“We challenge President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the travel ban on all countries with recorded cases of the diseases as announced by some countries including African nations.
Across the country also, immediate steps should be taken to sensitize all Nigerians on the danger posed by COVID-19 as it will be catastrophic if the disease is allowed to take root in the country while the ban on all religious gathering of over 50 people by the Lags State government is commendable and should be emulated by other states as part of measures to contain the pandemic”.
AS the deadly coronavirus, otherwise tagged Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage lives and economies worldwide with 8,312 deaths and 208,550 reported cases among them 12 in Nigeria, all hands must be on deck in the country to protect all citizens and stop further escalation of the disease given the weak health system in the country.
And given the devastating consequences of the Coronavirus so far coupled with increasing number of cases after the index case of an Italian was first detected in Lagos February 27, we believe that the time for the federal, state and local governments to mobilize both the entire citizenry and the organized private sector to take all necessary steps to contain and possibly defeat the disease like we did to Ebola is now.
We recall that COVID-19 that first broke out in Wuhan, China, early December 2019, which the World Health Organization, WHO already declared a pandemic has regrettably spread to over 170 countries and territories around the world thereby constituting major threat to global economies, aviation and manufacturing sectors as well as commodity prices such as crude oil, which has dropped by over 45 percent since January and account for 60 percent of Nigeria’s total annual revenue.
China and Italy according to the latest statistics on the disease are the worst hit across the globe. COVID-19 which symptoms may include shortness of breath, infection and fever we further not can be avoided through regular washing of hands with soap under running water; covering the mouth and nose properly with a handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing; avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing; shunning self-medication and reporting to the nearest health facility when one experiences any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
As a necessary precaution also, healthcare givers are also encouraged to always observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients as well as take a travel history.
Even though about 83,230 people who were infected with the disease have reportedly recovered, the increasing number of cases of carriers in Nigeria (12) as at Thursday is worrisome and should serve as a wake-up call for all to take precautionary steps to stem the pandemic from further escalating in the country in the interest of the people.
As an immediate step, we recommend that all tiers of government through their respective public enlightenment units led by the National Orientation Agency, NOA, should immediately embark on massive awareness campaign to educate the citizenry on the causes, symptoms, treatment of the disease as well as how to combating.
Regrettably and contrary to past assurances by the Federal Government that the country was ready to contain the virus at the nation’s various entry points including the international airports and land borders, what is crystal clear is that all the reported cases so far were imported into Nigeria exposing how unprepared our health system is in the event of national emergency.
In fact the implication of the above is that there are more potential cases of infected Nigerians than those already detected since as experience has shown that some people who got exposed to carriers of the virus unknown of their status as it takes 14 days to clearly manifest.
Besides, it is clear that many rural dwellers are not yet to be properly educated on the deadly virus thus making the country very vulnerable to escalation of the pandemic and considering that there are only three World Health Organisation (WHO) designated laboratories in the country, namely the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) in Edo State, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Abuja and the centre in Lagos.
We welcome the establishment of a presidential task force for the control of the virus as well as the newly inaugurated seven-man committee by the Nigeria Governor’s Forum to address and curb further spread of the disease.
The battle against COVID-19 in our view must be fought decisively with relevant government agencies and experts taking the lead in doing the needful.
Therefore, the Federal Government’s decision to slam a travel ban on 13 nations including the United States of America, the United Kingdom and China though belated is aright step in the right direction while officials should tighten their surveillance and screening of inbound passengers at our air, land and sea borders.
We further challenge President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the travel ban on all countries with recorded cases of the diseases as announced by some countries including African nations.
Across the country also, immediate steps should be taken to sensitize all Nigerians on the danger posed by COVID-19 as it will be catastrophic if the disease is allowed to take root in the country while the ban on all religious gathering of over 50 people by the Lags State government is commendable and should be emulated by other states as part of measures to contain the pandemic.
We enjoin leaders of religious bodies such as the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and Jama’atu Nasril Islam to fully cooperate with the government in enforcing the ban in Lagos and other states that may come up with similar measure in the interest of both worshippers and the country.This is in line with similar restriction earlier announced by the Vatican in Rome, Italy and the Saudi Arabia, two prominent religious centres in the world. Adherents should pray more at home for now.
The proposed shut down of both public and private schools by states such as Anambra, Lagos, Oyo as well as their counterparts in the North West geo-political zones as well as the postponement of the National Sports Festival slated for Benin City the Edo State capital by President Buhari is equally commendable to enable pupils, students and athletes stay at home while governments should step up measures to stop further spread of the disease.
States should, in our view immediately establish at least one functional isolation centre each as well as ultra modern laboratory where blood sample of suspected COVID-19 cases can be tested in a record time unlike the present situation where there are only three of such centres certified by the W.H.O. Vigorous public enlightenment should similarly by carried out to guide against stigmatization of infected persons in order to encourage voluntary test by the people.
Similarly, we challenge the government to provide the needed clement environment for indigenous manufacturers to partner with their foreign counterparts to commence the production of test kits, sanitizers, face masks, thermometer and other equipment locally needed to contain the pandemic and defeat it. This will make the items not only easily available but affordable to majority of Nigerians.
The outbreak of the disease again, has offered a fresh opportunity for the federal and state governments to allocate at least 15 percent of their annual budgets as recommended by the W.H.O. to health as part of measures to strengthen the health system and boost the national health security since the security and welfare of the citizens is the primary responsibility of government.
We call on citizens not to cause panic and tension with the spread of fake news and misinformation on social media since Coronavirus can only be contained through active collaboration between government and the people.
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