COVID-19 home-base solution: NAFDAC meets researchers, herbalists over local treatment [Punch]

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Thursday indicated that Nigeria was making headway in getting local cures for COVID-19.

The PTF Chairman and  Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, gave this indication at the task force press conference in Abuja.

He said the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department of the Federal Ministry of Health had forwarded some of the claims for COVID-19 cure to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control.

According to the SGF, some of the claims for COVID-19 cures have met preliminary requirements, but the NAFDAC will evaluate them for listing.

Also on Thursday, NAFDAC met with alternative medical practitioners and researchers on the listing of herbal medicines for COVID-19 treatment.

According to the agenda of the meeting, issues such as COVID-19 and herbal medicines as well as NAFDAC food and chemical laboratory testing were discussed.

There were indications also Thursday that the Federal Ministry of Health had directed NAFDAC  to carry out necessary procedures for the assessment of a plant-based cough mixture to treat COVID-19 patients.

The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mashi Abdullahi, issued the directive in a memo with reference  TCAM/077/I/65, addressed to the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye.

The document, dated April 28, 2020, was titled, ‘Formulation of a Phyto-Medicine-Based Cough Mixture/Syrup for the Management of COVID-19 Patients by Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Department of the Ministry.’

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Wednesday, said the local medicines in Nigeria had not been tested and could be poisonous.

FG directs NAFDAC to evaluate local COVID-19 cures

On Thursday, the task force Chairman, Mustapha, said the PTF would continue to support efforts to invent a local cure for coronavirus, adding that the ministry of health had started evaluating some claims.

He stated, “For some time now, there have been claims of inventions and cures related to COVID-19. The PTF, as part of its mandate, remains supportive of and receptive to outcomes of research. It, however, finds it imperative to reiterate its position on the need for such discoveries to undergo the scientific validation processes.

“The PTF is aware that the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department of the Federal Ministry of Health has been evaluating such claims and forwarded some that have met the preliminary requirements to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.”

Also, the ministry of health in its letter to the NAFDAC DG noted there was no definite treatment or vaccine for COVID-19.

It stated, “This has necessitated countries to look for solutions from within and Nigeria is no exception. It is worthy to note that Nigeria is blessed with medicinal plants which could be exploited.

“It is heartwarming to note that the Department of the  TCAM has taken the pains to research into scientific materials to come up with a formulation intended for the management of cough in COVID-19 and other cough-related infections.”

According to the ministry, the formulation is a Cov-herbal cough mixture.

It said, “Interestingly, all the ingredients that make up the formulations are medicinal plants that are widely used as food materials and medicines.

“They include Allium sativa (garlic); Allium cepa (onions); Zingiber officinale (ginger): Piper guineense (West African Black Pepper); and Adansonia digitata (baobab fruit). The innovation here is the composition of the formulation.

“These medicinal plants have documented scientific evidence of long use for the management of cough and other respiratory infections, with medicinal properties of mucoiytic, antitussive, expectorant, soothing, demulcent, anti- inflammatory and antiviral effects.”

The ministry stated that it was determined to “walk the talk” in the promotion and integration of herbal medicine into the health care delivery system.

“In view of the foregoing and the desire of the ministry to showcase to the public a product that is 100 per cent sourced locally, you are requested to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.”

In an interview with The PUNCH on Thursday, NAFDAC Director of Public Affairs, Dr Abubakar Jimoh,  explained herbal drugs were listed after it had been confirmed that they were not toxic.

He, however, said that such listed drugs were not usually given full registration.

In a  related development, the leadership of NAFDAC  met with 35 players in the herbal and alternative medicine sector as part of efforts to find a treatment to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual meeting, which was convened by the Director General of NAFDAC,  had in attendance over 35  players in the herbal medicine sector including two professors of Pharmacognosis,  Maurice Iwu and Anthony Elujoba, who was once an acting Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.

Some others at the meeting were Prof. Martins Emeje of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development; the Managing Director, Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc, Matthew Azoji; and Prof. McDonald Edu of the Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology, University of Benin.

Others are Executive Director, Yemkem International Group, Mr Akinyemi Ayeni; and Dr. Oluwatobi Abiola, Managing Director of Ablat Nigeria Limited, manufacturers of Yoyo Bitters.

The meeting also had in attendance representatives of the Ministry of Trade and Investment as well as the Department of Traditional and Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the Ministry of Health.

