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Buhari boosts coronavirus fight with N15b; NCDC, Lagos to benefit

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President Muhammadu Buhari said he has kept a close eye on international developments on the spread of COVID-19 and will introduce new measures, if they become necessary, to protect Nigerians.

It was the second statement issued today by his Presidency on the coronavirus pandemic as Nigerians in the social media asked Buhari to speak directly with them.

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President Buhari said he has made available N15 billion in financial support to Lagos and the entire country to combat and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

N5 billion out of the money will go directly to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to equip and expand their facilities and laboratories.

To demonstrate the President’s concern, he approved the release of the funds within 48 hours, his aide Garba Shehu said.

Garba Shehu’s addressed the concerns of Nigerians, as it listed all the president’s efforts to combat the virus and give assurance to Nigerians that President Buhari is on alert.

The statement opened with a direct advisory from President Buhari:

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“I advise all Nigerians to follow to the letter the health guidelines issued by the Federal Ministry of Health and our State Governments.

“Wash your hands thoroughly many times throughout the day. Observe ‘social distancing’ of a minimum of two metres. Do not make unnecessary journeys outside of your homes. Do not attend public meetings or public gatherings – including religious events – which is where, through social contact, the virus can easily be transmitted.

The Federal Ministry of Health will continue to issue daily updates on all developments. Please refer to public announcements by the Ministry on radio, television, and @Fmohnigeria.’’

According to Shehu, Buhari approved NCDC’s request for an aircraft from the Presidential Air Fleet for emergency situations.

“He has furthermore authorised the evacuation of three critical members of the NCDC team who are stuck in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo where they went for a training organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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“These measures are in addition to the ones approved and announced by the Presidential Task Force, PTF including the closure of land borders to human traffic for four weeks; the conversion of all Hajj transit camps to be utilised as COVID-19 isolation centres; the directive that all non-essential government employees to work from home and for a daily briefing of the nation through the PTF.

“Other approved measures already put into place include the ban of flights from and into the country, suspension of the Federal Executive Council and National Council of State meetings and a directive for engagements, at the highest levels between the Federal Government and the state governments.

President Buhari ordered the escalation of the nation’s capacity for testing and detection with the acquisition of testing kits and establishment of additional test centres; acquisition of Personnel Protection Equipment and the mobilisation of experts and trained staff serving and recall of some of those retired.

“The closure of schools and tertiary institutions and the suspension of religious and other gatherings above fifty are also parts of the measures approved and are in place”, Shehu said.

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