Proprietors of private schools have rejected the plan by the federal government to convert their facilities to isolation centres for COVID-19 patients.
Speaking at the briefing of the presidential task force on COVID-19 on May 28, Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, asked schools and hotels to be prepared in the event of a shortage of bed spaces for patients.
“We need to continue increasing bed capacity to match the probable number of patients so that we do not experience horrific scenes of bed space shortages seen in some European hospitals,” he said
“In event of overflow, we can require hotels and school dormitories to be prepared for level 1 (Quarantine) and level 2 Isolation (of COVID-19 positive with zero or mild symptoms), to free hospital beds to be dedicated to level 3, (moderate to severe cases) and level 4, (high dependency and intensive care unit).”
However, in a statement on Sunday, the private school owners under the aegis of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), rejected the the idea.
Yomi Otubela, NAPPS president, said: “I don’t know how many of the western countries whose methods we are copying use schools as isolation centres; I have not seen any.
“We should copy and copy rightly. Schools are meant for children and we should not use them for a purpose that will make them abandon schooling.
“Private school owners reject this idea. In fact, private schools should be considered for reopening because it is easy to maintain physical distancing than in public schools because they are usually crowded.
“Private school owners will not and never allow the use of their facilities for isolation centres.”
He urged the government to consider converting large expanses of land and abandoned facilities as isolation centres.
“There are large expanses of land and moribund hospital facilities that the government can quickly fix and use for isolation centres,” Otubela said.
According to the ministry of health, as of May 27, 2020, Nigeria had a total of 112 treatment and isolation centres with 5,324 bed spaces.