Following the reported declaration by President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, that Chloroquine can be used to treat persons infected by Coronavirus, some Nigerians yesterday stormed pharmacies and chemist shops to procure the medication.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that over 20 residents of Lagos who resorted to self-medication are currently hospitalised in various hospitals in Lagos State after taking overdose of the anti-malarial drug.
A family of five, it was learnt, are currently hospitalized in the intensive care unit of a private hospital as a result of chloroquine poisoning.
A doctor in the hospital who spoke to our correspondent in confidence cautioned residents to desist from self –medication, saying it could be worst that coronavirus itself.
‘’Some people were rushed to this hospital on emergency. Imagine, based on unconfirmed rumour that chloroquine can cure COVID-19 people that have not contracted or tested positive to the disease started taking medication without prescription. There is urgent need for sensitization on this issue. It must be discouraged before people do more harm to themselves,’’ he said.
Confirming the development, the Lagos State government hinted yesterday that hospitals in the state had received patients suffering from chloroquine poisoning and overdose.
Senior special assistant on Health, Dr Oreoluwa Finnih, was quoted by the chief press secretary to the state governor, Mr Gboyega Akosile, as saying that some hospitals in the state were now treating patients who took too many quantities of chloroquine, leading to poisoning.
She urged residents of the state to desist from the massive consumption of chloroquine in the hope of curing coronavirus, noting that the best thing to do was to visit hospitals rather than resorting to self-help.
Akosile tweeted in his twitter handle @gboyegaakosile: “Please note: Hospitals Now Receiving Patients Suffering From Chloroquine Poisoning, Says Gov
“@jidesanwoolu’s SSA on Health, Dr @Oreoluwa_Finnih. She urged people against massive consumption of Chloroquine as a measure to fight #coronavirus.”
Also, the NCDC cautioned Nigerians to desist from taking self-medication for treatment of coronavirus as it may cause harm and lead to death.
The NCDC, in its twitter handle on Friday, said, “@WHO has NOT approved the use of chloroquine for #COVID19 management. Scientists are working hard to confirm the safety of several drugs for this disease. Please DO NOT engage in self-medication. This will cause harm and can lead to death”.
Also, Lagos State commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi yesterday warned residents against drug abuse, saying the state government will be conducting clinical trial on the effectiveness of chloroquine in the prevention or management of COVID-19 infection.
Abayomi noted that that the clinical trial was initiated against the fast-spreading news that chloroquine could be effective in preventing and managing COVID19.
The commissioner, however, said that the use of chloroquine drug had not yet been ascertained as an effective treatment of coronavirus disease, adding that the state was still watching the global research space to clearly define the efficiency of the drug in the control of the diseases.
He said, “We do not have any hard evidence that chloroquine is effective in preventing or managing COVID19. We are watching the global research space to clearly define its efficiency in COVID19”.
Abayomi noted that chloroquine has significant side effects and should not be used without medical supervision as it may cause more harm than good.
He advised citizens to seek the advice of a physician and await the directive of the Ministry of Health on the use of chloroquine and not use it without medical supervision.
The commissioner further urged the public not to panic but strictly abide by the instructions of the government as the government remains committed to the fight against the spread of the virus.
Abayomi appealed to citizens not to take advantage of the present situation on COVID19 to hike or hoard domestic consumables and enrich themselves.
He, however, urged members of the public to continue to be their brother’s keeper and join hands with government to curtail the spread of the virus.
Also, the president of the Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Adeniji Abdulrafiu Ajani, has said that no case of chloroquine abuse has been reported in Abuja hospitals.
According to him, if such is happening in Lagos State, it is because the state is open to a lot of things and also most of the reported cases has been in Lagos.
NAFDAC Warns Against Self-medication
Meanwhile, as chloroquine continues to make huge sales in pharmacies and chemist shops as a result of panic buying, the director-general of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, has warned Nigerians against self-medication.
She said the agency had approved the production of anti-malarial drug for clinical trials in tackling the deadly coronavirus.
Adeyeye told journalists in Lagos yesterday that NAFDAC was not approving chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 but for clinical trials to find treatment for the virus.
She said in the case of chloroquine, it had been demonstrated in the literature and with clinical research which was still ongoing that the drug is superior to the Placebo.
“NAFDAC is not approving Chloroquine as a product that can be used for Coronavirus because there is no submission to us for registration but because it is under clinical trials, NAFDAC approves medicines meant for clinical trials. Therefore, the medicine is being approved just for the clinical trials,” Adeyeye stated.
She called on experts and researchers interested in doing a clinical trial on chloroquine to approach approved outlets, adding that a drug company had been given an approval to produce chloroquine in batches.
“Right now, we have asked one company to make a batch of Chloroquine for the purpose of clinical trial,” Adeyeye added.
