Declare state of emergency on coronavirus, Rep tells Buhari

*Decries govt’s poor response

By Ignatius Okorocha

Against the backdrop of daily rise in the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus(COVID-19) in Nigeria, a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Simon Chukwuemeka Atigwe, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, issue a proclamation of a state of emergency on the pandemic in the country.

Atigwe said the call by the federal government has become necessary to prepare Nigerians for tougher measures to curtail the ongoing spread of the virus pandemic that is capable of creating panic among the populace, especially the illiterates.

Recall that minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed had at briefing on Monday in Abuja, said the federal government might unveil new measures, including the use of military and the Police to trace over 1, 300 contacts of victims who have already dissolved into the society and yet to be traced.

But Atigwe noted in a statement made available to newsmen that emergency declaration would make earlier precautionary measures to stem the infections rate like banning large gatherings of over 50 persons, sporting events and closing of schools, among others more effective.

The lawmaker, who represents Igbo-Eze North/Ndenu Federal Constituency of Enugu State explained that such action would not only help the government in halting the growing outbreak of coronavirus, but also in ensuring quick recovery of those already infected.

He specifically urged President Buhari to “immediately set up an emergency fund to help the country fight the COVID-19.”

This, he stressed would “further boost several efforts put in place to mitigate the impact of the epidemic on people’s health, their economic lives and that of the country.”

Besides, Atigwe called on the federal and state governments to provide standard equipment and facilities at the centres created to cater for coronavirus victims.

The lawmaker, who said the call had become imperative as confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise almost on daily basis, also stressed the need for the establishment of testing centres in all the 774 local government across the country with a view to showing adequate preparation to handle any further spread of the disease.

“There is need for federal government to do a little more, beyond closing of airports, schools and sporting event, among other measures. The government should make the establishment of testing centres in all local government a top priority.

“The non-availability of testing centres in the entire South East and the North before now is not good enough for the country and there is need for adequate preparation by the government in every part of the country.

“The National Assembly will be willing to approve fund for the federal government to establish the centres and their continued upgrading to the required standards”

“Also, standard isolation centres should be built in all states with the support of the Federal Ministry of Health. Containment is very cheap than cure,” he stressed.

The lawmaker noted that since the first confirmed case of the pandemic of COVID-19 in Nigeria was announced on February 27, 2020, when an Italian citizen in Lagos tested positive for the virus, caused by SARS-CoV-2, it has continued to spread to many states leading to even death of one person

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