The meeting was the third edition of the Nigerian Herbal Medicine Product Committee symposium which seeks to explore herbal solutions to health challenges in the country

However, the NAFDAC DG said only one firm had so far approached the agency for approval and it was for the treatment of the symptoms of COVID-19, not the virus itself.

Adeyeye said all claims must go through necessary testing before clinical trials can commence.

Firm seeking approval for drug for treating COVID-19 symptoms – NAFDAC

She said, “There is no known cure for COVID-19 right now. Only one company has sent an application to NAFDAC for approval and it is for treatment for symptoms of COVID-19.

“NAFDAC will check for animal toxicity, microbial content and then the product will be listed. The procedure must be followed strictly.”

The Registrar in charge of Trademarks, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Safiu Adamu, also said there was a need to strengthen the trademark laws so as to promote investment.

PTF seeks improved security at isolation centres

Meanwhile, the SGF, at the PTF briefing, called on state governments to beef up security at isolation centres to prevent escape of those placed under observations.

The directive for security beef up followed reports of protests by some people at isolation centres over allegations of poor welfare and lack of medical attention by the government.

Mustapha said, “The PTF has become aware of a number of challenges associated with management of the isolation centres. These have manifested in the form of protests over welfare, absconding from centres and loud complaints based on the assumption by persons under observation, that drugs must be administered.

“The first two are unhealthy developments capable of undermining the containment measures and putting the lives of care managers and frontline workers at risk.

“Similarly, persons in isolation are encouraged to follow the direction and instructions of the experts during their stay as treatment to be administered would largely depend on the evaluation of the doctor.

“We, however, urge all state governments to continue to pay attention to the welfare of people in isolation and for security agencies to provide adequate security around such facilities to prevent escape.”

The SGF decried the disobedience of the guidelines issued for the relaxation of the lockdown, saying it was capable of undermining efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The SGF said reports from various parts of the country on Wednesday indicated high level of non-compliance with the ban on inter-state travels with a high number of vehicles finding their way across many state borders despite the curfew/ border restrictions.

He also noted that the lack of respect for timing and the curfew resulted in heavy traffic gridlock where many motorists spent the night following the enforcement of the curfew.

Mustapha frowned on increasing level of abuse of exemption granted to vehicles conveying specified goods, stating that many had continued to hide passengers with the intention of transporting them across state boundaries.

He added that the continual transportation of Almajiriai across state borders was still evident.

The SGF warned security agencies against compromising the guidelines and interstate curfew, directing state Police Commissioners to step up monitoring teams.

Members of the task force will on Friday (today) meet the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, and other top security chiefs in Abuja.

The meeting is expected to centre on how to ensuring proper enforcement of the various guidelines released by the task force as part of the gradual ease of the lockdown declared to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

The  National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, dropped the hint on Thursday at the daily briefing of the task force.

The task force also issued new guidelines for small and medium enterprises to reopen while also tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

These include staggering work hours and educating employees on symptoms and response.

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who spoke during the daily PTF briefing in Abuja on Thursday, stated that COVID-19 had had hugely impacted the economy of the country.

Ihekweazu said the economic impact, inadvertently, also had an effect on health “because if people are not able to work, they are not able to earn a living and they are not able to fulfil all their health needs.”

The NCDC boss said, “So, we have recently published new guidelines for businesses and employers in Nigeria. This can be accessed on covid19.ncdc.gov.ng. These guidelines offer specific recommendations to businesses on how to exist safely in their own sectors.”

21 labs operational

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, in his remarks, stated that 21 laboratories nationwide were operational for COVID-19 testing as the PTF worked to drive up demand.

Ehanire said labs in Kano were directed to work in shifts to reduce the turnaround time for testing and enable faster return of results.

Govt sets up inter-ministerial team  on inventions

A high level inter-ministerial team comprising officials of the ministries of science and technology and health is to be established as part of efforts to rid Nigeria of coronavirus.

The decision to set up the committee was the outcome of a meeting between the two ministries on Thursday, where  Ehanire, observed that coronavirus was ‘no longer a big man’s disease’, contrary to the alleged views of many  Nigerians.

The meeting was attended, National Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu and  National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Dr. Obi Adigwe .

BUK loses another professor

A senior lecturer with the Department of Physical and Health Education, Bayero University Kano, Prof Monsuru Lasun Emiola,  is dead.

