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Nigerians Should Get Ready For Fresh Lockdown – FG

Nigerians Should Get Ready For Fresh Lockdown - FG

Nigerians Should Get Ready For Fresh Lockdown If COVID-19 Cases Keep Raising – FG

  • Bank customers, transport workers, commuters shun social distancing

Chukwudi Akasike, Adelani Adepegba, Tobi Aworinde, Dayo Ojerinde, Deji Lambo  and Adeniyi Olugbemi

The Federal Government, on Monday, decried the nationwide non-compliance with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19’s guidelines for gradual reopening of the economy.

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who stated this during the task force press briefing in Abuja, warned that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), could restore the lockdown if the guidelines were not observed and there was a surge in coronavirus cases.

The President had, on March 30,  imposed a two-week lockdown on the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states, but at the expiration of the first lockdown on April 13, he extended it by another  14 days.

In his broadcast to the nation on April 27, Buhari said phased and gradual easing of the lockdown would begin on May 4 (yesterday). He also imposed a dusk to dawn curfew on the nation.

Besides banning interstate movements, the President imposed a total lockdown on Kano State, which had witnessed a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Guidelines on gradual reopening of the economy issued by the PTF a few days after the presidential address mandate anyone in public spaces to use non-medical face masks.

They also prohibit interstate travels, apart from for essential services. The guidelines ban gathering of more than 20 people outside of a workplace.

Commercial vehicles are only allowed to operate outside the curfew hours and should practise social distancing in the number of their passengers.

But our correspondents, who monitored activities in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states on Monday observed that people did not observe the PTF guidelines, including social distancing.

Although banks limited the number of people that entered their premises, customers ignored social distancing as they crowded at bank gates.

Pedestrians and motorists from Ogun State crossed over to Lagos in violation of the ban on interstate movements.

‘Easing lockdown: There will be new infections’

The NCDC boss, at the PTF’s press briefing on Monday, reviewed compliance with the guidelines across the country and concluded that it was not satisfactory.

He said the President could restore the lockdown if the task force guidelines were not observed.

Ihekweazu stated, “Today (Monday), some of the measures are being eased. Initial reports are not too pleasing across the country.

Now that we have seen the sunlight again, the challenge for us as a society is, how do we organise ourselves to mitigate these risks and limit transmissions from each other?

“Though we might have a few extra infections today and tomorrow, what we don’t want is an explosion of new infections? If we do have that explosion, there will be almost no choice left for the leadership of the country but to ask all of us to go back to our homes.”

NCDC boss faults banks, fears new infections

Ihekweazu noted that banks were among business groups that were allowed to open on Monday.

He, however, lamented that many banks limited the number of their branches that opened, adding that there would be a spike in infections due to the way people mingled.

The NCDC boss said, “When we say take responsibility this time, yes, we are addressing individuals, but we really need to address corporate Nigeria. There is benefit of the doubt, but when you limit the number of branches opened, everyone goes to the one branch that is opened and that becomes counterproductive.

“Today, we might forgive a little bit because it was the first day. We will have infections because of what happened today, no doubt about that. Everybody here (on the PTF) knew today would be a problem because, for the first time, people were let out of their homes.

“We can produce all the guidelines in the world. We can preach and do press conferences, but how can we learn from the mistakes of today,  tomorrow and the day after, so that, by Friday, hopefully, we have normalised some of these things?”

He stated that organisations must support the implementation of the preventive measures, help manage the risk and focus on a risk-based approach.

Why markets are opened, places of worship shut —PTF

Ihekweazu, while fielding questions from journalists, noted that the decision to open markets  and close places of worship was because “food is an existential issue.”

He added, “We are not even saying we are happy with the markets across the country. But we are really still appealing to everyone in those markets to help us make it (curb in transmission) work.

“We know that many of our markets were not built for an era of COVID-19. We’re sure about that. Our markets are historically very congested places with many ports of entry, very difficult to control access; in fact, a perfect place for transmission.

“So, by no means are we saying the marketplaces are the examples of perfect locations for managing transmission. We have to allow markets to continue because people have to eat.”

Speaking on the efforts of the PTF’s in Kano State, Ihekweazu said experts deployed by the Federal Government were working to guide the ministry of health in the state.

