- Advocates for compulsory voluntary testing
- To fumigate towns, cities, ban interstate travels
- As Lai Mohammed, other ministers test negative
By our correspondent
The Federal Government yesterday disclosed that it is tracing 4, 370 contacts of people living with the dreaded coronavirus codenamed COVID-19 by the United Nations.
The central government also resolved to carry out a number of urgent measures including fumigating towns and cities, and enforcement of voluntary but compulsory testing by all Nigerians, especially those who returned to the country from high risk countries like China, Italy, South Korea, USA, and the UK among others.
Fact came, also yesterday, that the test conducted on some ministers who had contact with some suspected carriers of the disease came out negative yesterday including that of the Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed.
These were part of the press conference addressed in Abuja yesterday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
According to the Minister, “we have 4,370 people of interest whom we are tracing. We urge those who have had contact with suspected cases to immediately report to the authorities.
“We urge Nigerians to support the authorities in this regard. We are on the verge of reaching the level of community spread. We must stop this immediately or we will record exponential cases in the days ahead. There is no better way to say this.”
He gave update on the current statistic of the spread across states: “Today, we have 51 cases covering 8 states: Lagos – 32, FCT – 10, Ogun – 3, Ekiti – 1, Edo – 1, Bauchi – 1, Osun – 1, Oyo – 1,and Rivers – 1.”
The Minister expressed FG concern over inadequate cooperation from.Nigerians in the fight against spread of the virus.
“Let me say, without mincing words, that we are not getting the kind of cooperation that this moment deserves from Nigerians. Many are busy engaging in meaningless criticisms instead of complying with the stipulated directives to keep people safe.
“Some Nigerians who flew into the country from overseas filled wrong addresses and phone numbers in their forms, making it difficult to trace them when the need arises. Some Nigerians defied orders to stay away from large gatherings while some religious leaders willfully flouted the directives to ensure social distancing.
“The government is doing its best but we need the citizens to do their best too. We have now gone past the stage of persuasion. It’s time for strong enforcement,” he said, adding that a.vigorous effort is being made to ensure that people freely turn in themselves to be tested as a key step to eradicating the virus from the country.
He said a number of tougher measures are taken to stop the exportation of the disease to states that do not have it and to minimize spread. They include stopping inter-state/inter-town travels, except for essential services, closing all motor parks and inter-state rail stations, already train movements nationwide have been stopped, and firefighting and other adaptable vehicles and personnel will be used to fumigate cities and towns.
The minister in response to a question also disclosed that result of his test was released to him yesterday showing negative along with other ministers whose names he did not disclose.
He however frowned at unofficial disclosure of the Coronavirus status of public office holders by the media when such cannot be supported with verifiable evidence.
He declined to either confirm or deny the status of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari widely speculated to have contracted the disease.
He said President Buhari is not coughing and sneezing as is being speculated, stating that the president is fully in charge, and urged Nigerians to shun all fake news.