Coronavirus: 21 suspected cases in Lagos, Ogun, FCT, Kano —FG

•Nigeria earmarks N1.67bn to fight epidemic •‘Italian is clinically stable’

NIGERIA has earmarked N1.67 billion to effectively respond to Coronavirus, prevent its importation and spread in the country even as the Federal Government disclosed that the number of suspected cases is now 21.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who stated these on Friday in Abuja at a media briefing on update on Coronavirus, tagged COVID-19, said the index case remained clinically stable.

Giving further update on the one index case in Nigeria, the minister said as of Friday, there was still only one confirmed case of CIVID-19 in the country.

Ehanire, however, gave the assurance that “if there is a new one, it will be announced immediately,” adding, “the index case is stable, the symptom is mild and he is being treated at the infectious disease hospital, Yaba, Lagos.”

He explained that there are three more suspected cases, two of which have tested negative, while the result of the remaining one is being awaited.

He stated that there has been no death recorded in the country as a result of COVID-19.

Between January 7 and March 5, he explained, there were 21 suspected cases reported in four states of Lagos, Ogun, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and Kano, while there have been follow-ups on the 61 contacts of the index case, 21 of them in Lagos State and 40 in Ogun State.

The minister said the contacts are under supervised isolation and provided with temperature-monitoring tools, adding that they all remain symptoms-free so far.

The Deputy Director, Special Duties, Ministry of Health, Dr Priscilla Ibekwe, said the government had earmarked about N1.67 billion in the past 28 days to respond to COVID-19, adding that the money was being donated by both local and international partners.

Among the partners, according to her, is Aliko Dangote Foundation, which has donated N200 million, even as part of the fund is already being used.

She said: “For the past 28 days, we have a budget of about N1.67 billion to handle this COVID-19 response and we have spoken to our partners, a lot of international partners and also local partners and we are continuing to have that conversation. The Aliko Dangote Foundation donated N200 million into this. And we are bringing together partners contributions, some of which we are using to respond straightaway.

“As you can agree with me, we have such capacity already in the airports. We have a lot of works going on in Ogun and Lagos states and some of the funds that have been given are already being used. So, we have re-programmed some of the money being contributed towards this response. So, we will conflate them and make them available.”

On the $50 billion announced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help address Coronavirus, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Abdullaziz Mashi Abdullahi, also said the country representative of the global organisation would get in touch to know how Nigeria will access the money.

He, however, pointed out that the guideline and framework for the disbursement of the IMF intervention fund was not out yet, but gave the assurance that at the right time, the country representative of the IMF would get in touch.

Ehanire appealed to any passenger on the Turkish Airline that brought the Italian index case to Nigeria and yet to be contacted to contact the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

As of Friday, the minister pointed out that 93,090 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed globally, with 88.4 per cent in China, while 3,198 deaths have also been confirmed.

He also stated that more new confirmed cases are now being reported outside China than in China, adding that 90 per cent of cases reported in the last 24 hours were outside China.

The minister said the fatality rate of COVID-19 across the globe were in the average of four per cent, saying that countries are treating the infection safely.

“Countries have reported high rate of successful treatment, while some countries reported to have treated all those affected successfully,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Director General of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Dr Obi Peter Adigwe, presented a locally made hand sanitiser intended to be mass produced to the minister.

He explained that the newly produced hand sanitizer was the result of the mandate earlier given to them by the health minister, when it was noticed that the global supply chains have been disrupted due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Dr Adigwe, while handing it over to the minister, explained that the hand sanitiser has undergone a pilot product development and it is of high quality.

The NIPRD director general said: “We are presenting a product, hand sanitiser that has undergone a pilot product development at NIPRD. It is of highest quality in terms of ensuring activities against the spread of Coronavirus.

“Apart from this hand sanitiser, we have undertaken several other activities which will also go a long way in addressing the disruption. We have quickly opened up a database for local pharmaceutical manufacturers who have been licensed to produce hand sanitiser in Nigeria.

“We are aware that some of these companies have excess capacity and companies who have indicated interest in joining the database are willing to share the excess capacity for contract manufacturing. Parts of the companies are two that have WHO certification.”

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