‘Kano testing is slow’

According to him, the NCDC team and the Kano State officials are working to improve the laboratories in the state.

He said,  “The speed of testing (in Kano) is a little bit slower than you would expect. But that is the price we have to pay in order to get this up and running. I’m confident that we will leave that lab better.”

The NCDC boss also said the task force supported the delivery of a new lab funded by the Aliko Dangote Foundation, delivered by a Nigerian company, 54 Gene.

Continued interstate movements  of almajiris violating protocols —PTF

The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, in his remarks, said there had been “very noticeable” relocation of almajiris from one state to another.

Mustapha said, “With the ban on interstate movement, the continuation of this exercise will not be in alignment with the guidelines issued. The PTF shall engage with  state governments on how to achieve their objectives.”

Don’t neglect treatment of other ailments, minister tells hospitals

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his address, urged all health care facilities not to reject persons seeking medical help, especially in emergencies.

He said it was unethical not to attend to persons in distress.

“I also urge citizens to go to  hospitals when not feeling well and to cooperate by giving accurate information especially with regard to travel history,” he said.

Nigeria to take part in COVID-19 medicine trials, says FG

Ehanire also noted that the country had informed the World Health Organisation that it would take part in trials of medicines to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, efforts are ongoing to also conduct research in Nigeria.

He said, “Other drugs can be added based on emerging evidence. We shall ensure the maintenance of ethical standards and safety of our people.”

The National Coordinator of the  PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, in his remarks, decried non-compliance with the task force protocols, saying the easing of the lockdown was in, no way, a licence to relax self-protection against the infection.

He restated the PTF guidelines, saying, “No interstate travel is allowed except for transportation of essential commodities and services. No passenger flights. Churches, mosques and schools remain closed.

“Clubs, bars, parks, sporting and gaming centres will also remain closed. It is absolutely necessary to continue to maintain those measures that will continue to protect us.

“We must wear our masks to protect ourselves and one another at all times. We must keep washing our hands. We must maintain the safe physical distance of two metres and comply with the eases lockdown measures.”

89 COVID-19 vaccines being developed —WHO

The WHO Country Representative, Fiona Braka, while fielding questions, stated that research was going on globally for a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Braka, no fewer than 89 products are undergoing development.

He stated, “Research is going on globally to study the genetics of the virus. This helps us to develop a vaccine. Thanks to rapid sharing of genetics data from countries, we are able to advance the production of vaccines.

“We do acknowledge the contributions of countries in sharing their genetic sequencing data, including Nigeria. So, the first vaccine trial started as early as 60 days just after the genetic sequencing information of the virus was shared by China.

“We have about 89 products that are currently under vaccine development. The numbers keep getting updated because there is an accelerated process going on globally to try and find a vaccine.”

Nigerians shun social distancing, storm banks, bus stops

Meanwhile, on Monday, Nigerians, who trooped to banks, bus stops and other public places,  disregarded measures introduced by the Federal Government.

Our correspondents, who monitored activities in Lagos and Ogun states, as well as the Federal Capital, observed that motorists failed to observe social distancing.

The PUNCH correspondent, who went round Sokoto, the Sokoto State capital, observed that social distancing was not adhered to by most people in the city.

Customers, who thronged most of the banks, located on Kano Road, were struggling to enter their premises

Lagos bank customers, transporters  violate social distancing

In the Berger and  Ikorodu areas of Lagos State, it was observed that commercial transport workers and passengers were partially complying with the use of face masks, but ignored social distancing as most buses were filled with the regular number of passengers.

Also, the influx of people into various banks and to board the Bus Rapid Transit attested to the lack of compliance with the social distancing directives.

An eyewitness in Ikorodu, Shukurat Adebayo, said she aborted the transaction she wanted to do in a bank because of the large crowd, adding that bank customers and commuters were not observing social distancing.

She said, “Currently, I am at the Ikorodu Garage, I wanted to do a transaction at the GT Bank  but the branch at Ayangburen road did not open.  We were directed to another branch at Agric, but I did not go. I left for Polaris Bank to do another transaction, but on getting there, it was crowded.  There was nothing like social distancing because I saw a lot of people trying to gain access into the bank. They were not orderly and efforts by the bank officials to talk to people didn’t work.

