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President Muhammadu Buhari, on the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Coronavirus, PTFCOVID19 has approved the following additional measures: 
 
i. Suspension of weekly FEC meetings until further notice
 
ii. Postponement of meeting of Council of State scheduled for Thur 26 March, 2020
 
iii. All land borders that have been hitherto under partial closure shall now be closed to human traffic for 4 weeks effective 23rd March, 2020
 
iv. In order to protect Federal Civil and Public Servants, a circular to be issued by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) shall direct on actions to be taken immediately;
 
v. If and when the need arises, any national assets required for use in the response to COVID-19 shall be mobilized and deployed;
 
vi. Nigeria Government is at the highest level, engaging with State Governors in order to ensure a collaborative and effective response to COVID19
 
vii.All Abuja and Lagos residents are strongly advised to stay at home, avoid mass congregation of any kind as well as non-essential outings, until further advice is given.
 
PTFCOVID19 assures all Nigerians of the concern of President Buhari and his determination to mobilize all resources to backup this national response.
 
However, this commitment should be reciprocated by all citizens by respecting the advisory and obeying measures put in place to curtail the spread of COVID19. 
 
The Presidential Task Force PTFCOVID19 shall be updating Nigerians from time to time as the need arises.
United Bank for Africa (UBA Plc), Transcorp and all affiliated companies have announced the cancellation of their 2019 Annual General Meetings (AGMs) to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The companies stated this in a statement to their shareholders and stakeholders posted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) web site.

UBA’s 58th AGM was initially slated for 27 March, at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, while Transcorp was supposed to hold on March 25.

“The Board of Directors of United Bank for Africa Plc hereby announces the cancellation of the Notice of Meeting of the 58th Annual General Meeting dated March 2, 2020.

“Consequently, the 58th Annual General Meeting which was previously scheduled to be held on Friday, March 27, 2020 at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos is hereby postponed.

“The cancellation of the notice and postponement of the AGM are hinged on part of UBA’s measures, as a good Corporate Citizen, to avoid the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“A new Notice of Annual General Meeting of the Bank will be published in due course.

“In this trying and uncertain period, the Board of United Bank for Africa Plc would like to assure all our customers, shareholders and other stakeholders that we are here for you throughout the crisis and beyond,” said Bill Odum, the bank’s Group Company Secretary.

In a related development, Transcorp in a statement signed by Chike Anikwe, its Group acting Company Secretary, said the postponement of the meeting was due to novel COVID-19.

Anikwe stated that the meeting earlier scheduled for March 25, had been postponed till
further notice.

He noted that the recent developments on COVID-19 and the need to follow the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation, the National Centre for Disease Control and the Federal Government amongst others, led to the postponement.

In tweets to shareholders, UBA affiliated companies, Afriland Properties and Africa Prudential also announced the cancellations of their Annual General meetings scheduled for today in Abuja.

Massive medical supplies donated by China’s Jack Ma Foundation to 54 African countries to battle coronavirus, arrived on Sunday morning in Addis Ababa, through an Ethiopian Airlines cargo flight.

They include 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields, according to the Jack Ma Foundation.

The supplies will first be distributed to countries throughout Africa which are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The remaining 600,000 masks are expected to reach Addis Ababa and be distributed to more African nations over the next few weeks, it said.

The relief initiative forms part of Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation’s ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 and provide aid to afflicted communities across the globe.

Earlier this week, the foundations had announced their commitment to donating 100,000 medical masks, 20,000 test kits and 1,000 protective suits and face shields to each of the 54 nations on the African continent. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across Africa has climbed to 1,114 as 40 African countries reported confirmed cases as of Saturday afternoon, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention disclosed on Saturday.

Collaboration and partnership with the Alibaba-led Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) hubs in Ethiopia and Rwanda is expected to prompt the distribution across Africa. The flight with the shipment landed at the eWTP hub in Ethiopia, which will help facilitate transport and distribution of donations throughout the continent. “Getting these donations to all 54 African countries, with diverse geographic conditions and different levels of infrastructure, is a great logistical and transportation challenge. We are working around the clock to make the delivery as fast as possible. ” according to a Jack Ma Foundation statement. “With our technology and eWTP Hubs, we are doing our utmost to quickly deliver these donations, so the supplies can reach those who need them most,” added Song Juntao, Secretary-General of eWTP.

