President Muhammadu Buhari declared yesterday that the lockdown in Abuja, the nation’s capital, as well as Lagos and Ogun States will remain in force till Monday, May 4.
The additional seven days will make it the fifth week since the president declared a two-week lockdown in the three areas on March 29 to curb the spread of coronavirus.
On April 13, Buhari had extended the lockdown by another two weeks following increasing cases of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The president last night also gave federal government’s nod to Kano State government’s proclamation of lockdown, saying the state should be totally shut down for a period of two weeks.
In a nationwide broadcast to Nigerians aired on national television and radio stations at 8:00pm, Buhari noted however that the lockdown measures in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States will be eased gradually in phases effective from May 4.
From next week Monday, according to the president, the lockdown in these three volatile areas will be relaxed to night curfews, beginning from 8:00am to 6:00am daily.
He said, “Based on the above and in line with the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the various Federal Government committees that have reviewed socio-economic matters and the Nigeria Governors Forum, I have approved a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States effective from Monday, 4th May, 2020.
“However, this will be followed strictly with aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors.
Outlining the new nationwide measures to be introduced, the president said, “There will be an overnight curfew from 8pm to 6am adding that 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. Partial and controlled interstate movement of goods and services will be allowed for the movement of goods and services from producers to consumers.
“We will strictly ensure the mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public in addition to maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene”.
Buhari further noted that the restrictions on social and religious gatherings shall remain in place, adding that “State Governments, corporate organisations and philanthropists are encouraged to support the production of cloth masks for citizens”.
He maintained that the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States shall remain in place until the new measures come into effect next week Monday.
He continued: “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”.
Noting that the revised guidelines will not apply to Kano State, the president said, “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”.
He noted the steps taken were necessary as they have contributed to slowing down the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The president regretted that the lockdown was coming at a very heavy economic cost, saying many of the citizens have lost their means of livelihood.
Admitting that many businesses had been shut down, Buhari said no country coukld afford the full impact of a sustained lockdown while awaiting the development of vaccines.
Buhari also warned that culprits of human rights violation among security operatives would be brought to book.
President Buhari warned that as the country focuses on protecting lives and properties, he will not tolerate any human rights abuse by security agencies.
“The few reported incidences are regrettable, and I want to assure you that the culprits will be brought to justice”.
He however urged all Nigerians to continue to cooperate and show understanding whenever they encounter security agents.
“Furthermore, for their protection, I have instructed that the personnel of all the security agencies be provided with the necessary personal protective equipment against infection”, he added.
The president commended frontline workers across the country who he said, on a daily basis, risk everything to ensure the fight against COVID-19 is won.
“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, well-being and welfare remain paramount to our Government,” he stated.
Immediately after the broadcast, President Buhari last night signed the Proclamation Order on the General Management of Covid-19 in Lagos, Ogun, Kano, the Federal Capital Territory and other states in Nigeria as contained in his national broadcast, April 27, 2020.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina noted that “this was in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 3 of the Quarantine Act, CAP Q2 Laws of the Federation 2004 and all powers enabling him in that behalf”.
Community Transmission Caused By Unauthorised Treatment – FG
Meanwhile, the federal government has said that the increasing community transmission of COVID-19 in the country was to a large extent the result of non-compliance with lockdown orders and other non-medical interventions.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who stated this also, identified unauthorised treatment of highly contagious COVID-19 patients in private homes or unaccredited health facilities as another presumptive source of exposure to infections.
Ehanire, while speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 yesterday in Abuja, said this exposure comes with the risk of infecting families, other patients, visitors and health workers. He said these factors had necessitated the ongoing active case finding strategy with house-to-house and cluster testing, which has contributed to increased case detection.
The minister hinted that two additional labs have been activated in the COVID-19 network, Usman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital (UDUTH), Sokoto and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, bringing the total number of labs to 15.
According to Ehanire, all states have been supplied with medical consumables to support preparedness and response activities.
On Kano, he said, „There are concerns about the steep rise in the number of persons diagnosed with covid-19 in Kano State, who sadly included members of the State Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), along with reports on a reported spike in the number of deaths, over the weekend.
“The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, is deploying a high-powered fact-finding delegation to work with the state to improve COVID-19 response as well as ask questions on the causes of these death reports.
