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Gradual easing of Lagos, Ogun, Abuja lockdown begins Monday

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• Buhari okays 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew • Says distribution of palliatives will continue • Total lockdown of Kano State remains •How infected police officers, others entered
Ondo • Akeredolu, Wike blame security agents for rising cases • Atiku’s son discharged after 40 days of treatment

President Muhammad Buhari yesterday approved a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun states from Monday, May 4, 2020.

In a nationwide broadcast yesterday, Buhari explained that the decision followed the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

Buhari, however, said this would be followed strictly with an aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors.

Announcing the highlights of the new nationwide measures, Buhari said: "There will be an overnight curfew from 8pm to 6am. This means all movements will be prohibited during this period except for essential services. There will be a ban on non-essential inter-state passenger travel until further notice."

Furthermore, Buhari said there would be partial and controlled interstate movement of goods and services from producers to consumers“and we will strictly ensure the mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public in addition to maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene.”

"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.

"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."

"The Presidential Task Force 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.

"These revised guidelines will not apply to Kano State. With regards to Kano, I have directed the enforcement of a 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."

The president commended those he described as the frontline workers across the country who, on a daily basis, risk everything to ensure that the nation wins the fight against the deadly virus.

"For those who got infected in the line of duty, rest assured that Government will do all it takes to support you and your families during this exceedingly difficult period. I will also take this opportunity to assure you all that your safety, wellbeing and welfare remain paramount to our Government.

"I will also recognise the support we have received from our traditional rulers, the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and other prominent religious and community leaders. Your cooperation and support have significantly contributed to the successes we have recorded to date.

"I will urge you all to please continue to create awareness on the seriousness of the coronavirus among your worshippers and communities while appealing that they strictly comply with public health advisories.

"I also wish to thank corporate organisations, philanthropists, the UN system, the European Union, friendly nations, the media and other partners that have taken up the responsibility of supporting our response.

“And finally, I will thank all Nigerians again for your patience and cooperation during this difficult and challenging period. I assure you that the government shall continue to take all necessary measures to protect the lives and livelihoods of our citizens and residents."

President Buhari said some three million confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been recorded globally with about 900,000 recoveries. Unfortunately, some 200,000people have also died as a result of the pandemic. He explained his administration’s plans for the coming months, stating that some key variables and assumptions might change in the coming days or weeks.

“Exactly two weeks ago, there were 323 confirmed cases in 20 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“As at this morning, Nigeria has recorded 1,273 cases across 32 states and the FCT. Unfortunately, these cases include 40 deaths.

"I am using this opportunity to express our deepest condolences to the families of all Nigerians that have lost their loved ones as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is our collective loss and we share your grief.

“Initial models predicted that Nigeria will record an estimated two thousand confirmed cases in the first month after the index case.

“This means that despite the drastic increase in the number of confirmed cases recorded in the past two weeks, the measures we have put in place thus far have yielded positive outcomes against the projections.

"The proportion of cases imported from other countries has reduced to only 19% of new cases, showing that our border closures yielded positive results. These are mostly fellow Nigerians returning through our land borders. We will continue to enforce land border arrival protocols as part of the containment strategy.

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

“Based on your feedback, Lagos State Government and the FCT with support from NCDC have established several sample collection centers. They are also reviewing their laboratory testing strategy to further increase the number of tests they can perform including the accreditation of selected private laboratories that meet the accreditation criteria.

"Several new fully equipped treatment and isolation centres have been operationalised across the country thereby increasing bed capacity to about three thousand.

"I commend the State Governors for the activation of State-level Emergency Operation Centres, the establishment of new treatment centres and the delivery of aggressive risk communication strategies.

“Over 10,000 healthcare workers have been trained. For their protection, additional personal protective equipment have been distributed to all the states. Although we have experienced logistical challenges, we remain committed to establishing a solid supply chain process to ensure these heroic professionals can work safely and are properly equipped.

"In keeping with our Government’s promise to improve the welfare of healthcare workers, we have signed a memorandum of understanding on the provision of hazard allowances and other incentives with key health sector professional associations. We have also procured insurance cover for 5,000 frontline health workers. At this point, I must commend the insurance sector for their support in achieving this within a short period of time," he said.

The president declared that the distribution and expansion of palliatives which he directed in his earlier broadcast were still ongoing in a transparent manner.

"I am mindful of the seeming frustration being faced by expectant citizens. I urge all potential beneficiaries to exercise patience as we continue to finetune our logistical and distribution processes working with the State Governments.

"Our Security Agencies continue to rise to the challenge posed by this unusual situation. While we feel deeply concerned about isolated security incidents, I want to assure all Nigerians that your safety and security remain our primary concern, especially in these difficult and uncertain times. As we focus on protecting lives and properties, we will not tolerate any human rights abuse by our security agencies. The few reported incidences are regrettable, and I want to assure you that the culprits will be brought to justice."

Meanwhile, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has urged the people of Ondo State to be proactive in the fight against coronavirus, warning that the increasing cases may lead to community transmission.

At a weekly media briefing on the pandemic in Akure, the governor attributed the rise in coronavirus cases in Ondo to the connivance of some security personnel with some passengers to gain entrance into the state despite border closure by the government.

“It shows what will happen if we fail to obey simple rules and regulations carefully crafted to save and preserve our lives. It is particularly saddening that these are taking place at a time government is escalating action to prevent such occurrences.

“As you are aware, Ondo State recorded five more cases of Covid-19 infection at the weekend. The fourth and fifth cases occurred on Saturday while the sixth, seventh and eighth cases were discovered on Sunday.

“The fourth and fifth cases were clear evidence of panic, disobedience, lack of discretion and reckless disregard for the well being of others, while the sixth, seventh and eighth cases were regrettable cases of community transmission whose presence in our state were by default,” Akeredolu said.

On the porous borders, he said: “Our security agents who ought to enforce government’s restriction order are themselves accomplices who abuse the trust placed in them at this critical time.

“Members of the public, upon witnessing this massive compromise by law enforcement agents and other government officials, are thereby encouraged to defy the safety regulations and persist in error.

“In any and all of these scenarios, we are the losers. The level of threat and risk to our lives and those of our loved ones is heightened. We must do something to prevent these unfortunate and absolutely avoidable experiences.”

“The fourth and fifth Cases are officers of the Nigeria Police Force serving under the Lagos State Police Command while the sixth case is a murder suspect who was arrested in Edo State and transferred to Ondo State for trial for crime earlier committed in Ondo State.
“The seventh case was a female civilian who sneaked into the state from Abuja. The eighth case was discovered in Owo and samples taken were confirmed positive.

“The fourth case, a policeman resident in Lagos, upon noticing symptoms of the viral infection, reported at the National Testing Centre, Yaba, Lagos for medical review on Monday 20th April 2020.

“Accordingly, his samples were taken while he was told to await his result and further directives in line with established protocols.
“On Wednesday 22nd April 2020, exactly two days after the samples were taken, the case, without concluding the test processes and without any medical clearance, proceeded on an unfortunate journey to Akure where his family is based. This journey was unnecessary, ill-advised and a total disregard for the national regulation which forbids interstate movement.

“It is even more defiant because it violates the total lockdown imposed on Lagos by the Federal Government and the ban on inter-state border movement imposed by governments of the South-West states.

“He arrived in Akure on Wednesday and reportedly kept the night in a colleague’s place. On Thursday, the case, as promised, got a message from the National Testing Centre, Yaba, Lagos confirming his sample as having tested positive.

“The expectation was that he would make himself available at once for immediate isolation and further treatment at the Lagos State government designated facilities.

“He did not make himself available for such as he was already in Akure. The implication of this was that a man infected with Covid-19 in Lagos and who was expected to be in Lagos for treatment had entered Ondo State and had spent a day.

“The case broke through all restrictions and border controls and returned to Lagos late Thursday. He claimed to have called the health authorities to fetch him for quarantine and treatment.

“He did not wait to be picked up by authorities or make conscious efforts to reach the designated facilities. Rather and surprisingly, the suspect, in company of another policeman, returned to Akure on Saturday without receiving the medical attention for which he claimed to have gone to Lagos.”

On the quick response by the state to stop further spread, he said: “Upon arrival in Akure on Saturday, his health status was discovered and was brought to the attention of our response team.

“He was immediately taken and placed on admission at our Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) where he is currently undergoing treatment.
“It is important to state that the other officer with whom he came from Lagos has also been quarantined in our Infectious Diseases Hospital here in Akure, having earlier tested positive in Lagos.”

Akeredolu spoke as Governor Nyesom Wike also berated security agencies for allowing travellers to enter and leave Rivers State at will despite the closure of the borders.Wike raised the alarm that the activities of the security personnel were endangering the lives of the citizens by exposing them to avoidable risks.

In a state broadcast yesterday in Port Harcourt, the governor said: “These unscrupulous security officers are deliberately putting our state and the lives of our people at risk as our health system can hardly cope, should there be a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“To contain this threat, therefore, we will be inaugurating the state’s Task Force on Border Closure on Tuesday April 28, 2020 to effectively monitor our boundaries and ensure that no unauthorized person and or vehicle leaves or enters our state under any guise in breach of the lockdown order.”

The governor urged residents of the state to be prepared to go through more stringent measures, including a possible total statewide lockdown, if the situation compelled it in the days and weeks ahead. Also yesterday, the Kaduna State government intercepted several vehicles carrying food from Kano but were transporting passengers into Kaduna.

The vehicles, that were intercepted at SabonGida village of Ikara Local Government which borders Kiru Local Government Area of Kano State, were ordered to return to Kano State.

The interception came as the Kaduna State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Amina Mohammed-Baloni, confirmed five new cases of Covid-19 in the state, among whom are almajiris who were recently repatriated from Kano.

Baloni, who said in a statement that the number of positive cases had risen to nine, added that contacts of the new cases were being traced so that they could be monitored and probably tested.

She said the new patients had been moved to the Infectious Diseases Control Centre (IDCC), the state’s premier isolation centre.
“Our medical professionals are treating them with the same high standards and we wish all our nine active cases speedy recovery.”

The interception of vehicles from Kano also came at a time when states across the country are recording increase in imported coronavirus cases.The Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, who spoke to newsmen at Kaduna /Kano border said though they had turned dozens of travelers back in accordance with the state government’s directive, they were still facing challenges of motorcyclists beating security through remote area. He said they would return to the drawing board to address the issue.

“As you can see, we are here at the border with our sister state of Kano to assess the level of compliance with the travel restriction, and suddenly intercepted long vehicles carrying passengers into Kaduna State.

“They abused exemption. As you can see, we found dozens of people hidden and well concealed. The good thing is that they have not entered Kaduna State, and if they had entered, we will turn them back to wherever they came from.

“We have turned back dozens of passengers, and we will sustain the tempo in compliance with the Kaduna State government’s directives.We are having some problems with those beating security through remote areas with motorcycles but we will go back to the drawing board.” Aruwan said.

The commissioner had earlier in the day dispersed hundreds of traders at a market at Kwanan Farakwai, Igabi Local Government Area on the Kaduna-Zaria highway. Some defaulters were arrested at the Kaduna State end of the border and handed over to security agencies for prosecution.

It was cheering news yesterday as Mohammed Atiku Abubakar informed Nigerians that he had finally been cleared and discharged after 40 days of coronavirus (Covid19) treatment.

In a statement, the son of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, said: “My discharge could not have come at a better time than in the Ramadan, a season marked by sacrifice and supplication to the Almighty Allah.I thank the Almighty Allah for my recovery from the dreaded infection and also wish to express my sincerest and deepest appreciation to Nigerians for their prayers and goodwill while I was being treated.”


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