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COVID-19: RSG Tightens Surveillance At PH Airport …Assures Additional Measures, Today …Sets Up Five-Man Committee To Monitor Compliance …Nigeria Records Eight New Cases As Number Rises To 30

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As part of measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus codenamed COVID-19, the Rivers State Government says it is working with the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to tighten surveillance at the domestic wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike stated this during a live radio programme in Port Harcourt, monitored by The Tide in Port Harcourt, weekend.
Chike said the Rivers State Committee on Coronavirus Enlightenment was doing everything within its powers to ensure that all entry and exit points to the state are well checked.
According to him, “At the domestic wing, we want to also commence screening because we fear that the virus carriers may also come in through Lagos or Abuja routes. Passengers might disembark in Abuja or Lagos, and then take domestic flights to Port Harcourt.”
The commissioner said he was at the airport with the terminal managers and the zonal team that took him round to ensure that the appropriate preventive measures were in place, saying, “So, we don’t want to leave any stone unturned and our team is also ready”.
Chike also advised residents in the state to adopt extra caution to prevent the virus from entering Rivers State, and urged residents to adhere to simple personal hygiene and not panic.
“The state government is doing everything possible. It is not the time for fear but fact. We still encourage people to maintain high hygiene. Wash your hands severally with soap and water, and then, you also add alcohol-based sanitizers, then, the social distancing and coughing onto the flex arms of your elbow.
“As much as possible, reduce contact. If you can’t avoid handshake, in fact, you can give the person a beautiful smile from a distance, and then, continue. We are talking about you being alive and not contracting this virus.
“The airport is in the purview of the Federal Government but what we are doing is assisting and making sure the Port Health Service and our own medical surveillance teams are on the ground to make sure that these things are done. Like when we discovered one or two things that are not functional, we pointed it to them, and they have corrected that and made sure they are done,” the commissioner added.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has assured that the state government would proactively announce additional measures to check the scourge of Coronavirus pandemic in the state, today.
Addressing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) delegates at the State Elective Congress in Port Harcourt, last Saturday, Wike said that the state government would continue to put appropriate public health safety measures in place to protect Rivers people.
The governor said: “By Monday, the state government will take additional measures to tackle the novel Coronavirus.
“It is important that we continue to take this matter very seriously. The mere fact that there is no confirmed case does not mean that we should relax.”
Wike explained that the state government had directed that precautionary measures must be taken before the state PDP Elective Congress was held.
According to him, “That is why we said that before any delegate is allowed to come inside the venue, he must have his/her temperature checked and hand sanitizer applied.
“We continue to pray that there will be no confirmed case in Rivers State”, Wike added.
Earlier, the Rivers State Government had ordered the closure of all schools in the state and directed religious organisations to restrict their activities as a result of the global novel Coronavirus pandemic.
In a state-wide broadcast, last Friday, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike said that the action was taken in the interest of the state.
The closure affects public and private primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, effective today.
The governor stressed that, “Based on the above precautionary measures, the state can be described to be at an alert state. To further strengthen our resolve to protect our citizens, the state government has taken the following decisions: “All schools in the state are to be closed down with effect from Monday, March 23, 2020. All religious organisations are to restrict their activities.”
Wike explained that his administration took the decision with a deep sense of responsibility.
He said: “As you are aware, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has described Coronavirus as a global pandemic. This development calls for collective action by all well-meaning citizens.
“As a responsive government, even though we have not had a confirmed case of Coronavirus, we did not rest on our oars as we set-up a five-man inter-ministerial committee to carry out an aggressive public enlightenment that will protect all those living and doing business in the state from the disease.
“This decision was taken because we understand that we are the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry and also a major commercial hub in the country that attracts people from all walks of life across all continents.”
The Rivers State governor noted that with actions taken, the state was alert to address any situation.
“The committee had since its inauguration carried out stakeholder engagement with Community Development Committees, religious groups, principals and head teachers of schools, traders’ association, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), military, paramilitary, police, International Oil Companies (IOCs) and chairmen of local government councils under the auspices of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
“In addition to this, radio and television jingles, flyers and billboards have been fully utilised by the committee to pass the prevention message to all the nooks and crannies of the state.”
The governor added: “The state Ministry of Health has also been empowered to set up intervention resources: 158 surveillance and ad-hoc personnel have been trained. One treatment centre, holding centres in the two teaching hospitals and all general hospitals in the state are fully functional. All health workers, both private and public have been trained and briefed on infection control measures and appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand sanitizers have been procured, infrared thermometers have been procured, other commodities and equipment have been stockpiled, and we have redoubled surveillance at our airports, seaports, waterways and land routes.”
Wike pleaded for the understanding of Rivers people, adding, “My dear good people of Rivers State, as painful as these decisions may seem, it is a sacrifice we must make to protect ourselves in the face of recent developments.
“Let me assure all those resident in the state that the state government under my leadership is ready and willing to protect their lives at all times.
“May I, therefore, call for the understanding and collective support of all and sundry to keep our state safe from Coronavirus. Together, we shall win with God on our side”, Wike noted.
However, following the executive order by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for all schools to close, effective today, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku has warned that any school that does not comply with the directive would be sanctioned.
Speaking during a press briefing, held last Friday, at the State Secretariat, Port Harcourt, to announce the setting up of an additional five-man committee to ensure compliance of schools to the governor’s order, Ebeku, pointed out that the immediate closure of all schools as directed by Chief Executive Officer of the state does not in any way confirm that there is any Coronavirus case in the state.
The education commissioner added that it was better to prepare for war than wait for the war to start before preparation.
Ebeku noted further that these are not good times in the world, reminding Rivers people that the World Health Organisation has already warned African countries to prepare for the worst, with increasing cases of the virus across many countries on the continent.
“With a deep sense of solemnity and responsibility, I must say that these are not good times for us. The scourge of the virus called COVID-19 is ravaging virtually all countries of the world, and WHO has warned African countries to prepare for the worst.
“Earlier today (Friday), the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as a dynamic and responsible leader, had in a state-wide broadcast, announced that all schools in the state are to be closed with effect from Monday, March 23, 2020.
“This is the most painful, but necessary decision to protect the people of Rivers State, particularly our schools growing children from the pandemic, and the order of closure affects all schools, both public and private, and from primary to tertiary institutions.
“In furtherance to this decision, Chief Nyesom Wike has set-up a committee to monitor compliance with the order for closure of schools. I have also set-up a five-man committee which has been mandated to move round the state to ensure compliance,” Ebeku added.
Kaniye stated that in addition to the committee set-up by the Rivers State governor, he also set-up another follow-up committee to monitor compliance in order to ensure that any school that goes against the governor’s directive is sanctioned and the operational license retrieved from the school.
“For the avoidance of doubt, any private school that violates the order of closure will have its operating license withdrawn”, Ebeku warned.
On the issue of duration of the closure, the commissioner stated that the closure was indefinite for now, pending the seriousness or otherwise of the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
On the issue of allowing the pupils to finish their examinations, Ebeku explained that the government had agreed with school heads to ensure that all examinations were concluded before today.

