President Muhammadu Buhari has approved and ensured the prompt release of N5billion special intervention fund requested by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to equip and expand their facilities and laboratories. President Buhari, in a statement issued on Thursday by his media aide, Garba Shehu, also announced the approval of the sum of N10billion, which release was effected within two days, after the request by the Lagos State Government for financial support to combat and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Lagos and Nigeria. The President, who also gave approval to NCDC’s request for an aircraft from the Presidential Air Fleet for emergency situations, had authorized the evacuation of three critical members of the NCDC team who were stuck in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo where they went for a training organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
These measures are in addition to the ones approved and announced by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) including the closure of land borders to human traffic for four weeks; the conversion of all Hajj transit camps to be utilized as COVID-19 isolation centers; the directive that all non-essential government employees to work from home and for a daily briefing of the nation through the PTF. Other approved measures already put into place include the ban of flights from and into the country, suspension of the Federal Executive Council and National Council of State meetings and a directive for engagements, at the highest levels between the Federal Government and the state governments.
President Buhari has also directed for the escalation of the nation’s capacity for testing and detection with the acquisition of testing kits and establishment of additional test centers; acquisition of Personnel Protection Equipment and the mobilization of experts and trained staff serving and recall of some of those retired. The closure of schools and tertiary institutions and the suspension of religious and other gatherings above the fifty prescribed number were also parts of the measures put in place. The President, who said he was keeping a close eye on international developments on the spread of COVID-19, promised to intensify or introduce new measures if they become necessary to protect Nigerians. “With developing news around the world and in Nigeria on the Coronavirus pandemic, President Buhari issues the following statement: “I advise all Nigerians to follow to the letter the health guidelines issued by the Federal Ministry of Health and our State Governments. “Wash your hands thoroughly many times throughout the day. Observe ‘social distancing’ of a minimum of two metres. Do not make unnecessary journeys outside of your homes. Do not attend public meetings or public gatherings – including religious events – which is where, through social contact, the virus can easily be transmitted. “The Federal Ministry of Health will continue to issue daily updates on all developments. Please refer to public announcements by the Ministry on radio, television, www.health.gov.ng and Twitter at @Fmohnigeria,” the statement read.