From Noah Ocheni, Lokoja
The Country Director ActionAid Nigeria Ene Obi on Monday called on the Federal Government to lockdown the country, 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.
Obi who made the call in a press statement made available to Journalists in Lokoja decried the increased cases of the imported dreaded virus in the country, “We commend some of the steps taken by the Presidential Task Force on the Control of Covid-19 and most state governments thus far, but more needed to be done quickly and promptly.”
With the cases of infected persons rising from 3 to 36 within a week, the Country Director stressed that Nigeria needs to be ready for the worst-case scenario adding that it is Unfortunate that the concept of social distancing and self-isolation remains a mirage to many Nigerians.
“The average Nigerian, particularly those offline and at the grassroot are still ignorant and lack the basic safeguarding information on symptoms and prevention of the spread of the virus.” She added.
As an organisation, Obi said “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 one infected person with high exposure can infect 2.5 million persons within 5 days as stated by the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire.”
The Country Director lamented that Nigeria’s level of preparedness to respond to COVID-19 is low and this further buttress the need to re-prioritise Nigeria’s budgetary provisions by investing more in healthcare facilities.
She pointed out that Nigeria’s porous borders made her susceptible to outbreaks and it is unfortunate that Nigerians still hold public gathering across the nation with many 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.” Obi stressed.
Obi therefore appealed to the Federal Government 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 waiting till the crisis is full blown.
The Country Director also called on the National Orientation Agency (NOA) 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.
ActionAid Nigeria, a national non-governmental organization also enjoined citizenry 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.