“However, the Kano State Governor has told us that the State Public Health Department has assured him that they found no unusual increase in deaths and burials in Kano in the period in question, and that many of the high profile names mentioned were actually known to have had underlying ailments.“
The minister reiterated that the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer should best not attend large public gatherings and should avoid receiving non-essential guests, especially at close quarters, at this preiod.
…Signs MoU With Health Professionals
The federal government also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with health professional associations and unions on life insurance cover and other incentives for health workers in the country‘s public health system.
As part of the resolutions in the MoU presented by the minister of state for Health, Dr Adeleke Mamora, during the COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, the federal government agreed to grant extension of service for healthcare workers retiring within the COVlD-19 period.
It stated that the extension period for three months in the first instance will not count as pensionable period of service.
The federal government also agreed to a tax waiver on the Special COVlD-19 hazard allowance, and to consider same for call duty, specialist and shift duty allowances for three months in the first instance during the COVID‘19 period.
The MoU reads: „The federal government has agreed to shelve the payment of the existing Hazard Allowance of $5,000.00 being paid across board to health Workerss but Special COVlD-19 Hazard and lnducement Allowance of 50 per cent of the consolidated basic salary is to be paid to all health workers in all Federal Government Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres and her designated COVlD-19 Centres and Primary Health Care Centres to last for the first three months.
“40% of Consolidated Basic Salary would be paid as Special COVlD-19 Hazard and Inducement Allowance to healthcare workers at Special None Public Hospitals and Clinics in the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for same three months period.
“20 per cent of the Consolidated Basic Salary will be paid as Special Risk Allowance, additionally on the Special COVID=19 Hazard and lnducement Allowance to all health workers directly managing COVlD-19 at the llnfectious Diseases Hospitals, lsolatlon
“10% of Consolidated Basic Salary would be paid to non-core medical professionals working in the heaith sector and operating at aforementioned Hospitals/Clinics as Special Allowance for the COVID-19 period three months first instance.“
Situation In Kano Scary, Says Ganduje
Meanwhile, Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has lamented that the state was not receiving the most desirable care it ought to be getting from the federal government, describing the situation in the state as very bad and scary.
“We are in a serious problem. I can tell you the situation is really bad and scary because what we solely rely upon in fighting the disease is the testing centre,” Ganduje said.
He expressed concerned over the lack of attention the state is facing from the federal government in its fight against COVID-19 despite the level of vulnerability in the state.
The governor who was monitored in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service on yesterday said that the state was not getting the needed support of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
He further explained the level of deterioration being faced in the state as the figures continue to rise, adding that there is shortage of sample collection equipment, even as the laboratory in the state is not functioning.
The governor said, “There is also a shortage of sample collection equipment. It is not common equipment that you can go and buy in the market. Those whose samples were collected are still waiting to know their fate.
“The problem is with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. Even its Director-General was in Kano. He spent a night here but we have not heard from him again. The Minister of Health is also aware that the laboratory is not functioning”.
Aisha Buhari Donates Medical Items To State
In a bid to tackle Coronavirus in the country, wife of the president, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, yesterday presented donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), medical consumables and assorted food items to Kano State government and people of the state.
She said it behooves the well-to-do in the society to wake up from their slumber and donate generously to less privileged Nigerians with a view to cushioning the effect of lockdown.
Speaking on her behalf during the presentation of the items in Kano, special adviser on administration to the Nigerian first lady, Alhaji Hadi Uba, said that the items were to be distributed by the Aisha Buhari Foundation and were meant to target 500,000 households in the state.
He said, „The items we are presenting today to the government and people of Kano state is from the Aisha Buhari Foundation. We have divided these palliative into three. We have food items which consist of rice, spaghetti, oil and others. We also have the Personal Protective Equipment, PPE that include gloves, goggles, facemasks, sanitisers and other things. On the other hand we have the drugs.
„We have decided to pass the PPEs to the state government to distribute to the needy. The food items will be distributed by the Aisha Buhari Foundation“.
According to him, the gesture of the wife of the president is meant to cushion the effects of the lockdown in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
Uba further explained that 16 trailer loads of assorted food items, including rice, spaghetti, flour, cooking oil and milk were going to be distributed in collaboration with the state government to the needy in the state.
