El-Rufai tests positive as Nigeria’s Coronavirus cases rise to 90

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The Nigeria’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Saturday confirmed eight new cases of coronavirus in the country; which, added to the case of Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai who tested positive for the deadly COVID-19 virus brings the total to 90. “Earlier this week, I submitted a sample for the Covid-19 test, the result came in this evening, and I regret to say that it is positive,” El-Rufai said in a video posted on Twitter on Saturday. The NCDC also confirmed eight new cases of coronavirus in the country; seven of them in Lagos while Benue State registered its first case of the virus.

The Benue Government on Saturday announced the state’s first case of COVID-19 in Makurdi, the state capital. Gov. Samuel Ortom made the announcement at a press briefing shortly after an emergency meeting of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT), on COVID-19. Ortom said that the victim, one Ms. Susan Ukpe, who tested positive to the coronavirus pandemic, was already quarantined at the isolation centre in Benue Teaching Hospital, Makurdi.

Ortom explained that the SERT for COVID-19 discovered her while she was receiving treatment in a hospital in Makurdi and took her sample for testing and the result came positive. He said Ukpe was among eight persons that came back from countries with high COVID-19 prevalence rates. He said that her sample was taken along with another suspect, but only hers came out positive. “The decision to announce her name is to notify people who have come in contact with her to come out for test or to go for self-isolation for the next 14 days. “All the staff of the hospital where she was receiving treatment, as well as friends and family members, will be on isolation to prevent possible spread,” he said.

Ortom disclosed that the response team would also carry out contact tracing to ensure that the virus did not spread. He announced that all major markets in the state would be closed as from Monday, March 30, till further notice, and urged the public to restock their kitchens. He said that shops would, in the interim, be allowed to operate. Ortom said he would make a state broadcast on Monday to announce stiffer measures already approved by the government. According to Ortom, the state may close its borders as from next week. The governor also announced the suspension of all religious gatherings, including Church services and Muslim prayers.

The governor further said that he had advised his deputy, Benson Abounu, to go for the COVID-19 test, adding that he would also avail himself for the test. He said that government had made available funds for the procurement of safety kits and other necessary items, but regretted that such products were nowhere in the market. Ortom pleaded with Benue citizens residing in other states or outside the country to remain in their locations until further notice.

Currently, Lagos has 59 cases with three discharged. Abuja has 14 confirmed cases. Ogun and Oyo State both have three cases. Enugu, Edo and Bauchi State all have two cases each while Osun, Ekiti, Kaduna, Rivers and Benue State have all recorded one case each. Saturday makes it a month since Nigeria confirmed its first case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lagos State on Thursday, February 28. The first index case, an Italian businessman, and two other persons have since been discharged.

The Nigerian Government has announced different measures to curb a further spread of the virus in the country. Many states have banned interstate travels and have closed schools while scaling down activities in government offices. Airports in the country are currently closed to all international flights after it initially placed a travel restriction on 15 countries with a high prevalence of coronavirus.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, March 26, ordered an immediate release of a 5 billion Naira special intervention fund to the NCDC to equip, expand and provide personnel to its facilities and laboratories across the country. A N10 billion grant was also released to Lagos State, which is the hardest-hit state in Nigeria.