During the question-and-answer session, Nigeria’s Health minister Ohanire has said that individuals and groups which believed that they could research into the cure for COVID-19 should go ahead as the Federal Ministry of Health would not stop such a  venture.

Ehanire clarified that the ministry would not give money to those carrying out or intending to carry out such researches.

He said, “We encourage all those who think they have an answer to the COVID-19 problem to go ahead to do the research they want to do. We have universities and research centres and we want them to go ahead. The ministry itself is just a regulator. So, it is not to be imagined that the ministry is trying to stop anybody.

“But certainly, the ministry will not start giving anybody money, unless if there are organisations that give grants to do research.”

The minister said Nigerians, who returned from the United States and  United Kingdom, were still in  14-day quarantine .

Furthermore, the health minister said, “As regards the deaths in Kano, I can report that the so-called unexplained deaths were not only in Kano, but they have also been recorded or mentioned in connection with some other states. And the team that left for Kano is looking at all these and creating a protocol and a system to look into these unexplained deaths.”

FG partners northern states to utilise Almajirai schools

The Minster of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, at the press conference,  said that the Federal Ministry of Education was working with state governors in the North on how they can maximise the Tsangaya schools built for the Almajirai.

The minister said, “On the Tsangaya schools, over 157 such schools were built a few years back (by the Goodluck Jonathan administration)  and within the first part of this administration, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, began the process of getting different state governments and Islamic scholars to take over the schools.”

Airlifting Madagascar’s solution not our priority – PTF

The Chairman of the task force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha,  said Nigeria did not order for the Madagascar herbal mixture for the cure of coronavirus.

He said the African country sent the herbal drug to other countries on the continent out of brotherly love in order to contain the pandemic.

Mustapha said, “Nigeria did not ask Madagascar for any solution. The Madagascar government decided to airlift the quantity meant for African countries. That of West Africa was airlifted to Guinea Bissau.

“The impression out there is as if we abandoned homegrown solution and we are looking for Madagascar’s solution. It was taken in the spirit of brotherly love to Guinea Bissau.”

The SGF, however, said airlifting the solution was not a priority of the task force as there were other issues before it.

He stated, “We have to make efforts to airlift  it out of Guinea Bissau, but there are no flights, so there are so many things we need to consider. If we are freighting it through air cargo, it has its process.

“It is not our priority for now. There are other things we are dealing with to make sure we contain the spread in our nation. We will do that but that does not in anyway downplay what we have asked our scientists to do.”

Wearing of mask not optional – SGF

The SGF warned that wearing of face masks was compulsory for  all citizens, urging states, the Federal Capital Territory and law enforcement agencies to enforce it as stated.

“Because we are persuasive does not mean there is an option to it. It was part of the declaration that was signed by Mr President. Everything listed there has a force of law,” he said.

The PTF chairman lamented that evaluation of the implementation of the guidelines on the easing of the lockdown showed a high level of noncompliance.

He said further recommendations would be submitted to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)  before the second phase would commence.

He said, “I must, however, state that our initial evaluation points firmly in the direction of a high level of noncompliance which, as we have often warned, portends grave self-inflicted danger. This fact has made it imperative for me to re-echo our call for taking personal responsibility.

“You must abide by the guidelines (wash your hands as frequently as necessary; use hand sanitizers; maintain social distancing, use a face mask or covering in public places). In addition, you must comply with the ban on interstate travels, avoid crowded places, observe the curfew and do all you can to stay home and stay safe.”

PTF makes case for farmers

The task force chairman stressed the need to promote and sustain chain of food production and distribution, urging states and security agencies to allow farmers access to their farms.

The SGF commended health workers for being dutiful and rising to the challenge, saying a total of 1,071 Nigerians had already been discharged from the various isolation and treatment centres.

Research budget not enough

The PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, said the task force could not fund all the research bodies due to its low budget, urging researchers to source  grants from donor agencies.

Aliyu said, “We have a small amount of money in our budget for research but research institutions primarily get their money through grants.

“What we have in the PTF budget will be insufficient to cater for every research body but certainly we have  partners that will continue to make sure they submit quality applications that will allow them compete in the world of researches.”

COVID-19 can survive in hot weather

The PTF coordinator  said the disease could spread rapidly in a hot weather country as Nigeria.

He said, ‘No matter how sunny or humid the weather is, anybody can get coronavirus. Nigeria has recorded about 5000 cases as of today irrespective of the fact that we are a hot country. There is no scientific evidence to show that coronavirus cannot survive in hot weather.”

He also advised Nigerians to stop stigmatisation of people with COVID-19. He  added that research had  shown that those that recovered had a antibody that could protect them.

Almajirai movement to South worsening COVID-19 spread – Senators

Meanwhile, some senators have raised the alarm that the uncontrolled movement of  some northern children, popularly known as Almajirai to the southern part of the country, is worsening the spread of COVID-19  in the South.

They urged governors of the southern part of the country to put more stringent security measures in place to check the mass exodus of the northern children  into their domain.

They said the movement of Almajirai to the South was capable of frustrating government efforts at curtailing the spread of coronavirus.

The senators spoke in separate interviews with one of our correspondents in Abuja.

The Senator representing the Rivers East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, George Sekibo, noted with concern that the activities of the Almajirai contravened the Quarantine Act.

He said, “The  movement of Almajirai from the North to South is against the COVID-19 regulations especially the Presidential order banning interstate travelling.

“If that is so, it becomes very wrong for some people from Adamawa, Kano, Kaduna or anywhere,  to find themselves through whatever means, in Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and Rivers states.

“The appropriate punishments for defaulters are contained in the Quarantine Act. For me, any defaulter should go through the due process of the law and be given the appropriate punishment.

“They (Almajirai) have always been moving like that, it became public knowledge simply because there is a lockdown. We wouldn’t have known,  if there is no lockdown.

“For them, they don’t listen to radio and television. They don’t even know that COVID – 19 is in existence. Nothing concerns them.

“They have leaders. Their leaders are of the same tribe with them. They should stop them from moving to other states at this critical period.

“They are lawless and they are violating the law on interstate movement. I have not travelled to Rivers State, where I come from since the announcement of  the lockdown and I don’t plan to visit the place soon so that I will not be quarantined.

“I will encourage any state government to start arresting those northern young men who are travelling up and down and send them to court and jail them. At such an emergency period, we must be orderly.

“We must follow regulations.  We must follow the prescription from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. The figure of infected persons is going up because people are now behaving the way they want.

“There will be a catastrophe in this country in the next few weeks if the trend is not checked. I advocate a proper lockdown so that everybody will be able to stay at home for 28 days and we will be able to clean up.”

The Senator representing Oyo North Senatorial District, Abdulfatai Buhari, advised  people to form  vigilante groups, adding that security agents should remain vigilant to guard  against infiltrations.

Also the Senator representing Benue South, Abba Moro, urged the security agencies to ensure proper enforcement of the presidential order on lockdown to minimise the spread of COVID – 19.

He said, “The primary responsibility of government is to protect lives and property of the people. Government should rise to the occasion and end insecurity by giving security operatives  the necessary marching order.”

Copyright PUNCH.