Coronavirus: No plan to shutdown schools, worship centres, says FG

Posted by News Express | 7 March 2020 | 320 times

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• Dr. Osagie Ehanire

The federal government has ruled out the possibility of shutting down schools and worship centres in its efforts to protect Nigerians from being infected by coronavirus (COVID-19), which is ravaging countries across the globe.

Health minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who briefed journalists and the international community on the virus status in Nigeria, yesterday, said that there is still no new incident after the first index case.

The minister said that the government would not close schools and other public institutions, such as worship centres because coronavirus is not endemic in the country.

He said: “The NCDC recently released new guidance for schools in the country. It is important to focus on ensuring personal and respiratory hygiene in schools. At the moment there is no reason to shut down schools in Nigeria.

“NCDC has also escalated risk communications activities. In collaboration with Dettol Nigeria, we published a video on COVlD-19 preventive measures shot with Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele,’” the minister said.

On the three new suspected cases, Ehanire said that two cases were negative while one result is pending.

He said: “Between the 7th January and 5th March 2020, a total of 21 suspected cases have been identified across four states in Nigeria. The states are Lagos, Ogun, Kano and the FCT. There is still only one confirmed case of COVID- 19 in Nigeria, which is the index case and no death.

“There were three new suspected cases between the 4th March when I last provided an update and today. Two cases were negative while one result is pending. Therefore, as at today, 6th March 2020, I repeat that there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

“Let me assure you that there is no other confirmed case in Nigeria today.  If there is a new case this will be announced immediately,” Ehanire explained.

On the index case, the minister said that the Italian patient is clinically stable with mild symptoms and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos

He urged Nigerians to discourage the spread of misinformation that causes fear and panic as well as rumours of new cases in country, adding that “verified news will come from the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC.”

He said that they were following up with six contacts of the index case, 21 contacts in Lagos and 40 contacts in Ogun State. He explained that the contacts of the index case are currently under supervised self-isolation, stressing that the states had provided with temperature monitoring tools.

Commenting on the 148 passengers on the manifest of the index case flight, the minister said that 55 are actively being followed up while the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Port Health Services were in touch with them to monitor their temperatures and possible appearance of COVID- 19 symptoms.

“We are reaching out to others. I urge any passenger of the Turkish Airlines flight to Lagos on February 24 listening to me to contact us on 08009700001-10.”

On Prof. Maurice Iwu’s potential drug against the disease, Ehanire said that he developed the drug against SARS and suggested that since the virus has a relationship with COVID-19, it could also be applied.

“The product is in the USA, being tested by some research institutes and that suggests that if it comes out positive, it might be effective against COVID-19. So, nothing new,” he declared.

Ehanire continued: “As you know, there are five laboratories with capacity for testing for COVlD-19. The five laboratories are NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja, NIMR, Lagos, LUTH, Lagos, ISTH, Edo and African Culture of Excellence for Genomics on Infectious Disease (ACEGID), Osun State.”

On the global situation, Ehanire said: “As at 4th March, 2020, a total of 93,090 confirmed cases reported (88.4 per cent cases in China) 3,198 deaths.

“While the outbreak in Wuhan and more broadly in China is reducing, case numbers are increasing outside of China. Over 90 per cent of cases reported in last 24hr were outside of China.

Meanwhile, NCDC has said that it budgetted N1.67billion for the handling of coronavirus response in the first 28 days.

NCDC’s deputy director, Special Duties, Dr. Priscilla Ibekwe, made this known during the ministerial press briefing on coronavirus update.

She said: “We are speaking with international partners. Dangote has donated N200million, we are putting together partners and donor’s funds, some of which we are already using.” (Leadership)

Source: News Express

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