Kaduna State Commissioner for Health, Dr Amina Baloni, will on Sunday (today) speak on the contacts of Governor Nasir el-Rufai, who on Saturday announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus.
Some of the persons that might be asked to go into self-isolation include some of his commissioners, top aides, drivers as well as their families.
Sources close to the governor told one of our correspondents that the commissioner had been mandated to speak on the issue.
It was also learnt that the revelation by the governor shocked his aides and that there was anxiety among them, as some of them had had close contacts with him a few days back.
A source said the governor decided to make the result of his test known to Nigerians because he saw nothing wrong with it, adding that it was seen as his social responsibility.
He said the test was conducted only on the governor, adding that because of that, there was no way the state would know the status of other officials.
He said, “The result was conducted only on the governor. There is no way the state can determine the contacts now and only the commissioner of health can speak on it and it will be done on Sunday (today) because it is late now (Saturday night).
“So, there is nothing to hide. The governor decided to release the result because he is a responsible leader and he had nothing to conceal. He did not want to conceal any fact. He preferred to open up on the result because he is a responsible leader.”
Another source said there was anxiety among the governor’s aides, fearing that they could also have contracted the virus because of the close contact they had had with him.
“We are afraid that many of us could have contracted the virus because we work as a family and are very close to our boss. However, we all know it is not a death sentence. Whatever comes out of it, we know we will come out stronger.
“Therefore, we the aides like the commissioners, advisers, assistants, drivers, family members and others who are very close to the governor are likely going to go on self-isolation,” the source added.
El-Rufai had on Saturday announced that he tested positive for the coronavirus.
In a statement signed by him on his social media pages, the governor said he had earlier in the week submitted his blood samples for COVID-19 test.
He said the results, which came in on Saturday evening, showed that he tested positive for the virus and he had gone into self-isolation.
“According to the protocols for managing COVID-19, I am in self-isolation as required by the case management guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control for someone who is not showing symptoms.
“I wish to appeal to the people of Kaduna State to continue to closely observe the preventive measures already announced. It is most important that everybody should do their utmost to stay safe. Stay at home and stay alive,” he said.
El-Rufai added that his Deputy Governor, Hadiza Balarabe, was chairing the state government’s COVID-19 task force and that she would continue to issue statements from time to time.
The governor would be the first known case of the coronavirus in Kaduna State and the second governor in the country to test positive for the coronavirus, after his Bauchi State counterpart, Senator Bala Mohammed, tested positive last week.
Mohammed had last Tuesday said he met and shook hands with Mohammed, the son of former Vice-President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, who tested positive for COVID-19 last Sunday.
The governor said he had since been in self-isolation.
Meanwhile, with el-Rufai’s announcement, Nigeria had recorded 97 cases of the coronavirus as of 11 pm on Saturday.
According to the NCDC, Lagos had the highest number of cases at 59; Federal Capital Territory, 16; Oyo and Ogun states had seven and three cases, respectively. Bauchi, Enugu, Osun and Edo states had two cases each.
Ekiti, Kaduna, Rivers and Benue states had one case each.
Globally, as of 7 pm on Saturday, around 646,000 coronavirus cases had been recorded, with about 30,000 deaths, according to data site, Worldometer. Around 140,000 patients had, however, recovered.
Meanwhile, reacting to el-Rufai’s diagnosis, the spokesperson for opposition political parties under the aegis of Coalition of United Political Parties, Ikenga Ugochinyere, said the governor and the 89 other Nigerians who had tested positive for the virus needed the people’s prayers.
“We wish Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who today (Saturday) tested positive and the other 89 Nigerians who have tested positive for the coronavirus quick recovery.
“Let’s continue to stay safe, maintain social distancing, remain at home, if possible, and follow all instructions issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control,” Ugochinyere said in a statement.
In a related manner, Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde has said he is in self-isolation based on the advice by the NCDC to governors who attended the last National Executive Council meeting in Abuja.
Speaking via a live Twitter chat on Saturday, Makinde said governors who attended the NEC meeting came in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.