He died on Wednesday night at the university clinic after a brief illness.

A member of staff of the Information and publication unit of the university, Dr Lamara Garba confirmed the death of the deceased to The PUNCH in Kano on Thursday.

He said  Emiola, a senior lecturer with the Physical and Health Education Department, was an indigene of Oyo State.

Kano  plans home treatment for COVID-19 patients

The Kano State Government on Thursday said it might soon start treating COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms at home.

The  Coordinator of the state task force on COVID-19, Dr Tijjani Husauni, who disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH in Kano, said individuals in the state had yet to donate their houses as isolation centres.

He stated,  “Nobody has donated any house or structure to the committee to serve as isolation facility.”

He said at the committee was thinking the possibility of treating patients whose condition were not critical at home.

16 Almajarai from Kano test positive in Jigawa

Sixteen of the 45 Jigawa Almajiris returned from Kano State have tested positive for COVID-19.

The state Commissioner of Health and chairman State Taskforce on COVID-19, Dr Abba Zakari disclosed this while addressing a new conference at the NYSC orientation camp, Panisau on Thursday.

Lagos discharges 48 COVID-19 patients

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday said 48 patients, including 32 males and 16 females, had been discharged from the state isolation facilities after testing negative for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sanwo-Olu, in a series of tweets, said the patients were released from the Yaba, Lekki, Onikan and Lagos University Teaching Hospital isolation centres, adding that they had been reunited with their families.

 

Petrol price reduction won’t be immediate, says marketers [Punch]

The latest reduction in the ex-depot price of petrol to N108 per litre will not translate to an immediate drop in the pump price of the commodity at filling stations, oil marketers stated on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation announced a reduction in the ex-depot price of petrol from N113.28 per litre to N108 per litre.

Reacting to the development, oil marketers told our correspondent that the reduction was welcomed but added that it would not immediately reflect on the current pump price of petrol.

The Vice President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abubakar Maigandi, said marketers would have to sell their old stock at the current N125 per litre price before effecting any reduction.

He also noted that the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency had yet to make any statement on the cost of the commodity, adding that it was not the duty of marketers to announce a new price.

Maigandi said, “The new ex-depot price shows that there is an achievement based on the call for petrol price reduction and right now, both marketers and consumers will be happy.

“This may probably lead to a market situation where we will see a little increase in demand.”

On whether Nigerians should expect a reduction in the N125 per litre pump price soon, Maigandi replied, “The moment you get a reduction in ex-depot price, definitely there will be a corresponding reduction in pump price.

“But the reduction in pump price will not be as urgent as consumers want it to be because most of the marketers still have old stock. They have to finish their old stock before effecting a reduction in pump price.”

When asked to state the price range that the commodity will be dispensed at filling stations following the new N108 per litre ex-depot price, Maigandi said it was not the responsibility of marketers to decide the cost.

“We are waiting for the PPPRA to give the update because they are the ones in charge of products pricing,” he stated.

The spokesperson of PPPRA, Kimchi Apollo, did not answer calls when contacted to speak on the matter.

 

Shutting church service doesn’t affect true faith –Pastor Poju [Punch]

The Senior Pastor of the Covenant Christian Centre, Lagos, Pastor ‘Poju Oyemade, has said shutting church buildings does not affect the true worship of God.

According to Oyemade, Christians do not need to gather in a physical building to serve God, adding that in Biblical days, people received divine healing in public places.

The host of popular annual event, The Platform, stated this on his Instagram page.

The decision of government not to open religious places of worship due to the COVID-19 pandemic had been criticised by some prominent pastors, including Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy and Bishop David Oyedepo of Living Faith International.

Oyakhilome had criticized church leaders who agreed to shut churches without consulting with fellow pastors, while Oyedepo said opening markets and shutting churches was wrong and people were prevented from receiving their healing.

But Oyemade said God could not be restricted to physical buildings.

He said, “Closing the doors of a physical building does not in any way mean the closure of the anointing of the Spirit from working. The sick we see healed in the Book of Acts were healed on the streets, in people’s homes, in public places and not within the four walls of a church. Church buildings may be shut down, but true faith and the anointing of the Spirit has not stopped working.

“There is a difference between expression of emotions and the manifestation of the anointing to heal the sick. There is nowhere in Jesus’ ministry where the healing of the sick was preceded by a congregational service.

