Enforce Law on Social Distancing, Group Tells FG

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Martins Ifijeh

The Civil Society Alliance Against COVID-19 (CSAA-COVID-19) has called on the federal government to enforce the law on social distancing, ramp up contact tracing and motivate health workers if it is serious about ending COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

In an open letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, which was sighted by THISDAY yesterday, the group called on the federal government to take immediate and decisive steps to rev up the medical and health response to COVID-19 which should include, more aggressive contact tracing and increased community-based testing as well as incentivising health workers.

CSAA-COVID-19 is a group of 70 civil society organisations.

The open letter reads in part: “The strategy should be to ensure that the virus is not allowed to spread beyond the states still reporting cases and effectively curtailing spread within these states while the current lockdown lasts.

“The federal government should address increased gender-based violence (GBV) by ensuring continued access to services for victims;clarifying that those providing GBV-response services are exempted from movement restrictions in order to attend to victims and providing extra funding and other resources for GBV services.

“The restriction on mass gathering should be maintained. That would also mean continuing to limit religious gatherings, social gatherings and entertainment-related businesses.”

CSAA-COVID-19 called on President Buhari to enforce social distancing rules by working with commercial transporters and National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to limit the number of passengers that can be carried, adding that every transporter should be required to keep copies of detailed manifest of drivers and passengers.

It said government should urgently consider the mandatory use of masks by passengers in public transport vehicles alongside emergency measures to make these affordably available to those traveling.

“There should be urgent and better coordination to assist those already being impacted by the COVID-19 recession. Nigeria should immediately consider welfare payments to the unemployed and tax payers below a reasonable income level which could utilise technology and the increasing amount of data gathered by government

using BVN where individuals and communities should be able to register online and offline for assistance.

“Drive down the price of food by providing well managed regulation of the movement of food and its safe sale to ensure that food is accessible to all Nigerians,” it added.

The group said as part of measures to address the pandemic, government should also partially re-open the judicial system in keeping with the need for rule of law and security measures.

“Designate high-level scientific advisers to work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and fund the Academy of Science to work with relevant agencies on researching possible cures and the approval of rapid diagnostics tests (RDTs),” it added.