Governor (Prince) Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State

Ogun clarifies position as parents protest over N25,000 COVID-19 test fee for students

*Ogun State Government to bear full costs of Coronavirus tests for public school students, parents/owners of private schools expected to take care of their students ─SA to Governor

*COVID-19 test in any of our 61 laboratories is free, says NCDC

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Following the recent protest by parents, the Ogun State Government of Nigeria has clarified its position on the COVID-19 testing for students in classes returning to schools ahead of their West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

Mrs. Ronke Soyombo, Special Adviser to Governor (Prince) Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State on Basic and Secondary Education, in a statement Sunday, August 2 said that the presentation of a COVID-19-free certificate by Senior Secondary (SS3) students would be a major requirement for allowing them into boarding schools across the state, as their schools are reopened from Monday.

The Special Adviser to Governor disclosed that state government is expected to bear the full costs of the COVID-19 tests for the students of government-owned schools while parents/owners of private schools are expected to take care of the fees for their students.

It is essential to remind the general public, particularly parents and operators in the education sector, of the government’s position after a protest was staged by parents of some of the students who presented themselves for the test over the alleged payment of N25,000 before the test could be carried out, she said.

Soyombo stated: “This is part of the measures being put in place to avoid community transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic amongst our children in the boarding facilities and invariably, the state as a whole.

“A key additional requirement is presentation of certificate of negative COVID-19 test before a student is admitted to the boarding facility in both public and private schools in the state.

The statement further noted that “all private school owners are also expected to ensure that all their boarding students are certified COVID-19 test negative before being admitted into their boarding facilities.

“To further assist the private schools, Ogun State Government has negotiated a huge discount in the cost of COVID-19 Test with some healthcare service providers.”

However, she noted that private school owners and parents are free to engage any other service provider of their choice as long as the service provider is certified by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as COVID-19 test service provider.

Soyombo enjoined parents and school owners to work together to ensure that health and safety of the students is of paramount consideration.

Earlier, parents of students in private secondary schools in Ogun State on Sunday protested against what they alleged as outrageous demand of N25,000 by healthcare facility for COVID-19 tests.

Ogun Government has insisted on certificate of negative COVID -19 tests for students in hostels to be admitted.

Nevertheless, parents and their wards in their hundreds, who visited the 54gene COVID-19 Mobile Lab located within the state-owned MTR Specialist Hospital, Abeokuta, the state capital, were confronted with alleged demand of N25,000 per student for Coronavirus test.

It was learnt that the angry parents wondered why the government should impose any levy on students of private schools while their colleagues in public schools were tested free.

They shut the gate of the hospital and brought all activities at the facility to a standstill.

Nobody was allowed to enter or exit the hospital, insisting their children should be tested free.

Dr. Kehinde Sanwo, one of the aggrieved reportedly decried the government’s purported discrimination, saying students are all children of the state and should be treated equally.

Sanwo, who is the Vice-Chairman, Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of the Taidob College, Asero, Abeokuta, said: “The parents here are good citizens of Ogun state which we are taxpayers. And it is so disheartening that we are here at the MTR hospital, the venue for covid-19 test.

“When we arrived we were told to pay N25, 000. Whereas, some people who arrived earlier paid nothing.

“So, we don’t know where the decision came from. Some of us have more than two children. Why this segregation?” He quipped.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that COVID-19 test in any of our 61 laboratories is free.

The disease control agency, which stated this Sunday via its verified Twitter account, explained that the scale-up of testing is essential in assessing the nation’s COVID-19 situation and coordinating response across the country.

NCDC’s tweet was said to have come up in connection with the controversy surrounding the COVID-19 tests to be conducted for SS3 students preparing for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in Ogun State.

Accordin to NCDC, the 61 NCDC facilities are located in 30 states across the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

These include State Specialist Hospital, Amachara in Abia State; Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Adamawa; Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Akwa Ibom; and Virology Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), in Lagos, among others.

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