The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday expressed disappointment over the sorry state of the temporary isolation centre for victims of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Abuja.
While he described the centre as a sorry sight, he wondered why not a singe room can be called an isolation centre in Abuja and the whole North-central. This, he said, is “despite allocating over N600 million for isolation centres to help contain the virus.”
Mr Lawan, said this when he visited the facility located at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Abuja.
The centre, he said “is not in good shape and does not look ready to receive any patient – which is something that should be fixed by Thursday”, he said.
“We are in an emergency even if we don’t have people who are affected, we shouldn’t just rest on our oars. We have to do everything and anything possible to fix that temporary isolation centre to be prepared and ready to receive any one who falls sick in this respect.”
But officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) lamented that the federal government is yet to release funds to it from the N620 million earmarked to fight the disease.
The Senate President, however, urged the Ministry of Finance and the Federal Ministry of Health to immediately release the money to enable the NCDC put in place what is required to combat the pandemic.
He also promised that the Senate would ensure the release of the money.
He also called on the NCDC to replicate the building of its permanent isolation which is said to be 88 per cent complete in the other five geo-political zones of the country.
Speaking to reporters after the tour, Mr Lawan said officials are in high spirits looking determined to discharge their mandate and obligation.
“We are indeed sad that the N620 million that was supposed to be released to the NCDC for fixing of everything here, not a kobo has been released. We are going to get across to the Minister of Finance and all the other authorities who have anything to do with this to release this money between today and tomorrow latest.
“There’s no way that Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, with a population of 200 million, and yet the Federal Capital and six surrounding states of the North-central, you don’t have one room that you can call an isolation centre, where anyone who unfortunately falls into this crisis will be taken to. This is not acceptable.
“Let’s spend money on our people, we waste money on some things that are less important. This is about the health and lives of the people of this country, and therefore, no investment is too much.”
He said relevant committees of the Senate will follow-up on Thursday to ensure that work on the isolation centre begins and is completed.
The lawmaker’s comments comes a day after the health minister, Osagie Ehanire, visited the leadership of the Senate and discussed the country’s level of preparedness as well as progress made so far.
The news of the first recorded case of the virus was made known early last Friday, following confirmation from the Lagos State Government.
Many have, however, commended the NCDC for their efforts in tackling the disease.
The virus, which originated from China in December, has spread to about 60 countries. The respiratory disease, which has killed over 3,000 people, is capable of spreading through human-to-human contact, droplets carried through sneezing and coughing, and germs left on inanimate objects.
Symptoms of the disease can include a sore throat, runny nose, fever or pneumonia and can progress to multiple organ failure or death in some severe cases.
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