Inter-State lockdown imminent as Health Minister, NCDC boss brief Buhari

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Nigeria may head for Inter-State lockdown as the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, briefed President Muhammadu Buhari behind closed doors yesterday.

The briefing came amid anxiety over whether or not the Federal Government would extend the lockdown once more.

There had been suggestions by the Nigeria Governors Forum to extend the lockdown but with emphasis on restriction on inter-state movements.

Speaking to State House correspondents on the outcome of the closed door meeting in Abuja, Ehanire said they briefed the president on the activities and overall positions of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

The briefing came barely 24 hours to the expiration of the extended 14-day lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states to combat the Coronavirus pandemic and amid anxiety over whether or not the President may announce another extension.

President Buhari had on April 13 announced a 14-day extension to the lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states to combat the deadly virus.

Ehanire said, the PTF presented to the president its advice and recommendations on way forward as regard the ongoing fight against the spread of the deadly virus in the country.

“We also brought the overall summary apposition of the Presidential Task Force which as you know comprises of not only the health ministry but other ministries.

“We have aggregated the opinions that we have, weighing the health and the socio-economic factors and everything, to present our own opinion and recommendations to Mr President,’’ he said.

The Minister expressed belief that the nation was winning the fight against the pandemic as all relevant health institutions had agreed to work together to achieve the desired goal of defeating the novel Coronavirus.

He said: “The fight is going on very well. As I said, all countries have continued with the struggle against Coronavirus, using the strategies that they have developed for their own countries.

“We have developed a strong strategy as we are working with other experts groups like the NCDC and relevant health organisations.

“So, we are also working with the states and the governors.’’

The minister, who also spoke on the reported Kano strange disease, said his ministry had been communicating with relevant agencies including Kano State Government with a view to addressing the health problem.

The Director-General of the NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, who also spoke to the correspondents, advised Nigerians against wasting their meagre resources on the procurement of what he described as uncertified Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits.

He said: “We will continue to build up our testing strategies. At the moment 14 testing centres have been activated across the country.

“We want to bring the test closer to every state. Everybody is working very hard to solve this problem.

“I can see that some people are already procuring Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits. They don’t work as far as we know.

“So, I will really recommend that we all stick to the National Strategy, build on it, support its expansion and together we will get on top of the pandemic,’’ he said.

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