…Ban Travels to 13 Countries, Close Schools, Restrict Religious Worship, Social Gatherings …Advise Against non Essential Travels …Counsel Citizens to Adhere to Personal Hygiene, Observe Social Distancing After initial sloppy response to Coronavirus pandemic, now prevalent in more than 150 countries across the world, governments at both federal and states in Nigeria appear to have
…Ban Travels to 13 Countries, Close Schools, Restrict Religious Worship, Social Gatherings
…Advise Against non Essential Travels
…Counsel Citizens to Adhere to Personal Hygiene, Observe Social Distancing
After initial sloppy response to Coronavirus pandemic, now prevalent in more than 150 countries across the world, governments at both federal and states in Nigeria appear to have woken up from slumber, wielding the big stick as they take the cudgels to contain the spread of COVID-19, popularly known as Coronavirus, which has already afflicted close to 240,000 persons and caused about 10,000 deaths globally.
Italy has now overtaken China in terms of recorded cases of death from the virus. While China recorded 3,245 from 80,928 cases, Italy, the worst hit country in Europe, largely attributable to its high aging population, has had 3,405 deaths in 41,035 cases with 475 deaths happening within 24 hours. Recovery rate is however higher in China where 70,420 patients recovered out of 80,928 cases unlike Italy which has recorded only 4,440 recovery cases.
With 12 cases and one death already recorded in Nigeria from foreign travellers, amidst fears of other unreported cases still lurking around the country, blamed on government’s prevarication in taken proactive steps to ban foreign airlines, reason has now prevailed. The case of the American, who came with a care giver on March 3rd, spent two weeks in Ibadan before leaving for Ado Ekiti where he eventually passed on after 72 hours, has raised cause for concern about such unknown cases in the country.
The Federal Government has now banned flights from 13 countries with high prevalent rate of the virus. They include the US, China, Italy, United Kingdom, Japan, France, Netherlands, South Korea, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Iran and Spain. This was part of the resolution reached by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha.
Following on the heels of governments in the North West, the Lagos and Ogun state governments have also shut schools and embarked on the restrictions of religious worships and social gatherings as confirmed cases of the virus take a toll on the country with Katsina and Ekiti now on the count. The Federal Capital Territory Ministry has also shut schools in the nation’s capital, Abuja as part of this effort.
The Lagos State Government has announced the indefinite closure of all schools from Monday 23 March. In a statement on Wednesday night, the government said it is closing down all public and private schools, as part of the measures to curb the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The closure of schools capped the various measures announced by the state after four more coronavirus cases were confirmed in the state, taking the state’s tally to seven.
Government announced earlier the banning of all religious gathering of over 50 people, after consultation with stakeholders. The ban will be for four weeks.
Some of the leading private schools announced closure, without waiting for government instruction to do so.
The schools include Greensprings School, which has branches in Anthony, Ikoyi and Awoyaya; and Lagos Preparatory and Secondary School, Ikoyi. Greensprings and LPSS shut had down on Thursday.
Both schools have opted for e-learning for pupils while they are at home.
Greensprings School’s Head of Admissions, Mrs. Oluranti Bankole said: “Learning will now be done online using the virtual learning platform and video conferencing. She added that the school had adopted the WHO crisis management grid for COVID-19.
In a notice to parents, LPSS said the closure was a result of the spread of the Coronavirus and the school’s international makeup.
“Due to the global spread of the Coronavirus and the international makeup of the LPSS family, we have decided to close the school to children today, 18 March 2020. Whilst formal lessons have ended for the term, we are unable to predict how these events may affect Trinity (third) term and so, primary and secondary students will come home today with their notebooks.”
Other schools like Berkely and Juilliard Schools and Chessington Montessori School, Agege, announced closures for Wednesday and Friday.
Chessington informed parents that bills and report cards “will be sent electronically,” while Berkley and Juilliard Schools promised to offer “skeletal services” to stranded parents.
The Lagos State government has also advised the stoppage of Jumat and Sunday Church services, according to the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotosho.
Omotosho in a briefing on Wednesday said the state government was talking with religious leaders in the state to map out ways to reduce the effects of the virus.
“We are all aware that the Federal Government asked the National Youth Service Corps to shut down orientation camps; yesterday (Tuesday) the Commissioner for Home Affairs said there will be a meeting with religious leaders today (Wednesday).
“It is going to be suggested to them to maybe stop Friday and Sunday services – wherever we have large gatherings.
“Going by the new development, I am sure they will be advised to shut down the services in the interest of the public and all of us. I am sure they are going to comply,” Omotosho said.
The Ogun State government also explained its suspension of high density gatherings affects public and private schools and religious gatherings. In a clarification made on Thursday, the state government said;
“Due to the global spread of the Corona virus and the recent ban of all high-density gatherings in Ogun State, the State Government wishes to clarify that the ban on high-density gatherings affects all schools, whether they are public or private-owned, as well as all religious activities in the state.
“Consequently, all schools in the State will remain closed indefinitely after school hours on Friday, March, 20th, 2020.
“Also, all religious centres and activities including regular and special services that bring together fifty (50) or more persons in the same place are banned with immediate effect.
“These measures will be reviewed at regular intervals in response to the development surrounding the Corona virus disease.
“The Government, therefore, enjoins all parents and guardians who have their children and wards in any boarding facility within the State to immediately evacuate them and return them to their respective homes at the close of schools on Friday, March 20th, 2020.
“Governor Dapo Abiodun thankfully acknowledges and appreciates religious leaders for their advice, understanding, solidarity and support, as we jointly search for solution to the pandemic and for their cooperation to observe all safety measures in the overall interest of our State and common humanity.
“Government emphasises the need to observe global best practice of social distancing as way of curtailing the spread of the pandemic and recommends that as much as possible, people should minimize contact with others and maintain a distance of at least five feet between one another in public places or in public transportation. In addition, nonessential travels should be limited whilst also avoiding high-density gatherings.
“Governor Abiodun pleads for the understanding of parents, school owners and the entire citizenry to comply fully with all laid down measures and for them to offer useful information for the state to respond appropriately to the COVID-19 challenge.
“The Governor further encourages people to maintain a high level of personal hygiene and surveillance. He added that suspected cases should be reported at the nearest Primary Healthcare Centre (PHCs) in all the 236 wards in the State or the Emergency Operations Centre on COVID-19 by telephone on 08188978393 or 08188978392”
North-West Governors in Nigeria have also shut down schools for 30 days due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, an official said on Wednesday amidst report that Katsina State Government has recorded its first suspected case.
Mr Aminu Masari, Governor of Katsina State and chairman, North-West Governors’ Forum, who briefed journalists at the end of their meeting, said the decision was taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the region.
Mr Masari said the closure will take effect from March 23.
He also said there would be sensitisation campaigns to discourage large gatherings until further notice.
“States will continue to wage aggressive campaigns to encourage citizens to uphold personal hygiene, including hand washing and environmental sanitation,” the Governor said.
“The North-West Governors as well as their colleagues in Niger and Kwara states which share boundaries with the zone, also resolved to jointly fund security operations aimed at conclusively addressing the security challenges bedeviling their various states,” he added.
Reportedly present at the meeting were Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna) Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger).