has been ordered by the Police Commissioner, John Abang.

As at the time of filing this report, efforts were still ongoing to restore sanity within the area even as a massive protest ensued after the incident.

COVID-19: If We Are Not Careful, Hunger Will Kill People, Obaseki’s Wife Warns

Betsy Obaseki, Wife of Edo State Governor

 

The wife of the Edo State Governor, Betsy Obaseki, has warned that diverting relief materials meant for the vulnerable in the society will further compound the current difficulties being experienced over the coronavirus pandemic.

According to her, hunger could be an even bigger threat to life than the virus.

Mrs Obaseki said this while handing over some relief materials from the state government to representatives of various groups in Benin City, the state capital.

She urged them to resist any temptation to be greedy and hoard the items for personal use or even give them out to those who can afford it.

“These relief materials are meant only for the vulnerable in the society, it is not meant for those who can afford full lockdown in their homes. If we are careful coronavirus will not kill too many people in this country, but if we are not careful it is hunger that will kill people. That is why the government is taking these steps to do what they have to do,” she said.

The items distributed include bags of rice, bags of beans, garri, noodles, oil, puree, millet, seasoning, soaps and detergent.

According to the State Commissioner for Social Development and Gender, Maria Edekor, the beneficiaries of the relief packages are the elderly, returnees, people living with disabilities, prison inmates, children in correctional centres, rehabilitation centres and orphanage homes.

Meanwhile, the governor’s wife urged residents who are well-to-do, to emulate the gesture of the government and also lend a helping hand to the vulnerable around them.

COVID-19: Kano Govt Announces 7-Day Lockdown

Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje

 

The Kano State Government has announced a total lockdown in the state effective from Thursday, April 16, 2020.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje announced this on Tuesday, shortly after confirming the fourth case of COVID-19 in the state.

According to the governor, the lockdown will last for a week and within that period, all markets, mosques, churches are to remain closed.

He said, “From Thursday 16th April by 10 pm Kano is locked down for the benefit of all in the state. All markets are closed and all public gatherings are banned.

“The lockdown is for seven days. We then wait and see what will come up. We are hoping that Allah will see us through.”

Governor Ganduje took the decision based on the recommendations of the Kano State Task Force on COVID-19.

The recommendations were presented to the governor by the Sub-committee Secretary, Dr Ibrahim Mai Bushira, after meetings between the Chairman of the task force, Kano State Deputy Governor, Dr Nasiru Yusu Gawuna, with clerics and other stakeholders.

Governor Ganduje explained that the state government would do everything possible to trace the contacts of the index case within the seven-day period.

Also, the contacts of two other people who they governor said came back from a foreign nation and since isolated themselves would be traced.

The governor called on the people of the state to cooperate and show understanding as the situation necessitated the lockdown.

“The disease is real. We can see how big nations are struggling hard with the problem,” he said.

“Our first index case was in Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and came back home. When he came back he visited some places, that are now under our close surveillance. All the places are fumigated.”