© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
COVID – 19: FCT, Benue close down schools indefinitely to pre – empt coronavirus outbreak
THE Federal Capital Territory, FCT management in a press statement on Thursday announced that all schools in Abuja be shut down until further notice.
Austine Elemue, Special Assistant on Media to the FCT Minister of State made this disclosure on behalf of the Minister of State, FCT, Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu,saying the move was necessary to protect children in FCT from the disease.
“We should not endanger the lives of children for whatsoever reasons. You know, when these children are in schools, they pick up anything and put them in their mouths without taking precautions of washing their hands.
“Therefore, the best and safer thing to do is to close down the schools for a week, two or even a month pending on the outcome,” she said.
She said the move was necessary as other states were ahead of the FCT with regards schools closure to halt the spread of the disease.
“It might interest you to know that some states have gone ahead of us by closing down schools and we in the Federal Capital Territory, the seat of government cannot fold our hands and watch helplessly.
“As a matter of fact, as from tomorrow being Friday, all public and private schools in the territory should be closed down indefinitely,” she said.
On Wednesday, five new cases of the virus were discovered in Nigeria, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 12.
This development is coming on the heels of the recent indefinite strike embarked upon by resident doctors in Abuja over the failure of the FCT management to pay their arrears of allowances due to the doctors and non-payment of salary to doctors employed since October 2019.
In a Twitter post the Benue State Government on Thursday also ordered that all schools be shut from Friday as part of measures to protect the state from coronavirus pandemic.
This was announced after the State Executive Council Meeting held in Makurdi, by Benue’s Commissioner for Education, Professor Dennis Ityavyar, directing that schools in the state should conclude their examinations on or before March 27 and proceed on indefinite holiday.
CORONAVIRUS: SCHOOLS TO CLOSE INDEFINITE
All Schools in Benue State, starting from Basic Education, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions are to close down on 27/03/2020~ Prof. Dennis Ityavyar. pic.twitter.com/q2Ggoom3OL
— BenueStateGovernment (@benuestategovt) March 19, 2020
Ityavyar stated that the decision to close schools before the scheduled end of the current academic term had become necessary as part of measures to prevent an outbreak of the disease in the state.
Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Sunday Ongbabor, also confirmed that Benue has established an isolation centre at the State University Teaching Hospital in Makurdi to address possible cases that might arise.
Benue State joins several North-west states namely Kebbi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Sokoto Zamfara and Niger that shut down schools for 30 days due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
In February, health ministers of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, had met in Mali’s capital, Bamako, to develop a regional preparedness plan and boost cross-border collaboration to promote rapid diagnosis and containment.
Along with increased screening at points of entry, particularly at airports, Nigerian authorities have established testing capacity in four laboratories and expanded surveillance to follow up with travellers from countries affected by the infectious disease within 14 days of arriving in the country.