The Lagos State Government has sent no fewer than 67 persons, who wanted to enter the country through the Seme border, into quarantine.
The PUNCH on Monday gathered that security agencies at the border town on Sunday detained the 67 persons, who were coming from Togo.
It was learnt that the security agencies handed over the 67 persons to the Lagos State Government, which had put them in 14 days quarantine.
A top security source at the Seme border, who confided in The PUNCH, said the 67 persons, who were mostly Nigerians, attempted to enter the country on Sunday despite the closure of land borders.
It was gathered that samples of the 67 peoples would be taken for COVID-19 test and that they would be quarantined in Badagry for 14 days.
The security source, who spoke to The PUNCH, said, “The Lagos State Government has already got some hotel accommodation around Badagry. These people will be housed in hotels, which have no other guests. Their samples will be taken and they will be tested. They will be in quarantine for 14 days.
“Before the end of the 14 days, another test will be conducted on them. After 14 days, if they test negative for the virus, they will be allowed to go to their different destinations in the country. Anyone of them that tests positive will be moved to the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba for treatment.”
The Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr Sunday James, said the service had no information that 67 persons were stopped at Seme border from entering Lagos
James, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said, “There is nothing like that. I have contacted my office at the Seme border and he said there was nothing like that. I have called the controller at Seme border and he said there was nothing like that.”
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had in a nationwide broadcast on March 29, ordered complete closure of land borders to human and vehicular traffic.
He ordered the lockdown of the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states for 14 days. According to him, the country’s airports, which were earlier shut, should remain closed.
On Monday, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, defended the Federal Government’s decision to bring 18 Chinese doctors into the country.
Ehanaire, at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 press conference in Abuja, said Chinese doctors would come into the country despite the opposition of the Nigerian Medical Association.
The minister had on Friday said the Chinese team would come on board a Nigeria Air Force aircraft.
While objecting the plan, the NMA said the plan was demeaning to Nigerian health workers who had been in the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 in the country.
Chinese doctors, nurses to observe isolation, testing rules
Addressing some of the concerns raised by the NMA on the invitation of the Chinese experts, especially with regard to isolation of anyone coming to Nigeria from countries with high burden of COVID-19, the minister said that the Chinese would also be subjected to the national protocol guiding entry into Nigeria.
He said, “On Friday, I announced that an 18-man team of Chinese technical experts is expected in Nigeria with a consignment of globally scarce supplies to augment government effort and build capacity to curtail the outbreak.
“The equipment includes personal protective equipment and consumables, more than a million masks and intensive care unit ventilators. There is global competition for masks and ventilators with countries donating or swapping ventilators. It is gratifying that in the face of all these, we are able to get these supplies; even if we have the money, we would not have been able to order for them.
“The technical experts will comprise research doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and public health managers who will share their knowledge, skill and real life experience of fighting COVID-19 with Nigerian personnel.
“Anybody coming to this country will have to be subjected to the rules and regulations we have set. The experts coming, with all the valuable experience they are bringing and which we want to learn, will still be subjected to the rules we have established in the interest of our people. Even if they have done test in their country, we still have to do confirmatory test here.
‘NMA not left behind’
“We carry the NMA along. I am a member of the NMA and I have told the president that the door is open. All he needs to do is to knock, whatever I am doing, I will be ready to see him.”
UN donates $2m in supplies
The minister added that more isolation centres would be added to the one housing infected persons in Abuja. He said that the United Nations had promised to assist Nigeria with supplies worth $2m. The first batch of the material would arrive in Nigeria on Tuesday.
He said, “We have identified additional treatment centres in Utako and Mabuchi (area of Abuja) which will give a minimum of 400 beds. They are under renovation. We inspected them over the weekend. The Hospital Accreditation Committee has inspected and accredited three centres in Abuja.
“The United Nations has offered $2m worth of materials. The first batch of it is coming tomorrow (today). This does not mean that indigenous manufacturers (who want to manufacture response equipment) should withdraw. We need to look at the future. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last.”
