The FG has ordered the closure of all 104 Unity Schools and tertiary institutions in the country from March 26 in a proactive move aimed at preventing the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus. This is as the Lagos State Ministry of Health on Thursday confirmed four new cases of coronavirus in the state bring the cases nationwide to 12, although one of the victims has fully recovered. The Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, on the new cases, said the latest patients have been admitted for treatment at the Lagos State bio-security and infectious disease hospital, Yaba, Lagos. He added that 19 tests were performed on suspected cases and contacts of the five cases announced on Wednesday, out of which four turned positive. According to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, all the principals of the Unity Colleges have been asked to fast track the on-going second term examinations and close shop until further notice. Managements of all the Unity Colleges have also been directed to immediately activate the necessary emergency procedures and processes such as the provision of alcohol-based sanitizers and handwashing facilities among others.
The Presidential Economic Advisory Council has warned that Nigeria may be forced to devalue the Naira if tough economic decisions are not quickly taken, which the President Buhari-led administration is strongly against. The Senior Special Assistant to Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said on Thursday that his boss held a meeting with his economic team in Abuja where he (Buhari) directed a repositioning of the economy, starting with a review of 2020 budget to reflect current realities in the oil sector, and prioritising health sector infrastructure to respond to the threats posed by COVID-19. Recently, there were speculations that the Central Bank of Nigeria may eventually succumb to an exchange rate realignment. On the contrary, the monetary regulator announced that such was not underway, threatening to deal ruthlessly with those pushing the exchange rate up at the various market segments via hoarding. The Naira had risen to ₦400 to a Dollar some days ago at the parallel market until the CBN’s statement, which moderated it back to ₦380 to ₦365/$1 at the black market. According to Shehu, the economic advisory council recommended the securitisation of government debt, design and institutionalisation of a revenue stabilisation programme and the imperative of cutting the cost of governance at all levels. The team said the coronavirus pandemic could have an indirect effect on Nigeria’s other trading partners and the global economy, with implications of the global recession that could slow down the country’s “fragile growth and trigger exchange rate realignment.”
Multiple flights have been cancelled or temporarily suspended across Africa as airlines struggle to cope with falling demand following the spread of coronavirus. Rwanda Air, and Air Mauritius are among airlines that have suspended flights to China. Morocco has suspended all international flights to and from its territory “until further notice” and Kenya Airways also suspended flights to countries affected by the virus. According to a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), as of March 11, African airlines have recorded a loss of up to $4.4 billion in revenue since the virus surfaced. Adefunke Adeyemi, IATA’s Regional Director for Advocacy and Strategic relations in Africa says passenger demand for Africa has reduced significantly. International bookings in Africa went down by 20% in March and April, while domestic bookings have fallen by about 15% in March and 25% in April, according to data from IATA. “Not as many passengers are travelling to, from and within Africa because of the outbreak. In terms of the impact on the aviation industry, the numbers we released show Africa taking a hit in terms of revenue,” Adeyemi told international media.
PZ Cussons, the United Kingdom-based consumer products company, has announced the proposed sale of its Nigerian dairy business Nutricima, along with the completion of the previously-announced sale of its Polish personal care brand Luksja to Athens-based personal care company Sarantis Group. The FTSE 250 company said it has exchanged contracts for the sale of the assets associated with Nutricima’s business to FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria – an affiliate of Dutch company Royal FrieslandCampina. The transaction remains subject to merger clearance in Nigeria. Sarantis would also distribute certain PZ Cussons’ brands, including Carex, Original Source and Morning Fresh, in Poland and in central and eastern Europe. The moves, according to the executive chairman Caroline Silver, are further steps forward under the company’s ‘Focus, Scale and Accelerate’ strategy aimed at delivering higher-margin earnings in geographies which can scale and support the return of the group to sustainable, profitable growth.