A woman wearing a face mask walks nearby the Central Mosque in Lagos, Nigeria, Friday, March 20, 2020. The government banned all religious activities for four weeks following confirmation of coronavirus cases in the country. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
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COVID-19: Stay at home for now, FG tells Lagos, Abuja residents

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…SGF urges prompt report of people with virus symptoms

In the wake of virulent Coronavirus across the country, the Federal Government has “strongly advised’’ Lagos and Abuja residents to observe a lock-in without further delay.

They are also to shun mega gathering for  religious purposes until further notice while federal civil servants of Grade Level  12 and below are to stay away from work.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha told a news conference in Abuja on Monday that Lagos and Abuja have been isolated by the task force for particular attention in view of their population, mobility and number of cases already reported.

He said:“All Abuja and Lagos residents are strongly advised to stay at home,  avoid mass congregation of any kind as well as non-essential outings, until further advice is given.

“Leaders of different faiths have been encouraged to restrict services and activities that involve mass gathering of more than fifty of their adherents.  State governments are also enforcing this policy at different levels.’’

Mustapha, who is the Chairman of the Presidential task Force on COVID-19 pandemic, announced that all land borders that had been hitherto under partial closure have been closed to human traffic for  the next four weeks effective from today ( 23rd March, 2020).

On the part of the federal government, he said the weekly Federal Executive Council  and National Council of State meeting scheduled for March 26 have been suspended until further notice.

Mustapha  recalled other measures so far taken included escalating the nation’s capacity for testing and detection through the acquisition of more testing kits and establishment of additional test centres; acquisition of personnel protection equipment (PPE) for different categories of frontline personnel and enhancing contact tracking as well as deepening awareness.

Others are mobilization of experts and trained personnel whether in service or retired, introduction of social distancing policies and banning mass gathering of over fifty (50) persons, closure of schools and tertiary institutions and total ban on international travels effective from 12.00 midnight today (March 23).

He confirmed that the virus had covered 192 countries, reporting over 329,000 cases, adding in Africa, 42 out of 54 countries have reported cases while 48 deaths have been recorded.

“In Nigeria, 36 cases have been reported and one fatality has occurred.  The first responders, particularly the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), continues to attend to reports received through telephone calls and other medium.
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“We commend Nigerians for stepping out to report and/or make enquires through the dedicated hotlines.

“Records show that on Sunday, 22nd March, 2020, over 4500 calls were received.  This shows the high level of awareness amongst Nigerians,’’ the SGF said.

Mustapha urged anyone experiencing the symptoms of the virus or has been in contact with anyone who has been suspected or tested positive “to please report at the nearest medical facility or the designated center.’’

“This commitment by government should be reciprocated by all citizens by respecting the advisory and obeying measures put in place to curtail the spread of COVID-19.’’

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