Nigeria: Coronavirus - NMA, Health Groups Call for Enforced Self-Isolation

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ), have called on the federal government to commence 'supervised self-isolation' in order to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The groups, in separate statements issued on Thursday, said, such a move will ensure returnees from countries with high prevalence adhere to instructions and confine themselves to a location.

With increasing cases of Covid-19, the issue of self-isolation has raised public concern in the country.

This is especially, as some people who returned from high-risk countries or had contact with a positive case have reportedly refused to observe the 14-day compulsory isolation period.

As of Thursday night, Nigeria had recorded 65 cases of the Covid-19 virus.

Supervised self-isolation

The president of NMA, Francis Faduyile, said official monitoring of people under isolation will deliver better results than "voluntary reports of failing health".

"NMA calls for immediate commencement of supervised self-isolation in any manner that will protect public health.

"This would ensure that returnees from the countries with high prevalence will adhere to instructions and confine themselves to a location in order to protect members of the public.

"Physical visits by the designated officials to the returnees to track their locations, taking their vital signs and those of each of their contacts rather than voluntary reports of failing health and serial testing of their samples will deliver better results," he said.

Mr Faduyile also urged the government to commence a strategic partnership with states on day to day basis "as the weakest link in the chain can rubbish every effort of the stronger parts".

"Working together eliminates this. This partnership and cooperation will be most needed in the area of technical support and funding," he said.

The association also demanded uniformity in the implementation of the lock-down orders on non-essential services.

"We are observing with dismay that some state governments of the federation are vacillating on the closure of schools and banning social and religious gatherings, basking in the euphoria that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their states.

"We, therefore, call on President Buhari to issue an Executive order to enforce compliance," Mr Faduyile said.

Similar appeal

In a statement signed by the president of ANHEJ, Hassan Zaggi, the group said the sudden rise in the new cases of Covid-19 in the country is linked to the current self-isolation method.

"Even though it is not time to apportion blames, as journalists covering the health sector, we have, at various media briefings organised by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, observed the need for forced isolation instead of the current method of self-isolation being adopted by the federal government.

"We have severally argued that some Nigerians may not observe the voluntarily 14-day self-isolation, hence, the need to force them in order to prevent them from spreading the disease in the country.

"Our fears seem to be coming true. We, however, insist that forced isolation for anyone coming into the country is the way to go," it said.

The group urged the government to take proactive measures to ensure that the country does not slip into "community transmission of Covid-19".

"Most worrisome, is that, a considerable number of the newly confirmed cases are not imported. What this implies is that our situation is gradually getting to community transmission of the diseases.

"This is evident in the case of aides of some top government functionaries who are said to have come down with the illness without travelling outside the country. They contracted it from their bosses.

"ANHEJ, therefore, calls on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, to track all the people that might have had close contact with the top government functionaries who are currently down with the Covid-19. Nobody should be left out, no matter how high placed. They should be closely monitored for 14 days," the group said.

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