“In the Book of Acts, the sick were healed predominantly on the streets with no fanciful service going on. Closure of a church building does not stop the rivers of living water from flowing out of your belly.

“Charles Finney began a massive revival by people praying in their homes all keeping watches at the same time. They all chose the exact time to pray and they did in their homes until the Spirit broke out on the streets.

“They did not criticise any other church or ministry of weakness. Criticising others doesn’t attest to the fact that you have strength. They only stayed with God until something broke out on the streets.”

 

Buhari sacks BOA management team, appoints Hassan in acting capacity [Sun]

  • Reconstitutes NBET board

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate dissolution of the Interim Management Team of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and appointed Alwan Hassan as acting Managing Director of the bank.

In the same vein, the president also reconstituted the Board of Directors of the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company Plc (NBET) in his efforts to make it more productive and ultimately improve electricity supply in the country.

Approval for the dissolution of the BOA interim management team was conveyed to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, via a letter dated May 5, 2020 with reference No. PRES/95/MARD/14 and made available to newsmen yesterday.

Hassan hails from Kano State and holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. He  has served on the Management Boards of Orient Bank, Uganda; Bank PHB in the Gambia and Platinum Capital and Trust Limited, Nigeria.

Until his appointment, he was the Chairman/CEO of Midrange Universal Biz Ltd and member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers(CIBN), the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) among others. He also has a thorough grooming of management prowess having attended trainings at the famous IMD Business School Luasanne, Switzerland and Intrados Business School, Washington DC, USA

The BOA, being the nation’s apex agricultural and rural development finance institution, is saddled with the responsibility of providing agricultural credit facilities in support of agricultural value chain activities.

Meanwhile, the NBET, while domiciled with the Ministry of Power, was bogged down by internal squabbles bordering on fraud and insubordination within its management and the supervising Ministry.

The development forced the Presidency to relocate NBET to the Finance Ministry.

This explains why the newly reconstituted NBET Board, is chaired by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Mrs Zainab Ahmed, while a staff from Ministry of Power, not below the level of a director was named a non-Executive Director.

Others members are Mr. Alexander Okoh, as non–Executive Director from the Bureau of Public Enterprises, which holds 80 per cent shares in NBET, Ms. Patience Oniha, Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), also non-Executive Director on the board, while Mr Ben Akabueze, Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, another non-Executive Director.

Also appointed by the President are Suleyman Ndanusa, former Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as Non-Executive Director (Independent); Mr Mustapha Balarabe Shehu, former President Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), as non-Executive Director (Independent); Mr. Adeyeye Adepegba as Non-Executive Director (Independent); and Dr. Marilyn Amobi, as Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer.

 

$319m fresh Abacha loot expected from UK, France [Sun]

Fresh indications have emereged that Nigeria may soon receive another   tranche of $319million loot of former Head of State, late  General Sani Abacha from  France and the United Kingdom.

According to the US authorities involved in negotiations for its release, about $167million of the loot is in France with the UK still in custody of $152million which is also a subject of litigation.

In a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, the US said: “The funds returned last week are distinct and separate from an additional $167million in stolen assets also forfeited in the United Kingdom and France, as well as $152million still in active litigation in the United Kingdom.

The repatriation of the $152million (now $155m due to interest) to Nigeria is being challenged by the UK and the US because of alleged plans by the Nigerian government to give $110million out of the money to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, a known associate of the late Abacha, according to Bloomberg report.

Nigeria is seeking the approval of a UK court to take ownership of the assets before returning 70 percent of the proceeds to Bagudu under the terms of a 2018 deal, Bloomberg said.

The UK government’s National Crime Agency is also “opposing the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s application,” according to a motion filed by Bagudu’s brother, Ibrahim, to the District Court for the District of Columbia in the US capital on March 30.

The US Department of Justice said in February that its Nigerian counterpart is hindering its efforts to recover the allegedly laundered money from the UK.

The latest refund is coming barely few days after the government received about $311,797,866.11 recovered assets of General Sani Abacha from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

Attorney-General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who confirmed this early in the week said in a statement by the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu said the amount increased significantly from over $308 million mentioned in an earlier statement in February to over $311million due to interest that accrued from February 3 to April 28, when the fund was transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Malami said the litigation process for the return of the assets titled ‘Abacha III’ commenced in 2014 while the diplomatic process that culminated in the signing of the Asset Return Agreement began in 2018.