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Join Fight To Defeat COVID-19, Wike Urges Rivers People …Extends Curfew To 24 Hours …Monitors Level Of Compliance

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has appealed to the people of the state to continue to support the efforts of the state government to check the spread of Coronavirus.
Speaking at the Government House, Port Harcourt, when he received food donations from Dufil Prima Foods Plc, producers of Indomie Noodles, Wike said it was better to be alive, than to die seeking food.
Wike was represented by the Rivers State Commissioner for Special Duties, Hon Bariere Thomas.
He said: “We are aware that the COVID-19 is what we didn’t expect, but as Christians we are prayerful believing that the situation is not going to last forever. So, we are calling on our people to cooperate with the government and remain at home.
“It is better to stay hungry and be alive than to die while eating. We expect our people to cooperate with government even as we remain prayerful.”
Wike said the food donations will get to the less privileged.
“We want to assure you that the materials will be distributed to the needy. We also want to say that your company and other non-governmental organizations are equally expected to join hands with the government ensure that the hard time they face is handled.
“Let me on behalf of the governor of Rivers State and the good people of the state thank the Dufil Prima Food Plc for responding timely to the situation we have at hand”, he stated.
The governor said that he understands the hardship the people pass through, but pointed out that the sacrifice is necessary to defeat Coronavirus.
He said: “We are all aware of the order of government for our people to stay at home. The government is not equally unaware of the hard time we are facing as a result of this order, that is one of the reasons why we are most grateful for your company for considering this donation.”
The Head of Administration of Dufil Prima Foods Plc , Mr Chinedum Wali said that the food donation is aimed at assisting the less privileged as they sit-at-home.
He said: “We are all aware about the Coronavirus that is spreading across the country and the world. On behalf of the management, we have brought a token to assist and support the less privileged.
“With the situation and the lock down, we brought this to assist the needy. We have one thousand cartons of noodles and five hundred cartons of pastas.”
Meanwhile, The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, extended the curfew imposed on some parts of Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas of the state capital, warning that failure by residents of affected areas would be met with severe consequences.
Wike spoke yesterday, while monitoring the level of compliance of the curfew imposed by the state government on some densely populated areas, particularly, Obiri-Ikwerre Junction (Ozuoba, Rumualogu) to Choba and from Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction.
The curfew was aimed at ensuring that residents of the areas observe the sit-at-home directive to check the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
Wike imposed curfew on Obiri-Ikwerre Junction (Ozuoba, Rumualogu) to Choba and from Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction after residents of the area failed to comply with government directive closing markets across the state as part of measures to obey the social distancing rules.
Accompanied by Security Service Commanders, Wike started the monitoring exercise at Education Bus Stop up to Agip Junction.
The governor made his observations to the service commanders and operational service operatives on ground before proceeding to Obiri-Ikwerre Junction (Ozuoba, Rumualogu) to Choba where he made further observations on making the curfew effective to check the spread of Coronavirus.
It would be recalled that, yesterday, the Rivers State Government, had clarified that the curfew imposed at Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction, Ikwerre Road and Obiri Ikwerre Junction to Ozuoba, Rumualogu and Choba was for 24 hours with effect from March 31, 2020 till further notice.
During his state-wide broadcast, last Monday, Wike stated that the Rivers State Government would continue to take necessary measures to check the spread of Coronavirus.
He said: “Let me reiterate that this government will continue to do what is right no matter who is involved. As you are all aware, no conventional war has grounded global life and economy like Coronavirus has done.
“Everybody is affected. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to defeat Coronavirus. I want to sincerely express my heartfelt gratitude to our health professionals on the frontline of this fight. Let me also thank all the security agencies, individuals and organisations who are collaborating with us to make Rivers State safe.
“I am confident that with our collective resolve our dear state will contain the spread of this virus”.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, clarified that the 24-hour curfew was meant to reinforce government’s desire to contain the spread of the virus in the state.
A statement by the commissioner, yesterday, said the measure was an improvement from the dusk-to-dawn curfew earlier announced by the governor.
He explained that it was in its quest to further prevent infection of the Coronavirus in the state, that the Rivers State Government imposed 24-hour curfew in identified key areas of the state with high human traffic.
The statement reads in part: “This is to inform members of the public that the curfew imposed at Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction, Ikwerre Road and Obiri Ikwerre Junction to Ozuoba, Rumualogu and Choba is for 24 hours with effect from today, March 31, 2020 till further notice.
“It has also come to the notice of the state government that some banks are closing down in the state. The curfew is targeted at only some parts of the state. Therefore, banks have no excuse to shut down their operations.
“Any bank that is found to be closed will find it very difficult to reopen for business in the state”, the government warned.