NMA Directs Striking Members To Suspend Action
On its part, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), has directed medical associations that have declared industrial actions against their management to suspend all actions.
NMA president, Dr Francis Faduyile, who disclosed this at a press briefing yesterday in Abuja said that the National NMA shall take over the dispute and interact with the different agencies of government.
He said, “In this regards, the Association of Resident Doctors (ARDs) of FCTA, Gombe, ESUT-Parklane and Kaduna as well as NMA Cross Rivers are directed to report back to work and treat Nigerians.
“This gesture is geared to treat fellow Nigerians notwithstanding the inhuman treatment meted on our members nationwide.
250,000 Cases Recorded Globally
Meanwhile, as the number of recorded coronavirus cases across the world is now over 250,000, the index case of coronavirus in Nigeria that tested negative has been discharged.
Worldometer, a website providing updates on the virus, which disclosed this yesterday said there are 252,014 cases, 10,405 deaths and 89,055 recovered cases, as of the time of this report.
On Wednesday, the number of recorded coronavirus cases across the world was 200,000. This implies that there has been an increase of 50,000 within 48 hours.
The worst-hit country is China with 80,967 cases; followed by Italy with 41,035 cases, and Spain with 19,980 cases.
The three countries are followed by Iran, Germany and USA. Although China has recorded more cases than Italy, the death toll in the European country is higher than the number of deaths recorded in the Asian country.
Italy has recorded 3,405 deaths, while China has 3,248 deaths from coronavirus. In Africa, cases of the virus have been confirmed in at least 27 countries.
The outbreak has led to several decisions by governments in the form of measures to limit the spread of the disease.
Such measures include border closure, airport shutdown, travel bans, school closure, and suspension of congregational prayers.
FG Adds Sweden, Austria To Ban List
The Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus (PTF COVID-19) has announced the inclusion of Austria and Sweden to the list of 13 countries in which flight restriction was earlier placed.
The 13 countries initially slammed with the ban are China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, United States of America, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland.
According to a statement by the media office of the secretary to the government of the federation, the addition of Austria and Sweden brings the total number of countries of flight restriction into Nigeria to fifteen (15) countries.
The federal government had earlier said it has identified two more high-risk countries, making the total number of high-risk countries with wide spread community transmission of coronavirus 10.
The two added countries are Austria and Sweden, while eight countries on the initial list are China, Japan, Iran, Italy, Republic of Korea, Germany, France and Spain.
The minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who stated this at a press conference on Covid-19 in Abuja also said that international travel to the country has been temporary limited to only two international airports.
He said, “For better control of new arrivals, international travel to Nigeria has been temporarily limited lo only 2 international airports: Murtala Mohammed International Airport Logos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja”
Ehanire also informed that the country has included covid-19 testing in its routine surveillance for influenza-like illness.
On the number of cases in the country, the minister said, “On the 19 of March 2020, 4 additional cases of ‘coronavirus disease (covid-19) were confirmed in Lagos state. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 12. Of the 12 confirmed cases in country, nine were reported in Logos, two in Ogun and one in Ekiti.
“Nigeria is therefore experiencing an influx of imported COVID-t 9 cases by travelers, including returning Nigerians. This emphasises the self-isolation for a minimum of 14 days, even if you feel well.
“Eight of the twelve cases are travelers from Italy, United Kingdom, United States of America and France. Three cases are contacts of imported cases and one case confirmed yesterday has no travel history in the lost one month, but may have met with foreign visitors.”
Also, as Nigeria heightens measures against the spread of coronavirus in the country, the federal government has suspended the Integrated Medical Outreach (I-MOP) Programme rollout earlier scheduled to hold between 23rd and March 27, 2020 in all the states of the federation and the FCT.
Executive director/CEO of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, who stated this in a statement while expressing concerns over the increase in number of Coronavirus cases in the country, said the outbreak would unavoidably affect the rollout of the I-MOP initiative.
He said, “Experts have recommended that crowded places be avoided to reduce chances of spreading the virus. Thus, the NPHCDA has temporarily suspended the I-MOP intervention being an activity that will pull Nigerians to health facilities in large numbers.”
He said a new date will be communicated, even as he expressed hope that the epidemic will be contained in the shortest possible time.
Tinubu Postpones Birthday Colloquium
Meanwhile, leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday said he has postponed an annual colloquium planned to celebrate his 68th birthday as a result of global medical emergency caused by the outbreak of coronavirus.
Tinubu in a statement he personally signed said although the spirit of the colloquium had always been one of public service and social progress, the reality on ground has compelled him to postpone the ceremony.
He said, “To keep faith with that spirit, we must seriously consider the need to postpone the colloquium. Due to the troubling promulgation of the Coronavirus, the world has entered an unprecedented phase. Many nations have instituted travel restrictions and have curtailed various forms of economic activity and social events.
