• Approves Use Of Stadia, NYSC Camps As Isolation Centres
• To Upgrade Three Labs In Abakaliki, Ibadan, Maiduguri With Capacity To Detect Coronavirus
• Govt Imposes Vessel Restriction At Seaports To Curtail Coronavirus
• Six Infected Cases Were Discovered On Oil Rig, Says NPA
• NNPC, 31 Oil Companies To Combat COVID-19 With N11B
The Federal Government has assured that the lessons learnt from the fight against the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) would help the country to rebuild its health sector to have a formidable health system from primary to tertiary levels.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, stated this yesterday in Abuja, just as he observed that the outbreak of the Coronavirus disease has revealed weaknesses in most health systems, as most health systems across the world have been overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, while train stations, land borders and international airports remain closed, and only ships that have been at sea for over 14days could dock in the country’s ports after crew members have been confirmed negative for COVID-19.
The only exceptions to this 14-day restriction are vessels carrying oil and gas products, which require minimal contact.
This is coming as the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) declared that six out of the 14 new cases were detected on a vessel.
But this was denied by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), in a statement by its General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Jatto Adams, who said the infected persons were actually discovered on an oil rig named Siem Marlin, offshore Lagos, a development he said NCDC clarified after a meeting with its officials
Adams insisted that maritime stakeholders would not have been so apprehensive if it was clear that the passengers were on a rig, adding that the NPA needed the clarification to reassure its stakeholders.
He emphasised: “The NPA and Ports Health Services have set clear protocols on the identification of sick people on vessels and the management of suspected and confirmed cases in line with best practices set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), that the captain of any vessel with a sick person(s) on board must fly two yellow flags.
In reaction, the Seaports Terminal Operators of Nigeria (STOAN) lauded the government’s decision to screen vessels before they enter the ports.
STOAN spokesperson, Bolaji Akinola, told The Guardian that the move would further ensure that the virus was not imported through the seaports, stressing the need for government to keep the ports open, but strictly monitored, due to the necessity of importing aids, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and other critical items needed for the country to survive this trying times, as cargoes were still coming to Nigeria and their consignments still being cleared accordingly.
The Minister of Health noted that the current fight against COVID-19 has shown that if you have a weak health system, you will pay a very huge price for it, noting: “Every country that is in this situation is discovering the weakness in their health system. Most health systems have been overwhelmed and every country is thinking of new ways of rebuilding their health systems.
“We are also learning our lessons and will rebuild our health system. We will strengthen our health systems at all levels from primary to tertiary, knowing that if you have a weak health system, you will pay a very huge price.”
The minister revealed that the government would upgrade three laboratories in Abakaliki, Maiduguri and Ibadan to reference laboratories that have the capacity to detect Coronavirus, commending the work being done by the Lagos State Government.
In the interim, the federal government has approved for the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to open and make available, the stadia in Surulere (Lagos), Ibadan, Abuja and Kaduna, as well as the orientation camps of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) nationwide for use as isolation centres for COVID-19, as may be needed.
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who confirmed this via his Twitter handle, explained that the ministry was in touch with relevant authorities and stakeholders to make the facilities available, in line with the President’s approval and as part of its contribution to halting the spread of COVID-19.
“Since the stadiums are huge complexes with many outdoor and indoor areas, it is now up to medical personnel and authorities to determine the appropriate areas of usage if and when necessary.
“The stadiums can be used as testing centres and because of space, they will allow for required distancing. The identification and fumigation of multiple buildings, such as the multipurpose sports hall, gymnastics and other spaces located in the stadium, will commence shortly.
“The world over, stadiums are being used by nations as they race against the ravages of COVID-19. Back home, the Lagos State Government has set up the Onikan Stadium (Mobolaji Johnson Stadium) to support efforts at halting the pandemic.
“While our prayers are that Nigeria never gets to the level where these facilities will be put to this use, we must, however, all be prepared to support the system and ensure that the nation is not caught unawares.”
In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration has commenced the fumigation of some offices and markets as part of measures to curtain the spread in the nation’s capital.
FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has equally taken a sensitisation awareness campaign to Gwarinpa Market, where she appealed to traders to vacate the premises for the period of the fumigation to achieve a hitch-free exercise.
Aliyu, who spoke yesterday in Pidgin and Hausa languages, told the traders that the virus is not only real but also contagious and appealed to residents to abide by the preventive measures outlined by relevant authorities.
She, however, threatened that the administration might be forced to impose a curfew on the city if residents fail to comply with social distancing rule in market places and other social or religious gatherings across the territory, adding that the authorities would fumigate the major markets, parks and religious centres in the city and other satellite towns in the territory as one of the steps to prevent the spread of the virus.
As part of the contribution, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and about 31 oil and gas companies operating in the country have provided N11billion to tame the spread of the virus.
NNPC Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, who announced this yesterday, said it was aimed at supporting the country’s healthcare delivery facilities, especially provision of medical consumables, deployment of logistics and in-patient support system, and delivery of medical infrastructure.
Kyari noted that the development came out of an industry-wide collaborative intervention initiative with the upstream companies to combat the pandemic and its attendant impact on the people and the economy.
He stated that the fund would be provided in-kind, using a transparent process driven with a clear governance structure, adding: “As a responsive and responsible industry, we are taking this action to strengthen our collective national resolve in combating this pandemic and its dreadful impact.”
He added that the initiative is in alignment with ongoing federal government effort and in collaboration with the NCDC to curb the spread.
The companies collaborating with the NNPC in the project are Shell Group of Companies in Nigeria; ExxonMobil Group of Companies in Nigeria; Total Group of Companies in Nigeria; Chevron Group of Companies in Nigeria; Eni Group of Companies in Nigeria; Addax Petroleum and Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Limited.
Others include AMNI International Petroleum Development Company Limited; Dansaki Petroleum Limited; Elcrest Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited; Eroton Exploration & Production Company Limited; Energia Limited; First Exploration and Petroleum Development Company Limited; First Hydrocarbon Nigeria Limited and Frontier Oil Limited.
Also in the coalition are Green Energy International Limited; Lekoil Nigeria Limited; Midwestern Oil and Gas Company Limited; Newcross Exploration and Production Limited; Network Exploration and Production; Niger Delta Petroleum Resource Limited; Oando Oil Limited; Oriental Energy Resources Limited; Pillar Oil Limited; Platform Petroleum Limited;
SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company Plc; Shoreline Natural Resources; Suntrust Oil Company Nigeria Limited; Vertex Energy Limited; Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited and Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Limited.