Covid-19 ravages Nigeria, causing several shutdowns
Strings of panicky measures were taken by the authorities in Nigeria and other countries yesterday as the world battles to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Figures as on Friday put the death toll from the virus worldwide at more than 10,000 while more than 24,000 people had been infected.
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 yesterday announced the closure of three international airports to flight operations beginning from today while The Nation investigation revealed that the nation had sent notice of flight restrictions to 15 countries.
Three of the nation’s international airports in Enugu, Port Harcourt and Kano were also closed for international flights.
The PTF, headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, said the affected airports are the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano; Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and the Port-Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
The task force, in a statement issued by the Director of Information at the
Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Willie Basset, said the closure was a measure taken as part of the campaign against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The task force also charged the public to stay calm and honor the instructions that had just been passed down by major religious umbrella bodies on how to observe the various religious worships in the meantime.
“The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has announced the closure of three (3) international airports in the country as part of measures taken to combat the spread of coronavirus.
“The Secretary to the Government of the Federation/Chairman PTF, Boss Mustapha, stated that effective from Saturday 21st March 2020 midnight, the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano; Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and the Port-Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa will be closed to all international flights.
“However, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation said that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos will remain open to and accept international flights irrespective of the type of operations.
“All stakeholders are enjoined to collaborate with Port Health Services in the identification of suspects/persons at points of entry and to bring such persons to the attention of Port Health Officers for appropriate action.
“Meanwhile, the PTF urges all Nigerians to remain calm and cooperate with the instructions already issued by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on modes of worship and gatherings at this time not exceeding fifty (50) persons.
“The PTF assures Nigerians that adequate and appropriate information will be made available in due course”, the statement said.
Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has issued Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to 15 countries and their carriers on the restriction of flights for passengers from such high-risk climes.
A source close to the airspace agency confided in The Nation that the mandatory aeronautical information became necessary following continent-wide containment and curtailment measures rolled out by both the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on efforts to manage the COVID -19 pandemic.
The source hinted that NAMA issued the NOTAM since Thursday to allow affected airlines work out plans on how to possibly isolate passengers who have traveled within the last 14 days to the US, the UK, China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
The source said the flight restriction ban, which becomes effective today, will see to the profiling and self-isolation of passengers flown to Nigeria aboard any carrier, who had stayed for 14 days or more in the 15 countries.
The source said only the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja will in the next one week be the points of entry into Nigeria.
He said no international flights will be allowed into the country through Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu; Mallam Aminu International Airport (MAKIA), Kano and Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Port Harcourt.
The source also said: “Flight restriction does not mean that airlines from these countries will not fly into Nigeria. But any passenger onboard such flights will be isolated on arrival.
“For this purpose, the relevant airspace agency has issued notice to airmen of the affected airlines on the procedures to adopt.
“Passengers who have visited any of the affected countries will be supervised for self-isolation.
“To achieve this, international airports in Kano, Enugu and Port Harcourt have been closed for international flights in the next week.
“Only Abuja and Lagos airports will be the entry points into Nigeria in the next one week.”
The French police have started arresting citizens found walking the streets during the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
The police on the Isle of Man are also cracking down on people deemed to be undermining efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the British crown dependency.
A 26-year-old man has already been arrested for ‘refusing to go into 14-day quarantine’ following his recent return from Spain.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is furious with residents who still go to bars and use public transport at a time like this.
An American family lost its fourth member of the deadly infection on Thursday.
The Mail of London quoted a legal source in Paris yesterday as saying that “at least five people who refused to respect confinement were placed in police custody on Thursday.”
They face a charge of “endangering the lives of others,” which is punishable with up to one year in prison and a fine equivalent to £14,000.
Those arrested are repeat offenders who continually remain on the street despite being ordered home, said another judicial source.
Until earlier this week, the police were handing out spot fines equivalent to £128 to anyone caught without the right documentation for being out of their homes.
A series of shocking videos posted online show officers breaking all basic health guidelines by grouping together and manhandling potential disease carriers as they issued half-a-million pounds worth of fines on Wednesday.
Police drones were reportedly overheard in Nice on the French Riviera, ordering citizens to go home.
President Emmanuel Macron asked citizens to stay at home from Tuesday except for essential excursions such as going to the doctor, walking the dog or going for a solitary run, and banned any gatherings.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, speaking on Europe 1 radio, blasted ‘idiots’ flouting the home confinement rules.
“There are people who think they are modern-day heroes by breaking the rules while they are in fact idiots,” he said.
There are indications that the country’s two-week lockdown may be extended.
Friday’s arrest in the Isle of Man was the first in the British crown dependency 48 hours after it passed legislation to tackle the virus on the island in the Irish Sea.
The police are mandated to arrest anyone who arrives on the island who fails to isolate for a 14-day period, even if they show no symptoms.
The police, in a statement yesterday, said: “Please follow the guidance issued by the government and think about the safety of the community.
“This is an ever-evolving situation and it is important we act in the best interests of keeping people safe.”
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One hundred and forty-four people have already died of the coronavirus in the UK, forcing millions of people into self-isolation or working from home.
The situation in Britain is described as the country’s biggest threat since the Second World War.
Mayor Khan declared that “liberties and human rights need to be changed, curtailed, infringed” in order to protect people and prevent further coronavirus deaths.
He expressed disappointment that some people could still be going to bars or socializing during a critical period like this.
He said: “Our liberties and human rights need to be changed, curtailed, infringed – use whatever word you want.
“I am concerned about people not following the advice.
“There are still too many people being witnessed on our streets, in our bars, in our cafés, using the Tube, using our buses.”
He promised to work from home, “wherever possible” with a view to setting the “best possible example.”
He added: ‘The advice from the government is just advice, and I think that provides a mixed message.
“I can’t say this clearly enough. People should not be traveling by any means unless they absolutely must. The scientific advice on this is very clear.
“Londoners should be avoiding social interaction unless absolutely necessary, and this includes avoiding using the transport network.”
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