BY LEVI JOHNSON
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged religious leaders to obey the maximum of fifty people gathering to reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus.
”The closure of schools and tertiary institutions and the suspension of religious and other gatherings above the fifty prescribed number are also parts of the measures approved and are in place,” he said.
This was contained in a statement issued by Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
He tasked Nigerians to observe all advice issued by the Ministry of Health, especially on social distancing, noting that the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads faster through crowding.
Buhari said: “I advise all Nigerians to follow to the letter the health guidelines issued by the Federal Ministry of Health and our State Governments.
“Wash your hands thoroughly many times throughout the day. Observe ‘social distancing’ of a minimum of two metres. Do not make unnecessary journeys outside of your homes. Do not attend public meetings or public gatherings – including religious events – which is where, through social contact, the virus can easily be transmitted.
“The Federal Ministry of Health will continue to issue daily updates on all developments. Please refer to public announcements by the Ministry on radio, television, www.health.gov.ng and @Fmohnigeria”, President said.
With regards to the request by the government of Lagos State for financial support to combat and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Lagos and Nigeria, the President has already approved the sum of N10 billion which release was effected within two days of the request.
The President has also approved and ensured the prompt release of N5 billion special intervention requested by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to equip and expand their facilities and laboratories.
In the same vein, the President has given approval to NCDC’s request for an aircraft from the Presidential Air Fleet for emergency situations. He has furthermore authorized the evacuation of three critical members of the NCDC team who are stuck in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo where they went for a training organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“These measures are in addition to the ones approved and announced by the Presidential Task Force, PTF including the closure of land borders to human traffic for four weeks; the conversion of all Hajj transit camps to be utilized as COVID-19 isolation centres; the directive that all non-essential government employees to work from home and for a daily briefing of the nation through the PTF.
“Other approved measures already put into place include the ban of flights from and into the country, suspension of the Federal Executive Council and National Council of State meetings and a directive for engagements, at the highest levels between the Federal Government and the state governments.
“President Buhari has also directed for the escalation of the nation’s capacity for testing and detection with the acquisition of testing kits and establishment of additional test centres; acquisition of Personnel Protection Equipment and the mobilization of experts and trained staff serving and recall of some of those retired.
“The President is keeping a close eye on international developments on the spread of COVID-19 and will intensify or introduce new measures if they become necessary to protect Nigerians”, the statement said.