COVID-19: Abia tertiary institutions shut; Obiano suspends marriages, burials; ASUU urges FG to use Nigerian scientists to fight virus; four more cases confirmed; Ondo Govt orders workers to stay at home

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As part of measures to check the spread of Coronavirus in Abia State, tertiary institutions in the South-East state have been shut in compliance with Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s directive.

The governor had, on March 20, directed the tertiary institutions to close indefinitely pending when the pandemic would stop.

He said that each of the institutions would access N10 million to connect and teach students online during the closure.

No case of the disease had been reported in the state so far.

Abia Polytechnic, Aba, has complied with the directive, although  few students and staff were seen around apparently making final arrangements to depart.

Mrs Chinyere Eze, the institution’s spokesperson, confirmed that most students had gone home.

Also, Ms Zara Ezenwoko, the Public Relations Officer of Abia State College of Health Sciences and Management Technology, Aba, said that the institution had equally complied with the directive.

She, however, said that lecturers and other staff would be coming to the institution to render skeletal services.

The Provost, Abia State College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu, Dr Philip Ntoo, however, said the institution would  not  be shut  totally.

He said that the directive did not imply shutting completely.

Ntoo said that the school already had facilities to key into the governor’s directive that Abia tertiary institutions should access grant to host online tutorials for students while at home.

Also, the Public Relations Officer of Abia State University, Uturu, Mr Achor Elendu, said that students vacated the campus on Sunday. 
Meanwhile, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has directed civil servants in the state to work from their homes for the next 14 days as part of measures to curb the spread of Coronavirus with effect from Tuesday till further notice.
Obiano, in a statement on Monday, said all public gatherings including traditional marriage ceremonies, community, new yam, Ofala, masquerade festivals, funeral ceremonies, baby christening, festivals, title-taking ceremonies and any meeting of more than 30 participants remain suspended.
He also said he had constituted a 23-man Action Committee on COVID-19 headed by himself to tackle the menace in the state.
The governor announced suspension of all academic activities in the state while ordering full disclosure of passengers ’ manifest for inter state commuter transport operators and specifying limit of passengers for intra city transport operators.
“However, any civil servant may be called upon at any given time to handle an urgent assignment as the case arises. This directive excludes all staff of Anambra State Ministry of Health workers and officers on essential duty.
“Traditional rulers and President General of Communities must ensure full compliance or be held responsible.
“All nursery, primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary schools are hereby closed with immediate effect. All academic and extra-curricular activities are hereby suspended.
“All public transport operators are directed to submit the manifest of all passengers coming into Anambra State to the appropriate authorities with their names, phone numbers, residential addresses and final destination.
“No Keke or tricycle rider should carry more than two passengers at a time, drivers of shuttle buses must not carry more than three passengers at a time and drivers of township and mini buses must not carry more than five passengers at a time,” he stated.
Obiano urged the general public to maintain a habit of frequent hand-washing with soap and water as well as use alcohol based hand sanitisers, and only visit the markets for essential commodities.
He said all night clubs were closed forthwith while restaurants should not take more than 30 customers at a time.
“All night clubs are hereby closed until further notice, people should endeavor to sit at home.
“Operators of bars and restaurants should not admit more than 30 customers at a time and must adhere strictly to the basic standards of social distancing.
“They must also provide hand-washing points and hand sanitizers for their customers. Any violation will attract immediate closure of the premises.
“All persons returning to Anambra State from all countries of the world and states that have COVID-19 cases must go into self-isolation for 14 days and report.
“Security Agencies have been directed to ensure full compliance,” he stated.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Monday, urged the Federal Government to use Nigerian scientists and other critical stakeholders to fight the Corona virus (COVID-19), pandemic.

Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President, made the call at a news conference in Abuja, while reacting to the spread of the global disease.

According to Ogunyemi, it is not a surprise that Nigeria’s health facilities are not equipped with adequate staff to response to emergencies such as the COVID-19.

“ASUU is not convinced that government at various levels are doing enough now that the nation must grapple with the globalised disease. Our union expects government to use Nigerian scientists and other critical stakeholders to fight the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, what we see are groups of politicians and bureaucrats assuming leadership in the fight against the virus.

“We truly hope government officials are not toying with the lives of Nigerians and exploiting the situations for self aggrandisement.

“So far, desired results are not coming, while reported cases are on the rise daily.

“Although 30 cases were reported as at March 22, the figure has the potential of increasing exponentially in the coming days,” he said.

