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A Nigerian Diocese Avails Pastoral Centre to the State as COVID-19 Isolation Facility

Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza addressing journalists during the Press Briefing in Yola.

The Catholic Diocese of Yola in Nigeria has made available its Pastoral Center to the State of Adamawa to be used as a facility to isolate people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“The church decided to make available the one hundred rooms pastoral center behind Saint Peter's Minor seminary to the government as its contribution in the fight against coronavirus in the event that it spread in the state,” Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza told journalists at a press briefing in Yola Wednesday, April 15.

Bishop Mamza said the facility will be made available to the state government for the isolation and treatment of suspected cases whenever they need it, the Catholic Broadcast Commission of Nigeria (CBCN) reported.

According to CBCN, Wednesday’s press briefing was “to clear the air on the confusion that the church offered Saint Peter’s Minor seminary to serve as an isolation center whenever the state records cases of the diseases.”

Nigeria has reported at least 373 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 99 patients have recovered and 11 have died of the disease that has claimed more than 133,101 lives globally.

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Some of the measures the Government has put in place to contain the spread of the disease include the closure of all airports to international flights, a restriction on the number of people at any public gatherings, a two-week lockdown of the country’s largest city, Lagos, neighboring Ogun state and the political capital city, Abuja, among other restrictions.

In March, Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri imposed a mandatory 14 days stay-at-home order on workers on Grade Levels 1 to 14 in both private and public sectors to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Fintiri said that it is part of government responsibility to protect its citizens and his government would do all within its power to keep citizens safe and protect everyone from contracting the deadly Coronavirus, Sun News Online reported.

Bishop Mamza during the press briefing explained that when Government announced partial lockdown in the state, the Catholic Church decided to make available the one hundred rooms in the pastoral center Yola behind Saint Peter’s seminary to Government as its contribution in the fight against the virus in the state in the event that it spread to Adamawa.

The 50-year-old Nigerian Prelate commended Governor Ahmadu Fintiri for relaxing the lockdown across the state and called on people in the state to reciprocate the gesture by being law abiding pointing out that they should not panic as the state Government seems ready to tackle any case of the disease.

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According to CBCN, the Local Ordinary of Yola stressed that managing coronavirus pandemic is a collective responsibility as the virus does not have respect for religion, tribe or political learning of any person.

He urged religious leaders to intensify prayers against the disease.

Bishop Mamza further appealed to people in the state to be their “Brother’s keeper by sharing what they have with the needy, stressing that such assistance should have no boundary.”

“I also want to make a passionate plea to the wealthy individuals and corporate bodies to assist vulnerable persons as this is the time people needed help the most,” he said.

Bishop Dami Mamza maintained that people should abide by Government regulations on preventing coronavirus such as avoiding crowds and observing social distancing as well as regular washing of hands and maintaining personal hygiene.

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The move by the leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Yola adds to that of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria who recently granted their country’s task force overseeing the pandemic “full access to” all health facilities, which the Catholic Church owns.

Besides the availing of Catholic-run health facilities, the Bishops availed a medical personnel in the person of Dr Emmanuel Okechukwu, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria’s national Health Secretary, who is to serve as “the liaison person to the Catholic Health facilities in the country.”