“Also, the situation is the same at BRT Park. Although, I can confirm to you that the drivers conveyed only 20 passengers because I boarded a bus this morning from Lagos Island to Ikorodu. The queue was crowded as usual and commuters were not observing social distancing.”

Motorists plying Sango/Tollgate to Oshodi were seen carrying passengers, while the bus stops at Meiran, Ijaiye, U-turn and Abule Egba were overcrowded.

The majority of the passengers were seen wearing face masks but disregarded the social distancing order of the federal and state governments.

At Agege, a driver, Abbas Ramon, told The PUNCH that it was not possible for commercial vehicles to load   60 per cent of their capacity because the National Union of Road Transport Workers was still collecting normal levy from them.

Rivers commercial vehicle operators flout social distancing order

In Rivers State, commercial bus operators still loaded their vehicles with passengers without observing social distancing.

While the state government had insisted that only two passengers should be on a row, the commercial bus drivers still allowed four passengers.

Recall that the state Governor, Nyesom Wike, had threatened to ban the operation of commercial vehicles in some parts of the state should commercial drivers continue to flout the order on social distancing.

A commercial bus driver, who identified himself as Godswill, said he would not be able to make profit if he adhered to the order of having only two passengers per row.

“How can I have only two passengers where I am supposed to be carrying four passengers? If I try that, I will not make profit,” Godswill, who plies Ikwerre to Choba, said.

FCT residents besiege banks

In the FCT, hundreds of people on Monday besieged commercial banks.

The banks in Garki Area One, Adetokunbo Ademola Wuse 2, Central Business District, and other parts of the city were thronged by customers, many of whom wore no face masks.

At the Ecobank branch beside AP Plaza, Wuse 2, scores of customers were locked outside the bank and only a few were allowed to enter in line with the social distancing guidelines.

The same situation was observed at a GTB branch located beside a popular eatery where tens of customers waited impatiently outside the bank.

A customer, Stanley Wosu, said he had an urgent transaction to make in the bank hence his visit, adding that he would not have come to the bank on account of the pandemic.

14 more Lagos patients discharged

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government on Monday announced the discharge of 14 more COVID-19 patients who had recovered from the virus.

The state Ministry of Health, via its twitter handle, @LSMOH, said 261 patients had been discharged in Lagos.

It tweeted, “14 more COVID-19 Lagos patients; six females and eight males, all Nigerians were today (Monday) discharged from our isolation facilities at Yaba, Onikan, LUTH and Eti-Osa (Landmark) to reunite with the society.

“The patients; seven from Onikan, two from IDH, Yaba, four from @LUTHofficial and one from the Eti-Osa (LandMark) isolation centres have fully recovered and tested negative twice consecutively to COVID-19.

“With this, the number of patients successfully managed and discharged in Lagos is now 261.”

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Fresh: Global Update on Coronavirus

Fresh: Global Update on Coronavirus
Fresh: Global Update on Coronavirus

Fresh: Global Update on Coronavirus

More than 2,182,820 people have been infected across the world and over 145,551 have died 678 but at the same time 547,589 people have recovered.

The USA is now the country with the most infected cases (644,348) ahead of Spain (180,659) who overtook Italy (165,155) last week. France and Germany follow with 147,863 and 134,753 cases respectively

Confirmed deaths by country:
USA: 34,641
Italy: 22,170
Spain: 19,315
France: 17,920
UK: 13,729

THE PANDEMIC IN NUMBERS

6.51 Asia shares up as plans to re-open U.S economy offset record slump in China GDP

Asian stocks gained on Friday as President Donald Trump’s plans to gradually re-open the U.S. economy offset data that showed China suffered its worst economic contraction on record due to the coronavirus outbreak.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 2.6% after reaching a five-week high. Shares in China rose 1.8% as the weak GDP data reinforced expectations that more stimulus is coming, while shares in Australia were up 2.62%.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 index traded 3.38% higher, also close to a five-week high.

European soccer’s governing body (UEFA) is working on a proposal that could see the remainder of the Champions League condensed into a week-long mini-tournament with the final taking place on Aug. 29 in Istanbul, the BBC has reported.

Football, as with most sports around the world, has been brought to a standstill by the COVID-19 pandemic, with all major European leagues suspended and the Champions League stalled in the middle of its round of 16.