Eventually an agreement was signed on February 3 by the governments of Nigeria, the United States, and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

“This Agreement is based on international law and cooperation measures, that sets out the procedures for the repatriation, transfer, disposition, and management of the assets,” he said.

According to the statement, the recovery effort consolidates on the record of the Muhammadu Buhari administration with the history of recovery of $322million from Switzerland in 2018.

It added that the recovered loots were transparently and judiciously deployed in supporting indigent Nigerians as specified in the agreement signed with Switzerland and the World Bank.

He said, “In line with the 2020 Asset Return Agreement, the fund has been transferred to a Central Bank of Nigeria Asset Recovery designated account and would be paid to the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) within the next fourteen days.

“The NSIA is responsible for the management and execution of the projects to which the funds will be applied.”

Meanwhile the Federal Government has said the latest $311million recovery would support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria – Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Road, and the Second Niger Bridge.

It said it was was in the process of establishing a Project Monitoring Team to oversee the implementation of the projects and report regularly on progress made to the public.

 

COVID-19: Abscondment from isolation centres worrisome –PTF [Sun]

  • Says Nigeria at war •Security operatives to man centres to halt escape

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has decried the spate of abscondment of patients in isolation centres, warning that the trend posed a great risk to the lives of healthcare workers and other Nigerians.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, who stated this at yesterday’s daily briefing, said  Nigerians should consider ongoing efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 as a war. He regretted that reports from various parts of the country indicated non-compliance with the ban on inter-state travels and other measures put in place to halt the spread of COVID-19.

“These are unusual times and the seemingly calm atmosphere should not be construed as a return to normalcy. Non-compliance is manifesting in several ways and could be costly in the future. It is important to remember that this is a war in which every Nigerian is a combatant and must resist any effort by a few individuals or groups to endanger our collective survival,” he said.

Oyo State government, on Wednesday had announced that two among the 33 active cases being managed for COVID-19 absconded from an isolation centre.

While lamenting the abscondment of patients,  Mustapha appealed to state governments to provide adequate security around isolation centres to prevent the escape of patients.

“The PTF has become aware of a number of challenges associated with management of the isolation centres. These have manifested in the form of protests over welfare, abscondment from centres and loud complaints based on the assumption by persons under observation, that drugs must be administered.

“The first two are unhealthy developments capable of undermining the containment measures and putting the lives of care managers and frontline workers at risk. Similarly, persons in isolation are encouraged to follow the direction and instructions of experts during their stay as treatment to be administered would largely depend on the evaluation of the doctor.  We, however, urge all state governments to continue to pay attention to the welfare of people in isolation and for security agencies to provide adequate security around such facilities to prevent escape,” Mustapha said.

He said the high level of non-compliance with the ban on inter-state travels had resulted in a high number of vehicles finding their way across many state borders despite the curfew and border restrictions. He also decried that the lack of respect for timing and the curfew also resulted in heavy traffic gridlock where many motorists spent the night following the enforcement of the curfew.

“There is the increasing level of abuse of exemption granted to vehicles conveying specified goods. Reports across the country show that they continue to hide passengers with the intention of ferrying them across state boundaries and continual transportation of Almajiris across state borders is still evident.

“I have highlighted the foregoing as it relates to the road transportation sector to underscore the dangers inherent in the seeding of the virus across states. I, however, commend the security agencies for their vigilance in apprehending and prosecuting violators. It is worrisome, however, to note reports received about isolated cases of compromise by some security operatives. We urge the various commands of the security agencies to enhance their monitoring machinery to ensure that we do not only achieve the objective of stopping the spread of the virus but also prevent the good name of the services from being tarnished. We also implore all Nigerians to alert security agencies whenever they witness the violation of these guidelines,” he said.

FG may be pushed to review guidelines

The national coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu, has warned that the Federal Government may review and change lockdown guidelines, if compliance continues to be a problem.

He said: “While we have allowed the relaxation of the lockdown, we are putting measures in place to curb COVID-19 spread. Our modelling shows that the positive effects of full compliance with the eased lockdown will be very similar to the effect of a full lockdown. This is why we need everyone to fully comply with all the guidelines issued. Please, respect and follow all the guidelines we have instituted. If we continue to see violations of these guidelines, we will be pushed to review and possibly change them.”

