Reps want flights from China, UK, US, stopped
Senate requests N10.5trn 2020 budget slashed
Nat’l festival, convocations suspended
‘All VIPs must be screened’
Dangote contractor quarantined
The federal government yesterday barred its officials and other workers from all forms of foreign trips over the Covid-19 outbreak, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, disclosed this last night after the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
“So far, we have three cases (and) two have tested positive, one negative. We will want to ensure that this does not go beyond this minor figure for now. On the part of government, we have decided that it has become necessary to advise all public officials in the ministries, departments and agencies and the parastatals that government has banned all forms of travel out of the country for whatever reasons- bilateral, multilateral, conferences, seminars, workshops, negotiations, presentations and any form of other ceremonies.
“This ban will remain in place till further notice and until the situation of the coronavirus abets. By this notice, any prior approval to travel abroad for official assignments during this period is accordingly rescinded,” he said.
“With regards to the general public, we want to advise strongly that citizens in their own interest should cancel or postpone all nonessential travel abroad including business and vacation trips. This is especially for travels to countries known to be seriously affected by Covid-19,” he added.
Daily Trust reports that before the official proscription, many top politicians and civil servants who hitherto travelled abroad frequently have stopped travelling abroad.
While inaugurating the presidential committee on the Covid-19 which he chairs, Mustapha said they have six months to complete their assignment.
Earlier at a separate event, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, said the federal government had no plans on restricting any country’s nationals from entering Nigeria.
He said rather than stopping people from coming into Nigeria, authorities would be intensifying screening on passengers from eight countries – China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Germany, Japan, France, and Spain.
The first case of Covid-19 in the country was from an Italian on February 27, while the second case was from someone who had contact with him.
3rd case confirmed as Reps want ban on select flights
As Nigeria recorded a third case of the Covid-19, the House of Representatives yesterday called on the federal government to halt all flights from UK, Spain, Italy, United States, China and South Korea to stem the spread of the disease.
The legislators also resolved that only Nigerian citizens who will be tested on arrival should be allowed into the country and may be quarantined if the need arose.
The decision to ban passengers coming to Nigeria from some select countries was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion of Matters of Urgent Public Importance by Rep. Luke Onofiok (PDP-Akwa-Ibom) at yesterday’s plenary.
Before the call on ban of some inbound flights by the House of Representatives, the Federal Ministry of Health had confirmed another case of the Covid-19 in Nigeria, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to three.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made the disclosure while briefing newsmen in Abuja.
He said the latest case was a Nigerian national in her 30s, who returned from a short visit to the United Kingdom on March 13.
The minister said on arrival, the patient decided to go on a 14-day self-isolation, but suddenly developed symptoms of fever and cough on March 16, at which point she voluntarily called the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) toll free line to report her condition.
Lagos govt in search of more suspects
The Lagos State Government said it has the manifest of the British Airways’ flight that brought in the woman that tested positive to Covid-19.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who stated this yesterday, said the contact tracing of the passengers on the flight with the 30-year-old British-returnee had commenced.
He therefore called on all those on the flight to self-isolate for 14 days to avert any circle of transmission.
Prof. Abayomi added that the Italian who brought the Covid-19 to Nigeria was still potentially contagious and will remain in isolation until he no longer secretes the virus.
Similarly, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State yesterday urged airport workers to ensure that all travellers coming into the country, regardless of their status or age, undergo the Covid-19 checks.
Sanwo gave the directive when he paid a surprise visit to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) to assess how the response team stationed at the Lagos air border were screening inbound passengers for the Covid-19. He said no VIP should be excluded in the screening.
Dangote quarantines contractor
A contractor with Dangote Fertiliser Company has been quarantined in Lagos State over coronavirus and is currently under isolation and undergoing a test in a hospital.
This was disclosed in a statement yesterday by the management of the fertiliser company, which disclosed that the Indian national is currently at the Lagos Mainland Hospital in Yaba after the management of the company was informed.
“We will like to state that an Indian national who is a staff of Onshore Construction Company-a mechanical, electrical and instrumentation contracting firm that specialises in fertilizer construction reported at the site clinic complaining of high temperature and fever.