“We thank God that Nigeria has only had three cases thus far. However, we note the number of cases is slowly increasing across Africa. This is of great concern.
“That the virus has not yet come in great numbers should not lull us into false security. We know not why it has not touched us in the way it has affected other nations. Thus, we cannot be certain that it will not eventually visit Nigeria in significant numbers.”
The former governor of Lagos State said he strongly believes the people have a unique social responsibility to help educate and lift public awareness on all issues, including the coronavirus.
He said,” We must lead by example. The colloquium is something I look forward to every year. This year I was greatly looking forward to the discussion on innovation in basic education. However, I think it even more urgent that we educate and increase awareness of this possible public health menace.
“We do not want a situation where we have gathered for a good cause only to later find that the event might have been a conduit to disseminate not only knowledge but also the virus as well. We should foreclose this possibility even though it is slight.
“I value the work you have done in preparing the colloquium for the chosen topic is essential to our national discussion. Your work needs to enter the public record and it will do so. However, I ask you to take a step back to review and reconsider whether now is the best time to hold the colloquium because of the overriding public health concerns and the need to persuade people that they must begin taking precautionary steps against the virus such as foregoing large public gatherings.
“My fervent prayer is that our nation escapes the brunt of the coronavirus. However, we must prepare for the opposite. And we must assume leadership on this matter by focusing public attention on practical measures to blunt a possible spread of the virus.
“If you decide that caution is required, then the colloquium can be postponed but not cancelled. It is important that your exceptional work be presented to the Nigerian people once we believe public health concerns have been addressed.”
Sanwo-Olu Orders Dispersal Of Large Gatherings
Apparently not amused by the utter disregard of government’s pronouncement on religious gathering in the state, Lagos State Governor, Babajide
Sanwo-Olu has directed law enforcement agencies to arrest and disperse any large gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
LEADERSHIP Weekend checks showed that several religious outfits defied the order earlier issued by the government and conducted their services including Friday congregational prayer (Jummah prayer).
The governor in a live broadcast yesterday also cautioned residents against panic-buying of the Chloroquine drug, foodstuff, and other household items.
JNI Calls For Special Prayers Over Covid-19
Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) has called on all religious leaders to partake in special prayers over the coronavirus pandemic.
The call was made by the secretary general of JNI, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu while briefing newsmen in Kaduna yesterday.
According to Khalid, repentance, seeking Allah’s forgiveness, engaging in the recitation of the glorious Qur’an with pondering and meditation, fasting as well as giving charity to the needy and a lot of supplications will play a vital role in seeking the intervention of Allah, the Almighty.
“We call on all Imams to engage in special prayers during their sermons, preaching and other sessions for Allah’s quick intervention in wiping away the corona virus pandemic and all other diseases bedeviling humanity”, he said.
Kaduna, Nasarawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Ebonyi, Rivers, Others Close Schools, Worship Centres
Some states in the country yesterday closed schools and worship centres in a bid to reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19.
The states include Kaduna, Nasarawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Ebonyi and Rivers.
Kaduna State government advised Imams not to hold Juma’at services as part of efforts to restrict religious services and all large gatherings.
In a statement, special adviser on Media and Communication to the state governor, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, said that the administration is taking cue from the decision of the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the
cradle of Islam, not to hold such prayers in the two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madina.
He said that church services should be suspended, adding that Christian faithful should learn from the experience of many Christian-majority countries like Italy, France and Germany.
The Nasarawa State Ministry of Education also ordered the closure of public schools.
State commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Hajiya Fati Jimaita Sabo, gave the order at an emergency meeting with Directors, Chief Evaluation Officers and Association of Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS.
The statement directed all school principals across secondary schools in the state to hasten and complete ongoing examinations.
Also, Ebonyi State government joined its counterparts in other states to close down school activities, worship centers of more than 50 members, night clubs and other night activities in the state.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Secretary to the state government, Dr Kenneth Ugballa and made available to Leadership Weekend. The statement further ordered that schools in the state are to round up its activities on or before 12 pm Friday March 2020 and shutdown all its activities.
Also, Plateau State government has said apart from the closure of all public and private schools in the state all Churches and Mosques must reduce congregation with aspacing of two meters intervals and to provide running water, soap and sanitizers at their entrances.
This was made known on Friday in Jos, during a press briefing by the Secretary to the Government of the State (SGS), Prof. Danladi Atu.
According to SGS, the directive became imperative if the State will make any gain in containing the scourge, adding that anniversaries and cultural festivals are also suspended.
Also, Rivers State government yesterday ordered the closure all public and private primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the state as a measure to contain the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the state.
The state government also directed all religious organisations to restrict their activities as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, who spoke yesterday in a state-wide broadcast, stated that the action was taken in the interest of Rivers State.