By Peter Ajayi Dada
Catholic News Service
LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — Nigeria’s Catholic hospitals and clinics can all be used to treat COVID-19 patients, the country’s bishops told the presidential task team set up to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The 435 hospitals and clinics in Nigeria’s dioceses and archdioceses will be made available along with other services that may be needed, a bishops’ delegation, led by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja, told government representatives in the capital, Abuja.
On behalf of Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of Benin City, president of the Nigerian bishops’ conference, Archbishop Kaigama gave the addresses of all Catholic health facilities to task team leaders at the April 8 meeting.
Dr. Emmanuel Okechukwum, who heads up the bishops’ health department, will liaise between the team and the church’s hospitals and clinics.
The church has the structures, track records and the reach to be able to help in the government’s efforts to treat patients and curb the virus’ spread in the West African country, Archbishop Kaigama said.
Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government, thanked the bishops and appealed to church leaders to disseminate information on prevention through personal hygiene and to urge compliance with government directives on staying at home and social distancing.
According to World Health Organization figures April 9, Nigeria has 276 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with six deaths.
A two-week lockdown on Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub with a population of 20 million people, began April 1.
The restrictions ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari also cover Ogun state, next to Lagos.