A total of 18 suspected cases of coronavirus have been identified so far in the country, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said.

The health agency disclosed this in its fifth national situation report on the virus, following the confirmation of the first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria on Thursday last week.

According to the report, there is no new confirmed case of the virus in Nigeria while the 18 people identified is the latest figure as of March 4, 2020.

The suspected cases were identified across three states of Lagos, Ogun, and Kano, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Of all the identified cases, the NCDC stressed that the index case announced on February 27 has remained the only confirmed case in the country.

It added that out of the 148 passengers on the manifest of the index case flight, 78 have been interviewed while no new contacts have been reported in Lagos and Ogun States.

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“The confirmed case is clinically and psychologically stable at the designated treatment facility for COVID-19 at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Yaba, Lagos.

“A multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at Level Three, continues to coordinate the national response activities,” the report said.

NCDC Funding
This comes as the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, called on the Federal Government to release the sum of N620 million to the NCDC as fund budgeted for the emergency response to coronavirus.

Lawan, who visited the isolation centres located at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada, decried the situation at the temporary isolation centre which he said was not in good shape.

He stressed that the facility does not look ready to receive any patient and called on the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to immediately release the money to the health agency.

The lawmaker made the call one week after the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, told reporters in Abuja that the money had been paid in full.

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Ehanire had said the Port Health Services and the NCDC – which he described as the nation’s first and second lines of defence for coronavirus – received about N70 million and N620 million respectively.

Iran rejects US’ financial aid offer

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday dismissed a US offer to help the Islamic republic fight its coronavirus outbreak, charging that “vicious” American sanctions are depriving the country of medicine.

Iran has scrambled to halt the rapid spread of the virus that has claimed 92 lives out of 2,922 confirmed infections in the past two weeks.

It has shut schools and universities, suspended major cultural and sporting events, and cut back on work hours.

“Those who have deprived the people of even medicine and food through sanctions, who have done the most vicious things… they appear with a mask of sympathy and say that we want to help the nation of Iran,” Mr Rouhani said, in a clear reference to the United States.

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US President Donald Trump had said Saturday he was ready to aid Iran with the virus outbreak if the Islamic republic asked for assistance.

“Our people know well that you are lying,” Mr Rouhani said in response, speaking at the weekly meeting of his cabinet in remarks aired on state television.

Washington pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal and reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran in 2018.

Humanitarian goods, especially medicine and medical equipment, are technically exempt.

But international purchases of such supplies are forestalled by banks wary of conducting any business with Iran for fear of falling foul of the US sanctions.

Mr Rouhani said the US must first lift sanctions blocking medicine purchases to prove its honest intent to help.

“This is the first step… to free banking relations for purchasing medicine, transferring medicine and shipping medicine and food,” he said.

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