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Saturday, January 28, 2023

COVID-19: Doctors fault govt’s stance on restricting travellers from China

The Association of Nigerian Private Medical Practitioners (ANPMP) has faulted the Federal Government’s restraint in placing a restriction on travellers from China due to COVID-19 resurgence.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire
Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Health Minister

ANPMP’s President, Dr Kayode Adesola, who said this in an interview on Thursday, January 5, 2023, in Lagos, submitted that proactive measures as against reactive measures are critical in a pandemic response.

The association is the umbrella organisation for all medical and dental doctors in private practice, either as owners or employees in the country.

Adesola said that the country’s preventive measures should be reintroduced.

“I don’t think it’s a smart decision for the government to foot-drag in placing a ban on travellers from China because delay may be dangerous.

“Because we are friendly with China doesn’t mean we should allow everything including diseases into the country.

“It can be catastrophic if another strain of COVID-19 is transmitted into the country because our health system is weak.

“Most of the medical workers that assisted in the fight against the virus had left the country,” he said.

According to him, the morale of the remaining medical workers in the country is low due to kidnapping, attacks on medical practitioners by patients and their families and insecurity.

“Members of ANPMP provide over 70 per cent of the health care delivery in the country, and played a key role in the COVID-19 response.

“But events in the country is killing medical practice. A doctor cannot come out in the night to save a patient’s life because of fear for his own life.

“The few doctors working passionately to save lives are compensated with attacks.

“Presently, the morale of many health care workers is low, and their participation in fighting infectious diseases might not be forthcoming.

“These reasons show that the government has to take responsibility for making tough decisions that would protect and save lives of its citizens from transmission of COVID-19,” he said.

Adesola said that preventive measures were critical now, especially as the country was battling other infectious diseases aside from COVID-19, coupled with the ongoing electioneering across the country.

The medical doctor advised the public to re-embrace the use of face masks, constant hand washing with soap and observe social distancing, to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

About 18 countries had imposed new measures on travellers from China, as COVID-19 infections in the country continued to rise.

Some countries reintroduced pre-flight tests for passengers from China, while some tests are conducted on passengers from that country on arrival.

Similarly, some countries had placed an outright ban on travellers from the Asian country.

However, Dr Muktar Muhammad, Coordinator and Technical Head, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, said Nigeria did not have any red alert to warrant its change of COVID-19 protocols, or issue restrictions against China.

Nigeria in December relaxed its COVID-19 protocols, following a sustained reduction in the transmission of the virus across the country.

Data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showed that the country recorded 35 new cases of COVID-19 infections in the last week of December 2022.

The new cases increased Nigeria’s total infection to 266,450 and 3,155 deaths, since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019.

By Oluwafunke Ishola

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