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Coronavirus: Health minister not aware of ‘hazard allowance’ for health workers

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Nigeria’s Health Minister Osagie Ehanire has said he is not aware if health workers treating the dreaded coronavirus patients are being paid hazard allowance.

The minister made the disclosure during a meeting the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and the leadership of the National Assembly on Thursday, a video published by Channels TV on YouTube shows.

“I am not aware of it, it is a standard job they do every day,” Ehanire said in response to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila’s question on whether the health workers would get a special allowance for combating the virus,

“Because screening is what they do every day.”

Obvious pissed by the minister’s response, the speaker further probed, insisting on a direct answer to his question. But the minister said the health workers are just screening body temperature.

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He later acknowledged that he was not aware if the workers would be paid “hazard allowance”.

“It is not enough to say you don’t know, quite honestly. You dropped the ball there,” the speaker told the minister, insisting that he should be abreast of the health workers’ welfare.

To salvage the situation, the secretary to the federal government Boss Mustapha told the meeting that “every aspect” of the welfare of the health workers will be taken care in a “comprehensive package” that was being prepared by the government.

The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) said on its Twitter handle that the minister’s statement “smirks of recklessness”.

The association said the minister displayed a “gross insensitivity” to the plight of health workers who sacrifice daily and bear risk at the forefront of combatting Covid-19.

“We @nannm_nigeria Nigeria demands that @DrEOEhanire and his likes should leave the stage for those who know and who will not “drop the ball” on us,” NANNM said on Twitter.

As at 9:30 pm Nigerian time on Thursday, Nigeria’s coronavirus case was at 288, while 51 have been discharged with seven deaths

A breakdown of the cases according to states shows that Lagos presently have 158 cases, FCT- 54, Osun- 20, Edo- 12, Oyo- 11, Bauchi- 6, Akwa Ibom- 5, Ogun- 4, Kaduna- 5, Enugu- 2, Ekiti- 2, Rivers-2, Kwara- 2, Delta- 2. Benue- 1 Ondo- 1 and Katsina-1.

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The Nigerian government in a bid to contain the spread of the dreaded virus shut down Lagos State, Ogun State, and the capital city Abuja on Monday night. Other states have also set up some measures to curb the spread.

So far, three state governors and President Muhammadu Buhari Chief of State Abba Kyari are among the people infected by the virus.

The Nigerian government has also expressed that the country may experience “exponential” increase in coronavirus infections in “days ahead” if the contacts of confirmed cases are not tracked down quicker.

There have also been demands that the Nigerian government should motivate the health workers at the frontline by increasing their hazard allowance from the current N5,000 to N200,000.

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