By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, March 26, 2020
President Muhammadu Buhari has again enjoined all citizens to follow to the letter, the health guidelines issued by the Federal Ministry of Health and State Governments aimed at fighting the Coronavirus pandemic.
The President made the call in a special message to Nigerians made available to newsmen by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Thursday.
This is as the President has also ordered the prompt release of N5 billion special intervention fund requested by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to equip and expand their facilities and laboratories.
Malam Shehu, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, stressing that the approval would go a long way in addressing the challenges being experienced by the Centre in the ongoing fight against Coronavirus across the country.
The President, in his special message assured Nigerians that the federal ministry of health would continue to issue updates on all developments.
The statement reads in parts: “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,” he said.
Shehu, in his statement on the release of N5billion to the NCDC, revealed that the President has also given approval to NCDC’s request for an aircraft from the Presidential Air Fleet for emergency situations.
He said that the president had equally authorized the evacuation of three critical members of the NCDC team who were stuck in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, where they went for a training organsied by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
”With regard 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 was released within two days of the request,” he disclosed. .
According to him, 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 and the conversion of all Hajj transit camps to COVID-19 isolation centres.
Other measures announced included the directive that all non-essential government employees should work from home, as well as 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 and state governments.”
Shehu stated that President Buhari had also directed the escalation of the nation’s capacity for testing and detection with the acquisition of testing kits and establishment of additional test centres and acquisition of Personnel Protection Equipment.
He said that the president had also ordered the mobilisation of experts and trained staff serving, while recalling some of those retired, to combat the deadly virus.
”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.
”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,” he added.