This donation is part of global efforts that the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations have promoted to support the areas of the world most affected by the COVID-19 crisis, sourcing and delivering various types of medical supplies to countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, United States, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Slovenia. Established by Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group, the Jack Ma Foundation was founded in 2014 and has been focusing on education, entrepreneurship, women’s leadership, and the environment.

Emirates, one of the world’s biggest international airlines, is suspending all flights to Nigeria, France, Germany, New York and New Jersey due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Nigeria, France, Germany flights would be suspended from March 23 until further notice, a company email said.

Flights to New York JFK and New Jersey’s Newark EWR would be suspended from March 24 until further notice, another company email said.

The airline did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Emirates, which has already suspended dozens of routes, said in the emails it was halting the routes because of the virus epidemic that has shattered global travel demand.

The devaluation of Nigeria’s currency Naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria from the official rate of N307 to N360 has triggered mixed reactions from analysts.

Prof. Uche Uwaleke, a professor of Finance and Capital Market at the Nasarawa State University said the devaluation of the nation’s currency by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will discourage round-tripping and return of foreign investors.

He said the devaluation would have positive implications for financial markets.

Uwaleke added that the development would encourage return of foreign investors who left our financial market because of multiple exchange rates.

On the flip side, he noted that the development would have negative implications for inflation and the 2020 budget predicted on N305 per dollar.

Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, Professor of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, said the news of the naira devaluation was not surprising but was unfortunate.

“The pressure in the foreign exchange market we have witnessed in the last few weeks was not caused by the demand for foreign currency to buy inputs for production.

“It’s from people who are trying to hold foreign currency either for the speculative purpose for possible travels or to lodge the same in their foreign accounts where BVN is not available to reveal their identities.

“So, devaluing the currency will encourage further speculative attack on the naira. Haven emptied the sovereign wealth fund (SWF) account and Excess crude account, the CBN should not have taken this panic measure now that the recession has not taken root in the economy.

“It was a wrong move that was not based on the causal factor of the foreign currency demand pressure,” Tella said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria said it merely adjusted the price of Naira and did not devalue it as reported.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has announced that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa has increased to 240 as of Saturday (21 March).
 
The Western Cape has seen the greatest increase in reported coronavirus cases – up to 74 from 56 on Friday.
 
However, Gauteng remains the province with the most reported cases, up to 125 from 109 on Friday. The Eastern Cape has also reported its first case.
 
On Saturday, global cases stood at 277,312 and 11,554 deaths. 91,994 people have recovered.
 
“Of the 38 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, we wish to confirm the first imported COVID-19 case in the Eastern Cape Province that tested positive for SARS-CoV- 2 from a 28-year-old female who travelled to Germany,” the NICD said.
 
“The Gauteng Province continues to dominate the total share of confirmed COVID-19 cases, followed by the Western Cape Province and the KwaZulu-Natal Province, respectively.”
 
The provincial breakdown of the 38 new cases is as follows:
 
Eastern Cape Province:
 
A 28-year-old female who travelled to Germany
 
Gauteng Province:
 
An x-year-old male who travelled to France
 
A 55-year-old male with pending travel history
 
A 26-year-old male with pending travel history
 
A 34-year-old female with pending travel history
 
A 43-year-old female with pending travel history
 
A 61-year-old male with pending travel history
 
A 6-year-old female with pending travel history
 
A 29-year-old female with pending travel history
 
A 45-year-old female with pending travel history
 
A 64-year-old female with pending travel history
 
A 67-year-old male who travelled to France and Ethiopia
 
A 39-year-old male who travelled to the United Kingdom
 
A 72-year-old female who travelled to Belgium and the Netherlands
 
A 41-year-old male who travelled to France and Italy
 
A 37-year-old female with pending travel history
 
A 30-year-old female who travelled to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands
 
KwaZulu-Natal Province:
 
A 59-year-old male with pending travel history
 
A 68-year-old male with pending travel history
 
A 26-year-old female who travelled to the United States of America and the United Kingdom
 
Western Cape Province:
 
A 30-year-old female who travelled to Ireland
 
A 57-year-old female who travelled to Germany and Switzerland
 
A 55-year-old who travelled to France and Switzerland
 
A 74-year-old female who travelled to the United Kingdom
 
A 52-year-old male with pending travel history
 
A 44-year-old male who travelled to the United States of America
 
A 26-yer-old female who travelled to the United Kingdom
 
A 57-year-old male who travelled to Spain
 
A 36-year-old male who travelled the United Kingdom and France
 
A 40-year-old female with pending travel history
 
A 52-year-old female who travelled to the United Kingdom
 
A 48-year-old female who travelled to the United Kingdom
 
A 39-year-old male who travelled to Dublin and Ireland
 
A 36-year-old male with pending travel history
 
A 55-year-old female with pending travel history
 
A 45-year-old male who travelled to Germany and Austria
 
A 65-year-old female who travelled to the United Kingdom
 
A 34-year-old male with pending travel history
 
Lockdown? 
 
