By TOM CHIAHEMEN, Abuja –
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, is scheduled to make a broadcast to the nation at 7pm today.
Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Femi Adesina, made this known in a statement issued in Abuja Monday afternoon.
This will be President Buhari’s broadcast to the nation since the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic early this year.
His first address was on March 29, 2020 during which he ordered restriction of movement in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States, among other policies aimed at checking further spread of the COVID-19 in the country.
At the time of President Buhari’s first broadcast, there were 97 confirmed cases in the country, made up of Lagos- 59, FCT- 16, Ogun- 3, Enugu- 2, Ekiti- 1, Oyo- 7, Edo- 2, Bauchi- 2, Osun-2, Rivers-1, Benue- 1 and Kaduna -1
As at today, the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria stands at 324, with 10 deaths while 85 patients have been successfully treated and discharged.
Worldwide, the statistics is quite alarming, with total confirmed cases rising to 1,860,011 with 114,986 deaths and 440,699 recoveries.
If anything, what Nigerians would be eager to hear from President Buhari this evening is the status of the sit-at-home order imposed on Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States, which entered its 14th day today.
A cross section of Nigerians, particularly to daily paid workers, have been agitating for the relaxation of the lockdown to enable them source for money and food for their families.
But if the warning by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other relevant agencies is anything to go by, President Buhari may, instead, extend the lockdown for at least another two weeks starting from April 14.
According to media reports, the WHO has sounded a note of warning against the temptation to end or relax the restrictions on movement and social distancing, pointing out that it would be too early to do so.
Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is quoted to have said at a media briefing: “WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone. At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence.
“The way down can be as dangerous as the way up, if not managed properly.”
He reportedly added that the WHO was “working with affected countries on strategies for gradually and safely easing restrictions.”
Back home, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), also placed on record that “there is now the evidence of community transmission of COVID-19.”
Indeed, The Guardian has quoted the NMA president, Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, as having continued: “As such, relaxing any guideline that promotes mass gatherings in any part of our nation now can only heighten and not flatten the curve of transmission dynamics.”
One of the government agencies spearheading the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), equally observed that while the decision to extend the restriction of movements in Nigeria would be made by President Buhari, “We do know that in the absence of vaccines and therapeutics, countries across the world have to depend on non-pharmaceutical interventions such as closure of mass gatherings, promoting hand washing, social distancing and others.”
NCDC’s Director-General, Chikwe Ihekweazu, is quoted to have said: “This can be difficult in a context like ours in Nigeria, where a significant proportion of people earn daily wages. We recognise that there has to be a balance to mitigate the spread of the virus, while sustaining our economy and society.
“The government of Nigeria is committed to ensuring that we implement the most ideal strategy for our country and context.”
Continuing, Ihekweazu said that at the moment, the NCDC had been able to follow up with 91 per cent of contacts in Nigeria.
He further said: “By finding and following up with these contacts, there is a window of opportunity to control the spread of the virus.
“We know that people get the virus, when they come in contact with infected people. If movement restriction and other measures are adhered to, we can reduce the risk of spread.”
“It is still too early to compare our outcomes with other countries. The outbreak is reaching peak levels in Europe and the Americas. We are still at the early stage in Africa. We will continue working very hard, based on recommended protocols, in the management of COVID-19 cases.”
Adesina enjoined Television, radio and other electronic media outlets to hook up to the network services of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) respectively for the broadcast.