“We were all advised to self-isolate and go for test. I have been in self-isolation since then.” he tweeted.
The governor also said an enforcement team had been put in place to ensure compliance with all the directives aimed at curbing the spread of the disease in the state.
“If there is a gathering of more than 10 people, for instance, they will be dispersed. If it is a nightclub, we seal it, until the ban is lifted,” Makinde said.
The governor said the state’s testing capacity was limited, but it had improved upon it by setting up two diagnostic centres in collaboration with the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan.
According to him, more people can be tested once the NCDC certifies the facilities.
“We are stepping up both enlightenment campaigns and enforcement measures. We have disease surveillance and notification officers in all the 33 local government areas and 35 local council development areas.”
Also, a former Minister of State for Defence, Mr Musliu Obanikoro, said he is on self-isolation on return from the US and the UK.
“I am fine, I just got back from the US and UK hence the decision to self-isolate,” he said in response to inquiry by Sunday PUNCH.
FG, minister ignored advice on virus containment — NMA
The President of the Nigeria Medical Association, Dr Francis Faduyile, has said Nigeria would have recorded low coronavirus cases if the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and the Federal Government had not sidelined the body in the fight to contain the spread of the disease in the country.
Ehanire on Wednesday accused the NMA of not offering support for his ministry in the effort to fight the pandemic.
He also berated the association for saying there were no enough ventilators in federal hospitals and isolation centres.
In an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents, Faduyile said although it was not the time for blame game, the FG failed to heed warning to stop international flights when it was obvious that the virus would be imported into the country.
He also said the FG ignored NMA while constituting the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
The NMA chief said, “Maybe because the minister is busy in his activities he may not have seen what we have been doing. “If the minister is not seeing all, it may mean that he is not using his arsenal effectively. It is expected that we should have a stakeholders’ meeting where all principal officers expected to treat those infected will be in attendance to channel our thoughts together on how we want to move forward.
“Two weeks before international flights were stopped, we advised government to take that action. “We know that the health system in Nigeria is weak and that was why we called for the action. But government tarried for too long and by the time that action was taken, we had had a couple of cases and now we are talking of community transmission.
“Any policy you want to make regarding this matter must involve those who will execute it so that they can tell you some of the peculiarities involved.
“In the Presidential Task Force Committee, I was taken aback that the head of the medical association in Nigeria was excluded.
“We should be the ones to feed government with the expectation, frustration and situation on the field. That should be the proper way of stopping community transmission.”
On Ehanire’s claim that NMA erred by saying that there were no enough ventilators in government hospitals, Faduyile said they came out with the position after a survey of government hospitals.
He said the minister failed to acknowledge the NMA’s effort to recall striking members not being paid salaries for months despite facing the risk of fighting a deadly virus.
He added, “Some of our members went on strike because they were not paid by the government but we called a press conference to urge them to return to work.
“I heard the minister saying that nobody was owed salaries but the truth is that in the FCT, a lot of our members have not been paid because of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System. Some have not been paid since October 2019 and we have doctors who have been paid less that N20,000 as salaries for the past three months because of issues with the IPPIS.
“These are part of the reasons they went on strike but we called them back to work to help in the fight against COVID-19.
“We have directed our members in all states to constitute five-man committees to interact with their state governments on the level of preparedness for the virus and to follow up on cases in the states.
“We had a survey of this country though our branches. We have more robust information from states and based on that, we came out to say that the ventilators were not present in our hospitals.
“How many ventilators do we have in Ondo, Osun, Zamfara and other states? We wrote to all states and they gave us what was available in those hospitals.
“The FMC, Owo, has two functional ventilators and they are not dedicated to COVID-19. Patients are on them and the moment you start using them for COVID-19 treatment, you cannot use them for people who are not infected.
“If we need four people who need ventilators in Ondo State, we don’t have the capacity. We had our statistics before coming out.”
Ogun, Abia, Taraba shut borders over COVID-19
The Ogun, Taraba and Abia state governments have shut their borders as the COVID-19 continue to ravage states across the country
The Ogun State government announced the closure of the borders with the neighbouring states and the international border with the Republic of Benin.