…Makes U-turn on home isolation

Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has made a U-turn on the PTF’s earlier position on the protocol of self-isolation of returning travellers into the country.

“The policy we have now is that anybody arriving Nigeria from anywhere, whether by air, land or by sea will go into quarantine for 14 days. During those 14 days, they will be observed for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 disease. They will be tested at the beginning and at the end.

“We don’t have a provision for isolation at home. At the very beginning, we had that provision that, if you came in and did not have a symptom, you isolate at home. Since then, all the cases we are dealing with now came in and multiplied. In order to reduce the incidence of cases coming in and then forming clusters of new infections, the provision has now changed to what we call isolation-one or quarantine.

“Quarantine is for those who have not been confirmed or who are under isolation. If, during the period, signs and symptoms show up, they will be tested. If they are positive, they will go to treatment centres. If, after 14 days, they show no symptoms or signs and they are tested and are negative, they are free to go. That is the protocol we have now.”

‘Cures’ for COVID-19

Mustapha also spoke on various claims to inventions and cures for COVID-19.

“The PTF, as part of its mandate, remains supportive of and receptive to outcomes of research. It, however, finds it imperative to re-iterate its position on the need for such discoveries to undergo the scientific validation processes. The PTF is aware that the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department, of the Federal Ministry of Health has been evaluating such claims and forwarded some that have met the preliminary requirements to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.

“At the briefing on May 6, we urged professional bodies and trade associations, community and religious bodies, along with other relevant stakeholders to take up the challenge of creating awareness on COVID-19 and also project into the post-COVID-19 era.

“I am pleased to inform you that the Nigerian Institute of Architects has taken up this challenge and has in addition conveyed the commitment of members of the institute in all states of the federation to offer free consultancy services (design, remodelling, supervision etc) for COVID-19-related infrastructure such as isolation centres, test laboratories and upgrading of health facilities. While the PTF deeply appreciates this offer and looks forward to receiving such from other professional bodies, we urge all state governments to save costs by taking advantage of this offer,” he said.

10 Sanwo-Olu staff test positive, gov, wife test negative

No fewer than 10 members on the staff of the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have tested positive for COVID-19. However, the governor, and his wife, Ibijoke, tested negative twice consecutively to the disease.

Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, on his official Twitter handle yesterday, urged residents to continue to adhere strictly to preventive measures outlined by medical officials in the state.

Abayomi reiterated the need for Lagos residents to continue using face masks “so as to flatten coronavirus curve in the state.”

“I am glad to announce that COVID-19 Incident Commander, Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the First Lady of Lagos, Dr. Ibijoke, have consistently tested negative to the virus following three consecutive tests conducted on them recently.

“However, 10 persons associated with Lagos State House in Marina have tested positive to COVID-19. On behalf of Lagos State Government, I implore you all to continue to embrace the use of face masks and observe all precautionary measures. Aside this, residents should also ensure that they engage in physical distancing, hand washing and other personal hygiene. All directives on easing lockdown in Lagos State remain in force,” he said.

Abayomi, yesterday, also announced  two more deaths from COVID-19 infection, saying that the  number of confirmed cases in the state had increased to 1,324.

He did not provide additional information on the age, sex, nationality and medical history of the deceased: “Lagos recorded two more #COVID-19 related deaths, bringing total deaths associated to COVID-19 in Lagos to 33.”

The commissioner recalled that the state had on May 6 recorded 82 new cases of COVID-19 infections, which brought the number of confirmed cases to 1,324.

According to him, about 37 more patients have fully recovered, while 19 females and 18 males, including an Indian, have been discharged. “The total number of COVID- 19 patients discharged in Lagos State is now 358.”

Abayomi appealed to residents to adhere strictly to directives, aimed at preventing further transmission of the virus in the state.

The state has 915 active cases with two patients evacuated and 16 transferred to Ogun and Ondo States.

Data from the Africa Region of the World Health Organisation show that there are 51,239 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 2,006 deaths recorded across Africa.

 

PTF targets two million tests [Nation]

AN ambitious testing target of two million suspected COVID-19 patients across the country in three months is being planned by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

It believes that the figure is attainable with the existing 21 molecular laboratories in the six-geopolitical zones and an additional one that was expected to be activated in Port Harcourt, Rivers State yesterday.

Oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) donated two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines (the equipment for testing) to the Rivers State Government for the new laboratory.

