Fred Itua, Abuja

The Senate has decried non-availability of testing centres for the deadly Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the entire Southeast and in the three geopolitical zones of the North.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, while reacting to a motion moved by Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Senate Committee Chairman on Health, urged the Federal Government to establish testing centres in the aforementioned regions.

He also urged the Federal Ministry of Health to come up with a template on how isolation centres established by the various States should be operated.

Lawan said more steps must be taken to protect every Nigerian while urging citizens to shelve unnecessary trips to countries with high incidences of the disease.

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“What he has done is to highlight what the WHO has been saying, and what our Ministry of Health has been saying. I want to emphasise on two things- this is one battle that should not be limited to government alone. Every citizen should be involved,” he said.

“We are very lucky and fortunate, but we shouldn’t push our luck too far. We should be very observant of all those regulations the technical experts give us. There is a need for the Federal Government to do a little more, especially in the area of testing centres. The entire North and Southeast have no testing centres and it shouldn’t be so.

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“The Federal Government is supposed to do that, and we are prepared to support them if the request is for money. Even for those established, we want to suggest that we continue to upgrade the standards.

“Also, for isolation centres, the State Governments are building. The Ministry of Health should come out with a standard which will be replicated in all the States. So, we need to through our committees, ensure we work with the Ministry of Health to work with them to ensure the isolation centres are standardised.”

Oloriegbe, who is a medical doctor, had while speaking, offered some preventive measures. He urged Nigerians to take their personal hygiene important to avoid contracting the virus.

“Nigerians need to increase the observance of the prevention control practices including avoidance of shaking of hands. If it is possible, people should not travel to countries with high-risk of the cases, especially in Europe where many countries are affected, unless such trips are very important.

“Nigeria should also consider disallowing non-Nigerians from countries of high risk from entering the country. The government should also increase capacity about checking airports.

“Currently, we have only five centres where testing can be done. The Government has to step up the testing capacity, and provide support for State Governments,” he said.