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Senate urges PTF to reduce high cost of testing

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Sanni Onogu, Abuja

THE Senate on Tuesday called on the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to ensure a drastic reduction in the cost of testing for the virus by private- owned laboratories.

Chairman of the Senate Joint Committee on Health and Aviation Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe (Kwara Central) made the appeal during an interview session with members of PTF on COVID-19, comprising the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the National Coordinator on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, among others.

Members of the committee lamented the high cost of testing for the virus by private laboratories put at N75,000.00.

Oloriegbe urged Ehanire and Aliyu to enlarge the scope of testing for the virus by including public laboratories to bring down the cost.

He said panel expects response action plans from the minister and the PTF within the next two weeks.

The committee members admonished relevant stakeholders in the country not to adopt measures that might be disastrous to the nation’s economy by replicating a western-style of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West), in his remarks at the interactive session, said though based on realities on the ground, COVID-19 is real but not potent in Nigeria and in many other African countries.

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He said based on the present reality, it would be wrong for stakeholders in the country to swallow hook, line and sinker measures being adopted to fight COVID-19 in Europe, America, China and others.

“There is something in us as Africans that is not in them in Europe and America, which made COVID-19 not to be disastrous here as it is there.

“In light of this, measures that are detrimental to the livelihood and well-being of Nigerians should be avoided, so as not to kill the Nation’s economy,” he said.

Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South) took up both Ehanire and PTF National Coordinator on the usefulness of face masks in Nigeria based on realities on the ground.

She said based on what she saw in many communities in Ekiti State last week, residents have stopped the usage of face masks.

She asked the PTF’s National Coordinator reasons behind the success story in Nigeria.

Aliyu said the three reasons already identified are: poverty, demography and aggressive nature of African countries against the pandemic.

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

“Demographically, only 3% of Nigerians are above the age of 65 as against 20%, 18% etc, of such populations in Europe and America, where death casualties were high.”

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