By Mathew Dadiya and Laide Akinboade, Abuja
The Federal Government has confirmed the third case of Coronavirus (COVI-19) in the country, having been transported by a Lagos-based United Kingdom female returnee.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who confirmed this development at a news conference yesterday in Abuja, said government surveillance efforts uncovered the case, thus bringing the total number of identified cases to three in the country.
Ehanire disclosed the carrier of the third case was a Nigerian female in her 30s, who returned from a short visit to the UK on March 13.
“Fortunately, she decided on returning home to go into 14 days of self-isolation, but subsequently developed symptoms of fever and cough on March 16.
“It was at that point she voluntarily called the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), toll free call line, to report her condition.
“Officials from the Lagos State Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) were immediately dispatched to her home to collect samples, which upon testing, came out positive for the coronavirus.
“The lady is currently at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Yaba, Lagos, where she has remained clinically stable and responding to treatment.”
The minister said intensive contact tracing had begun to help identify all persons who the patient had been in contact with since her return.
“We expect the number to be small because of her sensible decision to go into self-isolation from the time of her arrival.
“We commend her for following the recommended guidelines. The FMoH will continue to assess the situation and adjust response accordingly.
“The inaugural meeting of the Presidential Taskforce on Coronavirus will hold later today.
“Please continue to maintain hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, which has been repeatedly advised.”
FG Postpones Edo 2020 Sports Festival
Consequent upon the increase from three to four cases of COVID-19 in the country, the Federal Government, also yesterday ordered the postponement of the National Sports Festival, christened ‘Edo 2020’, scheduled to commence tomorrow in Edo State.
About 11,500 athletes and participants from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were expected to take part in the two weeks sports festival.
Briefing State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr Sunday Dare, alongside the Minister of State, Health, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora, disclosed that the Federal Government was contemplating restrictions on religious and social gathering in the country.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, because of the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival, has been in close touch and consultation with the ministers of health.
“We have also been in consultation with the governor and deputy governor of Edo State, the LOC, and the MOC but we have had the ministry of health take the lead. Base on daily review on development, we got assurances that we could go ahead.
“But, we are dealing with a dynamic situation, this morning (Tuesday), we had a meeting with the minister of health with the minister of state, health present, myself, the permanent secretary and the Director General of NCDC.
“Shortly, after the meeting, which lasted for about 45 minutes, we proceeded to the presidency to brief Mr Presiden who took the initiative and gave the directive that the National Sports Festival should be postponed as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19 and a new date would be communicated later.
“Let me also add that for the benefit of the sporting community, the Ministry of Youth and Sports recognises the fact that a lot of resources, a lot of efforts on the part of our athletes has gone into preparing for Edo 2020 – 36 states and the FCT.
“But, we think that staying healthy to be able to compete in not just Edo 2020 but other sports and tournaments, is very important. So, the interest of the health of our sports men and women is paramount at this time.
“Beyond that, we are looking at 11,500 people coming into Edo state for two weeks and we think that is a huge number, we think that we should go by just what the Minister of State for Health has said, we have done an extensive review and we just want to say, we have the interest and the welfare of our sportsmen and women at heart and we know that not too far from now, we will be able to re-enact the festival in Edo.”
Also speaking, Mamora said although the World Health Organization (WHO), had given its guidelines, especially the precautionary measures, each country still has the liberty to take decision in the best interest of that country.
“One of the reasons we need to give attention to in the postponement is the possibility of people carrying the virus even without knowing – what we called A-Symptomatic – that is they carry it but they don’t even know because they are not manifesting symptoms.
“What we need, so far, is that up to 80 to 81 percent of people would either be a symptomatic, that is not showing any symptoms or where they show symptoms, the symptoms may just be mild and moderate and this is a major source of what we call community transmission. So, the principle of social distancing has to be respected”, he added.
Asked whether the ministry was considering a ban on all forms of religious gatherings including schools, he said the immediate consideration was the sports festival.
“What I can say for now is that the immediate issue before us is the national sports festival and our meeting with Mr. President, essentially, was to convey our thoughts in that regards and Mr. President did the right thing by approving the need for the postponement. But social distancing is desirable at this point in time”.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has banned all foreign travels for officials as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Officials said yesterday, the measure will remain place until further notice.