Apparently angry and disappointed at what was passed off as an isolation centre for suspected COVID-19 cases, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has asked the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to immediately release the sum of N620m to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to complete work on them in Abuja.
The amount was budgeted for emergency response to the Coronavirus (COVID – 19) outbreak.
Lawan’s anger and disappointmemy comes as at least 94,000 people have been infected around the world and almost 3,200 have died, while 50,000 have recovered from the disease. Only one case of a visiting Italian businessman has been confirmed in Nigeria as other suspected cases turned out negative, after testing.
Leading the delegation of the Senate on Wednesday to the centres at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada Lawan said, “There’s no way that Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, with a population of two hundred 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….
“First of all, let me say that the representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the management of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital are in high spirits, looking determined to discharge their mandates and obligations.
“But from our inspection here, the temporary isolation centre is really not in good shape, it doesn’t look ready to receive any patient, and I believe that this is something that we need to fix between now and tomorrow.
“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 to receive anyone who falls sick in this respect.
“I am sad, we are indeed actually sad, that of the N620 million that was supposed to be released to this place for fixing of everything here to NCDC, not a kobo has been released.
“We are going to get across to the Minister of Finance and all the other authorities that have anything to do with this to release this money latest between today and tomorrow.”
The Senate President, further lamented that Nigeria, despite being a country with the largest economy in Africa, is yet to have a completed Isolation Centre in any of the geo-political zones that would provide emergency response to disease outbreak in the country.
He charged those saddled with leadership responsibilities in the country to live up to expectations through timely discharge of their mandates and duties….
“So, we are going to ensure that the money is released, we are not going to put pressure. This is what they are supposed to do, and they must do it.
“I also believe that we should have a replication of the permanent site, we should be able to complete this and then have five others across the remaining geo-political zones of the country.
“Let’s spend money for our people, we waste money for 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.
“So, we should be prepared at all times. We had Ebola, SARS, now we have Coronavirus, we do not know what else will come, but we should be prepared and ready for any eventuality, and no investment is too much.
“The contractor said by the end of this month this should be ready, we pray it should be faster, but by the end of tomorrow, that temporary site must be ready.
“There’s no generator, no electricity, nothing. There were two or three air conditioners brought this morning, maybe because yesterday we said we were coming here. This is not acceptable.
“As leaders given responsibilities, we have to do what is right. This is unfortunate. So, the Ministry of Finance should release the N620 million between today and tomorrow.”
The Senate President assured Nigerians that the relevant committees of the Senate will carry out a follow-up on Thursday to ensure that work on the isolation centres begins and is completed.
“The Senate Committee on Health will come back tomorrow (Thursday), we want to see that temporary isolation centre fixed.
“We need to be committed, we need to be very serious, and this is the essence of our oversight, but because it is very important, we decided that the leadership of the Senate should lead this oversight,” Lawan said.
The Daily Mail of London reports
The coronavirus has mutated into at least two separate strains since the outbreak began in December, according to Chinese scientists.
Researchers say there are now two types of the same coronavirus infecting people – and most people seem to have caught the most aggressive form of it.
The team of experts from Beijing and Shanghai said 70 per cent of people have caught the most aggressive strain of the virus but that this causes such bad illness that it has struggled to spread since early January.
Now an older, milder strain seems to be becoming more common.
Knowing that the virus can mutate may make it harder to keep track of or to treat, and raises the prospect that recovered patients could become reinfected.
The experts cautioned that the study that discovered the mutation only used a tiny amount of data – 103 samples – so more research is needed, and another scientist added that it is normal for viruses to change when they jump from animals to humans.
The research was done by experts at Peking University in Beijing, Shanghai University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In their study of genes in 103 samples of the coronavirus, which is named SARS-CoV-2 and causes a disease called COVID-19, they revealed they had discovered two distinct versions of it, which they named L and S.
They claimed that around 70 per cent of patients have caught the L strain, which is more aggressive and faster-spreading than S.
But L has become less common as the outbreak has gone on, with it apparently struggling to spread since early January, while S has become more common.
S is less aggressive but is thought to be the first strain of the virus which made the jump into humans and is continuing to infect new patients.
Additional reports by Daily Mail of London