President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that all recently retired staff of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should return work.
Mr Buhari gave the directive in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle @MBuhari, late Thursday evening.
The directive is meant to boost the manpower at the public health agency which is coordinating the national response of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
He also gave other directives to help the country combat the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
Mr Buhari said he has been receiving updates on the country’s response to Covid-19.
“Over the last few days I have received extensive briefings on the state of the nation as it relates to the Covid-19 pandemic, from the relevant Federal Government agencies as well as the Lagos State Government,” he said.
Since the outbreak of the disease in Nigeria, Mr Buhari, unlike the presidents of many other countries, has not publicly addressed the nation.
Mr Buhari said he has “directed the NCDC to draft all its recent retirees back into service to beef up our manpower as we respond to the pandemic.”
He added that all staff of the agency undergoing training or on foreign assignments should return to the country.
“Furthermore, all NCDC staff and experts who are away on training or international assignments are to return immediately.
“Already the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) are conducting an evacuation mission to bring back some of our specialists in Central Africa, to enable them support the national response,” he said.
The directive is expected to improve the workforce of the NCDC.
The Director-General of NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, had said last week that the agency had insufficient manpower and was maximising what it has.
He said the agency is not only working to battle Covid-19 but also other diseases like the Lassa fever which has caused about 176 deaths across the country.
He, however, said for Covid-19, a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at level 3, continues to coordinate the national response activities.
Currently, Nigeria has recorded 65 cases of Covid-19.
Out of the 65 cases, three cases have been discharged and one death recorded. So far, Lagos tops the chart of states with the highest numbers of cases (44). This is followed by FCT – 11, Ogun – three, Bauchi – two, while Ekiti, Oyo, Edo, Osun, and Rivers have one case each.
The government has also intensified contact tracing to trace those who might have been exposed to the virus from infected people. This has become necessary to contain community spread of the disease in the country.