Relaxation of Lockdown Will Increase Community Spread of COVID-19, Says Medical Association

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By Martins Ifijeh

The Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State Chapter, Dr. Saliu Oseni, has said that the phased and gradual relaxation of lockdown by the federal government will fuel community spread of COVID-19.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in a broadcast Monday said the lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states would be relaxed May 4 and that other measures would be in place to halt community spread of the respiratory disease.

Speaking with THIDAY Tuesday, Oseni said there was need for extension of the lockdown, adding that the country was already battling with person to person transmission which should require stringent measures to tackle.

He said: “It is obvious the government is unable to meet up with the palliatives for poor Nigerians and hence could no longer justify the lockdown. I presume that is why the President relaxed it.

“What the government is doing presently is just an alternative to what they were supposed to do. This alternative is not better than total lockdown.

“The truth of the matter is that government did not do what it was supposed to do to make the lockdown work appropriately. That failure by the government is what has translated into the community spread of the virus we are seeing now.”

He said for the country to win the fight against the virus, government should invest in awareness, increase capacity for testing, and then put those that are asymptomatic in holding areas rather than allowing them isolate themselves at home.

The NMA chairman said: “One of the challenges we are having is that the government has asked those without symptoms to self-isolate, but it has forgotten that few days before symptoms are noticed are the days when the virus spreads easily.

“These asymptomatic people have no awareness, so they just go home and live normally since they do not have symptoms, and by so doing they are spreading the virus in the community.”

He also extended the blame to rich Nigerians with COVID-19 who refused to isolate themselves, stressing that they have now transferred the virus to ordinary Nigerians who lack the necessary palliatives to stay at home.