Buhari declares interstate lockdown as nationwide curfew begins Monday

2020-04-28
THE PUNCH Newspaper


Shuts down Kano for two weeks, okays extension in Lagos, Ogun, FCT

Olufemi Atoyebi, Samson Folarin, Tobi Aworinde, Tukur Muntari, Kayode Idowu and Ted Odogwu

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Monday ordered a nationwide curfew from 8pm to 6am beginning from Monday next week to curb COVID-19 spread.

He also ordered two-week total lockdown in Kano State with immediate effect.

Buhari had, on March 30, ordered lockdown for an initial period of 14 days in the federal capital Territory, Lagos and, Ogun states, followed by two-week extension, which ended at 11.59 pm on Monday. Several other states introduced similar restrictions.

However, the President, in a televised address on Monday, approved a “phased and gradual easing” of the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states.

He, however, extended the lockdown until May 4, when the nationwide curfew would take effect.

Buhari said, “In line with the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the various Federal Government committees that had reviewed socio-economic matters and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, I have approved a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states effective from Monday, May 4, 2020.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states shall remain in place until these new ones come into effect on Monday, 4th May 2020.

“However, this will be followed strictly with aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors.”

Speaking on the guidelines for the just announced curfew, the President stated that all movements between 8pm and 6am would be prohibited except for essential services.

Buhari bans inter-state movements

He added, “There will be a ban on non-essential inter-state passenger travel until further notice. Partial and controlled interstate movement of goods and services will be allowed for the movement of goods and services from producers to consumers.

Use of face masks compulsory

“We will strictly ensure the mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public in addition to maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene.

Social, religious gatherings remain banned

“Furthermore, the restrictions on social and religious gatherings shall remain in place. State governments, corporate organisations and philanthropists are encouraged to support the production of cloth masks for citizens.”

Buhari, however, noted that the revised guidelines would not apply to Kano State, saying he was “gravely concerned about the unfortunate developments in Kano in recent days.”

He said although an in-depth investigation was ongoing, the Federal Government would deploy its manpower, material and technical resources to strengthen and support the state government’s efforts with immediate effect.

The President added, “In Kano, and indeed many other states that are recording new cases, preliminary findings show that such cases are mostly from interstate travel and emerging community transmission.

President orders total lockdown in Kano

“With regard to Kano, I have directed the enforcement of total lockdown for a period of two weeks effective immediately.

“The Federal Government shall deploy all the necessary human, material and technical resources to support the state in controlling and containing the pandemic and preventing the risk of further spread to neighbouring states.”

According to him, the PTF shall provide sector specific details to allow for preparations by governments, businesses and institutions.

“In respect to the above guidelines, state governors may choose to adapt and expand based on their unique circumstances provided they maintain alignment with the guidelines issued above.

“To support our businesses and traders, the monetary and fiscal authorities shall deploy all the necessary provisions needed for production to continue and thus, jobs restored,” he said.

He, however, conceded that the lockdowns had come at a “very heavy economic cost,” adding that many citizens had lost their means of livelihood, while many businesses had shut down.

The President stated that no country could afford the full impact of sustained lockdown while awaiting the development of vaccines.

He said, in the last two weeks, the federal and state governments had jointly deliberated on how to protect health while also preserving livelihoods, leveraging global best practices.

Buhari added, “We assessed how our factories, markets, traders and transporters can continue to function while at the same time adhering to the NCDC guidelines on hygiene and social distancing.

“We assessed how our children can continue to learn without compromising their health. We reviewed how our farmers can safely plant and harvest in this rainy season to ensure our food security is not compromised.”

The President expressed his condolences to the families of all Nigerians that lost loved ones as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, describing the deaths as “our collective loss.”

He said though initial models had predicted that Nigeria would record an estimated 2,000 confirmed cases in the first month after the index case, the measures put in place had yielded positive outcomes.

Buhari noted that the proportion of cases imported from other countries had reduced to only 19 per cent of new cases, showing that “our border closures yielded positive results.”

“Today, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has accredited 15 laboratories across the country with an aggregate capacity to undertake 2,500 tests per day across the country.”

He added that several new fully equipped treatment and isolation centres had been operationalised across the country thereby increasing bed capacity to about 3,000.

The President commended the state governors for the activation of state-level emergency operation centres, establishment of new treatment centres and the delivery of aggressive risk communication strategies.

C’River, Kogi, Nasarawa, Yobe not sending enough samples – NCDC

The NCDC on Monday said four states that had not recorded any case of COVID-19 were not sending enough samples to its laboratories for testing

The NCDC Director General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at a press conference of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said Cross River, Kogi, Nasarawa and Yobe states had not recorded any case of the virus.

Ihekweazu said, “There are only four states with zero case in Nigeria: Cross River, Kogi, Nasarawa and Yobe states. We are not satisfied with the number of samples collected from these states. We need to test more and to do it, we need more samples. Sample collection is the responsibility of states. We are really encouraging public health teams in these states. Collect samples and send to us.”

Why Kano cases are high – NCDC

He also said the issue of mass deaths in Kano State was being looked into critically, adding that more personnel had been sent to the state.

The director general said, “During a pandemic, the risk of spread is in an area where the population is high. We are all aware of the population in Kano, so Kano has always been on our radar. The high number of cases we are seeing in Kano is really not a surprise. We are concerned about this and we are doing everything we can.”

