COVID-19: El-Rufai tests positive; Presidency refutes report on N30,000 relief package; Abia, Ogun close borders; Trump considers quarantine of New York; clerics, bridegrooms arrested for violating order

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Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State, on Saturday, said he has tested positive to Coronavirus.

It is the first case of COVID-19 recorded in the North-West state.

The governor, who made the disclosure in a statement he issued in Kaduna, said he has gone into self-isolation.

“Earlier this week, I submitted a sample for the Covid-19 test. The result came in this evening, and I regret to say that it is positive.

“According to the protocols for managing Covid-19, I am in self-isolation as required by the case management guidelines of the NCDC for someone that is not showing symptoms.

“I wish to appeal to the people of Kaduna State to continue to closely observe the preventive measures already announced.

“It is most important that everybody should do their utmost to stay safe, stay home and stay alive.

“The Deputy Governor is chairing our Covid-19 Taskforce and will continue to issue statements from time to time,” El-Rufai said.
Meanwhile, the Presidency has dismissed reports that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N30,000 relief package to be given to every Nigerian with a verified Bank Verification Number (BVN) to cushion hardships occasioned by Coronavirus.

The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, was quoted by an online media outfit to have announced the presidential approval of the N30,000 package in a statement.

”The President announced the relief package to be given out N30,000 to every Nigerian who has a verified BVN account to ease pressure posed by the order to lockdown economic activities,

“The N30,000 relief fund will be given to every Nigerian with verified BVN account. I am sure the fund will go a long way to help Nigerians stock up their home during the stay-at-home order by the Government,” the fake statement said.

However, the presidential aide said the supposed approval by the President was concocted by those he described as ”fake news peddlers”

Adesina on his tweeter handle on Saturday said: “Fake news peddlers have concocted a statement, purportedly issued by me, saying FG will pay N30,000 to each Nigerian with BVN, to help them stock up before an impending national lockdown. Not me.

”The so-called statement is hereby disclaimed.”

The Abia State Government, on Saturday, ordered the closure of all land borders, as part of its efforts to prevent the outbreak of Coronavirus in the state.
This was contained in a statement by Chief John Okiyi-Kalu, the Commissioner for Information, and made available to newsmen in Umuahia.
Okiyi-Kalu said that the directive had become necessary in view of the outbreak of COVID-19 in some parts of the country.
He said that the land border closure would take effect from 4 am. on March 29.
According to him, security agencies, traditional rulers and youths in the state are to ensure total compliance with the directive.
“All necessary measures, including total blockage of the borders, will be put in place until further notice.
“Particular efforts will be geared towards stopping those who may attempt to sneak into the state, either at night or at dawn, until further notice,” the commissioner said.
He added that traditional rulers and security agencies had been mandated to ensure that persons identified to have returned from Lagos, Abuja and overseas were made to observe self-isolation for at least 14 days.
Okiyi-Kalu urged the people of the state to report any strange incident or observation within their neighborhood regarding COVID-19 to relevant agencies for prompt action.

Ogun State Government also announced the closure of its borders with neighbouring states and the international border with the Republic of Benin.

The closure will be effected at midnight on Sunday, 29th March, 2020. It will be in force for two weeks in the first instance.

With this restriction order, movement in and out of the state is thus banned as a further measure to contain the corona virus pandemic.

In a statement on Saturday in Abeokuta by Kunle Somorin, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun, the state is constrained to effect border closure in order to stem and flatten the curve of the spread of the dreaded corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic, not only in the state but in the country and in the West African sub-region.

“The position of Ogun State is peculiar. It not only shares an international border with the Republic of Benin, it does so with all other states in the South West (except Ekiti), including Lagos State, which has understandably recorded the highest number of infections in the country largely because it hosts the busiest air and sea ports and it’s the nation’s economic capital.

“The border closure will not only be beneficial to Ogun State but the national efforts to curtail and contain the virus. Lessons from other climes strongly indicate that closure of borders has the potential to drastically flatten the curve of spread whilst unrestricted movement portends grave dangers”, Governor Abiodun further explained.

The only exceptions to the interstate restrictions are vehicles conveying personnel involved in essential services such as security agencies, health workers, food and medical items and petroleum products.

