The Lagos State Government on Thursday confirmed four new coronavirus cases, bringing to 12, the total number of cases in the country.
The state Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, who disclosed this at a press conference in Ikeja, also said the Italian, who was the first person in the country to be diagnosed with the disease, had tested negative.
Abayomi stated this just as more states took steps to prevent the spread of the disease. The Federal Capital Territory and states such as Ogun, Benue, Anambra, Enugu and Niger on Thursday ordered the closure of their schools.
The Italian was diagnosed with COVID-19 on February 27 in Lagos, where he was being treated, after developing symptoms of the disease at Lafarge Africa Plc, Ewekoro, Ogun State.
A few weeks later, a Nigerian, who had contact with him, tested positive for the disease, making him the second coronavirus case in the country.
The third case is a 30-year-old woman, who returned to the country from the United Kingdom on Friday last week.
The cases rose to eight on Wednesday when the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ohanaire, said a woman, her six-week-old baby and three other persons had been diagnosed with the disease. The minister had said four of the five cases were in Lagos State, while one was in Ekiti State.
The Lagos State commissioner for health told journalists that state government was tracing 1,300 persons that might have had contact with the positive cases.
Abayomi disclosed that 19 persons, who had contact with Wednesday’s cases, were tested and five of them were positive.
He stated, “Out of those 19 tests, we have four new positives. The first new positive is the contact of the third case that came from the UK. She has tested positive and will be admitted shortly. We have a new case, a female, a Nigerian, returning from France via Istanbul on Turkish Airlines TK 1830 on March 14.
“We have a third case, Nigerian male, in his 50s. He has never travelled anywhere. He was referred to us, we went to retrieve samples and it tested positive. He has since been admitted into our facility. The fourth case is a Nigerian male; he arrived on March 13 from Frankfurt via Lufthansa Flight no LH568.”
The commissioner stated that the state was running more tests on suspected cases and contacts of confirmed cases. “It is clear that we have a combination of imported cases and local transmission,” Abayomi added.
The commissioner added that members of the state executive council were meeting to decide on the next step which might include social distancing.
He advised Lagosians to maintain social distance to slow down the outbreak of the disease.
Abayomi stated, “The virus cannot jump a distance. It has to move either through contact, very close proximity or if you touch the surface that an infected person has also touched.
“Effectively, it means no touching; if you are unwell, stay at home, particularly if you have respiratory symptoms. Communicate with your medical professionals, or contact any of our hotlines, particularly, 08000CORONA.”
The commissioner disclosed that the Italian who brought coronavirus to Nigeria had tested negative for the disease.
He said the index case, who had been receiving treatment at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba would be discharged if he tested negative one more time.
“I have the good news to tell you that the index case has now cleared the virus. We will check him one more time and if he is negative, he will be discharged,” Abayomi said.
But the University College Hospital, Ibadan described as untrue claims that the teaching hospital was treating a coronavirus patient in its isolation bay.
However, the hospital disclosed that the result of a suspected case of COVID-19 patient, who is currently self-isolating and whose blood sample had been sent for tests, was being awaited.
The Chief Medical Director, UCH, Prof. Jesse Otegbayo, disclosed this during a press conference on its preparedness in view of the news on the outbreak.
Otegbayo stated that the details about the suspected case and efforts made were provided by the Oyo State Ministry of Health.
He said, “While the citizenry is encouraged to remain calm, the need to be more cautious and proactive in measures that have been proved to reduce transmission of the virus is vital at this time in efforts to control the pandemic.
“Let me quickly debunk the rumour going around about a patient with a positive test for COVID-19 being on admission in the UCH. This is not the case. There is a suspected case of COVID-19 infection who is currently self-isolating and whose blood sample has been sent for tests. The result is being awaited.”
Otegbayo said the hospital decided to limit the number of people and patients who thronged the hospital daily as part of efforts to check the disease.
He said, “Patients who do not have definite or valid appointments are advised not to present at our clinics as only those with valid appointments will be allowed on the premises.
“Only when absolutely necessary should patients be accompanied to regular clinic visit and the number of accompanying caregivers should be the minimum required for the purpose. Clinically stable patients are advised to stay at home and to resume regular clinic visits after the pandemic has subsided.”
But the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Francis Faduyile, said ethics of medical profession and information management in public governance could necessitate Ekiti State’s silence on some of the details surrounding the death of an American who was suspected of having coronavirus symptoms.
Faduyile, in an interview with newsmen, said physicians hardly made public medical information given to them by the patients, even in death.
He said, “The level of testing for coronavirus confirmation or infection is of different levels. If they said it was not positive, it does not mean that they will not subject the sample to other tests that are more sensitive.
In Ogun State, the government said it had extended the ban on all high-density gatherings to school and worship centres in the state.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kunle Sumorin, who disclosed this in a statement in Abeokuta, stated that the ban on high-density gatherings affected all schools both public and private as well as all religious activities in the state.
