Governors on a Consensus of Two-week Lockdown Extension

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Following the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the last few days, the governors of the 36 states of the federation rose yesterday from a virtual meeting with a unanimous decision to ban interstate movements of people for 14 days.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases, which hit a new high on Tuesday with 117 reported cases, stood at 873 yesterday with the discovery of 91 fresh incidences.

The federal government has also prohibited the movement of all persons diagnosed with COVID-19 to another state for treatment, saying they should be cared for in the state where the diagnosis was made, except there is a medical indication to the contrary.

It also said it was awaiting the results of the investigation being carried out by the Federal Ministry of Health, the Kano State chief epidemiologist, officials of Kano Public Health Department and those of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the deaths being recorded in Kano State to know what further steps to take to curb the situation.

The federal government, however, denied the insinuation that the unexplainable deaths being recorded in the state is connected to the fake vaccine currently in circulation in the state and warned the public against buying or using a locally brewed mixture being offered as COVID-19 vaccine.

The governors, in a communique after their virtual conferencing yesterday, said a restriction on interstate movements for two weeks was imperative to mitigate the spread of the virus from state to state.

Also, with over 25 states now affected by the spread of the virus and increasing evidence of community transmission, the governors called for the decentralisation of the COVID-19 response team to check community infection.

They pledged to work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to protect health workers.

In the communique which was signed by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the governors said: “Members expressed serious concern over the rising spread of the virus among health workers and resolved to work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure that health workers are adequately provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and are constantly trained on the use of protective gear.

“Governors unanimously agreed to the implementation of an interstate lockdown in the country over the next two weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus from state to state. Only essential services will be permitted.”

The governors said in order to strengthen coordinated implementation of public health recommendations across states, they would set up COVID-19 Committees at the regional level, headed by their state Commissioners of Health to interface with the State Task Force Committees on COVID-19 already established in each state.

The forum also said it received briefing from the governors of Lagos, Bauchi, Oyo and Ogun States who shared their experiences and lessons from the fight against COVID-19.

The communique said the governors held a minute’s silence in honour of all Nigerians killed by the virus, especially health workers who were in the frontline of the battle against the epidemic.

The governors also conveyed their condolences to President Muhammadu Buhari and the people of Borno State on the passing away of the Chief of Staff to the president, Mallam Abba Kyari.

Similarly on interstate movement, the federal government announced a ban on the movement of COVID-19 patients to other states for treatment.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, told reporters in Abuja during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 that the ban was to avoid the high risk of exposure of other persons during patients’ movements.

He also said Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) and pharmacists have been prohibited from treating persons diagnosed of or suspected to be COVID-19 patients.

He said that any PPMVs that attempts to treat persons diagnosed of COVID-19 or suspected of contracting the virus.

He warned that a violation of the directive would result in the cancellation of the operating licences of the offenders.

Ehanire said: “All persons diagnosed with COVID-19 be henceforth treated in the state where the diagnosis was made, rather than be referred to their states of origin except there is a medical indication to the contrary.

“This is to avoid the high risk of exposure of other persons in the course of transfer.

“Private hospitals desiring to manage COVID-19 patients should apply to their state Ministries of Health for permits, meet IPC standards and be accredited by a FMoH-certified state team after compliance with protocols, before being granted.”

The minister noted that Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) have been deployed in Abia, Gombe and Sokoto States by the NCDC to support their COVID-19 response teams.

Additionally, Ehanire speaking concerning the Chinese medical personnel whose 14-day isolation ends today, he said they would be subjected to tests to know their status before exiting from their isolation centres.