Nigeria’s cases rise to 46
VP Osinbajo tests negative
FG cuts oil benchmark to $30/ barrel
By Egena Sunday Ode, Musa Adamu and Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The number of deaths around the world from the novel coronavirus cases stood at 19,246, according to a tally compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT Wednesday from official sources.
More than 427,940 declared cases have been registered in 181 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December.
The tallies, using data collected by AFP offices from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), are likely to reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.
The medium reports that many countries are now only testing cases that require hospitalisation.
Italy, which recorded its first coronavirus death in February, has to date declared 6,820 fatalities, with 69,176 infections and 8,326 people recovered.
Like Italy, Spain now has more fatalities than China with 3,434, as well as having 47,610 infections and 5,367 recoveries.
According to AFP, China — excluding Hong Kong and Macau — has to date declared 3,281 deaths and 81,218 cases. The other worst-hit countries are Iran with 2,077 fatalities and 27,017 cases, France with 1,100 deaths and 22,302 cases, and the United States with 600 deaths and 55,225 cases.
Since 1900 GMT Tuesday, Cameroon and Niger have announced their first deaths while Libya, Laos, Belize, Grenada, Mali and Dominica reported their first cases.
By continent, Europe has listed 226,340 cases and 12,719 deaths to date, Asia 99,805 cases and 3,593 deaths, the US and Canada together 57,304 cases with 624 deaths, the Middle East 32,118 cases and 2,119 deaths, Latin America and the Caribbean 7,337 cases with 118 deaths, Oceania 2,656 cases with nine deaths and Africa 2,382 cases with 64 deaths.
In Nigeria, two new cases of the COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country.
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), one additional case was found in Lagos State while another was discovered in Osun State.
A statement by the NCDC reveals that both cases are travellers who returned to Nigeria in the last 7 days.
This is just as Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has tested negative to COVID-19.
His media aide, Laolu Akande confirmed this in an SMS Wednesday.
“Good morning sirs and ma: have been inundated with calls on whether indeed the VP had undergone a COVID19 test and the outcome. Yes he has and results negative. An official tweet would follow. Thanks,” Akande wrote.
Osinbajo was reported to have gone into self-isolation since Monday following the reports that the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, had returned a positive result.
He had on Monday canceled his scheduled commissioning of the National Traffic Radio at the national headquarters of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Wuse Zone 3, Abuja.
The office wing of the Vice President at the Presidential Villa was almost totally empty on Tuesday as only a few staff reportedly for work ostensibly in compliance with the work-from-home order by the federal government.
Osinbajo was said to have had close contact with Kyari since the latter returned from an official trip to Germany, a COVID-19 high risk country.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the National Assembly yesterday held a meeting with some Ministers and Heads of agencies from the Executive arm of Government to brainstorm on the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the Nigerian economy, resolving to slash the oil benchmark from $57 to $30 per barrel.
The meeting specifically touched on the planned review of the 2020 budget and Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper passed late last year by the National Assembly.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who presided over the meeting, in his opening remarks said that an immediate review of the 2020 budget and Medium Term Expenditure Framework is imperative, particularly against the backdrop of the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on global economy.
The meeting, which lasted almost four hours, according to Lawan, was summoned to “discuss the proposed review of the 2020 budget and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.”
“If we have to review the budget itself, we have to consider the MTEF/FSP. Even in sickness, we need government to provide services.
“The impact of COVID-19 is well known to all of us in terms of health and the economy. Here, we will be talking of revenues that we estimated to fund the budget 2020.
“Because the oil price has gone so low due to the impact of COVID-19, the Minister of State should be able to tell us where we will be in the next six months or so.”
Also speaking, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said the meeting was very timely.
In her presentation, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, explained that “prior to COVID-19 and Oil price decline, the Nigerian economy was already fragile and vulnerable.”
According to her, due to the a global economic downturn precipitated by the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, international Oil prices plunged as low as $22 (USD) per barrel on the international market.
She added that the impact of the pandemic which resulted in international crisis created a disruption in travel and trade, and put “increasing pressure on the naira and foreign reserves as the crude oil sales receipts decline and the country’s micro-economic outlook worsens.”
She said that in view of Nigeria’s economic realities, the Crisis Management Committee constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari in response to the COVID-19 and Oil Price Decline Crisis expressed concern that “the decline in international oil prices or domestic production may be magnified if a severe outbreak of the pandemic occurs in Nigeria.”
Accordingly, the Finance Minister proposed a review of the 2020 budget using a US$30 per barrel price benchmark to prepare for the worst case scenario, as well as insulate the Nigeria economy against any form of unexpected crisis.
She also told the leadership of the National Assembly that budgeted revenues for the Nigeria Customs Service have been reduced from N1.5 trillion to N943 billion “due to anticipated reduction in trade volumes; and privatization proceeds to be cut by 50 percent, based on the adverse economic outlook on sales of the Independent Power Projects (IPPs) and other assets.”
“The Federal Government is working on Fiscal Stimulus Measures to provide fiscal relief for taxpayers and key economic sectors; incentivize employers to retain and recruit staff during the economic downturns.”
In his presentation, the Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele said, “while we would expect to see a decline in our expected growth projection for 2020 relative to 2019, the exact impact will be dependent on how well the corona virus is contained over the next few month, and how long low oil prices persist.”