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COVID-19 Lockdown: FG denies five governors, others approval to fly

Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation



…PTF begins distribution of medical supplies to states


…currently in Kano to monitor situation



In a bid to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown, the Federal Government says requests by five governors and some elite to fly out of their states had been denied.


It said only those on essential services and diplomatic requests, medical or food supplies or evacuation of patients not necessarily with COVID-19 symptoms are allowed to fly.


The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, gave the explanation in response to questions at Tuesday’s Presidential Task Force media briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja.


He described as untrue claims that the elite including governors were being given privileges to fly during the lockdown.



“Every single flight that you will see, every single one that we will approve will be an essential flights. And the essential flights 98 percent of them will be connected to COVID-19.


“A few of them might be a diplomatic request from diplomatic community which must go through Foreign Affairs Ministry or it might be evacuation due to illness of other kind and those evacuations may also need staff of a teaching hospital like I said before.


“Whoever is approved to fly privately, governor or not a governor is on an essential trip and 98 percent is related to COVID-19. There is no exception to governors, I have denied several of such flights including two governors from South-south, two from South-east; meanwhile three of them are members of the All Progressive Congress and one is from North-central.


“Some other flights like essential cargo that will bring in medicines or equipment or something related to our own wellbeing like food and so on and so forth,’’ the minister said, urging “please trust and bear with us it while this last, it will be short.’’


Also briefing the media, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force  on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, announced that medical equipment and consumables were being distributed to states ravaged by the virus to support them.


He said the equipment and materials donated by Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, had already been shared to the states.


Mustapha restated that the current lockdown was to slow down the spread of the virus by minimizing contacts and congregation of people in churches or mosques and to enable the government to put in place necessary infrastructure, train personnel, take delivery and distribute essential equipment and materials.


According to him, the DG of the NCDC and the WHO Representative on the PTF have been touring the states to assess and standardize their infrastructure and their readiness.


Six states of Imo, Anambra, Rivers, Delta, Katsina and Kano (currently) have been visited while three more states will be covered by Wednesday, he said.


“I find it necessary to remind us all that this COVID-19 pandemic is not a joke and it is a global pandemic. I therefore renew the appeal of the PTF to all Nigerians to view it as such and comply with all advisories and directives in the interest of humanity.


“The reports coming out of our continuing collaboration with the states indicate that the governors have been at the head of the response which is encouraging; the state EOCs and their treatment centres are in place.


“There is improved levels of preparedness and response activities- focusing more on strengthening current capacity where they exist over building new structures,” Mustapha said.


He said attention was being focused on some states with heavy burden, particularly Kano with extensive support.


“Unity of purpose is critical. Everybody has a role to play for self, for family for community, for the nation and for humanity.”


On mandatory use of face mask, the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, urged the people in states hit by the virus to comply with the directive to wear face masks.


He said: “I will re-echo what the Honourable Minister of State, Health, had said with regards to face masks, we will continue to urge you to wear face masks as an optional addition to routine measures of physical distancing, avoiding mass gatherings and respiratory hygiene.


“In line with the NCDC face masks policy, we advise Nigerians make DIY (do-it-yourself) face masks. Not only are they cheap, they are also more colourful.


“We do appreciate the Nigerian creative and enterprising spirit already at work, with so many people already making use of local fabrics. We will like you to continue to make use of both procedures for improvised masks usage and maintenance of the NCDC guidelines.

“With regards to the engagement, we continue to engage collaboratively with state governments on the pandemic response. The task force will continue to provide necessary assistance to states to ensure adequate sensitization.


“In this regard, we will like to acknowledge and thank both the public, as well as the private media for the support they have been providing in terms of information and education materials on TV, radio, jingles and so on.’’


On vulnerable groups, Aliyu promised that the PTF continue to work with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to ensure that palliatives get to them including people living with disabilities and the elderly.


“We do note the concerns about increased report of cases; we are closely monitoring Kano, Osun, Oyo and Edo. We noted the particular concern with Kano and we have engaged closely with the state government.


“Because we are increasing the number of tests as we ramp up, there is the possibility that we’ll continue to have more and more cases coming in.’’


Aliyu appealed to residents of FCT, Lagos and Ogun States to comply with the COVID-19 lockdown by staying at home to prevent further spread of the infection.



Written by Per Second News

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