Director-General of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC),Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said during the PTF  daily briefing   in Abuja, on Thursday  that the centre had been given a mandate to embark on  aggressive contact tracing in order to achieve the two million target.

Read Also: PTF takes delivery of medical tools, PPE

As of the time of the briefing, the NCDC had tested 22,492 persons for the pandemic virus..

Ihekweazu said,  “We are managing a network of 22 laboratories nationwide now for COVID-19 testing, they are 21 but by the end of today(Thursday) it will be 22 when we add Port Harcourt.”

He attributed delay in tested people getting their results early to the fact that  the NCDC owns only one laboratory.

His words, “We don’t own these laboratories. We only own the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja.. We have 36 states and the FCT.  Therefore, when results are generated from the laboratories,  they are first sent to the state epidemiologist.

“It is the responsibility of the state epidemiologist to then provide those results to every individual and then arrange for them to come in.”

The NCDC boss also clarified that people who test negative for COVID-19, get verbal notification while those positive, get physical result.

Ihekweazu added ”The data shared is on people tested not on the total tests done. From the data we share every day, I think we have about 22,000 people tested. We don’t include all the series of tests.”

The  Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, assured during that  the Federal Government was determined to ensure adequate capacity across the country.

He added that two ministerial teams had already been dispatched to Cross River and Kogi  states to achieve this and to collaborate with traditional and community leaders in surveillance efforts.

Ehanire said: “The Ministerial team of the Ministry of Health left enroute to Lokoja today to work with the Kogi State government. It includes officials of NCDC and Dept. of Hospital Services of the Ministry of Health. They will ensure that the state has adequate testing capacity and shall also advocate for the engagement of traditional rulers and community leaders in surveillance efforts of the State. A similar team will also travel to Cross River State for the same purpose.”

 

INEC to issue fresh modalities for Edo, Ondo governorship polls [Nation]

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it is set to release fresh modalities for the conduct of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections despite the Coronavirus pandemic.

It, however, said that it would liaise with health authorities and security agencies on resumption of activities in the two states ahead of the polls scheduled for September19 and October 10, 2020.

Rising from a stakeholders’ meeting yesterday, the commission, said that it would work out modalities for the ramping up of activities in the two states as soon as possible.

It, however, kept mum on the senatorial by-elections in Bayelsa and Imo states, as well as other state House of Assembly by-elections.

According to a statement issued at the end of the meeting by Festus Okoye, the national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC will resume engagement with political parties, civil society groups and organisations, the media and other stakeholders in relation to the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.

Read Also: Fire guts INEC headquarters

 

He said that the “modalities for these engagements will be worked out and considered at its next meeting on May 14.”

At the end of the meeting, according to the statement, “the commission resolved to carry out comprehensive decontamination of its national headquarters, annex at Blantyre Street, the Electoral Institute and its Area 10 office housing its staff clinic.

“To follow the Federal Government guidelines on resumption of protocols and procedure by providing infrared thermometers, soap and water at entrances and installing hand sanitiser dispensers at strategic points in the commission.

“To train its workers, particularly the cleaners and office assistants on cleaning protocols and strict compliance with the Federal Government guidelines as well as its own specific protocols for resumption.

“To issue comprehensive guidelines for the first phase of its resumption in compliance with the directives of the Federal Government and health authorities. These guidelines will be posted on its notice boards and uploaded on the website of the commission on May 11.

“That directors and other designated workers of the departments will resume at the national headquarters on May 13 after the decontamination of the premises and provision of necessary amenities as outlined earlier in this statement”.

 

Govt frowns at security agents’ role in inter-state travel breach [Nation]

  • Self-isolation has failed, says minister

THE Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Thursday expressed concerns over reports that security agents had been compromising the enforcement of the ban on inter-state travels.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who raised the alarm during the daily briefing in Abuja, also condemned the non-compliance with the guidelines for the first phase of the eased restriction by citizens.

Also, Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire admitted that Federal Government policy on self-isolation for those coming into the country had failed.

The SGF disclosed that the 256 Nigerians who were evacuated from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and arrived Nigeria on Wednesday, had proceeded on 14-day quarantine.

He also clarified that the four weeks of ban extension on air travels in the country, which took effect from yesterday’s evening, would not involve flights on essential service.

Speaking on the violation of inter-state movements, Almajiri exchanges, night curfew, and subversion of the guidelines by security, Mustapha charged leaders of the security agencies to rise to the occasion and prevent a few unscrupulous officials from smearing the images of the agencies.

