Coronavirus: We are tracing 4,370 people of interest – Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government says attempting to trace about 4370 people who may have contacts with coronavirus patients in the country.

In a statement on Thursday, the Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said, “We have 4,370 people of interest whom we are tracing”.

Mr Mohammed urged those who have had contact with suspected cases to immediately report to the authorities.

“We urge Nigerians to support the authorities in this regard,” he added.

The minister warned that the nation is on the verge of reaching the level of community spread, noting that if proper measures are not taken, then the nation will record exponential cases in the days ahead.

Mr Mohammed argued that the nation’s strategy at containing the pandemic is working, he, however, stressed that the country still has a long way to go.

While stressing that he does not mean to spread panic, the minister noted that bold measures have been taken and more steps of such nature need to be taken to ensure that Nigeria beats the virus.

 

Below is the minister’s full statement.

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON MINISTER OF
INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON THURSDAY, 25 MARCH 2020

Good afternoon gentlemen, and welcome to this press conference, called
to update you on the measures being taken by the Federal Government to
tackle the Coronavirus pandemic.

  1. I want to say straight away that our strategy at containing this
    pandemic is working, but we still have a long way to go. We know our
    priorities and we know our challenges. We have taken very bold
    measures in stopping international flights into the country, and we
    hail the state governments that have take equally bold measures in
    their states, which include the closure of markets and the prohibition
    of large congregations.
  2. However, we are determined to be more aggressive in enforcing the
    measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus, such as:
    – Social distancing
    – Contact tracing
    – Testing
    – Isolation of suspected cases
    – And ensuring that our messaging gets down to the grassroots
  3. Gentlemen, I don’t intend to sound apocalyptic. But the truth is
    that time is running out. If we don’t urgently and more aggressively
    enforce the measures I have just listed, we have a short window within
    which to stop this pandemic or face an explosion in terms of the
    cases. We cannot afford to be complacent.
  4. In view of this, we are considering tougher measures to enforce
    compliance, stop the exportation of the disease to states that do not
    have it and minimize spread. Possible measures include:
    – Stopping inter-state/inter-town travels, except for essential services
    – Closing all motor parks and inter-state rail stations. Already, all
    train movements nationwide have been stopped.
    – Using fire fighting and other adaptable vehicles and personnel to fumigate
    cities and towns.
    We will be considering and announcing new measures from time to time,
    but rest assured that whatever decisions we take will be in the best
    interest of Nigerians.
  5. Let me announce that we have received donated safety and test
    kits from the Jack Ma Foundation in China. The supplies are:
    – 100,000 Face Masks
    – 1,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    – 20,000 test kits
    The face masks and the PPE will be distributed to the front-line
    health workers while the test kits will be shared among the five test
    laboratories.
  6. We are also taking measures to increase the number of bed spaces
    for isolation of suspects. The facilities we have now include the
    40-bed DSS Hotel, the 60-bed Medical Centre in Zuba and the 160-bed
    Women Development Centre in Abuja, We are still looking at other
    facilities within the Federal Capital Territory.
  7. As we said during our last press conference, contact tracing is
    very critical to stopping the spread of the virus. Today, we have 51
    cases covering 8 states:
    Lagos – 32
    FCT – 10
    Ogun – 3
    Ekiti – 1
    Edo – 1
    Bauchi – 1
    Osun – 1
    Oyo – 1
    Rivers – 1
    We have 4,370 people of interest whom we are
    tracing. We urge those who have had contact with suspected cases to
    immediately report to the authorities. We urge Nigerians to support
    the authorities in this regard. We are on the verge of reaching the
    level of community spread. We must stop this immediately or we will
    record exponential cases in the days ahead. There is no better way to
    say this.
  8. Let me say, without mincing words, that we are not getting the
    kind of cooperation that this moment deserves from Nigerians. Many are
    busy engaging in meaningless criticisms instead of complying with the
    stipulated directives to keep people safe. Some Nigerians who flew
    into the country from overseas filled wrong addresses and phone
    numbers in their forms, making it difficult to trace them when the
    need arises. Some Nigerians defied orders to stay away from large
    gatherings while some religious leaders willfully flouted the
    directives to ensure social distancing. The government is doing its
    best but we need the citizens to do their best too. We have now gone past
    the stage of persuasion. It’s time for strong enforcement.
  9. This brings me to the rising instances of fake news associated
    with coronavirus. The epidemic of fake news is now competing with the
    pandemic of coronavirus, and this is not helping the fight against the
    disease. Instances of such fake news include
    – That there are only two ventilators in Abuja, out of which one has
    been commandeered for a top government official
    – That a British Airways Flight was due to land in Nigeria on
    Wednesday despite the closure of all international airports.
    – That President Muhammadu Buhari has been coughing and is now on ventilator.
    Fake. Fake. Fake. It’s all fake news.
  10. A section of the traditional media has also been engaging in
    scaremongering and irresponsible reporting on the disease. It is wrong
    to speculate on those who are positive or negative for coronavirus
    without any empirical information. In any case, being positive to
    coronavirus is not a death sentence, as we can see around the world.
    There is no need for the kind of scaremongering we are seeing in a
    section of the
    media. The danger is that this scaremongering can even discourage some
    who may want to come forward for testing. We therefore wish to appeal
    to the media to be more circumspect in their reporting.
  11. Gentlemen, we have noted the decision of at least five domestic
    airlines – Air Peace, Aero and Azman, Dana and Arik – to suspend their flight
    operations. The suspension is a boost for the efforts of the
    government to check the spread of the pandemic. Some of the airlines have also
    announced one form of support or another for the government’s efforts
    to tackle the
    pandemic. This is very commendable. We are aware of more private sector support
    to the FG and will be announcing this after full compilation. We seek
    the support and
    cooperation of more capable individuals and organizations in order to
    defeat this pandemic.
  12. Finally, we appeal to Nigerians not to panic. It is said that
    panic is our greatest enemy. The Federal Government is determined to
    work with the good people of Nigeria to defeat Covid-19. And defeat
    the disease we will.
  13. I thank you, gentlemen, for your kind attention. I will now take
    your questions.