*As FG debunks rumors of President Buhari’s status
By Adelola Amihere
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has announced that with the discovery that a lot of returnees into the country gave fake telephone numbers and contact addresses, 4,370 “people of interest” are currently being traced.
He also debunked news making the round that President Muhammadu Buhari has been coughing severly and is now on ventilator, despite his reported testing negative to the the COVID-19 virus.
Mohammed equallu described as fake, the news that there are only two ventilators in Abuja, out of which one had been commandeered for a top government official.
He also described as false information that one of the British Airways flight was due to land in Nigeria on Wednesday, despite the closure of the nation’s international airports.
In a press briefing Thursday, Alhaji Mohammed who desribed all those as “fake news” disclosed that there are 4,370 people of interest who are currently being traced.
“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,” he warned
He also called out a section of the traditional media who he says has “been engaging in scaremongering and irresponsible reporting on the disease.
According to him,”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.”
The Minister applauded the move by some domestic airlines to suspend flight operation without any prompting from government, describing such “as a boost to 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 federal government 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,” he said.
Providing breakdown of the safety and test kits donated by the Jack Ma Foundation from China which included 100,000 Face Masks, 1,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and 20,000 test kits, the Minister revealed that the face masks and the PPE will be distributed to the front-line
health workers, while the test kits would be shared among the five test laboratories.
The Minister however appealed to Nigerians not to panic as government is determined to work to defeat the COVID-19 scourge in the country.