By Chioma Obinna
Medical doctors under the employ of Lagos State Government yesterday expressed worry over-relaxation of the lockdown in the State, disclosing that 16 members of the Medical Guild in the state workforce have been infected with COVID-19.
Addressing a press conference on the Issues of Covid-19 Response and Challenges Identified by the Guild, in Lagos, Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr. Sodipo Oluwajimi who explained that the doctors were in stable condition, said to prevent more doctors from testing positive to the disease, they have adopted the slogan of ‘No Personal Protective Equipment, No work.”
According to him, the State Government should prioritise the provision of PPE in the hospitals at all levels so as to prevent the spread of the virus.
Sodipo added that the current community transmission of COVID-19 has led to a situation, where everyone can be designated as a COVID suspect especially as there are asymptomatic patients as well as those with atypical symptoms.
He further raised concerns that certain issues such as prompt and widespread testing of suspected cases, which should be in place in order to reduce exposure of the healthcare workers and the populace, with results released within a maximum of 48 hours were not resolved during the lockdown.
He said the state government failed to resolve issues around the modalities for enforcement of the proposed guidelines for Lagosians as announced by the Government.
Still maintain that it was premature to ease the lockdown, he said: Issues around the use of social distancing use of face masks, having adequate hand washing and hand sanitizers in place with appropriate measures to checkmate defaulters are yet to be resolved.
“We do not support the use of gloves, if they are not changed regularly and hand hygiene practised, it could lead to increased spread. “
Other issues he listed that are yet to be resolved include; “The provision of a post lockdown surge in need for consumables especially Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the hospitals with the attendant risk of increased infections and the need for bed space.
This will be worsened if the testing and contact tracing is not at maximum capacity to allow for early identification of cases, proper quarantine, and isolation as appropriate among others.
The Medical Guild Chair further called for ramping testing capacity and contact tracing to allow for proper containment of the pandemic, adding that it would assist for clinical decision making with a reduction in spread among patients, healthcare workers, and the population.
He stressed the need for the enforcement of physical distancing, hand washing/hand sanitization, and use of face masks with penalties for defaulters, adding that, it must be implemented to stop further spread.
He also recommended the setting up of a multi-stakeholder Committee that would incorporate health workers groups such as the Medical Guild which would regularly discuss and update clinical guidelines as regards COVID-19.
“The Lagos State Government should start the process of dialogue and negotiation between the health workers and government with a mandate for implementation of the health workers agreement with special emphasis on health insurance, hazard allowance, Covid-19 allowance, and other benefits.”
He said the Medical Guild lauded Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for increasing the hazard allowance for health workers from N5, 000 to N25, 000 in the month of April, urging him to extend it beyond the month of April as the disease was still much around.
He called on the State government to designate every healthcare worker as frontline healthcare workers, both those at the isolation centres as well as those working in the hospitals.