Nigeria: Covid-19 - Ensure Equity in Enforcement of Restrictions, Public Health Expert Tasks Govt

17 May 2021

As Nigerians continue to laud the Federal government's decision to ban flights from countries currently being ravaged by the 3rd wave of the coronavirus, a public health expert has called for equity in the enforcement of the restrictions.

A renowned Medical Laboratory Scientist, Dr Casmier Ifeanyi who spoke to Vanguard, warned that what happened in the first and the second waves of the pandemic should not be allowed to repeat.

"Of course it is anticipated that the high and mighty can also get past these protocols because the operatives may be intimidated or will take gifts, get compromised and turn a blind eye.

"Also, previous experiences have shown that some persons were allowed to procure fake COVID-19 laboratory results to enable them to exit the country or come in. There should be equity in enforcement," he explained.

"I also would want to advise that laboratory testing services for those who come from these countries or adjourning countries with records of ravaging COVID-19 pandemic should be made to go through the entire protocol of testing and quarantine time.

"That way we will ensure that we wage the third wave from getting to ravage Nigerians."

Noting that the Nigerian health systems are frail, weak and largely non-existent, the government must do more about preventive health measures and intervention.

He warned that the country would be ravaged should adequate care is not taken against the virus.

"We will be so ravaged as a country should we slack in the preventive approach and the deadly strains driving to the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic gets into Nigeria. Take for instance if what's happening in India get to our country, I am sure nobody, no right-thinking person that is a human being would wish that it happens in his country as a result of carelessness."

He charged government officials saddled with the responsibility of enforcement of the restrictions to spare no resource at bringing the full weight of the law to bear on violators and non-compliant persons.

He added; "The import of being proactive in curbing pandemics cannot be overstressed. In this wise, the presidential steering committee is right on time and proactive. They are prompt in their new prescriptions on COVID-19 restriction. The committee would need to overreach itself in the area of responsibility.

"Response should entail in the light of the impact of the new restrictions on the economy ample incentives, and palliatives that will encourage compliance. If you are saying that rather than a full capacity for a sedan taxi that the cab driver should carry at most three passengers and maintain the same fare then he should be given some incentives to encourage him to comply. If the government is shutting bars, clubs and making restrictions for operators of restaurants, then they got to be considered for stuff like tax holiday.

"Government must find a way to cushion the impact of this restriction as integral to the response. Government must also make available at a reduced cost or for free some of the non-pharmaceutical protocol consumables including face mask and alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

"The Presidential Steering Committee will also need to ensure that public buildings make provisions for these consumables and that water is provided in these Public buildings provide water because it's regrettable that in most public buildings in Nigeria particularly those owned by the government, they do not have a steady water supply and as such, maintenance of basic hand hygiene will be very challenging."

He added that the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has lived up to its mandate and bidding.

"The leadership of the NCDC has been very exemplary. In fact, NCDC is an embodiment of the desired new Nigeria was systems and processes work at top-notch," he added

If all our MDA's particularly those under the Federal Ministry of Health work like the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control then our health system will be rated among the first 10 in the Bloomberg template. I will like to encourage Dr Chikwe Ihekwuazu and his management team to stay focused and committed more than ever before because their efforts are yielding indelible footprints in the Nigerian health sector.

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