Our correspondents, who visited the Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti Assembly complexes found that the hand sanitisers, wash-hand basins and other things that could help to prevent the spread of the virus were lacking.
The first and only case of the virus in Nigeria so far was confirmed in Lagos on February 27 when a 44-year-old Italian, who arrived in the country onboard a Turkish Airlines flight having transited through Istanbul, Turkey, tested positive for the virus.
The patient, who has since been quarantined in the Infectious Disease Centre, Yaba, Lagos, had after spending his first night at a Lagos hotel visited Lafarge Africa Plc in Ewekoro, Ogun State, where he developed a fever and showed symptoms of the virus. He was then transferred to Lagos where he tested positive for the disease.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said on Friday that the 55 passengers on the flight with the Italian were put under watch, 61 were put under supervised self-isolation in Lagos and Ogun states, adding that none had manifested any symptoms of the disease. Meanwhile, all suspected cases in other parts of the country have so far tested negative.
But, despite the advice by medical experts for disinfectants to be made available in public places, some Houses of Assembly do not have such in place.
The Press Secretary to the Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Kunle Alabi, told one of our correspondents that the fact that there were no sanitisers did not mean the state was not working to stay safe from it.
He said, “The lawmakers adjourned sitting till Monday, but that does not mean people will not be in the complex. The leadership is working with the executive on the prevention. Those you said were not in the complex will be there next time you visit.”
In Ekiti State, The Speaker of the Assembly, Funminiyi Afuye, said on Thursday that the legislative chamber was in the process of getting the preventive materials and aid, including sanitisers, for use by anybody visiting the Assembly complex.
“We (the Assembly) are part of the sensitisation team put in place by government. Also, the sanitisers and the necessary things are to be mounted at the House. Everybody is on the alert.”
In Ondo State, although there were no sanitisers and wash-hand basins at the Assembly complex, the Deputy Speaker, Mr Iroju Ogundeji, who admitted the absence of the protective materials, said efforts were ongoing to make them available.
He said “We are already making arrangements on how the materials will be made available. In fact, if you go there now, they will have been there, but if they are not yet there, I’m assuring you by Monday, you will see them there.”
Similarly, in Ogun State, where there were no such materials, the Speaker of the Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, who said the members and some senior staff were attending a training programme, promised that things would be put in place once they returned to the complex.
Meanwhile, the Oyo State House of Assembly on Friday said in addition to the wash-hand basins and sanitisers on the premises, it would upgrade its hygiene facilities and conduct another round of sensitisation to the virus on Monday.
The Clerk of the Assembly, Foluke Oyediran, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, said, “We are guiding against the virus and we are doing this through sensitisation and upgrade of hygiene facilities in the Assembly. We have basins for handwashing and hand sanitisers to ensure that the risk of spread of the virus is kept low.
“Everybody has been mandated to step up their hygiene level, wash their hands regularly and use sanitisers.”
Coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019. Since then, the disease has spread across the world, with over 105,000 cases recorded as of Saturday. Out of this figure, about 3,560 deaths have been recorded worldwide while about 58,600 patients have recovered. And as of the time of filing this report, out of the 195 countries in the world, the virus had spread to 100 countries already, with fears that it could spread to more countries.
The World Health Organisation has since declared the disease outbreak as a global health emergency while scientists and pharmaceutical companies across the world are battling to find the vaccine for the disease.
Three more Nigerian scientists submit proposed cure for verification
Meanwhile, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnnaya Onu, has said apart from the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Maurice Iwu, whose proposed cure for coronavirus is being tested by the United States, three more Nigerian scientists have submitted for verification what they believe is the cure for the disease.
The Minister disclosed this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Jos on Saturday after delivering a keynote address at a National Youth Summit of the Middle Belt Youth Council which held in Jos, the Plateau State capital on Saturday.
Onu said, “I want to tell you as the Minister of Science and Technology that we have three other scientists who have sent information to us on what they believe can approximate to cure or can lead to a cure of the coronavirus disease. And right now, that information is being scrutinised.”
Although the minister did not disclose the identity of the three new scientists, a few days ago quoted Onu as saying the US was conducting tests on Iwu’s ‘chemical compound’.
He added, “What we did was to ask the Nigerian Academy of Science to set up a standing committee of the best experts in that specialised area to assess all the claims. When a claim comes to us, it’s not for the ministry to examine; rather we subject it to the scrutiny and analysis of these high profile scientists set up by the President of the Academy.
“We want Nigerians to know that the time is gradually coming to an end when for any problem we have, we will be looking for other people to solve it for us.”
He said the ministry had finalised plans to hold an innovation expo that would arouse the interest of the youth in new technology.
FG won’t suspend visa-on-arrival policy, says NIS
The Federal Government has also said it won’t suspend its visa-on-arrival policy despite coronavirus hitting some African nations.
The Nigeria Immigration Service said this in its response to an enquiry by one of our correspondents.
The policy was introduced by the Federal Government to encourage immigrants from other African nations.
The NIS Public Relations Officer, Sunday James, explained that suspending the policy could strain the relationship between Nigeria and other African countries.
He said, “The visa on arrival is a policy of the Federal Government and there is nothing on ground to suggest its reversal. It doesn’t have anything to do with coronavirus; that’s a health-related issue. Once the Ministry of Health has done its work and we carry out our control measures, there is no need for that.
“Visa issuance is a diplomatic issue. You don’t suspend visa issuance because of an epidemic; you can only increase your control measure. Nigerians are still traveling out; if Nigerians are denied visa when they have good reasons to travel out that could cause a strain in diplomatic ties.”
Osun govt examines Chinese in mining sites
Meanwhile, Osun State government officials on Friday visited some mining sites in the state where foreigners, especially Chinese, are working. The team carried out physical examinations on the Chinese to ensure that they had no symptoms of the virus.
The team, which included the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Rafiu Isamotu, and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Siji Olamiju, visited the sites in Ogbagba Village, in Ife South.
Speaking to journalists after the visit, Isamotu said the exercise was to ensure that the state remained free from the virus, adding that none of the examined persons was infected with the virus.
Olamiju also said, “Our aim is not to stigmatise them but to examine those who could have had contact with patients.”
He, however, pointed out that the exercise uncovered another public health challenge caused by illegal mining, adding that the Adegboyega Oyetola government would not tolerate any form of irresponsible mining capable of causing environmental degradation.
Quarantined persons in Ogun not depressed, says govt
The Ogun State Government has said the 39 persons quarantined because of the virus in the state were in stable conditions and not depressed.
The Special Adviser to Governor Dapo Abiodun on Communications, Remmy Hassan, while responding to an enquiry on the state of health of the 39 persons, said, “They are all psychologically and emotionally okay. They have completed their first seven days on Thursday. By Thursday, they would have completed the entire incubation cycle. If there is no symptom they are free and they can mingle.”
Presidency extends screening to State House pilot gate
The Presidency has also introduced extra measures to ensure the virus does not spread to the State House.
Investigations on Friday showed that thorough screening for signs of the infection had been extended to the Pilot Gate of the Villa, which is the entry point where staff members, all visitors and guests coming to the seat of power are profiled for clearance.
An official, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said, “It is part of the extra measures that the authorities have approved in the last 48 hours. These measures are not to cause panic or anxiety, but they are safety precautions. As you know, there is no known case or suspicion of any case in Abuja so far.”
Also, every visitor or staff arriving at the pilot gate is screened before making contact with anyone from the Villa.
Findings indicated that visitors, guests or staff members would be subjected to screening at one more locations inside the Villa before they could finally enter their offices. Also, the Department of State Services officers manning the entrance will ensure that all persons arriving at the premises are subjected to the screening.
At the pilot gate, the temperature of arrivals is equally checked and they are given hand sanitisers to disinfect their hands. Prior to the commencement of the screening on Tuesday, officials of the National Centre for Disease Control visited the Villa to assess the place, preparatory for the exercise.
To get official comments on the new measures did not yield any responses on Friday as the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, both did not respond to enquiries by one of our correspondents.
70 trapped as quarantine facility collapses in China
On Saturday evening, about 70 people were trapped after the collapse of the hotel used as a coronavirus quarantine facility in eastern China, officials said.
As of the time of filing this report, AFP quoted the local government as saying that at least 38 persons have been rescued from the rubble of the 80-room Xinjia hotel in coastal Quanzhou city.
Footage circulating on microblogging platform, Weibo, showed rescue workers combing through the building’s wreckage in the dark and reassuring a woman trapped under heavy debris as other wounded victims were carried into ambulances.