Concerned about the unabated spread of COVID-19, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday described the situation as frightening and appealed to Nigerians to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health to stay safe from the disease. The president’s concerns perhaps gained strength from reports yesterday that Lagos, the main epicenter of the disease, has run out of beds for patients, many of who are now being turned back at isolation and treatment centers in the state.
In fact, there has been an uptick in confirmed cases in the last one month with incidences rising from 981 as at April 24 to 7,839 as at yesterday with 313 new cases recorded. Also, 2,263 persons have been discharged, while 226 have died. The tally, therefore, shows an increment of 6,858 cases in one month on the back of an expansion in the nation’s testing capacity. As at yesterday, Nigeria has so far tested 44,458 people for the virus, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). It said: “Nigeria has so far recorded 7,839 cases of COVID-19, with 2,263 persons discharged, while 226 have unfortunately lost their lives.”
Reports are also rife of private health care facilities failing to report coronavirus-induced deaths, preferring to attribute them to other causes, including heart disease, in order to avoid closure for decontamination. Morgues, particularly in Lagos, Cross River, Edo, Imo and Kogi states have become full, raising concerns about the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s health system as mortuaries in less endemic states experience a rise in the number of bodies deposited.
Efforts to get reactions from the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, were unsuccessful. But speaking after observing Eid-Fitr prayers in his residence at the State House, Buhari appealed to Nigerians to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health to stay safe from the disease.
The president, who commended the minister of health, whom he said has done well so far, added that the pandemic had brought both the developed and the developing countries to the same level.
Warning Nigerians to be meticulous about the potency of the disease, the president argued that developing countries, including Nigeria, had a lower rate of casualties than the developed countries.
He said: “Nigerians can see that the COVID-19 has reduced us, both the developing and developed countries, to the same level. In fact, we have the least casualties than they have. So, it’s a very frightening development and I advised Nigerians to be very careful and take the advice of the Ministry of Health. Minister of Health has been doing very well, speaking and educating the citizens on the deadly virus. So Nigeria, we should be very careful.”
Buhari, who prayed for a favorable raining season this year, expressed his desire for farmers to return to the farm now to pave the way for an abundance of food provisions for all. According to him, having sufficient food production this season is imperative because Nigeria does not have funds for food import. He said: “I hope the raining season would be bountiful so that we get a lot of food. “I wish the farmers will go to farms and save our lives so that we can produce what we need in sufficient quantity so that we don’t have to import food. “In any case, we don’t have any money to import food. So, we must produce what we are going to eat.’’
Also speaking, the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, who observed the Eid prayer with her husband, thanked both the Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for their efforts in containing the disease. “I wish to thank the Federal Ministry of Health and also the NCDC for their efforts in combating the pandemic,’’ she said.