The government, which said this on Saturday, explained that the closure would take effect at 12 midnight on Sunday, March 29, 2020.
The government in a statement by Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kunle Somorin, said the closure would be in force for two weeks in the first instance.”
Abia State Government also announced that there would be a total lockdown of the state from April 1, 2020.
According to the state government, the lockdown will include inter-state movements.
It added that “this will last for an initial period of four weeks, subject to weekly reviews.”
The state Commissioner for Information, John Kalu, in a statement on Saturday, urged everybody to stay indoors.
Also, Taraba State Governor, Mr Darius Ishaku, on Saturday banned travels in and out of the state with effect from Sunday, March 29, 2020.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Hassan Mijinyawa, the governor said the decision to close the state’s land borders was part of efforts to prevent coronavirus spread.
Security agents disrupt wedding reception,
The Federal Capital Territory enforcement team on Saturday disrupted a wedding reception at Police Quarters at Wuse Zone 6 in Abuja.
It was learnt that the enforcement team, acting on a tip-off, stormed the venue and “dispersed” the hosts and guests numbering about 300 for violating the ban on public gathering.
The bride and groom were just about arriving when the team got to the scene which was located at a residential neighbourhood.
The FCT Administration had announced the development via its Twitter handle.
“The FCT Enforcement Team which includes security & law enforcement agents has shut down a wedding ceremony happening at Wuse Zone 6.”
Speaking with one of our correspondents on the development, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Strategic Communications to the FCT Minister, Abubakar Sani, explained that no arrest was made.
C’River moves against churches flouting closure order
The Cross River State Government has threatened to shut down any church that flouts the order not to open for service on Sunday if its congregation is more than five persons.
According to a statement by Fr Bob Etta, the Senior Special Adviser on Religious Matters to Governor Ben Ayade, a task force will be going round the state to monitor compliance.
Mbaka asks Nigerians to seek spiritual solution
Following the increase in the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Nigeria, the Spiritual Director, Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria, Reverend Fr. Ejike Mbaka, has charged Christians to fortify themselves with prayers and charity, describing it as the spiritual panacea that will heal the world of the global pandemic.
The Catholic priest, who gave the charge in a statement on Saturday, said that all church services and other activities of the ministry had been suspended till further notice.
Two Muslim clerics arrested for curfew violations in Kaduna
Two Muslim clerics were on Saturday arrested for violating the curfew imposed by the Kaduna State Government to prevent the spread of Covid-19 popularly called coronavirus in the state.
The two clerics were caught while conducting Friday congregational prayers in Malali and Ungwan Kanawa areas, all in the Kaduna North Local Government Area of the state.
The Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan, said this while addressing journalists on Saturday.
Wike promises Rivers people palliatives
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has promised that the state government will consider palliatives in the next phase of intervention against the coronavirus pandemic.
Wike made this promise on Saturday in Port Harcourt when he led members of the state Task Force on Enforcement of the Ban on Public and Religious Gatherings to monitor compliance with the directive of the state government on the closure of markets in the state.
Uzodimma locks down Imo
Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma has ordered a complete lockdown of the state with effect from Saturday as part of the government’s further measures to prevent the dreaded coronavirus from entering the state.
In a state-wide broadcast to the people on Saturday, Uzodimma ordered the closure of all markets indefinitely and prohibited all forms of marriages.
Bayelsa imposes travel restriction
Bayelsa State Government has announced more measures to check the coronavirus pandemic, imposing a travel restriction from 7pm to 7am with effect from Saturday.
Dangote donates ambulances
The Aliko Dangote Foundation has donated four ambulances to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to aid its fight against COVID-19 spread in the country.
The centre on Saturday wrote on its website that it was grateful to the billionaire for the donation.
Additional reports by
Chukwudi Akasike, Olufemi Atoyebi, Kamarudeen Ogundele, Godwin Isenyo, Raphael Ede, Daud Olatunji, Justin Tyopuusu, Ada Wodu, Sunday Nwakanma, Gibson Achonu and Daniels Igoni