6.27 Southwest asks unions to start considering post-aid concessions

Southwest Airlines Co has approached unions representing pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and other employees to discuss potential concessions to prepare for a slow industry recovery, a company official told Reuters on Thursday.

Southwest, with about 60,000 employees, is set to receive $4 billion in federal payroll aid under the CARES Act, which prohibits any involuntary furloughs or pay cuts until Sept. 30.

6.13 China’s Wuhan city revises up total coronavirus death toll by 1,290

hina’s Wuhan city, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, said on Friday it had revised up its total coronavirus death toll by 1,290, according to state-run CCTV.

Wuhan also revised up confirmed cases by 325.

6.06 Japan airlines keep most domestic flights despite few takers for seats

Japan’s top airlines are operating a majority of their domestic capacity even though the coronavirus outbreak has left seats on flights mostly empty, amid a lack of clear government directives on the functioning of transport infrastructure in the crisis.

ANA Holdings Inc and Japan Airlines Co Ltd (JAL) , Japan’s two biggest airlines, have cut around 90% of international flights but left their domestic networks relatively intact, industry data showed. The two normally fly around 800 or more domestic flights daily.

5.31 Saudi Arabia faces coronavirus crisis from position of strength – minister

Saudi Arabia is facing the current global crisis from a position of strength, given its strong financial position and reserves, with relatively low government debt, its finance minister said, referring to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mohammed al-Jadaan said in the virtual meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, held on Thursday, that the Saudi government’s priorities are necessary resources for health care system, financial and economic support to those affected by coronavirus while taking into account the re-prioritization of spending under the current circumstances, Saudi state news agency SPA reported on early Friday.

5.22 Australia may keep coronavirus restrictions for a year, schools could adopt roster

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said some measures, like a rule requiring people to stand at least 1.5 metres apart, would likely remain for several months, given there was no guarantee a vaccine would be developed in that time.

“Social distancing is something we should get very used to,” Morrison told radio station 3AW. “It could be a year, but I’m not speculating about that.”

Morrison has said wider social distancing measures will stay for at least another four weeks while advocating reopening schools across the country, citing medical advice that children are a low risk of transmission.

5.06 China’s Q1 GDP posts first decline on record as virus shuts down economy

China’s economy shrank 6.8% in January-March from a year earlier, official data showed on Friday, the first such decline since at least 1992 when quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) records began.

The historic slump in the world’s second-largest economy comes after efforts to contain the coronavirus, which first emerged in China late last year, shut down factories, transport and shopping malls.

Similar shutdowns now in effect in major economies elsewhere have devastated global trade and suggest an immediate Chinese recovery is likely to be some way off.

3.50 U.S. House Speaker Pelosi says Trump guidelines ‘vague and inconsistent’

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called President Donald Trump’s guidelines for reopening the economy “vague and inconsistent” and said more coronavirus testing needed to be done.

“The White House’s vague and inconsistent document does nothing to make up for the President’s failure to listen to the scientists and produce and distribute national rapid testing,” Pelosi said in a statement.

3.15 Nigeria urges ‘appropriate’ debt solutions for middle-income countries

Nigerian Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said an agreement by official bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments by the poorest countries harmed by the coronavirus pandemic was a welcome first step, but “appropriate” solutions were also needed for middle-income countries with debt challenges.

In remarks prepared for delivery on Friday at the World Bank’s Development Committee, Ahmed urges the Bank and other multilateral institutions to explore ways of participating the debt relief initiative.

3.14 Mexico registers 450 new cases of coronavirus and 37 deaths – health ministry

Mexican health officials reported on Thursday 450 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 37 new deaths, bringing the country’s total to 6,297 cases and 486 deaths.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said last week the country might have as many as 26,500 people infected with the fast-spreading coronavirus.

Citing government models, Lopez-Gatell said many who are infected likely did not have symptoms or were not diagnosed.

2.58 China urges World Bank to suspend debt payments for poor borrowers

China on Thursday urged the World Bank to allow its poorest borrowers to suspend debt payments to the lender while they deal with the coronavirus pandemic, saying the world’s biggest multilateral development bank should “lead by example.”

Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun said in a statement to the World Bank’s Development committee that all parties should take part in joint actions to address debt vulnerabilities amid the pandemic, including commercial, multilateral and official bilateral creditors.

1.37 IMF sees ‘lost decade’ of no growth in Latin America due to pandemic

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday said the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, combined with other problems in recent years, meant Latin America and the Caribbean would likely see “no growth” in the decade from 2015 to 2025.

Alejandro Werner, who heads the IMF’s Western Hemisphere department, said the global lender was racing to process 16 requests for emergency assistance, about half of which were from Caribbean nations devastated by a halt in tourism.

U.S. President Donald Trump laid out guidelines on Thursday for reopening the coronavirus-ravaged U.S. economy, saying states should take a phased approach to let Americans return to work as conditions allow.

Trump told a White House news conference that governors will be empowered to tailor the approach to their own states and that if they need to remain closed, they should do so.

“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” Trump said.

What happened on Thursday

EUROPE

Europe is in eye of the storm, with the number of cases nearing a million, and should move with extreme caution when considering easing lockdowns, the WHO’s regional director said.
Britain extended its nationwide lockdown as stand-in leader Dominic Raab ordered Britons to stay at home for at least another three weeks.
Luxury carmaker Ferrari has begun making parts to convert snorkel masks into respirators for treating patients with coronavirus and protecting medical workers.
Britain’s economy looks set for a widely feared record contraction after figures showed retail spending plunged by more than a quarter and one in four firms stopped trading temporarily.
Ireland has contained and effectively suppressed the first wave of the outbreak in the population at large but not in nursing homes where its spread remains a concern, the country’s chief medical officer said.


AMERICAS

Seven Northeastern states extended a shutdown until May 15 to contain the pandemic, even as President Donald Trump prepared to unveil recommendations to begin easing the lockdown in the least-affected U.S. states.
Canada’s border restrictions with the U.S. will remain in place “for a significant time” as the two nations fight the outbreak, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
U.S. defense secretary said he believed China’s leaders have been misleading and opaque about the outbreak and does not trust that they are being truthful even now.
Hundreds of thousands of children could die this year due to the global economic downturn sparked by the pandemic and tens of millions more could fall into extreme poverty, the United Nations warned.
Mexico’s president said the country was looking to return to normal beginning June 1, with schools and businesses reopening provided people comply with anti-coronavirus health measures until then.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

China reported fewer imported cases on Thursday, but said locally transmitted infections rose, with the capital Beijing seeing new local cases for the first time in more than three weeks.
Japan’s prime minister expanded a state of emergency to include the entire country and said the government was considering cash payouts for all.
India charged a Muslim leader with culpable homicide not amounting to murder for holding a gathering last month that authorities say led to a big jump in infections.
Indonesia expects the number of cases to peak between May and June with around 95,000 infections, a government adviser said.
Australia will retain curbs on public movement for at least four more weeks, its prime minister said, dashing speculation the sustained low growth in new cases could spur a quicker return to normal.
Singapore’s health ministry confirmed 728 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, a new daily record, taking the total in the city-state to 4,427.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

Coronavirus outbreaks across the Middle East threaten to shatter the lives of millions of already destitute people in conflict zones, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
Coronavirus cases in Africa could shoot up from thousands now to 10 million within three to six months according to very provisional modelling, a regional World Health Organization (WHO) official said.
Six Gulf Arab states approved Kuwait’s proposal for a common network for food supply safety.
Israel’s military said it has begun converting common home-use respirators into ventilators capable of providing potentially life-saving breathing support for COVID-19 patients.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT

World stock markets seesawed while bond yields retreated as dire U.S. jobless data underscored a deepening downturn and tamped down investor hopes a listless economy would soon be back on its feet.
Hedge fund Elliott Management said global stocks could ultimately lose half of their value from February’s high, according to a letter sent to clients.
The United States opposes creation of liquidity through issuance of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights as part of the response to the pandemic, U.S. treasury secretary said.
ConocoPhillips said it would slash spending and cut U.S. oil output by about 30% of this year’s target, the largest cut so far by a major shale producer to deal with an unprecedented drop in oil demand.
Louis Vuitton owner LVMH posted a 17% drop in comparable sales in the first quarter due to the pandemic, as government-imposed lockdowns forced it to close stores and production sites in key markets.

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