He listed the PPEs to include 300,000 hand gloves, 300,000 face masks as well as protective gowns, ten pieces of automatic dispensers, among other medical items.
Receiving the items on behalf of the state government, the commissioner for information, Muhammad Garba, applauded the wife of the president for her magnanimity, just as he promised that the items were going to be distributed accordingly.
„We assure the first lady that these items, which are currently scarce, will be judiciously utilized,“ he said.
Kwankwaso Writes PMB, Links Kano Deaths To COVID-19
Meanwhile, former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, has written an open letter to President Buhari on the mysterious deaths in Kano, saying they are not unconnected with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former Senator expressed his concern over the incessant deaths of elderly people in the state and what he described as the unprofessional handling of the situation by the state government.
In the four-page letter he signed the ex-senator said the last few weeks had seen hundreds of deaths recorded in the eight metropolitan local governments of the state, adding that the pattern should be looked upon as the fatalities globally in the novel COVID-19 are elderly people who have preregistered ailments.
Kwwankwaso said, „Mr President everywhere in the world the he fight against the pandemic is spearheaded and superintended by the central government“, even as he observed that the WHO and other international bodies have no business with regional or state governments.
Recalling how Kano State government went into a tug of war with the NCDC over the pandemic in Kano, he reminded the president that the state is the most populous state and that if care and professional handling of the situation was not employed, it would lead to serious problem.
Kwamkwaso alleged that the use of political affiliation in the distribution of palliatives has further disqualified the fight against the pandemic.
The deaths in the state continued on yesterday with a graveyard attendant Malam Sani Adamu, confirming the burial of seven corpses at Dandolo Cemetery.
Adamu told our correspondent that the grave diggers were exhausted and that the fasting period had become a trying moment for them.
He urged the state government and the local governments to come to their aid.
Meanwhile, two COVID 19 patients have reportedly died in Kano yesterday, raising the number of the people who have so far lost their lives to three.
The ministry of Health which made this revelation via its official twitter handle said, “As of 12:15pm 27th April 2020, Kano state records an additional 2 deaths of COVID-19.”
The state now has a total number of three persons that have died from COVID-19, according to the ministry.
Three of the isolated persons who tested positive in the state are now on the run.
The coordinator of Kano Taskforce on COVID 19, Dr Tijjani Hussain, confirmed this to journalists yesterday.
He said the three coronavirus patients disappeared from their respective houses and had been unreachable.
According to him, the patients switched off their phones, while their homes had been deserted.
This was also announced by the Health ministry on its verified Twitter handle yesterday.
According to the ministry, so far the state has 77 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while no discharge had been made yet.
“As of 12:15pm, 27th, April, 2020, Kano State has recorded an additional 2 deaths of COVID-1,” it stated.
Dokpesi’s Son Tests Positive, Atiku’s Son Recovers
Meanwhile, DAAR Communications Plc Chairman, Raymond Dokpesi jnr, yesterday tested positive for Coronavirus.
He disclosed this in a short message to his members of staff in Abuja yesterday.
The son of High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, who had been on self-isolation for the past one week, said he began feeling ill with symptoms similar to malaria.
He also started coughing and as a precaution, reached out to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for a test which later turned out positive for the COVID-19 pandemic.
He has since been evacuated by the NCDC to the isolation centre at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, for treatment.
Dokpesi also assured members of staff that he still feels strong and hopes to be back soon.
In the message, he said, “I got a call this morning confirming the result is COVID-19 positive. I am leaving now to the Gwagwalada Isolation Centre for treatment and hope to be back in two weeks. Many of you may have interacted with me during our various meetings and I would advise you to get tested as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, the contact tracing team of the NCDC is to begin a test of persons who may have had contacts with Dokpesi in the past two weeks, as well as all other members of staff.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Atiku Abubakar, a son of Nigeria’s former vice-president, has now tested negative for Coronavirus.
“I have just received my second consecutive negative result. My discharge is currently being processed, and I hope to be home this evening”, Mohammed said.
He was first confirmed to have contracted the virus on March 19 and was subsequently transferred to an isolation centre on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital, Abuja.