Private Sector Joins Forces With NCDC as Nigeria Battles COVID-19

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) through its Director-General, Chikwe Ihekweazu, recently called on the private sector to support the Centre as Nigeria battles the scourge of the global Coronavirus pandemic. In response, a number of organisations have lent their support by donating funds, critical medical equipment and infrastructure.

Guaranty Trust Bank erected and donated a 100-bed fully equipped Isolation Centre in Onikan to the Lagos State Ministry of Health (LSMOH). Dangote Foundation donated trucks to aid the NCDC’s logistics and operations. On its part, United Bank for Africa (UBA) has pledged N5 billion for relief support across Africa through its foundation, while sector groups such as the Nigeria Oil & Gas industry have embarked on an industry-wide collaboration under the leadership of the NNPC Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, to combat the pandemic and its attendant impact.

While receiving the Isolation Facility on behalf of the Lagos State Government, the Executive Governor, Babajide Sanwoolu, expressed his appreciation to individuals and corporate bodies who have assisted the government to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

“My appreciation also goes to individuals and corporate bodies who have reached out and assisted us in different ways. We are all in this together, and together we shall prevail,” the Governor enthused.

On Saturday, March 28, the NCDC through its Twitter handle announced that it had also received support from some telecommunication companies which will go a long way towards ensuring that mobile users receive verified information on COVID-19. Media reports revealed that one of the telecommunication firms, MTN Nigeria, provided the centre with tools it required to scale-up its critical response system, such as 1,200 SIMs preloaded with N100,000 airtime and 3GB data monthly for an initial period of six months; 38 toll-free lines (premium numbers) at no cost to the NCDC; 38 Smart Feature phones for the toll-free lines; 10 MiFi devices and daily COVID-19 prevention messages to all MTN subscribers.

The support package which has been valued at over N700 million is essential for NCDC’s Surveillance Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System (SORMAS) tool which helps to digitalise disease surveillance through capturing, collating, and displaying data for prompt decision making. The company had earlier announced its Yello Hope package, which is aimed at supporting its customers and government in the battle against Covid-19.

According to the Chief Corporate Services Officer, MTN Nigeria, Tobechukwu Okigbo, the company will continue to engage with the government and relevant stakeholders in pursuit of new ways to leverage their core expertise, technology and infrastructure to support the government’s efforts to keep the citizens safe. ‘In the next few days, we believe that the various conversations around partnerships will start yielding visible results,” Mr. Okigbo added.

Consequently, General Muhammadu has directed a lockdown on all movements in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states for a period of two weeks starting from Monday, March 30, 2020.

“Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, I am directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020. This restriction will also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two States. All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period.” President Buhari added.

Presently, there are a total of 139 infected persons in Nigeria, according to information from the NCDC. Lagos has the highest number of cases with 82, Abuja has 28, eight cases in Oyo, while Osun has 5, Ogun 4 and Kaduna 3 cases respectively. The states of Bauchi, Edo, and Enugu all have two respectively; while Rivers, Benue, and Ekiti have one case each.