The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire has revealed that the federal government has budgeted N620m to contain the dreaded coronavirus outbreak in the country.
This is coming just as the Senate has ordered screening of VIPs and chartered flight passengers’ wing of Nigerian airports, and said the situation is capable of importing coronavirus in the country.
Also, the Senate has directed the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), to urgently stop the exportation of surgical face-masks from Nigeria to Asia and other countries affected by the virus.
It further charged the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigerian Immigration Service and other relevant government authorities to strengthen health regulatory services in all entry ports across the country.
Ehanire said the special intervention fund is released to the federal ministry of health to also monitor and possibly detect the coronavirus.
He stated this on Thursday while appearing before the Senate committee on health. The interface was to brief lawmakers on the level of national preparedness to contain coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Ehanire maintained that with the intervention fund, the federal government is adequately prepared to ensure health security to foster economic stability.
He further revealed that already, the sum of N71 million has been released to the port health services to strengthen operations.
However, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Chairman Senate Committee on Health, while lamenting non-screening of VIPs, said the absence of health services at the private terminal could make for easy movement of infected persons into the country.
Consequently, the Senate has directed the Minister of health to quickly deploy health officials to the private tarmac so as to conduct screening of VIPs on a chartered flight.
On the stoppage of the exportation of surgical face-masks from Nigeria to Asia, the Senate considered a motion moved by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP – Anambra South).
In his motion, Ubah said: “Over the last three weeks, face-masks have become the most sought-after commodity in Nigeria with over 100 million face-masks being unpatriotically exported to Asia using the Murtala Mohammed Airport and Port Harcourt International Airport.”
“As at 5th of November, 2019, stores that usually sell 1 piece of face-mask for N10 now sell it for N80, while a pack consisting of 50 pieces has now inflated from N500 to N3,000; with a carton consisting of 40 packs also inflated from N20,000 to N120,000.
“It has now become a booming trade for illicit traders aided by airport officials in Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and Port Harcourt International Airport to unpatriotically export face-masks to China, India and other affected countries,” Ubah stated.