Health Workers Urge Buhari to Reverse Decision on Lockdown

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

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

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 and Ogun State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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 COVID-19 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 it is capable of worsening the situation.

In a statement signed by NUAHP

National President, Dr. Obinna Ogbonna, and its General Secretary, Martin Egbanubi, the workers said the relaxation of the lockdown is premature and capable of eroding all the gains so far made in the fight against COVID-19.

According to them, “In view of this disturbing development arising from the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the union demands the immediate reversal of the decision by the federal government to relax lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States; procurement of more testing kits and establishment of more isolation centres.”

The union added that the decision to call for the reversal of the president’s 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 statement said: “The union has studied carefully the declaration made by President Buhari on the gradual easing of lockdown nationwide with effect from May 4, 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 frontlines, 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.”

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

The union said the government’s refusal to take NUAHP advice in the past led to the coronavirus spread to the country, warning that except certain steps were 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 outset of this pandemic. This premature relaxation is suicidal, and if allowed, has the capacity to erode all our gains in the fight against COVID-19,” the statement said.

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

The union 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.