Aliko Dangote

Access Bank Plc, Nigeria’s biggest lender by assets, is teaming up with Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote to provide treatment and isolation centers across Africa’s most populous nation as it braces for the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Dangote also sought government’s support to have private laboratories test alongside government centers to reduce the waiting period for suspected COVID-19 cases.

The initiative, which is called the Coalition Against Coronavirus (COCAVID), will involve the erection of fully-equipped medical tents to house patients and serve as training, testing, isolation, and treatment centers. This also includes an additional facility in Victoria Island, Lagos.

The facilities, which will be located across the country of more than 200 million people with a total of 1,000 beds, will be ready within weeks, Access Bank said Thursday in an emailed statement. They will have Chinese experts and serve as testing, isolation, treatment and training centers, the lender added.

United Bank for Africa Plc, another leading Nigerian lender, said it will donate about 5 billion naira ($13 million) toward providing assistance to the country and 19 others across Africa to support their governments in combating the viral infection.

Atlas Mara-backed Union Bank has also partnered with 54gene, a U.S.-based genetic research company, using a $500,000 funding facility to increase Covid-19 testing capacity in Nigeria to 1,000 daily.

54gene launched the testing support fund with $150,000 to secure instruments and protective equipment needed to keep health-care workers safe. The company aims to increase testing capacity in Nigeria to 5,000 tests daily working with other partners.

Nigeria has recorded 65 cases of the Covid-19 virus, including one fatality. There are fears the spread could become exponential if community infections aren’t curtailed.

“COVID-19 affects us all and threatens our collective health (economic, social, psychological) and physical wellbeing. Hence, the urgent need to collaborate and work together to beat this common enemy. The task ahead is daunting and bigger than any one organisation. To win this battle, it is critical we all come together as one,” Aliko Dangote said.