By Rotimi Ijikanmi
From just two National Reference Laboratories, Nigeria now has over 100 public and private laboratories across all the states for the testing of COVID-19.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this at a media briefing on Monday in Lagos, said centres were also built in collaboration with states and the private sector to isolate and treat cases of COVID-19.
He said the Federal Government, through the Sustainable Production Pillar of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, had been encouraging local manufacturing companies to embark on the production of consumables.
The minister said local manufacturing companies were specifically encouraged to embark on production of face masks, ventilators, hand sanitisers and face shields.
To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy across all levels, the minister said the government unveiled the Economic Sustainability Plan to support families, small and medium enterprises and the manufacturing sector among others.
He said with the resurgence of the pandemic, President Muhammadu Buhari had extended the mandate of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 until the end of March, 2021.
He said the extension of the PTF mandate was as a result of the new surge in the number of cases of infected persons and the bid for vaccines.
The minister, who is also a member of PTF, gave an assurance of the administration’s untiring efforts to tame the pandemic and
Mohammed recalled that the Federal Government had launched an onslaught against the novel coronavirus which was imported into the country in February 2020.
He said the government mobilised all sectors and segments of the country for a sectoral approach to interrupt the transmission of the virus and curtail mortality.
Mohammed said the approach included expanding health infrastructure, building the capacity of health workers and mounting aggressive public sensitisation and community mobilisation against the spread of the virus.
To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, the minister said the Federal Government unveiled the Economic Sustainability Plan to support families, small and medium enterprises and the manufacturing sector among others.
He said the country had so far performed creditably well in the fight against COVID-19 through the deployment of resources, mobilisation and training of manpower and expansion of health infrastructure.
Mohammed enjoined Nigerians to strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols to prevent spread of the pandemic.
He said the media briefing, earlier scheduled for Dec. 29, 2020, was shifted in order for him not to breach the COVID-19 protocols.
“Many of you may not be aware that I represented Mr President at the inauguration of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou on Dec. 28, 2020.
“I returned to Nigeria the same day, but had to observe the mandatory seven-day quarantine which expired yesterday, Jan. 3, 2021,” he said.
He reiterated that while the Federal Government was not contemplating another lockdown because of possible effects on the economy, Nigerians should take responsibility in preventing the second wave of the pandemic. (NAN)