Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed said yesterday that government would not allow families of coronavirus victims claim their remains for burial.
Mohammed, speaking during an interview session with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, said such corpses are delicate hence the Federal Government has assumed responsibility for their handling and burial.
He said: “Coronavirus is very dangerous and contagious. There is no medicine for it yet and it is not just capable of killing, overwhelming health care system, it will destroy the economy.
“In some countries, they are putting dead bodies in big refrigerators because the morgues have filled up.
“Nigerians should not forget that this is not the type of corpses that can be claimed for burial; it must be handled by the Ministry of Health.”
The minister, who is a member of the Presidential Task Force on the Control of Coronavirus, said the Federal Government had advised state governors to provide at least 300-bed space facilities in their respective states in case of an upsurge in the coronavirus pandemic.
He was optimistic that government would use the COVID-19 advantage and experience to further develop the health facilities in the country.
“We pray sincerely that we will not fall into the same error after we fought Ebola, and we relaxed,” he said.
“We intend to use the opportunity of this coronavirus to improve our health care system at the federal, state and local government levels.
“Nobody ever thought that what is worse than Ebola will come. The successes we have achieved so far are through technology, sharing data with WHO, US Centre for Disease Control.
“The governors must not wait for a deluge of patients before making the preparation.
“We are not asking them to build hospitals, but if they have facilities that can be converted such as hotels, conference centres, let us know and we will come and accredit them.
“We will tell them what equipment they would need and what type of training we are going to give as support.”
The minister warned that the Federal Government could extend the 14-day lockdown if the restrictions in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) continued to be violated.
“If we don’t behave ourselves, there is a likelihood that the lockdown will be extended. But if we behave ourselves, there might not be an extension, and I hope we do so.
“If we stay at home for two weeks and we are doing everything we are supposed to do, we should be able to effectively contain the disease.
“Therefore, my appeal to Nigerians is that they should obey the directive on social distancing, personal hygiene and shun gatherings; after two weeks, we will resume our normal life.
“But if they think it is a joke, then we may have to stay at home more than the two weeks.”
Mohammed said the Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus (COVID-19) was yet to receive any money from the funds donated by the private sector towards the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
When his attention was drawn to calls by some Non-Governmental Organisation for a probe of the task force over the disbursement of monies gathered from the donations, the minister said: “We have not received even one kobo. People want us probed for how we spent monies we have not even seen.
“I can say without any fear that as of this moment, the task force has not received a kobo from anybody.
“The only money we will be able to account for is whatever money we receive from the federal government.
“The Nigeria Economy Group-led private sector has said it is not going to give a penny to the task force; it says it will only raise the money and ask us what our needs are.”