Read Also: PTF takes delivery of medical tools, PPE

He said: “Reports from various parts of the country at the close of day yesterday 6th May, 2020 indicate the following:

(i) High level of non-compliance with the ban on inter-state travels . This resulted in a high number of vehicles finding their way across many state borders despite the curfew/ border restrictions;

(ii) Lack of respect for timing and the curfew also resulted in heavy traffic gridlock where many motorists spent the night following the enforcement of the curfew;

“Increasing level of abuse of exemption granted to vehicles conveying specified goods. Reports across the country show that they continue to hide passengers with the intention of ferrying them across state boundaries; and

(iv)  Continual transportation of Almajiris across state borders is still evident;

“I have highlighted the foregoing as it relates to the road transportation sector to underscore the dangers inherent in the seeding of the virus across states. I however commend the security agencies for their vigilance in apprehending and prosecuting violators.

“It is, worrisome, however, to note reports received about isolated cases of compromise by some security operatives. We urge the various commands of the security agencies to enhance their monitoring machinery to ensure that we do not only achieve the objective of stopping the spread of the virus but also prevent the good name of the services from being tarnished. We also implore all Nigerians to alert the security agencies whenever they witness the violation of these guidelines”.

On the quarantining of the United Arab Emirate (UAE) evacuees, he said: “The first batch of 256 Nigerians arrived from the United Arab Emirates into Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos on Thursday. In accordance with our protocol, all evacuees have been taken into 14-day isolation at designated facilities in Lagos State.

“The NCDC will conduct appropriate tests to determine their status within the period of isolation. The PTF is finalizing arrangements for similar evacuation from other parts of the world and you would be adequately briefed on developments”.

On the extension of ban on air travels, he said “the extension of the ban on all flights for additional four weeks takes effect from tonight as reported to you yesterday. We shall, however, continue to give exemptions for flights in circumstances that are considered essential”.

Acknowledging the failure of the self-isolation policy, the health minister alluded to the multiplication of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases from such persons at the time of entry.

He said to curb the clusters of new infections across the country, he said the provision of self-isolation has now been replaced with quarantining of returnees on arrival.

“The policy we have now is that anybody arriving Nigeria from anywhere whether by air, land or by sea will go into quarantine for 14 days. During that 14 days they will be observed for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 disease. They will be tested at the beginning and at the end.

“We don’t have a provision for isolation at home. At the very beginning, we had that provision that if you came in and did not have a symptom, you isolate at home. Since then, all the cases we are dealing with now came in and multiplied. In order to reduce the incidence of cases coming in and then forming clusters of new infections, the provision has now changed to what we call isolation-one or quarantine.

“Quarantine is for those who have not been confirmed or who are under isolation. If during the period, signs and symptoms show up, they will be tested. If they are positive they will go to treatment centres. If after 14 days they show no symptoms or signs and they are tested and are negative, they are free to go. That is the protocol we have now.”

The minister, therefore, urged state governments to treat COVID-19 patients with dignity as there are some reports across the country of inhumane treated of some patients in isolation and treatment centres.

He added: “I join the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in welcoming the first batch of Nigerian nationals, who were successfully repatriated yesterday evening to Lagos from Dubai. They have entered into mandatory supervised 14-day quarantine, in 2 designated hotels, in line with laid down protocols.

“They will be tested for COVID-19 and any person testing positive shall be invited to a treatment facility. I appeal to our returning citizens to bear with us and cooperate with authorities, especially if they perceive imperfections in our arrangements, as this is a test run, the first of these exercises.

“I shall here also request all states to embark on preparing at least 300 bed spaces for COVID-19 isolation and treatment. As testing is scaled up and more persons with COVID-19 infection are identified, it is necessary that they are safely and securely isolated and treated with dignity until they test negative, to break our chain of transmission.”

Echoing the minister, Ihekweazu, said: “People have not committed a crime, so they are not being held in prison. So we really want to work together with everyone to ensure that we all achieve our goals

“The security in treatment and isolation centres is the same thing like any other established organisation as security is the responsibility of the police working with the states government in that particular place.

“In certain circumstances, the states have had to increase the security in those facilities. In honesty, we don’t want to ‘securitize’ this response. We want people and organisations to take responsibilities.”

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