Retired Doctors, Nurses and Laboratory Scientists across the country have volunteered their services to the cause of fighting the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, pandemic spreading across states in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made this known in Abuja, when he appeared as guest on News Agency of Nigeria Forum.
Mr Mohammed said that the decision was reached when the Minister of Health, Dr. Osage Ehanire, met with the Nigerian Medical Association and other umbrella associations of the other health workers.
The minister, who was giving an update on the activities of the Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus, expressed government’s appreciation to the retired health workers.
“All retired medical doctors, nurses, and laboratory scientists have volunteered to help us in this fight and we are grateful.
“The beauty of having the personnel is that they need little or no training, they will just need refresher courses.
“We believe we are getting the necessary support from the public and private sectors.
“As at today, we have trained 150 medical personnel for contact tracing and 600 personnel to manage the facilities we have been able to identify here in Abuja,” he said.
The minister said that government was also getting the encouraging support of the World Health Organisation, WHO, with a member of staff of the global body in the presidential task force.
“We also get the consent of WHO in whatever we do and whichever strategy we adopt in fighting the pandemic,” he explained.
The minister said that the federal government had taken a lot of measures to cushion the effects of Covid-19 on Nigerians, recalling that on March 18, government reduced the price of petrol from N145 per litre to N125 per litre.
“That reduction went further down to N123.50 per litre few days back.
“Petrol is not just for transportation; many of us power our generators with petrol but the multiplier effect of high cost of petrol is that food stuff become more expensive because of the cost of transportation.
“Now that we have reduced the price of the petrol, we are indirectly trying to regulate and bring down the price of food stuff,” he said.
The minister recalled that in his nationwide broadcast, President Muhammadu Buhari gave a whole lot of measures to cushion the effect of the pandemic and lockdown on FCT, Lagos and Ogun States.
He said that the President directed a three-month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans as well as all Federal Government-funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.
Mr Mohammed said that interest rate for intervention fund had been slashed from nine to five per cent, while the CBN had put aside N50 billion fund to help SMEs.
He said that to cushion effect of the lockdown, satellite towns around Lagos and Abuja were being given relief materials while the vulnerable are being taken care of.
“For those receiving Conditional Cash Transfer monthly stipend, the President directed that they should be given two-month pay and also ordered more food given to those in the IDPs camps,” Mr Mohammed said.