For possibility of being infected by the ravaging COVID -19 virus, the Director General of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has been quarantined for 14 days. Chikwe, who is quarantined in his residence, just came back from China where he went to understudy the behavioral pattern of the Coronavirus.

Group hails Buhari over approach to Coronavirus, blasts PDP This disclosure was made on Tuesday by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, when he appeared before the Senate leadership to brief the lawmakers on level of preparedness to tackle Coronavirus in Nigeria.

He said the NCDC boss has been quarantined in line with established safety procedure against the spread of the virus.

The minister said: “We were honoured that one of the scientists that WHO had chosen to go to China to study the disease was the DG of NCDC. “They went there for nine days, during which they carried out investigation. But we have already established rules here that anybody who has been to China will go to self quarantine. “Chikwe has gone (to China) and come back and has done the test.

It’s negative, but we have insisted that he must undergo the 14 days of quarantine which is why he was not here today.

“He’s not allowed to come out until after 14 days, because if you make rules, you must also obey them, which is to set example for Nigerians that the head of NCDC is on self quarantine as we speak. He’s very well but he has to follow the rules.”

Speaking on the level of preparedness, the Minister explained that there are already established Isolation Centres in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt to respond to any emergency. In his response, the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, commended the self – quarantine by the Director General of NCDC, adding that more proactive steps must be taken by concerned agencies.

“While the Federal Ministry of Health and the associated agencies may be doing their best with this explanation. This best is not good enough and we should not take anything for granted”, he said.

He said the committees on primary healthcare and health will further engage with the Federal Ministry of Health once again to see every possible effort done in airports or seaports.

The Senate president promised to lead a delegation of the National Assembly to the Gwagwalada site of facilities prepared for emergency quarantine and treatment of any identified person infected with the COVID-19.

However, the NCDC boss has said he is on self-isolation and not quarantined as said by the health minister. In his reaction, Dr. Ihekweazu said he was only observing the precautionary self-isolation as required of people coming from a high-risk country. On his Twitter handle, the NCDC chief said he is well and will be continuing his duty from home for the next 14 days.

“I am well and have continued my duties from home since my return from China as part of the WHO-China Mission on COVID19”. He said “the rumour that I am sick or in quarantine is obviously false. I look forward to returning to the office after 14 days of self-isolation.”

Self-isolation is one of the precautionary measures recommended in the NCDC public health advisory for travellers from countries with ongoing transmission of Covid-19.

It advised that such people should proceed on 14 days self-isolation whether well or unwell. The NCDC in a statement on Tuesday evening further explained its principal’s trip to China. According to the statement released by the health agency, Ihekweazu was one of the 25 national and international experts deployed to China by the WHO between February 16 and 24. The mission met with counterparts in China to understand their response to COVID-19 and how global communities can learn from it.

“The Director-General is adhering to the protocol to protect himself and public. “He has been tested on his return, and has since shown no symptoms of the Covid-19 infection. He remains in good health,” the agency said.

Ihekweazu had earlier tweeted two days ago that “one of the most important missions I‘ve had the honour to be part of is WHO-China Mission on COVID19.” He said lessons learnt from working with some of the most hardworking experts in China, WHO and other countries will guide Nigeria as it responds to its first COVIDD-19 case.

Meanwhile, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday said their 2020 Spring Meetings slated for April 17 to April 19 in Washington DC would now hold in “virtual format’’.

What this means is that instead of delegates converging physically in Washington, they would now link up from their various locations through video, audio and text channels. The announcement came in a joint statement signed by President of the World Bank Group, Mr. David Malpass, and the Managing Director of IMF, Mrs. Kristalina Georgieva. Malpass and Georgieva hinged the decision on concerns about the fast-spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the “human tragedy surrounding it’’.

Held at the World Bank and IMF headquarters in the U.S capital, the spring meetings usually brought together government officials, business leaders, representatives civil society, journalists and observers from around the world.

“Given growing health concerns related to the virus, the management of the IMF and world bank group and their Executive Boards have agreed to implement a joint plan to adapt the 2020 IMF-World Bank spring meetings to a virtual format.

“Our goal is to serve our membership effectively, while ensuring the health and safety of spring meetings participants and staff.

“We remain fully committed to maintaining a productive dialogue with our stakeholders and will leverage our IT-related and virtual connection capabilities to the fullest, to hold our essential policy consultations with the membership.

“We will also continue to share IMF and World Bank analyses.

“With this adapted format, we are confident that our member countries will be able to effectively engage on pressing global economic issues at these spring meetings,” they said.

Consequently, registration for all categories of participants had been suspended and all previous confirmations cancelled, the IMF said in a mail to intending participants.

“Official delegates who will participate in the official sessions will receive further instructions from the Secretary and from the office of their Executive Director of the respective institutions,’’ it added.