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Army Set to Enforce Movement Restriction, Secure Food Supplies

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The army is to embark on a special operation with a multidimensional approach, which includes enforcing the restriction of movement and compulsorily moving sick people to hospitals

This is as part of the government’s strategy to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease, a document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES has revealed.

The Operation, tagged ‘Op-Second Eleven’, has been sanctioned by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai.

This was contained in a memo signed by Nigeria Army’s Chief of Policy and Plans, Lamidi Adeosun, and copied to 112 recipients, including all the subdivisions of the army.

The memo directs the suspension of all projected 2020 events of the army that involves large gatherings including meetings, briefings, and conferences.

Mr Adeosun, a lieutenant general, recalled that the army chief had, early this year, predicted the likely activation of ‘Op-Second-Eleven in the course of the year 2020.

He said with the recently recorded cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the likelihood of the federal government calling for the activation of ‘Op-Second-Eleven’ may not be ruled out.

Mr Adeosun said Mr Buratai, a lieutenant general, has directed that aside suspension of most programmes slated for this year, the army is also making plans to lease out excavators, trucks, water tankers and other relevant vehicles to aid the operation in the area of possible mass burial, water, and essential food/drugs supplies.

The memo said the army also plans “forceful transfer of the sick to hospitals, enforcement of government movement restriction order” among others.

The army also plans the closing of all army schools and training centers.

The Nigeria Army is also “planning to secure all major food stores and government storage facilities for essential goods from looting.

It is also planning coordination with sister services, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Fire Services and others on enforcing a restriction on movements and other directives by the government.

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Nigeria’s Response to Coronavirus is Impressive, Says UN Chief

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The United Nations has praised Nigeria for it’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country with an estimated 200 million inhabitants, currently has 190 cases of COVID-19 but has managed to keep the death toll to just two.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while speaking at a virtual news briefing in New York, referred to Nigeria as a ‘developing country’ that has “shown a remarkable capacity to respond to the coronavirus.”

“I have to say this: some of these developing countries have shown a remarkable capacity to respond.

“I was quite impressed to see, for instance, Nigeria putting in place and immediately establishing a hospital. “And I saw difficulties in countries that are much more developed to do quickly the same.”

He also renewed his call for a global ceasefire, urging countries in a conflict like Syria, Libya and Yemen to lay down arms and allow for unified combat against the coronavirus pandemic.

“The worst is yet to come,” Guterres said, referring to countries beset with fighting.

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Army Officer Becomes First Coronavirus Positive Case in Ondo

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The Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has confirmed the first coronavirus case in the state via his Twitter handle. He also said the patient is an army officer who recently returned from India.

Akeredolu was the first in the state to undergo COVID-19 test after fears he was in contact with the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, who is currently undergoing treatment for the virus. The governor tested negative for the virus.

“We have just received confirmation of our first positive #COVIDー19 case in Ondo State this evening,” Mr Akeredolu wrote on Friday evening.

“The infected person is currently under isolation and will be monitored. We have activated all necessary protocol to locate all contacts and will be working closely with @NCDCgov.”

The state during the week was in celebration after 12 persons suspected to be carrying the virus came out negative.

The case of a female resident in Arogbo Ijaw, in Ese Odo Local Government Area of the state, who was said to have recently returned from abroad, created a stir in the area, but after a laboratory test, she was found negative.

As of 11 a.m. on Friday, the total national figure for infected persons had risen to 190, with 20 persons treated and discharged and two deaths recorded.

With Ondo State joining the list of affected states, the number is now 191, although the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is yet to formally announce the Ondo case.

“It is with great concern that the Ondo State Government announces the first index case. A suspected case tested positive to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Commissioner for Information, Donald Ojogo, said in a statement on Friday evening.

“We thank God for His protection thus far. Ours has been a case of anxiety while we enjoyed a COVID-19-free state status.

“This development has, however, repudiated that enviable status even as we urge all to be vigilant and keep ourselves within the precincts of measures put in place.

“God help Ondo State.”

Mr Akeredolu followed his earlier tweet with another, clarifying that the coronavirus index in the state is a military officer who recently arrived from India.

The governor said the returnee from India had been in isolation since he returned and had been monitored by the medical team of the military and the Ondo State team through the period.

“Upon showing some symptoms, his samples were taken and the diagnosis confirmed by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control at their lab in Ede,” the governor said.

“We have now commenced the transfer of the officer to the state isolation center.”

The governor said there was no need for any panic as the infected officer was in a very stable condition and “we ask for calm from all in Ondo State.”

“We are on top of this and ask that our citizens continue to follow all preventive measures to ensure they remain safe,” he added.

In his statement, Mr Ojogo said the state government considered it necessary to allay the fears of the people and explain that the confirmed index case, an army officer, had voluntarily isolated himself as soon as he arrived in the country from India over a week ago.

“During this period of self isolation, he was monitored by the State Inter-Ministerial Committee in collaboration with the NCDC,” said Mr Ojogo.

“Necessary tests were carried out and result is what we have today.

“However, we appeal to all and sundry not to panic as both the NCDC and the State Inter-ministerial Committee have jointly commenced efforts to effect needful protocols in line with COVID-19.”

However, in spite of the measures taken to stem the spread of the disease, residents in the state have continued to flout the stay-at-home order and the closure of markets.

Some markets still opened for business on Friday, as well as some shops in the outskirts of Akure, where enforcement is minimal.

The popular Oda market where farm produce are usually sold, came alive in the early hours of the morning, where residents made brisk purchases. The market is a morning market.

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Chinese Medical Team to Arrive in Nigeria Soon, Says Health Minister

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The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Friday, said that Chinese doctors, nurses and medical experts would arrive in Nigeria in a few days to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

The minister said this during a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.

Cases in Nigeria have reached 210 as the global figure also surpassed one million mark. He said Nigeria was also exploring the possibility of producing some medical equipment after key stakeholders met in Abuja on Thursday.

The coming of the Chinese medical experts was announced just as the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said efforts to contain COVID-19 in Nigeria were being limited by finance, manpower and other indices despite the support from government and individuals.

Ehanire said, “The global number has crossed one million mark, barely three months after the first cases were first reported in Wuhan, China. It is an indication that it is a public health challenge that we must not take lightly.”

He continued, “We are already seeing what may be the indication of community transmission, in that 30 per cent of the cases have incomplete epidemiological information. 51 per cent are imported cases and 19 per cent are through contacts of known cases.

“Directors of the Federal Ministry of Health had discussions with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria to explore the potential for local production of medical consumables such as face masks, gloves, sanitisers and even ventilators.

“This is in view of looming global shortages of medical supplies for the response due to high demands from all countries. Clinical trials and other processes are ongoing to validate various therapeutic for COVID-19 treatment.”

After the briefing, Nigeria recorded 20 new cases: 11 in Lagos State, three in FCT, three in Edo State, two in Osun State and one in Ondo State.

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