•Says Nigeria on course to stopping COVID-19
•UITH suspends senior consultant over misconduct
•Kwara govt rages over UITH incident, traces 75 contacts
•Bringing Chinese doctors, against national interests-Reps
By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Demola Akinyemi, Levinus Nwabughiogu
LAGOS—The Federal Government, yesterday, said it does not know if the lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, ordered to check the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic would end in 14 days..
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said only President Muhammadu Buhari can decide if the lockdown would be extended, depending on experts’ advice.
It added that the country was on course to stop the spread of the virus.
Buhari had on March 29, 2020, ordered a total lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and FCT for 14 days in the first instance. The lockdown is on day 9 today.
This came as the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, UITH, suspended one of its own, Prof Alakija Salami for unethical conduct, over his role in the death of COVID-19 patient, which tested positive. He has been buried.
It also placed 28 medical staff that had contact with the deceased patient on self-isolation.
In another development, Governor Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman of Kwara State, yesterday, expressed outrage over the circumstances that made the state to join the league of coronavirus pandemic infected states, following Monday’s confirmation of two separate cases of COVID-19.
The governor at a briefing also informed that the government was tracing no fewer than 75 persons, who are secondary contacts to the two COVID-19 patients in the state to contain the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives has said that the importation of Chinese doctors into Nigeria will be against the national interests of the country.
It, therefore, asked the Federal Government to immediately jettison the decision.
It will be recalled that FG had concluded plans to bring in 18 Chinese doctors to assist local health professionals in the fight against coronavirus.
Buhari to determine lockdown extension or not
Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, who spoke, while briefing State House Correspondents in Lagos House, Marina, after an inspection of Isolation facilities in different parts of the state, said it was only the President that can decide whether or not to extend the lockdown imposed on Lagos, Ogun and FTC.
The Task Force, accompanied by Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu had earlier inspected isolation facilities at Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos Island, Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital, IDH, Yaba, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi-Araba and Gbagada General Hospital, Isolation Centre, Gbagada.
Also in the entourage was Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and Minister of Interior Affairs, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, among other key government functionaries.
Mustapha said: “Basically, this is part of the consultation. We are looking at the objectives that were set when the lockdown and quarantine declaration, 2020, was signed by the president and subsequently by other states.
“Before the end of the week, we will do an evaluation and see how the objectives that were set are being met. At the end of that exercise, we will have the responsibility of reporting back to Mr. President .The President did say the declaration was on the advice of Minister of Health and experts that informed his decision in signing of the quarantine declaration 2020.
“At the end of our valuation, our advice and recommendation will be presented to Mr. President and at that point, he and he alone can take that decision when the lockdown would either be extended or it will stop at the expiration of 14 days.
“In his address to the nation, he did say 14 days in the first instance, so it is open, it is based on what has happened within that 14 days, have they been met, have they satisfied the objectives, has it gone in the direction we wanted it.
“If that has been achieved, he will look at all the information available to him as the president of Nigeria and I can assure you that he will take a decision that is in the best interest of the people of Nigeria”, Mustapha said.
Earlier, Mustapha said the taskforce was in Lagos to inspect facilities put in place by the government for the control of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
He assured all Nigerians of the unwavering commitment of President Buhari to the war against COVID-19 and his readiness to mobilize resources to achieve national objectives.
Mustapha stressed that the nation was at war with an unseen but very potent enemy and to successfully prosecute the war, “we must own it, we must participate in it, we must create awareness, we must obey rules and regulations, we must stay at home when ordered and we must not conceal any information from the medical and disease control authorities.
“One person who is infected in a community can endanger the entire community regardless of its size and status or position of the people living there. Coronavirus is real and dangerous. Let me appeal to Lagosians, indeed, all Nigerians to play our roles in defeating Coronavirus.
“To win the war, we must abide by instructions to stay-at-home, maintain social distancing, personal hygiene and report all suspected cases to the designated health authorities.”
War against COVID-19 on course
On arrival at the Lagos State House, Mustapha, had expressed optimism that the current challenge of the ravaging COVID-19 in Nigeria would soon be over in view of sustained efforts to curtail it in the country.
He however, commanded efforts of the Lagos State Government towards curtailing the ravaging pandemic, saying, “Lagos is doing a great job” on containment.
Mustapha also charged the media to continue to broadcast to the people on the need to “maintain social distances, we need to maintain personal hygiene and we need to report anybody within the community who has shown symptoms of the infection, so that as quickly as possible, the help that is desired can be extended to those persons. So thank you very much.”
Also speaking, Governor Sanwo-Olu commended the taskforce for coming to the state to inspect the facilities, saying efforts were being intensified to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic is defeated.
UITH suspends senior consultant over misconduct
Alarmed by conduct of one of its staff in mismanaging the case of a coronavirus patient, which led to his death, the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, UITH, has suspended one of its staff, Prof Alakija Salami for unethical conduct.
UITH also placed 28 medical staff that had contact with the deceased patient on self-isolation.
Chief Medical Director, CMD, of the hospital Prof Abdullah Yusuf, who spoke in Ilorin, Kwara State, while speaking with journalists, said that management had ordered the immediate suspension of one Prof Salami for alleged unethical conduct.
He said: “The institution said it is also working with the Kwara State government Technical Committee on COVID-19 to contact-trace all that attended
“Already, all UITH staff with close contact with the deceased patient on the night of his admission, or his corpse has been ordered to proceed on self isolation. Besides, the ‘A and E’ ward and the ambulance.” On the suspension of Prof Salami, UITH in a statement by its Director of Administration, Dr David Oadibo, said “this is as a result of his unethical conduct in the admission, management and eventual release of the corpse of a suspected COVID -19 patient who died in the hospital on April 3, 2020.”