The statement reads partly, “Consequently, all schools in the state will remain closed indefinitely after school hours on Friday, March, 20th, 2020.
“Also, all religious centres and activities including regular and special services that bring together 50 or more persons in the same place are banned with immediate effect.
“These measures will be reviewed at regular intervals in response to the development surrounding the coronavirus.
The state government urged all parents and guardians, who have their children and wards in any boarding facility within the state to immediately take them home at the close of schools on Friday.
It advised residents of the state to maintain a high level of personal hygiene and surveillance.
It added that suspected cases should be reported at the nearest primary healthcare centres in all the 236 wards in the state or the emergency operation centre on COVID-19 by telephone on 08188978393 or 08188978392.”
Also, the Benue State Government has ordered the closure of all schools in the state beginning from March 27.
The state Commissioner for Education, Professor Dennis Ityavyar, who stated this while briefing journalists, said residents of the state should avoid physical contacts.
The Anambra State Government also ordered the closure of schools in the state beginning from March 27.
In a statement, the state government said the management of all schools in the state must provide hand wash stations at their entrances.
It added, “Schools managements are encouraged to take the temperature of their boarding students at least once every day. Temperatures above 37.9 degrees Celsius must be reported to the nearest hospital.”
The Secretary to the Enugu State Government, Prof. Simon Ortuanya, in a statement, said the state schools should close starting from March 27.
In Niger State, the state government directed the closure of public and private schools, as well as tertiary institutions across the state from Monday.
A statement on Thursday by Secretary to the State Government, Ahmed Matane, stated that all public gatherings had been suspended by the state government. Matane said the closure of the schools would be for 30 days.
The Federal Capital Territory Administration also ordered the indefinite closure of schools in the FCT beginning from Friday.
The FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Aliyu, who announced the suspension, also directed that social gatherings and worship centres should be restricted to avoid large gatherings that could further endanger the health of others.
During a meeting with heads of secretariats, departments and agencies under her supervision, the minister said measures would be intensified to prevent the outbreak of the dreaded COVID-19 in the territory.
According to a statement by her media aide, Austin Elemue, Aliyu stressed that shops that failed to provide hand sanitisers and other preventive measures should be closed down indefinitely.
The Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools in Ekiti State has called on the state government to close all schools in the state.
The ASUSS State Chairman, Sola Adigun, in a statement in Ado-Ekiti, said that such would prevent the close group interactions which could hasten the spread of the virus among very active adolescents in secondary schools.
But the Federal Government and the governments of the 36 states took further steps on Thursday as the cases of coronavirus infection rose to 12 in the country, in a bid to contain the spread.
The National Economic Council set up a committee to coordinate the measures introduced by each of the states to work in liaison with the Federal Government.
The committee is chaired by the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo. The VP also presided over the NEC meeting, attended by the state governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.
The Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, disclosed this to journalists after the NEC meeting.
The development came as the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, announced that her daughter, who just returned from the United Kingdom, is in self-isolation.
The UK is one of the 13 locations the Federal Government placed travel restrictions on Wednesday over coronavirus spread.
The President’s wife also disclosed that she had shut down her office for two weeks because some of her staff also recently returned from the UK.
She added that she had directed essential members of staff to work from home.
Mrs Buhari took to her twitter handle, @aishambuhari, to announce her decisions, saying that she acted based on the advice of the Minister of Health and the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
She wrote, “Good afternoon Nigerians.
“Earlier today, my daughter returned from the UK, being among the high-burden listed countries of COVID-19.
“Based on the advice of the Honourable Minister of Health, Presidential Task Force on COVID–19 and that of National Centre for Disease Control, she is on self-isolation, not because she displayed any symptoms of the Covid-19. Please I urge all parents to do the same if possible as prevention is better than cure.
“Similarly, I have shut down my office for two weeks with immediate effect, while essential staff can work from home as a result of some staff who recently returned from the UK.”
Meanwhile, the NEC on Thursday, “strongly” recommended to relevant government authorities to consider placing a ban on public gatherings.
The Senior Special Assistant to Osinbajo on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, speaking on the issue, said it was discussed on Thursday and the majority of participants at the meeting suggested that public gatherings could be banned.
“There was a very strong recommendation in that regard. However, the situation is such that the Federal government can’t immediately dictate to the states on what decisions to take.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi, had on Wednesday said governors of the 36 states in Nigeria had pledged to work with the Federal Ministry of Health to set up functional test and isolation centres in every state in Nigeria.
He noted that the forum received an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from the Minister of Health.
He spoke while reading the communique at the end of the meeting of the NGF in Abuja on Wednesday night.
