Decries low level of preparedness to tackle virus
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
An international non-profit making organization, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, Monday, explained the reason why the Federal Government should lock down the country for 14 days, which is to fast-track efforts of the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19 from spreading and escalating.
This was contained in a statement by Communications Coordinator AAN, Lola Ayanda, where the Country Director, AAN, Ene Obi, said more needs to be done quickly and promptly. With the cases of infected persons increasing from three to 36 within a week, “Nigeria needs to be ready for the worst-case scenario.”
According to Obi AAN’s concerned is about the lack of proactive steps not taken at the community levels, which also an average woman in the market is still unaware of the deadly virus that could infect one person whose high exposure can infect up to 2.5 million persons within five days.
Although, AAN commended the Presidential Task Force on some of the steps taken on the control of COVID-19 so far, but expressed concerns in some areas.
She said: “ActionAid Nigeria is calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria to lock down the country, except those on essential services for the next 14 days to fast-track the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19 in combating the spread of the virus.
“More needs to be done quickly and promptly. With the cases of infected persons increasing from 3 to 36 within a week, Nigeria needs to be ready for the worst-case scenario. Unfortunately, the concept of social distancing and self-isolation remains a mirage to many Nigerians.
“The average Nigerian, particularly those offline and at the grassroots are still ignorant and lack the basic safeguarding information on symptoms and prevention of the spread of the virus.
“As an organisation, we are concerned that no proactive steps are being taken at the community levels and the average woman in the market is still unaware that the virus is so contagious that 1 infected person with high exposure can infect up to 2.5 million persons within 5 days as stated by the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire during a press conference on Monday 23rd March 2020.”
She further expressed worry over the low-level preparedness displayed by the government to tackle the virus from spreading across the country.
“We are worried that Nigeria’s level of preparedness to respond to COVID-19 is low and this further buttresses the need to re-prioritise Nigeria’s budgetary provisions by investing more in healthcare facilities.
“Nigeria’s porous borders make her susceptible to outbreaks and it is quite unfortunate that we still have public gathering across the nation with many Nigerians still going about their businesses in packed public transport.
“Outbreaks and pandemics create an opportunity to re-evaluate the potency of our healthcare system and authenticity of our citizens’ database which would have eased contact tracing of the imported cases of the coronavirus”, she stated.
AA N in the statement called on government and said, “Federal Government to issue an order to lock down the country for the next 14 days to curtail further spread of the virus and review thereafter; Federal to open up emergency support for hospitals already coping with the treatment and bring on board the multitude of doctors (including others health workers) that are unemployed and recall retired doctors, and not wait till the crisis is full-blown.
“State Governments to swiftly act by increasing the awareness on the proactive measures to prevent the spread of the virus at the grassroots level; National Orientation Agency and Ministry of Information to intensify public awareness to sensitize the masses by translating preventive guidelines to major Nigerian languages, especially on radio and other traditional means of communication. Also, provide simple information leaflets and posters to be circulated nationwide soonest to protect citizens
“Media, particularly online mediums to fact-check and be more proactive in countering fake news; and Citizens to support government’s effort by remaining at home with family members, reporting identified cases, practicing social distancing/ self-isolation, spreading preventive messages and desist from spreading unverified information.”