The minister called on the aged to go into isolation because they were vulnerable to the virus attack.
FG reviews time for testing, result, isolation
Also at the briefing, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said Nigeria had reviewed its response timeframe to achieve quicker testing, result and isolation.
He said, “To improve the efficiency of the work being done, we have agreed on five targets for all the states actively involved. The targets are broad but they will be tightened every day to show that the time given by the President is worthy of the sacrifice Nigerians are making.
“The targets we are setting for teams in Abuja and Lagos are to make sure that collection of samples from individual symptomatic individuals happens within eight hours of notification of the state team.
“Secondly, the turnaround time for testing and result will be less than 24 hours. This is the case because samples come in late in the evening and result must come out the next day.
“The third one is that we plan to test 200 samples per day in Lagos and 100 in Abuja by the end of this week. The fourth one is to isolate patients in less than six hours after they have received their positive results. We plan to isolate every confirm case. We will measure ourselves with percentages of each of these indicators and use that to improve the effectiveness of the response.”
The NCDC boss said that 30 per cent of cases established in Nigeria so far were through contact tracing.
He said, “In addition to case finding, the second most important thing is contact tracing. This involves strenuous effort and it sometimes following tens of contacts of each individual. Each case has about 30 to 40 contacts to follow.
Ihekweazu said two laboratories in Kano and Kaduna would be activated on Tuesday (today) with two others to be activated in Jos and Maiduguri from Thursday.”
China offers Nigeria 1.3m masks, ventilators, others
The Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, at the press conference, said a Chinese construction company, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, had offered to provide 1,300,000 medical masks and 150,000 units of personal protective equipment.
The CCECC is in charge of construction of several ongoing railway projects across the country, including Ibadan-Lagos, Abuja-Kaduna, and Ibadan-Minna-Abuja-Kaduna-Kano
He said, “One major support that has attracted public commentary is the offer by the CCECC, a Chinese company, to import about 256 pieces of equipment and items in different quantities, notable among which are 1,300,000 medical masks, over 150,000 pieces of assorted PPEs as well as 50 medical ventilators.
“The company has also proposed and, on its own, suggested to sponsor public health experts to help strengthen our public health capacity and advise on processes and procedure.”
The PTF chairman also cautioned Nigerians against stirring what he described as unnecessary controversies that would distract the government from the fight against coronavirus.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, in a statement on Monday, said that based on the concerns raised by Nigerians, the Chinese doctors and nurses would first be quarantined for 14 days.
Gbajabiamila said this decision was reached after he held a meeting with the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora.
Lagos still tracing 2,293 contacts
On his part, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said the state was still tracing 2,293 people who might have had contact with persons tested for COVID-19.
He said, “We have 2,645 passengers of interest that we are tracing, 352 of them have completed their 14-days isolation and we are still following up 2,293. In the next few days, most of these will exit their 14 days isolation.”
Abayomi added that about 80 per cent of those calling the dedicated hotline for COVID-19 were not serious callers.
We are now battling local transmission – Lagos commissioner
The commissioner said that the majority of the cases being treated in Lagos were local transmission, adding that more attention would be focused on the Alimosho Local Government Area.
“The number of cases without a travel history has increased from 45 per cent to 80 per cent; that demonstrate that there is more local transmission going on as importation of cases is decreasing.
“The reason we are paying attention to the Alimosho Local Government Area is because there has been a sudden rise from one case to four cases. That is not a big number but it is a trend, we are following our data, we can’t divert our precious resources to where we are not seeing trends.”
Lagos discharges two more patients
The state Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has announced that two more patients receiving treatment at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba have been discharged.
Sanwo-Olu, via his Twitter handle, @jidesanwoolu, said, “Dear Lagosians, I have more great news for you from our Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba. Today, two more female patients have recovered fully and have tested negative for COVID19 twice consecutively. They have been discharged from the facility.
“With the newly discharged patients, we now have a total of 31 people that have fully recovered from COVID19 in Lagos and discharged to join the community. We are full of appreciation to the front line health workers, working hard during this difficult time.”