By Gabriel Olawale
THE Health Writers’ Association of Nigeria, HEWAN, on Thursday called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, place a ban on flights from Britain and other countries currently experiencing the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.
In a press statement by the association, they urged the government not to wait until the virus gets to the shores of the country before taking the necessary steps to keep the variant away from Nigeria.
The body of Health Writers expressed confidence in the country’s ability to develop a vaccine for the novel Coronavirus.
“As the whole world is racing for the production of a vaccine for the cure of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, we urge the federal government to ensure funds are dedicated for research institutes such as the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and others, that can develop a homegrown vaccine that can tackle it. We strongly believe we have the capacity for the development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
According to the statement tagged; “2nd Wave of COVID- 19 pandemic: A call to urgently ensure public safety” HEWAN observed with great concern the resurgence of what experts say is the emergence of a new variant of the pandemic coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in some countries and a need for Nigerian health authorities to put measures not to allow it into the country.
“As at today, the new variant is reportedly spreading rapidly in Britain and the World Health Organusation, WHO has confirmed nine instances of the same variant in Denmark, Australia, Italy, and the Netherlands. Several other countries including South Africa have also confirmed the emergence of variants similar to the one now ravaging Britain.
“Scientists say the new variant is 70 percent more transmissible than the previously dominant strain though there’s no evidence yet that it could be more fatal. There’s however, fear that it will spread swiftly to other countries.
“Expectedly, countries around the world have reacted swiftly to prevent or curtail the spread of the new variant. As at today, over 40 countries have banned flights from Britain while neighbouring France has temporarily shut its borders.
“However, health authorities in Nigeria have remained silent and yet to respond to the new development.
Unfortunately, the nation is already experiencing an influx of travelers, as expected in this festive period, from different countries including those now being ravaged by the new strain of COVID-19.
“It is, therefore, imperative that the country acts fast as the world confronts another wave of the pandemic.
We strongly believe we have the capacity for the development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. A stitch in time saves nine!
The Health Writers Association of Nigeria, HEWAN, is an umbrella body of all health/science reporters and editors (TV, RADIO, PRINT,and Online), in Nigeria, registered first as members of The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ.