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COVID-19: Government Seeks Cooperation For Contact Tracing

The federal government has called on all Nigerians for cooperation in identifying those who may have come into close contact with people that have been confirmed to be positive to the novel disease- coronavirus (COVID-19).
The minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made the call in a press briefing in Abuja.
The minister also dismissed the farce that the disease cannot affect Africans saying no one is immune to the disease.

“We need the cooperation of all Nigerians in the area of ‘contact tracing’. As you may be aware, health services use ‘contact tracing’ to find people who may have been exposed to an infectious disease, in this case coronavirus. Those who have come into close contact with others who have coronavirus are at higher risk of infection, and of potentially infecting others. For those who will not cooperate by submitting to the authorities, as required, the government will use all lawful means at its disposal to trace and bring them in. Having now shut our gateway airports, the biggest assignment for us is ‘contact tracing’ to find all those who may have come into contact with those who have the disease.

“There is also the farce out there that the disease cannot affect Africans for one reason or another, or that the young is immune to it. This is not true. Based on what we know so far, no one is immune to this disease. In New York, for example, 54% of those infected are between the ages of 18 and 49. As the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, young people are not immune to coronavirus and must avoid socialising and communicating it to older, more vulnerable people.
“Gentlemen, as far back as January 31st 2020, the Federal Government had set up an Inter-Ministerial/Multi Sectoral Preparedness and Response Committee to put in place an action plan for joint response, in the event that the importation of the disease occurs, to
ensure its containment. The committee started work immediately and has been responsible for the formulation of many of the containment measures so far rolled out.
“And on March 9th, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari set up a Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus, especially the disease’s potential of causing significant disruption to health services in the country as well as impacting negatively on the economy.
“While Nigeria has refused to succumb to panic in tackling this disease, it has not wavered in its preparedness. The government has taken a number of measures to contain the disease. They include:
– Restrictions of travel from 15 countries, each with more than 1,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19. The countries are China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, the United States, Norway, UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Sweden.
– Suspension of issuance of visa on arrival
-Cancellation of visas issued to nationals of these countries.
– Shutdown of international airports in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt
– Reduction of fuel price from 145 Naira to 125 Naira per litre
– Credit relief of 1.1 Trillion Naira announced by the CBN to
businesses affected by the pandemic.
– Establishment of a credit facility by the CBN for household, small and
medium enterprises (SMEs).
– Reduction of interest rates for loans from 9% to 5%, etc.

FAKE NEWS/DISINFORMATION
“ Perhaps one thing that is as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than the virus is fake news/disinformation. Our efforts to tackle coronavirus are not being helped by the spread of fake news. Suddenly, coronavirus pundits are popping up everywhere, in particular on
Whatsapp, prescribing Choloroquine (which has not been approved for treating coronavirus), garlic, hot bath, etc, as the cure-all for the disease. We implore Nigerians to shun these charlatans and follow the directives from the relevant authorities. We are happy that Facebook is cooperating with us. They have asked Nigerians to report any false
or misleading report on Facebook and Instagram pages so they can immediately bring them down. I can report that Facebook has been bringing down flagged posts in this regard. Facebook is also taking preemptive action to remove any false or harmful messages about this pandemic and public health in Nigeria 24/7. Similarly, Whatsapp is
working with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to strengthen the capacity to keep the public informed on Coronavirus.

“ We want to appeal to Nigerians to continue to support the efforts of the government at all levels to defeat this coronavirus. We are hoping for the best in our efforts to contain the
disease, but we are prepared for the worst. The truth is that things may yet get worse than it is now, hence the need for all hands to be on deck. Tougher decisions may yet be on the way to contain this disease. But whatever decision is taken will be in the best interest
of Nigerians.
“ Before I conclude, let me inform you, gentlemen, that I came here straight from the meeting of the Presidential Task Force on the Control of Coronavirus. I will now avail you of the decisions taken at that meeting
– Nigeria now has a total of 36 cases
– Nigeria has recorded its first coronavirus death, a 67-year-old man in Abuja
with serious underlying diseases.
– Henceforth, all passengers on domestic flights are to be properly
screened, just like we do for international travellers.
– All Federal Schools are already shut down and the Executive
Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), will be directed to close all universities, both public and private.
“ Gentlemen, we are prepared to take on and defeat this disease, President Buhari has assured Nigerians that the government is on top of the situation and that there is no cause for panic. This is not the time to engage in name calling, second-guessing the government or playing politics. Coronavirus does not select its victims on the basis of
their political party affiliation, their religion or ethnicity. Therefore, Nigerians must come together as one to stop coronavirus dead in its tracks, just like we did to Ebola.

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