The ASUU president said to prevent and control the pandemic, Nigeria needed clarity through information dissemination; and forceful measures to be taken.

He said Nigeria needed a command structure led by experts and professionals adding that such structure should include teams of researchers, scholars and medical scientists, and not groups dominated by bureaucrats and politicians.

He noted that virtually all universities had epidemiologists who should play critical roles in the fight against COVID -19.

“We need them to develop models for curbing the disease spread, taking into consideration the peculiarities of our country.

“Data from these experts will create the required pathways for speedy arrest of the pandemic.

“These measures, along with early detection and isolation, will significantly reduce the spread of the disease,” the ASUU helmsman said.

Ogunyemi, therefore, stated that ASUU members nationwide shall be willing to work with medical workers and paramedics, as volunteers in the public enlightenment and professional intervention initiative.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed four new cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total of confirmed cases to 40.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, confirmed this in Abuja, while giving an update on the COVID-19 cases in the country.

Ihekweazu said that three new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Lagos and one in the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT).

He said that two from the four new cases were returning travellers.

“As at 11 p.m. on  March, 23, there are 40 confirmed cases of COVID19 in Nigeria. The active cases is 37, two have been discharged with one death recorded in the country.

“Of the 40 confirmed cases, are in six states, 28 are in Lagos, seven in the FCT, two in Ogun, one  in Edo, one in Ekiti and one in Oyo,” he said.

Ihekweazu said that as the COVID-19 situation in Nigeria evolves, NCDC and government agencies would continue to take  the necessary measures to protect the health of Nigerians.

He called on Nigerians to make use of the NCDC communication campaign “TakeResponsibility“ to prevent COVID19 spread in the country.

The NCDC boss stressed  that Preventing COVID-19 spread requires a whole-of-society approach and its call was for all Nigerians to “TakeResponsibility” for their  health.

“It will take collective efforts to share credible information widely across various channels,” it said.

He said Nigerians should build on the campaign by sharing critical prevention messages on COVID-19 within social and professional circles.

He, however, urged them to use these key points in their messaging:

. Wash your hands frequently with soap under running water or use an alcohol-based sanitiser.

. Cough/sneeze into tissue and dispose properly or cough/sneeze into your elbow.

. Avoid large gatherings and physical contact

.Clean all surfaces frequently with disinfectants.

. Get information only from official sources

. If you return from international travel, self-isolate for 14 days and if you develop symptoms, call NCDC’s toll free number: 080097000010.

Ihekweazu said that for more resources and real-time updates on COVID-19 in Nigeria, It would be found via www.covid19.ncdc.gov.ng.

More than 15,400 people have died from COVID-19 globally. An estimated 100,000 of the 362,000 people who have been diagnosed with the disease across the world have recovered, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Also on Monday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned “the pandemic is accelerating” with it taking 67 days for cases to reach the 100,000 mark globally, 11 days for cases to reach 200,000 and just four days for cases to reach 300,000.
The Ondo State Government has directed civil servants from Grade Level One to 12 who are not on essential services to stay at home  as a precautionary measure against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Donald Ojogo, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, in a statement on Monday in Akure, explained that there was also a total ban on all political, social and religious gatherings in the state for 14 days.

A suspected case of the virus was reported in the state on March 18 while Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in a broadcast on March 19 closed down all schools in the state.

Akeredolu had further directed the regulation of crowds in all churches and mosques across the state until further notice.

The commissioner in the latest directive also said gatherings at clubs and beer parlours were  prohibited until further notice.

Ojogo said the decisions, which were additions to the state broadcast and in the overall interest of the state, were reached at an extensive deliberation on the Covid-19 pandemic during the State Executive Council meeting on Monday.

“As a responsive government,  we have  a strong resolve to stem the influx of an undeterminable number of persons in their hundreds into the state, especially from unverifiable areas.

“The state government has already directed the Commissioner of Police and heads of other security agencies to enforce all regulations in respect of crowd control as spelt out by the government.

“Government, as well as all persons of goodwill in Ondo state, no doubt, heaved a sigh of relief when few days ago, our collective anxiety became calm only after the result conducted on a suspected Covid-19 case turned out negative.

“In the meantime, the government wishes to encourage the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State to consider postponing its state congress scheduled for Tuesday, 24th March, 2020 and take a cue from Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, who by public apology, agreed that the party did not exercise discretion by organising a political rally in Ibadan,” he said.

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