Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has declared that the Federal Government will not release the corpses of people who died after testing positive to coronavirus to relatives for burial.
Mohammed stressed that such corpses could only be handled by the ministry of health because they were contagious.
The minister made the declaration at a forum organised by the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja to give an update on the activities of the presidential task force on COVID-19.
“Coronavirus is very dangerous and contagious; there is no medicine for it yet and it is not just capable of killing, overwhelming health-care system, it will destroy the economy. In some countries, they are putting dead bodies in big refrigerators because the morgues are filled up. Nigerians should not forget that these are not the type of corpses that can be claimed for burial because it must be handled by the ministry of health,” he said.
He called for the cooperation of citizens and asked them to “stay safe, obey simple instructions of basic hygiene and social distancing,” adding, “In a few weeks, we will resume our normal life”.
So far, Nigeria has 210 cases of COVID-19. Of that figure, 20 persons have recovered and have been discharged from hospital.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said it will meet with indigenous manufacturers to discuss and facilitate the local production of Personal Protective Equipment to enhance the fight against Covid-19 ravaging the world.
Mohammed disclosed this in Abuja when he featured on NAN Forum, to give an update on government efforts at containing the pandemic.
Mohammed said the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnibe Mamora, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, would meet with the manufacturers on behalf of the government.
He said the move had become necessary in view of the shortage of the equipment and the need to encourage and develop local manufacturing of medical equipment.
“PPE is in short supply globally and we want to see how we can start manufacturing them locally.
“All over the world, people are making masks locally because there is a short supply of masks.
“Those ones we got from Jack Ma have been shared to the states. We call them starter packs and they contain masks and test kits. We have given them to states according to their needs.”
He added, “Naturally, Lagos got more because it is the epicentre of the virus.
“We are trying to source the PPE more locally, but one thing about PPE is that if you don’t get it right, you may lose more lives.”
On whether or not the two-week lockdown directed by the government could be extended, the minister said it would depend on how Nigerians behaved themselves.
“If we don’t behave ourselves, it is likely that the lockdown will be extended, but if we behave ourselves, there may not be extension and I hope we do so.
“If we stay at home for two weeks and we are doing everything, we are supposed to do, we should be able to effectively contain the disease.
“Therefore, my appeal to Nigerians is that they should obey the directive on social distancing, personal hygiene and shun gatherings; after two weeks, we will resume our normal life,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in a national broadcast, directed the lockdown of the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states for an initial period of 14 days, effective from 11p.m. of March 30.
“The idea is to restrict further spread of the pandemic,” Mohammed stressed.
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