COVID-19: Senate faults policy on testing by private labs only



The Senate on Tuesday faulted the policy adopted by the Presidential Task Force ( PTF) on COVID-19 which allowed only private laboratories to carry out tests on intending travellers abroad.

The measure according to the upper chamber is detrimental to average Nigerians who are being forced to pay N75, 000 for such tests.

Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation Smart Adeyemi said this at a joint Senate Committee on Aviation and Health interactive session held in Abuja.

The meeting was with stakeholders in the aviation and health sectors on safety measures in the wake of commencement of international and domestic flights in the country .

Adeyemi lamented that the amount was too high and should be brought down while public health institutions laboratories should be equipped to carry out such tests.

“People are not finding things easy outside there as a result of way and manner COVID-19 pandemic is being fought in the country.

“As representatives of the people, reports reaching us indicate revolt against government in December if drastic actions are not taken between now and then to make things easier,” he said.

He, however, urged the minister and the PTF national coordinator, to enlarge the scope of laboratory testing for the pandemic by including the public ones and ensure reduction in the cost of testing.

A member of the committee, Sen. Biodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti), took up both the Minister of Health , Dr Osagie Ehanire and PTF National Coordinator , Dr Sani Aliyu on the usefulness of face masks in Nigeria based on realities on ground.

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She said that based on what she saw in many communities in Ekiti recently, residents had jettisoned its usage.

“When I visited some communities in Ekiti last week, many people didn’t put on the face masks.

“These are clear signs that methods and approaches being used to fight the pandemic should be re- assessed and changed since the pandemic for reasons yet to be scientifically established, is far less potent here than it is elsewhere in the world.

Dr Aliyu said that reasons for success story in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic included demography and aggressive nature of African countries against the pandemic, among others.

According to him, though the factor of poverty as part of the success story against COVID-19 in Nigeria is controversial, it is generally believed that the pandemic gets weakened in crowded and stuffy areas.

“Aggressive nature of African countries against the pandemic also helped tremendously in containing the spread of the pandemic in Nigeria and many of the African Countries,” he said.

The Chairman of the Joint Committee, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC Kwara), said that the committee was expecting action plans from the minister and the PTF within wo weeks.

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