The Kaduna State government says it will soon commence mobile community testing for the COVID-19 in the state.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai disclosed this on Saturday while discussing some of the state’s strategies for combatting the virus on a special edition of The Platform – an annual programme organised by the Covenant Christian Center.
According to the governor, when the coronavirus broke out, the state had no single testing centre but it now currently has two, from which nearly 400 persons have been tested and plans are underway to expand testing capacity.
“When this thing broke out, we did not have a single testing centre in Kaduna State but today we have two working and so far, we’ve tested nearly 400 people,” the governor said.
“We hope to have a third one commissioned next week. The equipment was installed and we hope that the NCDC would certify it okay during the week.
“We are also bringing in mobile testing centres that can go into every part of the state and test people”.
The state currently has 35 cases of the virus and according to the governor who was the index case, (but has now fully recovered), the strategy of his government has been to ensure the safety of lives.
According to him, even if livelihood and the economy among other things would be affected, preserving the lives of residents from the virus remained a priority.
“We had a trilemma on what to prioritise. Would it be Lives, livelihood or liberty? We prioritised saving the lives of people,” he said.
“From day one, we decided that no matter what it costs us, we will do whatever we can to protect the people of Kaduna State.
“We’ll inconvenience people but apologise later, we’ll affect livelihoods negatively but apologise later and try to rebuild those livelihoods.
“The entire number of ICU beds in Nigeria at the onslaught of this pandemic was 350 for the entire country and in Kaduna, we just have about 20 ICU beds.
“So, how are we going to handle the situation if we have 1,000 people requiring treatment.
“So, our best strategy was to prevent the spread of the virus,” he stressed.
As part of that strategy, he said the government is currently building a permanent infectious disease hospital.
“The one we have is just 16 beds, we are building a 199 beds infectious diseases hospital which will be completed in the next eight weeks.
“We are building infectious diseases wards in each of our general hospitals in each of the 23 local governments which will be 20 to 30 beds in each of the local governments.”
For the health workers on the front lines of the COVID-19, the governor said an insurance cover of N5 million has been provided for families of any health worker who dies in the line of duty.
“We took extraordinary steps to get PPE’s for our health workers, we’ve also insured their lives to the tune of five million – anyone that dies in this process, their family would get N5 million and we have also disability insurance for those that get sick and can’t work,” El-Rufai said.
For the general public, especially the poor, he said food and other relief items are being distributed to them.
“We drew five million from the contingency fund of our 2020 budget and bought food items, packaged them and targeted nine urban local governments because most of those that are vulnerable are the urban poor because those that came from the urban areas, to the cities looking for work.
“We are distributing food of approximately N2billion to all the 23 local governments”.
The governor, however, admitted that there has been a challenge of identifying who the poor is, because there isn’t any database to determine that.
Community leaders had been appointed to determine that but according to the governor, the process didn’t yield accurate results.
He, therefore, noted that going forward, the state would determine the poorest in the state by using their phone recharge purchase records.
“We believe that anyone that anyone that spends less than N200 per month on buying recharge card for his phone is poor and will need this food intervention”.