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COVID-19: NCDC Set To Increase Test Capacity To 1,500 Daily …As Confirmed Cases Of Coronavirus In Nigeria Rise To 139

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The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said, yesterday, that the centre would increase its capacity to test for the Coronavirus to 1,500 per day in the country.
Ihekweazu stated this at the Presidential Taskforce Briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja, yesterday.
He said the focus of NCDC efforts was to improve the number of people that could be tested for the disease.
He said: “Last week, we had the capacity to test 500 per day, by the end of this week we will be at 1000 a day.
“By next week, we are hoping to get to 1,500 a day.”
Ihekweazu, however, said that Nigerians need to reduce the demand side of the testing to those who really needed it.
He noted that the more the people force themselves into being tested, the less NCDC would have the capacity to test those who really need the screening.
In a related development, the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said that the ministry was unrelenting in its school children feeding.
She said the ministry would liaise with the state governments to work out the modalities to know how to go about the programme, despite the stay-at-home directive.
Farouq also disclosed that the ministry has about 2.6 million poor and vulnerable households on its social register.
However, the Federal Government has said it will be reaching more than 11 million Nigerians with palliatives to cushion the harsh effects of the measures set to fight back outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Also, the government has said it will continue to increase capacity to test for cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on weekly basis.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, while reacting to questions, yesterday, at the daily media briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, also disclosed that internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North-East part of the country already received two months rations of relief materials.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian government has announced four new cases of COVID-19 in the country.
This brings the total number of cases so far confirmed on Tuesday to eight. Four cases were earlier confirmed Tuesday morning.
The total number of confirmed cases in the country is now 139 at the time of this report.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said of the four new cases reported in Nigeria, three are in the FCT and one in Lagos.
The public health agency said “as at 08:00 pm 31st March there are 139 confirmed cases of COVID19 reported in Nigeria. Nine have been discharged with two deaths.”
Of the eight new cases reported on Tuesday, so far, three are in Osun, three are in the FCT, one in Lagos and one in Ogun State.
It said all new cases have mild to moderate symptoms and are currently receiving care.
A breakdown of cases by states show that Lagos is the epicentre for the COVID-19 in Nigeria. Cases have also been on the rise in FCT, Osun and Oyo states.
Although there has been an increase in the number of cases across the country, more are expected in days to come.
The government has intensified contact tracing to identify those who have been in contact with persons who tested positive to COVID-19. They have also improved the testing capacity by adding more laboratories to the ones available.
This implies that more diagnosis would be carried out daily.
The Director-General of NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said in Abuja Tuesday that efforts are on to test more people for the virus.
“Last week we had the capacity to test 500 per day, by the end of this week we will be at 1000 a day.
“By next week we are hoping to get to 1500 a day,” he said.
Also, a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at level 3, continues to coordinate the national response activities.

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2019/20 European Season Could Be Lost -UEFA

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UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has said that the current football season could be lost if it cannot be restarted by the end of June.
Most leagues in Europe are suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, with this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament postponed for another year.
Ceferin says seasons could be finished behind closed doors.
“If we don’t succeed in restarting, the season will probably be lost,” the Slovenian said.
He told Tidesports source, “There is a plan A, B and C.
“The three options are to start again in mid-May, in June or at the end of June.
“There is also the possibility of starting again at the beginning of the next [season], starting the following one later. We will see the best solution for leagues and clubs.”
As it stands there are nine games to be completed by the majority of Premier League clubs, and up to 12 in the Football League.
All football in England is suspended until at least 30 April.
Ceferin says that playing remaining games behind closed doors would have to be an option across Europe.
“It’s hard for me to imagine all the matches behind closed doors, but we still don’t know whether we’ll resume, with or without spectators,” he said.
“If there was no alternative, it would be better to finish the championships.”

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