Covid-19: Relaxing Lockdown Premature, Health Workers Tell Buhari

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

The Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) has implored President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the decision to relax measures on Covid-19 lockdown which takes effect from Monday.

In his April 27, 2020 national broadcast, President Buhari had approved the implementation of a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown order in Lagos, Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory.

The move was seen as a response to concerns over the negative effect the lockdown was having on businesses and Iives of citizens.

However, many have raised concerns over the easing of the lockdown, basing their worry on the rise in number of confirmed cases of Covid19 in Kano, Lagos and some other states.

One of such oppositions came from the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) which kicked against the president’s decision to ease the lockdown, saying that it is capable of worsening the situation.

In a statement signed by NUAHP National President, Dr Obinna Ogbonna, and General Secretary, Martin Egbanubi, the workers said
relaxation of the lockdown is premature and is capable of eroding all the gains so far made in the fight against Covid-19.

“In view of this disturbing development arising from the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the union demands the immediate reversal of the decision by FG to relax lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States, procurement of more testing kits and establishment of more isolation centres,” it said.

The union said the decision to call for the reversal of the president order was based on its observation in the last few days concerning increase in the number of infected persons, number of deaths and testing capacity.

“The union has studied carefully the declaration by President Buhari on the gradual easing of lockdown nationwide with effect from Monday, May 4, 2020 and hereby raises serious concern based on reported cases of increase in coronavirus infection and spread across the country in the last few days.

“As a union with members on the front lines, we cannot but caution the federal and affected state governments to continue with the lockdown until adequate measures have been taken to contain it.

“We must not forget the fact that, the deficit of health professionals, medical consumables and facilities in our country would not be able to handle whatever upsurge that may arise due to the high incidences especially the community transmission that is being presently witnessed in some parts of the country,” it said.

According to NUAHP, the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) had said that only 16,588 cases have been tested so far in a population of about 200 million people.

The union said the federal government’s refusal to take NUAHP’s advice in the past led to coronavirus spread to the country, warning that except certain steps are taken before relaxing the lockdown, a full blown transmission may result.

“We should avoid repeating the initial national mistake of ignoring our call for early stringent measures at all entry points into Nigeria at the onset of this pandemic. This premature relaxation is suicidal, and if allowed, has the capacity of eroding all our gains in the fight against COVID-19,” it said.

It called for the strengthening and encouragement of research on the development of vaccines.

It also urged the federal government to support textile and garment industries and laboratories in the production of face masks, rapid test kits, hand sanitizers and ventilators.