Covid-19: FG to ban inter-state travel, close motor parks

Covid-19: FG to ban inter-state travel, close motor parks


The Federal Government has announced plans to ban inter- state travel and possibly close down motor parks as part of measures to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus .

Minister for Information and Culture , Lai Mohammed said this at an ongoing press briefing in Abuja , on Thursday.

Below is a full statement by the minister for information and culture

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON THURSDAY, 25 MARCH 2020

 

Good afternoon gentlemen, and welcome to this press conference, called to update you on the measures being taken by the Federal Government to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic.

 

2. I want to say straight away that our strategy at containing this pandemic is working, but we still have a long way to go. We know our priorities and we know our challenges. We have taken very bold measures in stopping international flights into the country, and we hail the state governments that have take equally bold measures in

their states, which include the closure of markets and the prohibition of large congregations.

 

3. However, we are determined to be more aggressive in enforcing the measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus, such as:

– Social distancing

– Contact tracing

– Testing

– Isolation of suspected cases

– And ensuring that our messaging gets down to the grassroots

 

4. Gentlemen, I don’t intend to sound apocalyptic. But the truth is that time is running out. If we don’t urgently and more aggressively enforce the measures I have just listed, we have a short window within

which to stop this pandemic or face an explosion in terms of the cases. We cannot afford to be complacent.

 

5. In view of this, we are considering tougher measures to enforce compliance, stop the exportation of the disease to states that do not have it and minimize spread. Possible measures include:

 

– Stopping inter-state/inter-town travels, except for essential services

– Closing all motor parks and inter-state rail stations. Already, all train movements nationwide have been stopped.

– Using fire fighting and other adaptable vehicles and personnel to fumigate

cities and towns.

 

We will be considering and announcing new measures from time to time, but rest assured that whatever decisions we take will be in the best

interest of Nigerians.

 

6. Let me announce that we have received donated safety and test kits from the Jack Ma Foundation in China. The supplies are:

– 100,000 Face Masks

– 1,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

– 20,000 test kits

 

The face masks and the PPE will be distributed to the front-line health workers while the test kits will be shared among the five test

laboratories.

 

7. We are also taking measures to increase the number of bed spaces for isolation of suspects. The facilities we have now include the

40-bed Facility, the 60-bed Facility, and the 160-bed Facility, all in Abuja,

We are still looking at other facilities within the Federal Capital Territory.

 

8. As we said during our last press conference, contact tracing is

very critical to stopping the spread of the virus. Today, we have 51

cases covering 8 states:

Lagos – 32

FCT – 10

Ogun – 3

Ekiti – 1

Edo – 1

Bauchi – 1

Osun – 1

Oyo – 1

Rivers – 1

 

We have 4,370 people of interest whom we are

tracing. We urge those who have had contact with suspected cases to

immediately report to the authorities. We urge Nigerians to support

the authorities in this regard. We are on the verge of reaching the

level of community spread. We must stop this immediately or we will

record exponential cases in the days ahead. There is no better way to

say this.

 

9. Let me say, without mincing words, that we are not getting the

kind of cooperation that this moment deserves from Nigerians. Many are

busy engaging in meaningless criticisms instead of complying with the

stipulated directives to keep people safe. Some Nigerians who flew

into the country from overseas filled wrong addresses and phone

numbers in their forms, making it difficult to trace them when the

need arises. Some Nigerians defied orders to stay away from large

gatherings while some religious leaders willfully flouted the

directives to ensure social distancing. The government is doing its

best but we need the citizens to do their best too. We have now gone past

the stage of persuasion. It’s time for strong enforcement.

 

10. This brings me to the rising instances of fake news associated with coronavirus. The epidemic of fake news is now competing with the pandemic of coronavirus, and this is not helping the fight against the disease. Instances of such fake news include

– That there are only two ventilators in Abuja, out of which one has

been commandeered for a top government official

– That a British Airways Flight was due to land in Nigeria on

Wednesday despite the closure of all international airports.

– That President Muhammadu Buhari has been coughing and is now on ventilator.

Fake. Fake. Fake. It’s all fake news.

 

11. A section of the traditional media has also been engaging in scaremongering and irresponsible reporting on the disease. It is wrong to speculate on those who are positive or negative for coronavirus without any empirical information. In any case, being positive to

coronavirus is not a death sentence, as we can see around the world.

There is no need for the kind of scaremongering we are seeing in a

section of the media. The danger is that this scaremongering can even discourage some

who may want to come forward for testing. We therefore wish to appeal to the media to be more circumspect in their reporting.

 

12. Gentlemen, we have noted the decision of at least five domestic airlines – Air Peace, Aero and Azman, Dana and Arik – to suspend their flight

operations. The suspension is a boost for the efforts of the government to check the spread of the pandemic. Some of the airlines have also

announced one form of support or another for the government’s efforts to tackle the

pandemic. This is very commendable. We are aware of more private sector support

to the FG and will be announcing this after full compilation. We seek the support and

cooperation of more capable individuals and organizations in order to defeat this pandemic.

13. Finally, we appeal to Nigerians not to panic. It is said that

panic is our greatest enemy. The Federal Government is determined to

work with the good people of Nigeria to defeat Covid-19. And defeat

the disease we will.

 

14. I thank you, gentlemen, for your kind attention. I will now take your questions

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