Coronavirus: Nigeria budgets N1.67 billion in 28 days

• New case will be announced - Health Minister • Begs passengers on infected Italian flight to contact NCDC

In the first 28 days, Nigeria has a whopping N1.67 billion budget to effectively handle Coronavirus response, prevent its importation and spread in the country.

This was disclosed on Friday during the media briefing on an update of Coronavirus, tagged COVID-19, by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; in Abuja.

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

Among the parents, according to her is Aliko Dangote Foundation, which has donated N200 million; even as she added that some of the fundings are already being used straightaway.

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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 partner’s contributions, some of which we are using to respond straightaway.

“As you can agree with me that 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 funding that has been giving 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 world organization will 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 were not out yet, but assured that at the right time, the country representative of IMF would get in touch.

Giving further updates on the one index case in Nigeria, the minister said as, at Friday, there is still only one case of COVID-19 in the country, adding that there is no other confirmed case.

Ehanire, however, assured 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 still being awaited. He stated that there was no death recorded in the country as a result of COVID-19.

Between January 7 and March 5, he explained that there have been 21 suspected cases reported in four states of Lagos, Ogun, FCT, and Kano; while there have been follow up on the 61 contacts of the index case, 21 of them in Lagos 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 symptomatic free so far.

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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 at Friday, the minister pointed out that 93,090 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed globally, with 88.4% 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% of cases reported in the last 24 hours were outside China.

The minister said the fatality rate of COVID-19 across the globe was in the average of 4%, saying that countries are treating the infection safely.

“Countries have reported a high rate of successful treatment,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Director-General, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Peter Adigwe, presented a locally made hand sanitizer, 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 sanitizer has undergone a pilot product development and it is of the highest quality.

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

“Apart from this hand sanitizer, 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 sanitizer 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. Part of the companies are two that have WHO certification.”

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