By GRACE AUDU, Abuja –
In a bid to contain and ultimately eradicate the Coronavirus pandemic in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration has embarked on several measures, including scaling up capacity, ensuring compliance to health advisory and ensuring readiness of various actors to tackle COVID-19.
Some of the major actions undertaken by the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, include: Ensuring early tracking of suspected carriers and their contacts; Adequate provision and equipping of new Isolation Centres and expanding the capacity of existing ones and; Provision of additional bed space and equipping of the primary isolation center at Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital with a newly acquired 350KvA generator set already installed.
Others are: Ensuring other hospitals, including Asokoro General Hospital, Garki Hospital and Karu and Zuba General Hospitals have been provided with adequate bed spaces and medical equipment to handle COVID-19 cases; and On-going training of 300 Nurses, 100 Doctors, 15 Pharmacists, 137 Laboratory scientists and 100 Support Staff.
Plans have also been made for the provision of more COVID-19 Testing centres in collaboration with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Currently, the FCT has 2 centers (NCDC testing Center and Mogadishu Cantonment Testing Center). The goal is to provide 5 more, which will bring the total to 7.
According to the Chairman, FCT Abuja Ministerial Expert Advisory CommitteeDr. Aliyu Modibbo, plans are also underway to increase the number of Sample Collection Centers in order to increase turnaround and response times.
Following a meeting held with political leaders in the FCT, the Minister urged them to use their existing structures, within all the communities to sensitize and inform the general public on health precautions, self isolation and safety measures to take during this time.
At the meeting, the Minister noted that individual effort and community participation are key elements to our collective success.
Present at the meeting were the FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu; Senator Phillip Aduda, Senator representing the FCT; Hon. Micah Jiba representing AMAC Bwari Federal Constituency; Hon. Hassan Sokodabo, representing, Kuje, Kwali Gwagwalada and Abaji Federal Constituency; the FCT Chairmen of APC and PDP, the FCT Commissioner of police; other security chiefs as well as senior members of the FCTA bureaucracy led by the Permanent Secretary, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa. Similar meetings were also held with religious leaders in order to get their buy-in and also cascade the sensitization to their followership particularly against the backdrop of the enforcement of the Presidential directive on the cessation of movement in the FCT.
Thus, in a bid to stem the spread of the Coronavirus, the Minister, after an emergency security meeting which was attended by the heads of the various military formations, paramilitary agencies and senior administrative staff of the FCTA, directed all organs of the FCT Security Services and other government agencies to ensure that all entry and exit points of the FCT and by extension, other satellite towns, are manned by relevant officials to ensure that everybody stays home. He also mandated the closure of recreation centres, places of worship, markets, amongst others in line with the Federal Government’s directive.
The Minister constituted five Enforcement Teams to ensure compliance of already laid down COVID-19 containment strategies.
In addition to these efforts, there is an on-going mass enlightenment campaign that cuts across all area councils of the FCT. The aim is to educate people on the need to observe basic preventative measures as advised by the World Health Organisation and medical professionals.
It is worthy to also mention the contribution of the private sector in the fight against COVID-19. In this regard, the FCT Minister received a N500M donation from the United Bank for Africa (UBA), through the Vice chairman of UBA, Ambassador Joe Keshi, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Abuja.
Part of the contributions of the private sector include the on-going work on a five-story building in FCT that can serve as an isolation and treatment facility for about five hundred COVID-19 patients, should the need arise. The Idu Isolation Center is currently being outfitted with the necessary healthcare equipment by a private construction firm and would be ready soon. These are some of the many efforts being extended by the private sector to the FCT Administration.
Chairman of the FCT Medical Advisory Sub-Committee, Dr Ejike Orji, also confirmed that plans have been put in place by the Administration to supply more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers to ensure the safety of medical staff on the frontline.
Modibbo, in a statement on Monday, enjoined residents of FCT to support the efforts of the Minister and the FCTA by abiding by health regulations as advised by health care professionals and maintaining the FGN’s order to stay at home.
They should also rest assured that nothing is spared to ensure their safety during this period of uncertainty, the statement said.