“His complaint triggered our protocols which necessitated further screening and isolation immediately. Mr. Akhil Kunyil, of the Health and Safety Environment of the Onshore Company, reported the development to the management following which local authorities were contacted.
“The patient was immediately conveyed to the Lagos Mainland Hospital Centre, where he is currently being isolated and undergoing tests,” the statement said.
Senate wants N10.5trn 2020 budget slashed
The Senate said yesterday that a downward review of the N10.5trn Appropriation Act 2020 is inevitable amid the sharp drop in the price of crude oil.
It, however, said the modalities to be adopted in the budget review should be subject to consultations between the legislature and the executive.
This followed consideration of a report of the Senate Joint Committee on Finance, Appropriations, National Planning and Petroleum Resources (Upstream) on the urgent need to monitor and examine the current economic reality caused by the sharp drop in the price of crude oil, the emergence of Covid-19 and the uproar within the OPEC community.
The committee, chaired by Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos) was constituted last week to interface with relevant stakeholders in the executive and business community with the intention of bringing out suggestions, solutions and way forward out of the present economic reality.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan said there was the need for Nigeria “to look inwards now that we know it is difficult or even impossible to get the foreign loans that we had built our hopes and implementation of our capital budgets on.”
Lawan also said yesterday that they were not sure the federal government would secure the $22.7 billion foreign loan recently approved by the Senate.
He said almost every country from where the government supposed to borrow the money was facing the Covid-19 pandemic.
He stated this when the new World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr. Shubham Chaudhuri, led a delegation of officials on a courtesy visit to his office in Abuja.
Economic c’ttee backs budget review
Also yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari said the federal government will explore all alternatives to protect the country as they have foreseen the economic problems that may come in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Buhari said this at the Presidential Villa, Abuja during a briefing session by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) led by Prof. Doyin Salami.
Professor Salami who led a team of PEAC members painted sobering scenarios of what could happen to the Nigerian economy if the Covid-19 pandemic lasted for too long.
These scenarios as highlighted by Prof. Salami-led council included slower growth as the supply and demand sides of global economy would be affected, adding that there would be oil glut, trade imbalance, drop in foreign reserves, and rise in unemployment.
The PEAC, which noted that many countries around the world may go into economic recession, advocated hard work for Nigeria to keep its head above the waters.
The council therefore recommended possible revision of the 2020 Budget with priority spending on healthcare, reprioritization of expenditure on infrastructure to focus on projects nearing completion with pro-poor effects, curtailing recurrent expenditure, mobilizing the private sector to strengthen health sector infrastructure, and boosting of government revenue.
National festival, convocations postponed
President Buhari also yesterday approved the postponement of the 2020 National Sports Festival.
The minister of Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare who made the announcement after a meeting with the president at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, said the decision to postpone the biennial sporting event was arrived at after close consultations with the ministry of health.
“The decision is in the best interest of not just Nigerians but also the sports men and women that we are planning to converge in Edo State,” he said.
Daily Trust reports that over 11,000 athletes and officials were expected to be in attendance at the sports festival, which was to start on Sunday, March 22 to April 1, 2020, in Benin City.
The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and other higher institutions of learning have also postponed their convocations.
Screening intensified at Kano, Port Harcourt airports
Checks revealed that at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) Kano, screening exercise has been intensified as more health workers have been deployed to the airport.
Also, international passengers who spoke with our reporter at the Port Harcourt International Airport in Rivers State said that they were thoroughly checked with thermometer scanners before they entered or exited from the Airport.
APC calls for borders closure, PDP gives recipe
In order to ensure the wellbeing of Nigerian citizens, the ruling APC yesterday called for the total closure of the country’s land and sea borders.
National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who spoke to reporters at the end of the National working committee (NWC) meeting in Abuja, explained that the party would not sit and allow the country to be exposed to the dangers of the infectious disease from foreigners.
Oshiomhole said the party’s position on the issue of covid-19 was in tandem with the decision advanced by countries like UK and others as they were forced to shut their borders as part of measures to tackle the contagious disease in their countries.
On its part, the PDP advised the federal government to step up its actions, move beyond rudimentary interventions and adopt more stringent measures to further safeguard the nation from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The party in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the federal government should adopt stringent pre-emptive measures by radically stepping up international ports and border screening as well as improving internal surveillance and hygiene monitoring system.