By Amara Christa
With COVID-19 pandemic creating fears in the seat of power, the Presidency and Nigeria power circle, the Federal Government declared on Thursday that these are really trying times in our nation.
It also added that the fight to contain COVID-19 is a call for collective action; assuring, however, that it was doing everything possible to contain the pandemic.
To this end, the FG, therefore, “strongly” urged all health facilities at all levels, public and private, to be on high alert, while healthcare workers of all cadres should maintain a high index of suspicion.
Giving an update on COVID-19 in a press conference, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said: “These are trying times in our nation. The fight to contain COVID-19 is a call for collective action. The Federal Government is doing everything possible to contain the pandemic. The Presidential Task Force will continue to review our strategies and take steps as appropriate.
“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has deployed Rapid Response Teams to affected states to support response activities. I want to here strongly urge all health facilities at all levels, whether public or private, to be on high alert, for healthcare workers of all cadres to maintain a high index of suspicion and to give full cooperation to contact tracers everywhere.”
Also feeling the purse of Nigerians and the media on the attitude of top government functionaries, including those at the Presidency, who flouted the COVID-19 response orders and strategies put in place to check its spread, the minister began his speech with an apology.
Dr Ehanire said: “I shall start with an apology for having to postpone the press briefing yesterday. As of today, 26th of March 2020, we have recorded 51 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease COVID-19 in Nigeria, of which 32 are in Lagos, 10 in FCT, 3 in Ogun and 1 each in Ekiti, Oyo, Edo, Bauchi, Osun and Rivers States.
“Of the 51 cases, 37 had immediate travel histories to one or more of the coronavirus affected countries in the last 2 weeks, 8 are confirmed close contacts of confirmed cases and 6 have neither a recent travel history nor a known contact. While two persons have been cured and discharged from the treatment we have recorded just one fatality. All 48 presently active cases are clinically stable with only mild or moderate symptoms.”
He advised Nigerians to obey the social distancing strategy, adding that, “one major item in Nigeria’s disease containment strategy is social distancing, which has been repeatedly announced. Directives have thus been issued at national and state level, to limit all large gatherings including religious, social and political gatherings, schools, events etc.
“Some states have put the maximum number of gatherings at 50, but a general order will be announced. Markets have also been closed and alternative solutions to the food supply chain created in some states.
“More of the all-important social distancing measures shall be considered in the coming days. The inconveniences are regretted, but I urge all citizens to accept and practice them in good faith, as they are for our common good and in the interest of us all.”
He urged individuals, businesses, professional bodies, media houses and all committed Nigerians to take ownership of the campaign by developing and communicating prevention messages around the critical thematic areas.