He also said that the forum constituted a sub-committee consisting of the Governors of Kaduna State (Mallam Nasir El-Rufai) who is the chairman of the committee; Kebbi, Ebonyi, Ogun, Nasarawa, Edo and Jigawa to comprehensively review the trend and advise state governors on actions required to address challenges in the economy.
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, accused President Muhammadu Buhari, of not providing quality, purposeful, efficient, effective and directional leadership over the coronavirus pandemic and other national challenges.
Speaking during a media briefing on the state of the nation in Abuja, he stated that Nigerians had yet to hear or see their President rise to the emergency, adding that those officers on duty had not enjoyed the needed political will.
The Nigeria Labour Congress called on the Federal Government to start quarantining travellers coming to Nigeria from high-risk countries instead of telling them to go on self-isolation.
The president on the union, Ayuba Wabba, at a press conference in Abuja, said the rise in coronavirus cases in Nigeria had shown that self-isolation was counterproductive.
He said those who visited Nigeria from high-risk countries such as Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom transmitted the virus to other people in Nigeria.
Ayuba said, “The advice to self-isolate is counter-productive, given the socio-economic realities in Nigeria. Contact tracing of positive cases should be stepped up. Health givers should be resourced with Personal Protective Equipment like face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers.
In Abuja, the National Identity Management Commission on Thursday ordered the immediate shutdown of all its enrolment centres.
According to the commission, the move is part of the measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Head, Corporate Communications, NIMC, Kayode Adegoke, said the move became necessary to prevent the commission’s staff and applicants from getting more vulnerable to coronavirus.
The Ekiti State Government said it had begun tracing those who had contacts with the late American citizen who was suspected to have infected the patient who tested positive for coronavirus in the state.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Health, the Chairman of the case management team on coronavirus and Permanent Secretary of Hospitals Management Board, Dr Williams Afolabi, stated this at the state isolation centre on Thursday.
Also, a medical practitioner, who spoke on condition of anonymity in Ado Ekiti, said although the test on the late American was declared inconclusive, the symptoms were like those of coronavirus.
Although the medical consultant said he had no information about whether the late American, the infected driver and the female who tested negative went to hospital straight or were lodged in a hotel before approaching hospital, the medical facilities and the personnel that had contact with him had been quarantined and isolated.
He said, “What we are thinking of is that it is most likely it is coronavirus that killed him because the symptoms were like those of COVID-19, but we are having conflicting reports concerning the outcome of the test. While some said it was positive, others said it was inconclusive.
“But the symptoms were those of coronavirus. Autopsy has not been done and it is not likely autopsy can be done on a body like that. But those who had contact in the hospitals he was taken to have been on isolation, they have been quarantined, both the private hospital and the tertiary hospital.”
He died eventually at the tertiary hospital. All the staff that had contact with him had been quarantined and on isolation.
The medical consultant said, “Information at my disposal is that after arrival, he complained of some symptoms and was taken to hospital and from there he was referred to a tertiary hospital.
“We are not sure of the history of his movement, but looking at it, it is possible he did not go straight to hospital, but we are not too sure.
“It will help in contact tracing if the history is known. If he had been to any hotel, lock down the hotel, lock down the people there. luckily, the other lady is alive, she should be able to give more history and that will help the contact tracing thing so that they can quarantine as many people as had contacts with him.”
The state House of Assembly on Thursday announced the indefinite suspension of legislative activities indefinitely as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The House, at the plenary presided over by the Speaker, Mr Funminiyi Afuye, also resolved to restrict visitors’ movement to the Assembly complex.
This was as members at the plenary appealed for closure of public places to contain spread of the virus which had been recorded in the state.
The Speaker, Afuye, said, “Activities at the Ekiti House of Assembly are hereby suspended as suggested by members, until further notice when the tension about the dreaded coronavirus is doused.”
National Assembly member, Senator Biodun Olujimi, in a statement, urged the state government to step up the identification of those that had contact with the coronavirus case to curb the spread of the pandemic in the state.
The Oyo State Government, on Thursday, said it had mounted surveillance on the private residence of a man who just arrived from the United Kingdom to Ibadan.
Also, the state government indicated that it had started contact-tracing in view of the movement of a coronavirus patient, who reportedly transited from Ibadan to Ekiti State recently.
However, the commissioner did not give further details on the outcome of the contact-tracing done so far.
The Commissioner for Health in Oyo State, Dr. Bashir Bello, who spoke at a press conference in Ibadan, indicated that tests were being run on samples collected from the man who just arrived from the United Kingdom.
According to him, the results of the tests being carried out at the National Reference Laboratory, Lagos University Teaching Hospital would be out today (Friday).
Bello said the patient, who reportedly travelled to Ekiti through Ibadan, did not actually stay in a hotel but was at a private residence which had been identified by the state ministry of health.
The commissioner said the state was coronavirus free. He urged residents of the state to remain calm and also ensure strict adherence to hygienic practices such as regular washing of hands with soap under running water or use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser.