By Mathew Dadiya, Laide Akinboade, Abuja and Vincent Nyinongu, Makurdi
The devastating effect of Coronavirus reached a climax yesterday, as four new cases were recorded in Lagos even as the daughter of President Muhammadu Buhari proceeded on self-isolation on return from the United Kingdom.
Reports at our disposal showed that over seven states have shut schools, while other installations have been put under observations.
The First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, said yesterday in Abuja that one of her daughters was in self-isolation having returned from the United Kingdom, one of the high risk countries being ravaged by the virus.
Although the President’s wife did not mention the name of the daughter, a source at the office of the First Lady revealed that the President’s wife had shut down her office for two weeks as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19 among her staff.
It was also gathered that one of her aide, who travelled to London and on return, was advised by the First Lady to should stay away for 14 days, but the staff defiled the advice.
Angered by the nonchalant attitude, the First Lady, on her Twitter handle @aishambuhari, tweeted thus: “Good afternoon Nigerians. Earlier today my daughter returned from the UK being among the high burdened listed countries of COVID-19.
“Based on the advice of the Hon. Minister of Health, Presidential Task force on COVID -19 and that of NCDC, 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.
“I commend the North Western governors, including Niger and Kwara on preventive measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 at their security meeting yesterday in Kaduna.
“Let’s keep following the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, which encourages maintaining social distancing, high hygiene culture through regular washing of hands with soaps and sanitizers.
“Let’s adopt preventive measures and ensure the safety of our families and that of General public.
“We will overcome the Covid-19 pandemic if we all take the necessary precautions at the same time”.
Four New Cases Confirm in Lagos
President Buhari’s wife directives came on the heels of four confirmed new cases of coronavirus in Lagos state.
The State Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, at a press conference yesterday, said the state government had commenced contact to trace 1,300 people suspected to has contacted the virus.
The Federal Ministry of Health had on Wednesday, announced five new cases of the COVID-19, bringing the number patients in Nigeria to 12.
Abayomi said 19 people were tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday, with four out of them testing positive to the virus.
According to him, the patients have been isolated for treatment at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba.
“One of the four new cases is a woman who had contact with the Nigerian woman who returned from UK and currently receiving treatment for testing positive.
“The second new case is a female who returned from France on March 14 on a Turkish Airline TK 1830,” the commissioner said.
“The third case is a Nigerian male in his 50s who had not travelled anywhere but tested positive to the virus.
Abayomi added that the fourth new case is a Nigerian male who arrived in Lagos from Frankfurt on Lufthansa Airline flight number LH568 on March 13.
He said that more tests were still ongoing with some suspected cases while appealing to passengers on the two flights to self-isolate themselves and contact the government.
The commissioner noted that the state government had commenced intensive contact tracing of over 1, 300 people to get information, monitor their health status, adding that the number of contacts was increasing.
“It is clear that we have combination of imported cases and local transmission. The Executive of Lagos State is meeting on the next stage on social distancing.
“The best way to slow the rate is to halt movement of the virus from person to person,” Abayomi said.
FCTA Shuts Abuja Schools
Meanwhile, Federal Capital Territory has directed that all schools in the territory be shut from today till further notice.
FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, who gave the indication in Abuja during a meeting with heads of Secretariats, Departments and Agencies (SDAs) under her supervision, also directed that both public and private schools in the territory should be shut down until further notice.
The minister also directed that social gatherings and worship centres should be restricted to avoid large gatherings that could further endanger the health of others, stressing that shop owners who fail to provide hand sanitizers and other preventive measures should be closed down indefinitely.
According to her, “we should not endanger the lives of children for whatsoever reasons. You know, when these children are in schools, they pick up anything and put them in their mouths without taking precautions of washing their hands. Therefore, the best and safer thing to do is to close down the schools for a week, two or even a month pending on the outcome.
“It might interest you to know that some states have gone ahead of us by closing down schools and we in the Federal Capital Territory, the seat of government cannot fold our hands and watch helplessly. As a matter of fact, as from tomorrow being Friday, all public and private schools in the territory should be closed down indefinitely.
“In the same vein, social gatherings and worship centres should be restricted to avoid large crowds because of body contact. Health officers will ensure that shop owners who fail to put in preventive measures would be closed down”.
Aliyu, however, stated that sensitization would be intensified in all the six Area Councils across the territory to prevent possible outbreak of the disease.
On his part, the Acting Executive Secretary of FCT Primary Healthcare Board, Dr. Iwot Ndaeyo, said the board will mobilize all the stakeholders in the rural communities to drive the campaign.
Benue Orders Closure of Schools
Similarly in Benue, the state Government ordered the closure of all schools from tomorrow as part of measures to protect the state from Coronavirus pandemic.
State Commissioner for Education, Prof Dennis Ityavyar, said all schools in Benue had been directed to conclude examinations on or before March 27 and proceed on holiday.
The commissioner urged schools to ensure that physical contact was restricted before the end of the examinations.
He stated that the decision to close schools before the scheduled end of the current academic term had become necessary as part of measures to prevent an outbreak of the disease in the state.
Commissioner for Health and Human Services in the state, Dr Sunday Ongbabor, said Benue had established an isolation centre at the state University Teaching Hospital in Makurdi, the capital.
He said surveillance against Coronavirus had been stepped up and advised people to avoid shaking of hands and observe personal hygiene.