On Friday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura warned that South Africa may face a national lockdown unless the coronavirus spread is contained.
 
Gauteng is the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak and currently has 109 confirmed infections, with 33 of these infections reported in the last day.
 
“A lockdown may just be where we are all headed and the decision to do so has to be made by our national leadership,” said Makhura.
 
“We will raise it with the president. We are watching these numbers very closely and we are worried,” said Makhura.
 
He expressed absolute confidence in president Cyril Ramaphosa and the leadership team to do the right thing.
Gboyega Akosile, chief press secretary to Lagos state governor, has revealed that some hospitals in Lagos state have been receiving patients suffering from chloroquine poisoning.
 
Gboyega Akosile made the statement while quoting Oreoluwa Finnih, senior special assistant to the governor on health.
 
Akosile, however, warned people against the consumption of chloroquine as a measure to fight coronavirus.
 
The demand for chloroquine, oral artemisinin-based monotherapy (oAMTs) for malaria treatment, soared a few hours after President Donald Trump announced that the drug had been approved by his country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the virus.
 
But Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, contradicted the American president, saying the agency was still working to examine all possibilities.
 
However, according to widespread reports, residents trooped to pharmaceutical stores across Lagos and Abuja on Thursday evening to purchase the drug – with many sticking to Trump’s false claim and ignoring FDA’s correction.
 
In a tweet on Friday, Akosile warned people against harming themselves through the indiscriminate use of the drug.
 
“Hospitals now receiving patients suffering from Chloroquine Poisoning, says Gov @jidesanwoolu’s SSA on Health, Dr @Oreoluwa_Finnih. She urged people against massive consumption of Chloroquine as a measure to fight #Coronavirus,” he tweeted.
 
However, in a post on its official Twitter page on Friday, March 20, 2020, the NCDC also warned Nigerians to not engage in self-medication and to wait for directives from health workers and authorities.
 
“@WHO has NOT approved the use of chloroquine for #COVID19 management. Scientists are working hard to confirm the safety of several drugs for this disease.
 
“Please DO NOT engage in self-medication. This will cause harm and can lead to death,” the agency pleaded.
The International Air Transport Association, on Thursday, disclosed that Nigeria’s aviation industry will lose over 2.2 million passengers due to the disruption to air travel amidst the fight against coronavirus.
 
The association also stated that the country’s aviation industry will lose over N160.58bn (using Bureau de Change rate of N370 to $1) ($434m) in revenue and 22,200 jobs.
 
The association, an umbrella body for 290 airlines globally, had in early March projected 853,000 losses in passenger volumes and $170m loss in base revenues in Nigeria if the spread of COVID-19 continued.
 
However, in its country-specific loss analysis, IATA said since the end of January, thousands of passenger flights had been cancelled in Africa.
 
It added that the cancellations would increase exponentially with the implementation of additional measures in different countries.
 
IATA said, “International bookings in Africa are down roughly 20 per cent in March and April, domestic bookings have fallen by about 15 per cent in March and 25 per cent in April, according to the latest data.
 
“African airlines had lost $4.4bn in revenue as of March 11, 2020. Ticket refunds have increased by 75 per cent in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 (01 February – 11 March).”
 
The association said South Africa would also lose six million passengers, $1.2bn in base revenues and risk over 102,000 jobs.
 
According to IATA, other African countries expected to record huge losses are Kenya ($320m), Ethiopia ($202m) and Rwanda ($52m).
 
IATA said the expected job losses for Kenya would be 36,800; Ethiopia, 98, 400; and Rwanda, 3,000 while the loss in passenger volume would be 1.6 million, 1.2 million and 201,000 for the three countries respectively.
 
Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, IATA, Alexander de Junaic, however, appealed for governments’ support for the industry.
 
He said, “Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is the top priority of governments. But they must be aware that the public health emergency has now become a catastrophe for economies and for aviation.
 
“The scale of the current industry crisis is much worse and far more widespread than 9/11, SARS or the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.
 
“Airlines are fighting for survival. Many routes have been suspended in Africa and Middle East and airlines have seen demand fall by as much as 60 per cent on remaining ones.”
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