Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The management of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), has assured parents and guardians that their children and wards will be adequately protected against contracting the deadly Coronavirus, as they resume orientation activities at the various orientation camps across the country.
Director General of NYSC, Director-General Bridgadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, who gave the assurances during a media parley in Abuja on Monday, reiterated that adequate measures have been put in place to safeguard the prospective corps members.
He further revealed that a total number of 66,000 prospective corps members will be mobilised for the three streams, announcing that they will commence from November 10 to 30, December 3 to 22, 2020 and January 5 to 25, 2021.
“I wish to thank the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for their support and guidance that led to the approval of resumption of Orientation activities. I also appreciate the NCDC for donating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worth millions of Naira for usage in all our orientation camps, training of staff and corps members and COVID-19 safety protocols. This gesture will go a long way in enhancing the success of efforts towards safe conduct of the orientation course.
“Our gratitude also goes to the victims support fund for the donation of 60,000 PPE and other materials to the scheme. I want to assure you that all the items donated will be utilised for the intended purpose?
“I wish to assure Nigerians that all our children, who will participate in the forthcoming Orientation exercise, will be adequately protected from the Coronavirus. I enjoin both serving and prospective corps members to avoid the use of the Social media for misrepresentation of facts on issues concerning the scheme,” he noted.
On the measures the management of the scheme have put in place, the NYSC DG said: “We have already put in place essential measures in all orientation camps nationwide in line with the protocols for the safety of Corps members and other member of the camp community.
“The measures, which have been endorsed by the NCDC during its inspection of the camps include; testing of prospective corps member and corps officials for COVID-19 by NCDC officials before admission into the orientation camps. Provision of hand washing points with adequate supply of water, liquid soap and sanitizer at strategic locations in all the camps.
“Limiting to a manageable size, the population of participants of each stream of orientation orientation exercise. Spacing of hostel beds in line with the prescribed physical distancing rule and for improved ventilation. Arrangement for staggered reporting of prospective corps members to camp and increase in the number of registration points. Compulsory usage of face masks by all persons in the orientation camps and strict observance of COVID-19 protocols in all camp activities,” he enumerated.
In his goodwill message, the Director General NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that apart from conducting a compulsory test to the prospective corps members, the foreign participants must undergo compulsory isolation before accessing the camp.
Admitting that it has been challenging endorsing the reopening of the NYSC camp, he said: “I am very excited that despite the constraints of the pandemic, we have found a way, collaboratively, to ensure that NYSC orientation camp across the country can reopen safely.
“This has been in consultation with NYSC authorities and the PTF-COVID-19 are working very hard to facilitate the safe conduct of the 2020 NYSC orientation camp activities.
“Our corps members are young, mobile populations, who have been shown by our social data to have the lowest risk perception across age demographics however, epidemiological data has also shown a high number of infection among young people.
“Following our review of lessons learned thus far in response to the pandemic, we have worked with relevant stakeholders and partners to develop guidelines for safe reopening of our economy
“This include providing guidance for businesses, schools, airports and NYSC orientation camps to to reopen safely and limit the spread of the virus. Over the past few weeks, we have worked with colleagues from NYSC, National Orientation Agency, State Ministries of Health and relevant personnel to introduce measures to limit the risk of COVID-19 exposure to corp members during the orientation exercise.
Readiness assessments have been conducted across NYSC camps to ensure that all camps meet the key performance indicators (KPIs) of COVID-19 preventive measures and are ready for safe opening.
This includes a compulsory screening test to be carried out for all Corps members, officials and vendors on arrival at the orientation camps using an antigen-based rapid diagnostic test kit approved by the World Health Organisation,” he said.
On the testing the NCDC DG said: “We will carry out the tests free of charge. And as for the foreign participants, we all know that in line with the safety protocols on returnees going into compulsory isolation, it is expected that the foreign participants must have returned and isolated before now.”