To decide on Resumption of workers in GL12 and below
By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: The federal government has expressed commitment to accelerating the validation of a locally made Covid-19 test kit for use in molecular laboratories and treatment centres in the country.
Minister of state, Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora stated this on Monday in Abuja during a briefing by the Presidential Taskforce PTF on Covid-19.
“On the development of a rapid PCR-based test by the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research NIMR, I think it is just a matter of how soon the funding is available. I do know that NIMR is reaching out to everywhere that it can reach out to, even to PTF, Central Bank and to some other people in the private sector. You would recall that the seed money to carry out that project was given by a private foundation. So, it is something that we need and efforts are being made across board to making it available particularly at the point of care.
“The NIMR officials are working hard in that regard. I cannot give you a time element but what I know is that efforts are being made to fast track that process to ensure that it is available for the use of Nigeria and Nigerians”, he said.
The PTF had on September 29 announced that a Nigerian medic, Dr. Chika Onwuamah had developed a Covid-19 test kit, the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA), which is safer and ten times cheaper than the Polymerase Chain Reaction PCR test currently being used in the country.
Mamora had said the test kit could give results in less than 40 minutes.
“It is the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA) which can be performed by low skilled personnel with minimum training. This test which is ten times cheaper than the PCR can be deployed for point of care detection and surveillance. The technique which was developed by Dr. Chika Onwuamah will be deployed for use as soon as it is validated by the relevant agencies of the Ministry for specificity and sensitivity.
“I commend the Management of NIMR led by prof. Salako and particularly Dr. Onwuamah for this laudable breakthrough. I also extend the appreciation of Government to the FATE Philanthropy Coalition for COVID-19 (FPCC) Support Fund for funding the project. Government will continue to support every genuine initiative that contributes to our response plan”, the minister had said.
National coordinator of the taskforce, Dr Sani Aliyu on his part frowned at the low level of compliance with the wearing of face masks in government offices and other public places.
He however said the PTF has entered into discussions with the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to determine a suitable time to allow federal workers on Grade Level 12 and below resume work.
He said; “We will be rolling out details of the next phase of the response on Thursday. We are still in discussions with the office of the Head of Service and over the next few days we will take a decision. But we also need to clear with Mr President and get the necessary approval. We remain very concerned about the level of compliance particularly with wearing face masks in offices including government offices and to the PTF, this is really not acceptable and we will be reaching out to the heads of MDAs to emphasize this point.
“If all civil servants are going to come back to work, we expect a hundred percent compliance with the wearing of face masks in government offices as well as commercial premises and other public places”.
Earlier, Chairman of the Taskforce and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha said the PTF is glad that the economy is opening up the more, but warned that “as we continue to study developments in Europe and other parts of the world, no nation can be said to be immune to a possible second wave if the guidelines and protocols are not adhered to strictly. Nigerians need to anticipate this and prepare. Our hope and prayers are that it shall never happen”.
He said before this week runs out, the PTF shall unveil to Nigerians the next steps regarding the remaining phase of the eased lockdown.
“As you were informed last week, findings and recommendations have been compiled and would be presented to Mr. President in the 8th Interim Report, shortly.
“The debate about the safe reopening of schools has dominated the space of conversation by concerned citizens and parents. We wish to reiterate that federating units have the responsibility for determining the dates and modalities for the safe reopening while the Federal Government provides the guidelines.
“The PTF and relevant MDAs have made appreciable progress in the discussions with the European Union over flight restrictions and entry of Nigerian nationals and holders of long-term Schengen visas into the territory. We hope to make a very favourable announcement on this, very soon”, he stated.