Coronavirus: FG releases N386m to prevent importation to Nigeria

The Federal Government said on Friday that it has released the sum of N386m to two health agencies to ensure that the deadly Coronavirus is not imported to the country.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Abdulahi Mashi, while speaking during a press briefing by the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnibe Mamora, organized to give an update on health situation in the country, said the amount was released in two batches.

According to the Permanent Secretary, the first batch of N71m was released at the end of January to facilitate activities of the Port Health Services Department of the ministry, while the second batch was released after the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, appeared before the Senate Committee on Health recently.

The Minister of Health during his appearance at the Senate had stated that the FG had budgeted N620m to curtail the virus from entering Nigeria.

The second batch of N315 million was released directly to the Nigeria Council for Disease Control, even as he pointed out that other requests are in the pipeline and yet to be released.

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Mashi said: “It is true that intervention was sought from the Presidency and the Ministry of Finance and Budget Plannig because of the level of the emergency. I can confirm to you that N71 million was released to the Port Health Services Division of the Health Ministry. The Nigeria Council for Disease Control was also given N315 million directly. Other requests are in the pipeline and yet to be released.”

Giving the update, Dr. Mamora said information available to Nigerian Government was that the first case of coronavirus in Africa had been reported in Egypt and that the affected person was a foreigner.

To guide against its importation in Nigeria, he pointed out that the Minister of Health had put together an inter-ministerial committee to provide oversight leadership, adding that the committee, which meets twice a week was being coordinated by the NCDC.

He said: “Nigeria is receiving technical support from the WHO, Africa Centre for Disease Control and West African Health Organisation. The Port Health Services has intensified screening of passengers coming from China and other countries of high risk. Screening forms have been provided to all airlines.

“As at now, there is no report of any confirmed case in Nigeria. Clinicians are being trained on management of cases at the moment. We are developing a stockpile of medical supplies to be used in the event of any outbreak. Our capacity for testing has been enhanced because we have three laboratories Edo and Lagos states as well as in Abuja.”

Also speaking on Lassa fever, Mamora said: “We are responding to Lassa fever outbreak. Between January 1 and February 16, we had 586 confirmed cases with 103 deaths from 26 states. Of all confirmed cases, 73 per cent is from Edo State.”

He also spoke on the outbreak of the strange disease in Benue State, and said that what was known so far was that the use of a certain chemical to fish in some rivers contaminated the fish and the body of the water, which resulted in the death of those who consumed them.

The minister said that Nigeria had begun stockpile of medical supplies to be deployed in the event of any outbreak of coronavirus.

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