The Statement enjoined citizens to fully cooperate with the security agencies who have been fully briefed and directed to effect the closure, noting that at this period of a global pandemic and national emergency all hands must be on deck to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

The border closure and other measures will be reviewed from time to time, in response to developments as they unfold, the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump says he is considering “a quarantine of developing hot spots” in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

“A decision will be made, one way or another, shortly,” Trump tweeted on Saturday.

The idea did not go down well with Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York who dismissed it is unworkable.

Speaking at a news conference, Cuomo stated that he did not know how “that could be legally enforceable”.

“I spoke to the president about the ship coming up and the four sites, I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine.

“I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable.

“From a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing. I don’t even like the sound of it,” he said.

New York is currently the epicentre of the Coronavirus epidemic in the United States with no fewer than 52,000 cases and 728 deaths.

With no fewer than 100,000 infections and 1,800 fatalities, the U.S. in turn is currently the global epicentre of the pandemic in terms of confirmed cases. 
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) Ministerial Team on COVID-19 Restriction Enforcement, on Saturday, shut down activities at a popular Pentecostal church located at Jabi District.

The team, which began operations at the Wuse Market, moved to the church following complaints that the members were violating the no-gathering rule of the FCTA, and were holding weddings and other activities.

The Chairman, FCT Traffic Management Task Team, Mr Ikharo Attah, who led the team, addressed the gathering and subsequently dispersed the worshippers.

Similarly, the enforcement team visited Police Quarters at Wuse Zone 6, and stopped a wedding reception which was ongoing with over 300 people.

The bride and groom were about to arrive  when the team got to the venue located in a neighbourhood.

The team also visited Wuse and Dutse Alhaji markets and frowned at the partial compliance with the social distancing directive.

The team also visited Utako Market and insisted that it must be shut down immediately. 

The Kaduna State Government arrested two Islamic clerics for conducting congregational prayers in the state.
Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan, made the disclosure in a statement on Saturday in Kaduna.
He said that the clerics were apprehended in Malali and Ungwan Kanawa communities of Kaduna North Local Government area of the state.
Aruwan, while warning against violating the restriction of movement order in the state, said that the conduct of the arrested clerics violated government’s orders as well as the advice given by leaders of faith in the state.
“The state government is especially grateful to religious and community leaders who have joined in appealing to the public to abide by public health warnings.
“We thank the media for amplifying the message of prevention and the security agencies that are enforcing the extraordinary measures.
However, government has also sadly noted that certain individuals, including clerics, are violating the restriction of movement, large gatherings, trading and congregational prayers.
“This is patently an illegal and irresponsible conduct, especially at a time like this which requires sober and rational conduct to protect our people from Coronavirus.
“Therefore, the state government has arrested two clerics for conducting congregational prayers on March 27, in two communities.
“Their conduct violated government orders as well as advice given by leaders of faith and they will be prosecuted accordingly,” he said.
Aruwan said government expected compliance with the restriction of movement orders and would continue to enforce them.
“Anyone who decides to jeopardise his/her prestige and social standing through wanton violation of orders made to protect public welfare and good health should expect a firm response.
“It should be clear that the inconvenience associated with the preventive measures, while being regretted, is nothing compared to the sufferings and deaths that Coronavirus will cause, if it is allowed to get to the state and spread,” he said.
According to the commissioner, security agencies will continue to enforce government orders and uphold the 24-hour curfew, until further notice.
“Those who seek to defy the directives stand the risk of arrest and prosecution,” he warned.

The Zaria Zonal Command of Kaduna State Vigilante Service (KadVS) also arrested four bridegrooms for violating the ban on large gathering imposed by the state government.

Malam Bala Galadima, Zaria Zonal Commandant of KadVS, said that KadVS made the arrest within Zaria metropolis.

He added that the arrests was made at Lowcost, Mangwaron Babayo, Magajiya and Bakin Kasuwa settlements.

“Four bridegrooms with few of their friends, who were arrested, are in our custody; they will soon be prosecuted,” he said.

The Zonal Commandant said that the service had earlier reacted to intelligence information to facilitate the arrest of a bride, her groom and other guests at a marriage ceremony in the city on Wednesday.

According to him, the arrests were effected at Tudun Wada, Layin Yan Izala and Nagoyi areas.

The Kaduna State Government had shut down schools and campuses as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus.

The government also banned public gatherings involving more than 50 people.

The state government, on Thursday, announced a total lockdown of the state as additional measures to contain the novel Coronavirus ravaging the world.

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