Earlier, UITH had in a letter with Ref no UITHMB/DA/PER/86/1/232 dated April 6, 2020, by Odaibo, set up a 10 man Committee under the Chairmanship of Professor E. Afolayan to among others, investigate the allegations of the COVID-19 suspected case that died recently on April 3, 2020 that was brought in, by a member of staff, Professor Salami.
Salami had claimed in his report at the hospital that the victim, a Chartered Accountant Alhaji Jimoh Muideen, who recently returned from United Kingdom, for one of his children’s graduation ceremony, suffered from food poisoning.
However, it was later gathered that that the deceased was on self- isolation since his return and that Salami brought him to the hospital after his case degenerated before his death the following day.
In a reaction to the incident in a telephone chat with Vanguard in Lagos, the President of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Dr Francis Faduyile, who described the incident as unethical, said the UITH management had already set up a panel to investigate Salami’s actions, noting that the NMA can only act after the report of the institution’s panel proves him guilty.
Kwara govt rages over UITH incident, traces 75 contact persons
Governor Abdulrahman at the briefing also disclosed that he had signed the Kwara State Infectious Disease (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020 on April 6, into law to enable the government legally force the residents to stay at home.
He said: “Our job is spelt out for us and we are definitely not dropping the ball as contact tracing by the Rapid Response Team of the medical advisory committee has so far netted 75 persons that include 28 medical staff of UITH, who have had contacts with the cases and the suspected case at UITH
“The government is extending the ongoing fumigation exercise to these places of interest, including the relevant locations in Offa and Ilorin, where contamination may have occurred as a result of this infectious disease. This is a trying moment for the whole of mankind. But we are definitely not helpless or without reasonable preparation in Kwara State.
“We are also blessed with committed professionals who are up to the task and willing to stand up and be counted at this time while also taking all precaution.”
On UITH incident, Abdulrazaq said, “The government is utterly disappointed at the breach of trust that played out in the UITH case and without prejudice to the internal investigation by UITH, we demand immediate suspension of Professor Salami and every other official of UITH, whose professional misconducts brought us down this path pending the outcome of the ongoing probe.
“ON Monday, we received the official report from the NCDC of samples earlier taken to the Ibadan test centre. The test confirmed that Kwara State now has two cases of COVID-19. The first is the wife of a man who recently returned from UK and the second case is a diabetic patient who also had a travel history to the UK.
“He came into the country on March 18. He has since gone into self isolation with his wife. Following reasonable suspicion, sample was taken from him and he has now been confirmed positive.”
Bringing Chinese doctors, against national interests —Reps minority caucus
In another development, Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives has said that the importation of Chinese doctors into Nigeria will be against the national interests of the country.
It therefore, asked the federal government to immediately jettison the decision.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government had concluded plans to bring in 18 Chinese doctors to assist local health professionals in the fight against coronavirus.
On Monday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Mamora met with the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila and a few members of the House leadership to convince them on the importance of the visit by the Chinese.
Both parties eventually agreed but the Speaker left a caveat that the doctors must be quarantined for 14 days amid other immigration protocols upon arrival to Nigeria.
But barely 24 hours after the meeting, the House Minority Caucus which included all the opposition parties in the parliament rejected the agreement.
The caucus, in a statement by its Leader, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, yesterday, warned that bringing in medical personnel from the epicenter of the dreaded disease will expose the nation to further danger.
The opposition said that the plans to import doctors from the hot bed of the plague into our country at this critical time of national history will be inimical to the common good of the country.
Elumelu in the statement noted that “This is particularly after alleged escalated of the pandemic in certain countries after Chinese doctors were reportedly involved, in addition to widespread trepidations over the safety of medical equipment and kits from China at this point in time.”
He stressed that “at such critical time, the safety and wellbeing of our citizens must be paramount and anything that is capable of further jeopardizing their lives must be avoided.”
Elumelu however, commended Nigerians for their resilience and collaborative effort in fighting the spread of the pandemic in the country.
He urged them to “continue to adhere to health safety procedures of personal hygiene and social distancing as well as being their brother’s keepers at this time,” while expressing confidence that with the combined effort of all, the nation will defeat the pandemic.
Senate postpones resumption to adhere to lockdown order
The Senate has extended the suspension of the plenary in order to comply with the lockdown order given to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The Senate’s spokesperson, Godiya Akwashiki, confirmed this, yesterday.
This, he said, was in compliance with the 14-days lockdown order given by President Buhari.
“No. We are not resuming today, because of the lockdown order,” he said.
Earlier, the Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya, also confirmed to journalists that “the Senate shall abide by the Executive Order of Mr President which is binding on all, short of any National Assembly legislation to the contrary.”
However, when asked if the Senate will hold an emergency sitting to consider the N500 billion loan request by the president, Akwashiki said he could not comment as the lawmakers are yet to agree on that.
“We have to agree on whether or not there will be sitting for that. For now, I cannot say. I can only speak on the resolution of the Senate so let’s be patient, when we get there, we will know.”
The Senate had on March 24, suspended plenary sessions for two weeks in order to curb the spread of Coronavirus disease as well as put up other safety measures in the complex.
The lawmakers were expected to resume legislative activities yesterday, but the president, on March 29, ordered the lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States and FCT.
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