Coronavirus Outbreak: KWSG to beam searchlight on Chinese communities

…Top Kwarans, indigenes affected by Saudi Umrah suspension order

By Mumini AbdulKareem

Following the recent case of the deadly coronavirus in Lagos, the Kwara State Government has said it will beam its search light on Chinese communities in the state just as it expressed readiness to contain the disease in the advent of an outbreak.

Commissioner for Health, Dr Raji Razak said this during an exclusive interview with National Pilot on the issue on Sunday.

According to him, the state government has concluded plans to visit Chinese communities in the state with thermometers for screening and also sensitised them on curtailing the spread of the diseases in the event of an outbreak.

“Don’t forget that whoever is coming from China will come through the international airports in the country and so will be screened.

“At the level of the state, we will be carrying out sensitization programmes for them (Chinese communities) which will start any moment from tomorrow. We will probably go with our ….thermometer to check their temperatures and give them health talk on what to do even though some of them already know.

“If they don’t, we will teach and educate them. As it is, people should not panic but should just go about their businesses and take precaution. Anybody that is sick should report to the hospital immediately. Our staff are equipped enough to handle the situation”, he noted.

Dr Razak added that the government has activated all its plans that had been in place during the outbreak of the Lassa fever and the Governor had made available more fund for the state to respond to the latest situation.

“As it is now, there is no cause for alarm. We are fully prepared and we should not forget that before this, there had been an outbreak of Lassa fever and we activated all our plans towards this and we are still working on them.

“We are aware of the coronavirus situation and have map out our strategies which include collaborating with health authorities in our airports and land borders including sensitisation at the motor parks to screen passengers coming in at the airports, through the lands and at the parks. Health education is also ongoing and we have passed circulars to schools to emphasise hand washing with soap and water which is also very key to curtail the spread of coronavirus including maintaining respiratory hygiene.

“Our isolation centre is in Sobi specialist hospital and our personal protective equipment has been deployed there and we have more in the store to give out. The Governor has also released additional funds to procure more. So we are trying our best to make sure we prevent it”, he submitted.

There had been concerns in the state over the level of monitoring and preparation of the government to track Chinese and other foreigners and international travellers alike including Kwarans who may have contracted the diseases from their trips outside the country.

The fears heightened weekend after the country announced its first case of the coronavirus by an Italian citizens who arrived the country through the Murtala International Airport, Lagos for a brief business trip last week.

China where the diseases emanated had suffered the highest casualty figures with over a thousand deaths recorded so far since the first outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan which had spread to many other countries including the United States.

…Top Kwarans, indigenes affected by Saudi Umrah suspension order

By Mumini AbdulKareem

The decision to halt activities for the lesser hajj by the Saudi Arabia authorities over the fast spreading coronavirus has affected many prominent Kwara indigenes who had concluded plans to embark on the highly sought after spiritual exercise, National Pilot learnt last night.

It was gathered that some top religious leaders, politicians and government functionaries who have already concluded arrangement to visit Saudi Arabia for the lesser hajj had to shelve the plan after the order from the Saudi government last week.

Speaking on the issue, the former Grand Khadi of the Kwara State Shariah Court of Appeal, Justice Olohuntoyin Mohammed said he and some other of his friends decided to suspend their visitation after the announcement.

He said the Saudi has not done anything strange over the issue adding that their decision is the true position of the Islamic law.

“Some of us had planned to go but we have no choice than to suspend it after the announcement. Most of the rites during the exercise are done in congregation and there would be no way we can avoid mixing with others.

“The Saudi authorities can issue a fatwa that those in their country should not leave the country and at the same time suspends those coming from entering the country. Umrah and hajj is a universal issue and the Chinese and other affected who are Muslims will want to come and that aide the spread. The Saudi are right in their decision and once that issue has been settled.

Local agents/tour operators count losses

By Mumini AbdulKareem

Travel agents and tour operators in Kwara State who are involved in uplifting passengers to Saud Arabia for the lesser hajj (Umrah) exercise have been counting their loses since authorities suspended the exercise over coronavirus outbreak.

Some of them who spoke on the issue last night said the order have greatly affected their business as some of their passengers that have already boarded and have arrived Jeddah in Saudi Arabia where turned back.

Depending on the disposition of the affected passengers whether to seek for refund of their hajj fees or wait until the situation normalises, the situation may be worse for some of the operators who have reportedly booked hotel accommodation and other logistic demands for customers except Saudi authorities come to their aide.

An agent, Ustadh Hussein Olugon who operates Al-Medinah Hajj and Umrah Travel Agency in Ilorin lamented the situation to this reporter on Sunday adding that the Saudi decision was perfectly in order in line with the tradition of the Prophet (SAW).

“It has really affected our businesses and preparations and some of our clients where returned all the way from Lagos and even from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Nobody is allowed entry now and we have to make arrangement on what to do whether to refund money or not but some of our clients have said we should hold on.

What the Saudi have done is in line with the tradition (hadith)of the Prophet (SAW). There is no country that is as popular as Saudi Arabia when it comes to visitation for religious activities. What they have done is necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus and even those countries who are more advanced than Saudi Arabia have been overwhelmed by the situation.

But on his part, the Kwara State Coordinator of Hajj Mabrur, Ustaz Ustaz Muhammadu Mukhtar Thani said the suspension order has not had much effect on business.

“The suspension order has really had much effect on us an as far as Hajj Mabrur is concerned, we are still uplifting passengers. The order is not yet implemented 100 percent.

The decision is perfectly in synch with the hadith of the Prophet (SAW). Saudi authorities have not done anything sacrilegious or against the teachings of Islam. What if they continue the exercise and those coming from China or elsewhere import the disease, it will affect everybody especially because of the population that usually go for Umrah exercise. Since Friday that it was announced in Nigeria, they have quarantined about 30 people in Lagos and Ogun States already. So they cannot afford to take chances”, he added.

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