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Senator puts lie to health minister’s claim on Coronavirus, says Nigeria is unprepared

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DEPUTY Senate Leader, Ajayi Boroffice, on Thursday, has confirmed that Nigeria is unprepared for Coronavirus.

Borooffice who spoke at the Red Chamber on his recent travel to South Africa(SA), said that the country took extra care in screening passengers before they were allowed into the country but he was moved to fear when he returned to Nigeria and saw the method in which passengers were screened.

According to the senator, back in SA, passengers were screened for more than 30 minutes before they were allowed to disembark the aircraft.

However, in Nigeria, travelers were only given a form to fill, quizzing them about their health status and travel history after which they were allowed into the country.

“When we arrived (at) the airport in South Africa, we were not allowed to exit the aircraft for good 30 minutes. Officers of the medical corps of the South African army came into the aircraft and screened everybody before we were allowed to go out.

“When I arrived yesterday at Nnamdi Azikiwe airport, there was no screening. All we were given is a sheet of paper to indicate whether we were sick, whether we have been to one country or the other, how we’ll be contacted in (an) emergency. How do you know whether I fall sick after I left the airport? This is very frightening,” the Senator lamented.

This startling revelation invalidates the claim of Nigeria’s health minister, Osagie Ehanire, who announced weeks ago that Nigeria is prepared for Coronavirus and highlighted that the best practices are activated in the screening of travelers into Nigeria.

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More worrying, the minister in January, announced that the sum of N71 million was released to the Port Health Services division of the ministry to scale up screening and surveillance to prevent importation of the Coronavirus into the country.

Boroffice’s account of the screening process in Nigeria despite the monetary allocation thus raises questions and made the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, declare that although the Federal  Ministry of Health and other associated agencies were doing their best, their best was not good enough.

In a recent investigation, The ICIR also found that two major hospitals in the Federal Capital territory are ill-equipped to handle any Coronavirus case.

It was discovered that the National Hospital, Abuja has only, a two-bed isolation ward and the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH) has its proposed isolation centre still largely under construction.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that 11 suspected Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases recorded in the country have been tested negative.

This is coming shortly after the Matshidiso Moeti,World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, warned that the window of opportunity for preparedness in Africa is closing.

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Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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