- Reps seek nationwide ban
- Address Nigerians – Senate tells Buhari
- FG bans entry from 13 countries
- 2020 budget slashed by N1.5trn
- Embargo placed on recruitment
North West and North Central geopolitical zones yesterday announced the closure of schools for 30 days with effect from next Monday.
Leaders of the zones said the decision was part of the measures to curtail the spread of the Covid-19.
The governors said the measure should be taken by each of the states in consultation with the national examination bodies so as to mitigate the effects the decision might likely have on students.
There are 13 states in the two zones. The North West has Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara, Sokoto, and Kebbi; while the North Central has Kwara, Niger, Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa and Kogi.
A communiqué issued at the end of their meeting signed by the chairmen of the governors from the zones, Aminu Masari of Katsina and Sani Bello of Niger indicated that the closure must be effective from March 23, 2020.
The governors agreed that sensitisation campaigns to discourage large gatherings until further notice should be encouraged.
The communiqué said: “The governors also agreed joint measures to protect citizens from the likely impact of Covid-19.
“States will continue to wage aggressive campaigns to encourage citizens to uphold personal hygiene including hand washing and environmental sanitation.”
The communiqué also said Kwara and Niger states that were part of the Kaduna meeting will review the security situation in their areas and agree to a joint response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Present at the meeting were Governors Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger).
Deputy Governor Nasiru Gawuna represented Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, while governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq joined the meeting by telephone.
It was not yet clear yesterday, as to whether the remaining four geopolitical zones including North East, South South, South East and South West will follow suit in taking similar decision.
Reps want ban across Nigeria
On its part, the House of Representatives yesterday resolved that there should be a total ban on open worship and other public gatherings in all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT until further notice.
Daily Trust reports that there are thousands of mosques, churches and places for traditional worship across the country where citizens gather in their numbers.
The House during a debate on “matters of urgent public importance” sponsored by Zakari Charles (PDP, Kaduna), at plenary, also directed airport authorities across the country to put in place mechanisms to discourage crowd gatherings.
Besides meeting for prayers, Nigerians from across the divide also converge in places for marriages, naming ceremonies and other festivities.
Apart from the decision on worshippers, the members of the green chamber also took several measures and asked relevant authorities to implement them immediately.
Prominent among the decisions was that all public institutions in Nigeria should be equipped with temperature gauge.
They also went spiritual, saying “there should be a one-day national prayer.”
The legislators also asked the minister of health to brief the House leadership on the situation on a weekly basis.
In addition to the measures that would affect all parts of the country, the representatives approved compulsory laboratory tests on all staff and members of the National Assembly to ascertain their status.
They also banned visitors from accessing the National Assembly complex.
They equally directed the government to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Singaporean government to produce testing kits for Nigeria to make the detection and diagnosis easier.
Five more Covid-19 cases recorded
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Health yesterday confirmed five new cases of Covid-19 in the country.
This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria to eight.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made the disclosure while briefing newsmen in Abuja.
He said that three of the new positive cases arrived from the United States, while two came in from the United Kingdom.
He said: “We are still collating information on the travellers; two of the three from the US are Nigerians, a mother and child, making the six week old baby the youngest Covid-19 patient we have, and the 3rd is an American national, who crossed the land border and becomes the first Covid-19 case not arriving by air.”
He added that the two cases from the United Kingdom were Nigerians.
The minister said a detailed travel history of each person was being compiled and that contacts were currently being traced to identify persons who had recently been in contact with any of them.
While urging Nigerians not to panic, he said that the National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and supported by partners was supporting response in the states.
Daily Trust learnt that four of the cases are in Lagos while one is in Ekiti State at the moment.
Senate decries ‘presidential silence’
The Senate yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation on the situation of coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
The Red Chamber also asked the federal government to take more drastic measures to contain the virus spread.
The measures, it said, should include travel ban on some countries identified as epicentres, restrictions on large gathering, tighter border control, and stringent screening of those coming into the country.
The resolutions were sequel to a motion by Senator Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe Central).
Senate President Ahmad Lawan cautioned against being complacent even though the country had only fewer confirmed cases.
“Even if our environment is hostile to coronavirus, we need to be extremely careful. We won’t know when it adjusts to the environment and become very potent,” he said.
Senators, in their various contributions, said if advanced countries were taken drastic measures to contain Covid-19 and protect their citizens, Nigeria should not be an exception.
They said the virus may spread to other parts of the country if serious measures were not taken. The senators said government should quarantine Nigerians returning from countries that had recorded over 1,000 cases.
“Special intervention fund should be set aside to tackle the coronavirus pandemic,” it urged.
FG bans entry from US, China, Switzerland, 10 others
The federal government yesterday banned entry into the country for travellers from 13 countries.
This was announced by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha who is the Chairman of the 13-man Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19.
He told newsmen that the affected countries recorded over 1,000 cases domestically.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria is restricting entry into the country for travellers from the following 13 countries: China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland.
“All persons arriving in Nigeria, who might have visited these countries, fifteen days prior to such arrival, will be subjected to supervised self-isolation and testing for 14 days. The federal government is temporarily suspending the issuance of all visas on arrival,” Mustapha said.
The SGF said the restrictions will come into effect from Saturday, March 21, 2020 for four weeks subject to review.