National lab creates 1000 more capacity

He said a Rosche machine at the National Reference Laboratory, Abuja had been activated. The director general said, “This will enable us to have an extra capacity of 1,000 sample testing per day, if we can get the samples from across the country.”

Report on Kano deaths not ready – NCDC

He added the Kano State Government and the NCDC were investigating the recent increase in deaths in the state

The director general stated, “We are also working hard to investigate the causes of the deaths that have been reported. Mortality surveillance is not easy. In a few days or a week, we will be able to produce the report.

“We understand the difficulties and anxiety, but we will not stop until we get to the bottom of this. There is no magic bullet to solve these problems. It will take more time, strong will and collaboration from all. We will not be distracted by any politics or insinuations.”

Reacting to his tweet on Sunday, where he said Nigeria was in dire need of extraction kits, the NCDC DG said he was misunderstood.

He noted, “In my tweet on Sunday, I asked for extraction kits and not the same thing as test kit. We have a supply chain of all the commodities, but we have a challenge with the supply chain of all the things coming into the country now. These are things that we have ordered and in the process of coming in, we suddenly ran out of the commodities.

“Rather than shutting 13 or 15 labs, I put up that tweet. Out of all the criticisms that we got, people came in to solve the problems and brought the extraction kits. Some offered them free because they had them in their warehouses.”

“What we have in the country now, with the new Rosche machine we launched today (Monday), is about 50,000 capacities, but the challenge is collecting samples and coordinating all of them. Every new lab comes with logistics of travels and transportation by road challenges.

“This weekend, we approved the inclusion of a firm called 54G, a private sector company that will start testing in Lagos and Ogun states. We are currently in discussion to move part of the operation to Kano State.”

Almajiris rights not trampled, says FG, backs northern govs

The Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, said no pensioner was being owed and that there was no infringing on the rights of almajiris that were moved to their states.

He said, “The Managing Director of Federal Mortgage Bank said no pensioner is being owed. They have been paid till April 2020.

“It was the decision of the Northern Governors Forum to move them (almajiris). Most of them are minors. Every government has a responsibility given to it to provide for the welfare of its citizens.”

We need to do more, says FG

Mustapha also said that despite the FG’s efforts in the past one month, a lot still needed to be done.

He said, “Over the last four weeks, we made appreciable progress, but we are not out of the woods because a lot more is required to be done. Nigerians at all levels must take responsibility for our actions, adopt behavioural modifications, ensure compliance with advisories and provide guidance to our followers and youths.”

FG rolls out allowance, insurance for health workers

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunninbe Mamora, stated that the Presidential Task Force had provided a robust allowance and insurance coverage for the frontline health workers in the fight against COVID-19.

He said, “On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, the Minister of Labour and Employment (Chris Ngige) convened a stakeholders meeting to discuss hazard/welfare package for medical and health professionals working for the prevention and containment of the of COVlD-19.

“The Federal Government agrees to shelve the payment of the existing hazard allowance of N5,000 being paid across board to health workers. In its place, a special COVlD-19 hazard and inducement allowance of 50 per cent of the consolidated basic salary is to be paid to all health workers in all FG teaching hospitals and federal medical centres and her designated COVlD-19 centres and primary health care centres to last for the first three months in the first instance.

“Forty per cent of Consolidated Basic Salary would be paid as special COVlD-19 hazard and inducement allowance to healthcare workers as special non-public hospitals and clinics in the federal ministries, departments and agencies for same three months period.”

Kaduna almajiris test positive for COVID-19

Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Health, Amina Baloni, on Monday, said Almajiris from Kano were part of the five new COVID-19 cases in the state.

The Kano State Government had last week sent the Almajiris to their home states to curb the spread of the disease in the state.

Baloni, who did not give the number of the Almajiris, who tested positive for COVID-19, said contacts of the new cases were being traced.

Two Kano COVID-19 patients die

The Kano State Ministry of Health on Monday said two COVID-19 patients had died.

In a twitter handle, it said, “As of 12:15pm on 27th April, 2020, Kano State has recorded an additional two deaths of COVID-19.”

With this development, the total number of deaths from cases of COVID-19 had been brought to three in the state.

DSS DG mum, Borno monarch die

Also, as the controversy surrounding strange deaths in Kano continued, Hajia Karimatu Abubakar, mother of the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Alhaji Yusuf Bichi, died on Sunday night.

She died in Bichi town Sunday night and was buried on Monday in Bichi according to Islamic rites.

The state government had on Saturday put the total number of the death at 640, but on Sunday it said although it was concerned about the deaths, it stated that they were not caused by COVID-19.

In Borno State, the Shehu of Bama, Kyari Ibn El-Kanemi died on Monday at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.

It was learnt the traditional ruler, who had a temporary palace in Maiduguri after he was displaced by Boko Haram, was driven to the hospital by one of his aides.

He was said to have walked with little discomfort into one of the hospital wards, where he was admitted. He, however, died shortly after his admission.

The state government has confirmed the death of the king. The state Commissioner for Home Affairs, Information and Culture, Babakura Abba- Jato, while confirming the death, said the Shehu was known to have been battling with “protracted illness as many people of his age, often deal with.”

Three Kano COVID-19 patients on the run

The Coordinator of Kano State Task Force on COVID 19, Dr Tijjani Hussain, on Monday said three COVID-19 patients in the state had gone into hiding.

Husain, who confirmed the development in an interview with The PUNCH in Kano, said all efforts by the committee to reach the three coronavirus patients failed as they disappeared from their houses and had been unreachable.

 

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