A socio-cultural group, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, has pledged its support to the federal and state governments in achieving accelerated nationwide testing of citizens for COVID-19.
The forum, in a statement issued on Friday by its President, Mr Akin Malaolu, also pledged to support government in sensitising citizens on ways of quickly eradicating the virus in the country.
Malaolu said that the decision was reached after wide consultations with experts on how to ensure the actualisation of Nigeria’s exit plan from the global pandemic.
He said, after President Muhammadu Buhari’s nationwide broadcast, the forum made wide consultations with experienced epidemiologists and strategists over the exit plan from COVID-19 by the government.
“The general observation borders on our preparedness to do more sensitisation in all communities across the country by partnering the National Orientation Agency (NOA) as well as the state and local governments.
“The strategy must be by physical appearances, due to the nature of our communal life and the duration must be 18 months, in the first instance, starting immediately,” he said.
According to Malaolu, to get out of the lockdown, there must be adequate sensitisation to prevent the country from returning to lockdown, which, he said, might be difficult to exit from.
He added that all health agencies must continue to be 100 percent committed to national interest by ensuring that smiles came back to everybody’s faces.
Malaolu said that the forum’s intervention towards stemming the impact of the virus was key, especially as the country had slipped into community transmission of COVID-19.
“Our approach to ameliorate the spread is through testing, and this should form a central part of any response to the epidemic.
“We recommend the establishment of a pilot drive through testing centres in major cities that can test about 500 people per day.
“When these testing centres are replicated across the country, it will lead to massive testing, isolation and management of cases, resulting in exit from the lockdown and this will be effective in checking the COVID 19 virus.
Malaolu said that the forum was available for further discussion and detailed proposal on successful implementation of massive testing of the pandemic and timely reconciliation with the coordinating agency of government.
“We must accept the fact that the only exit strategy from the lockdown is to develop a cure and vaccine for COVID-19, but the cure will take a minimum of 90 days, while WHO– certified vaccine can take up to 18 months.
“WHO recommends the conduct of mass testing as well as isolation and management of positive cases.
“Our offer includes engagement of qualified medical officers as well as technical and administrative officers from across the country, while more hands will be diligently trained.
“Appointments will be booked in advance, using our strategy and we will give preference to those with the symptoms, the elderly, the pregnant women and those who suffer chronic diseases,” he said.
He said that the forum had the capacity to conduct tests within five minutes, including temperature check and nasal swab, while samples would be sent to NCDC testing centres for analysis.
While expressing the forum’s determination to play its leadership role to help in recovering Nigeria from COVID-19, Malaolu commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s courage at this particular period.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq