Nigeria has confirmed five new cases of coronavirus. Osagie Ehanire, the health minister, said the patients had a travel history to the United Kingdom and the United States. He said four of the patients are Nigerians while one is a US citizen, and that while one case is in Ekiti and other cases are in Lagos. Three of the patients, including a mother and her six-week-old baby, came from the US while the other two came from the UK. The American was said to have come through one of Nigeria’s land borders. The health minister said all cases are being followed up and supported by state health authorities and he asked the public to remain calm because health response activities have been intensified across the country. He said a detailed travel history of each case is being compiled and that contact tracing has begun. He also said the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), through its emergency operations centre, is supporting responses in the states. In a related development, Katsina says it is tracking its first suspected COVID-19 case. The Permanent Secretary, in the state Ministry of Health, Dr Kabir Mustapha said that the patient, who returned from Malaysia, developed some symptoms that warranted further investigations. The patient is currently in self-isolation. Burkina Faso reported its first coronavirus related death on Wednesday, joining Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Sudan as the countries on the continent which had reported fatalities. Lagos also issued a temporary ban on all religious gatherings in the state.
The CBN says it will increase economic interventions activities by ₦1.1 trillion owing to the continued impact of the coronavirus on global supply chains. According to a statement signed by CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele on Wednesday, the bank would increase its intervention in boosting local manufacturing for import substitution by another ₦1 trillion across all critical sectors of the economy. He said the management of the CBN would meet with the bankers’ committee on Saturday to work out the modalities. The apex bank had, on Monday, announced six palliatives to cushion the effect of the coronavirus disease outbreak on the economy. In addition to ₦50 billion in soft loans to small businesses, the governor said the intervention programme will be increased by another ₦100 billion. He said the fund would be used to support health facilities to ensure laboratories, researchers and innovators work with global scientists to patent and or produce vaccines and test kits in Nigeria to prepare for any major crises ahead. To this end, he directed all deposit money banks in the country to increase their support to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. He said an implementation committee would be set up to action the private sector’s contribution of ₦1.5 trillion for infrastructure funding to link farming communities to markets. Banks and other regulated entities in the banking sector were also advised to “trigger their business continuity plans” to ensure that their staff and families are protected.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday approved a cut in the price of petrol to ₦125, from the current ₦145 per litre. The cut is coming on the backdrop of current fall in crude oil prices. The 13.8% cut is coming on the backdrop of current fall in crude oil prices BusinessDay quoted presidency sources as saying that the approval followed a presentation by the minister of state petroleum resources Timipre Sylva to the Federal Executive Council, on Wednesday, on the need to reduced the pump price following the global fall in oil price. At the behest of the spread of Covid19, international crude oil prices slumped from $60 to $30, causing fear of a possible economic crisis. The paper reported that the government would allow the international price of crude to determine petrol in Nigeria going forward.
The FG has announced significant changes to its 2020 budget as measures to contain the effect of the outbreak of coronavirus on the country’s economy. Finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, said the government will implement a 50 percent cut in revenue from privatisation proceeds. She also announced a cut in crude oil benchmark price, from $57 down to $30, while crude oil production remains at 2.18 million barrels per day as earlier contained in the budget estimates. Ahmed said the Federal Executive Council approved reductions in capital budget by 20 percent, and 25 percent cut in recurrent expenditures. The state oil firm, the NNPC, has since announced a reduction in petrol price from ₦145 per litre to ₦120. Expected Customs revenue, which had been budgeted for at ₦1.5 trillion, will be adjusted downwards, but a new figure was not given. According to Ahmed, the government has resolved to stop recruitment, except for essential services such as security and health services. It has also resolved to restore and comply by the Civil Service Retirement Regulations. The FG would start to engage with the National Assembly immediately to pass these changes into law.