Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has donated medical equipment and supplies worth €80,000 to Nigeria to assist in the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, made the disclosure at Friday’s daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic, held at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) in Abuja.
According to him, the Nigerian Permanent Representative at the United Nations (UN) in Vienna, Austria, secured the donation on behalf of the country.
Onyeama also assured that government would be willing to evacuate Nigerians abroad who wish to return home as a result of the pandemic, adding that the ministry had sent words across to embassies to ascertain how many Nigerians would indicate interest.
“Our Permanent Representative to the UN in Vienna has been able to secure from the International Atomic Energy Agency a donation of 80,000 Euros worth of medical equipment and supplies to assist in our Covid19 response” he said.
On Nigerians willing to to return home, Onyeama said “we have sent communications to all our Embassies and Missions to ascertain if and how many Nigerians want to return home because of COVID19.
“As soon as we collate the numbers, we will start looking at evacuation modalities where necessary”, he said.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said Nigeria was being restricted by both finance and infrastructure on testing expectations.
This is even as he announced the that number of testing sites in Nigeria had increased to eight.
He, however, emphasised the need to balance the importance of both speed and accuracy in the process of testing for COVID-19.
“We must not raise testing expectations to unrealistic limits. We’re limited not just by funds or infrastructure; our biggest limitation is actually personnel – people who have already been trained in molecular diagnostics. You cannot train people overnight.
“One more testing lab has been added to Nigeria’s COVID-19 test network. The new laboratory is the Biosecurity Facility in Lagos State; so Lagos now has 3 laboratories. Later today we will activate a laboratory in Abuja, and then Kano will be next.
“We must test for COVID-19 quickly without compromising on standards. As much as speed is important, accuracy is also important and we have to find a balance”, he said.
The DG NCDC also reported that Nigeria recorded its largest number of positive cases on Thursday, adding “we also tested our largest number of cases ever yesterday”.
Also speaking at the briefing the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, gave more clarification on flight operations during the restriction period.
He explained that cargo flights will continue during the period, but they must front-load packing lists, adding that oil and gas industry operational flights, carrying personnel and equipment, are exempted from flight restrictions.