By Hassan Zaggi
The Federal Government has been advised to take proactive measures to ensure that the country does not slip into community transmission of Covid-19.
The Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) gave the advice in a statement signed by its President and General Secretary, Hassan Zaggi and Gloria Essien, respectively, in Abuja, Thursday.
ANHEJ is a group of professional journalists assigned by different media organisations to cover activities in the health sector.
The group however linked the sudden rise in the new cases of Covid-19 in the country to the self isolation method being used by the federal government instead of adopting force isolation since the beginning of the epidemic.
“Even though it is not time to apportion blames, as journalists covering the health sector, we have, at various media briefings organized by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, observed the need for forced isolation instead of the current method of self-isolation being adopted by the federal government.
“We have severally argued that some Nigerians may not observe the voluntarily 14-days self-isolation, hence, the need to force them in order to prevent them from spreading the disease in the country.
“Our fears seem to be coming true. We, however, insist that force isolation for anyone coming into the country is the way to go.”
The journalists group expressed concern that the recent happenings in the country indicated that Nigeria is gradually getting to community transmission of the Covid-19.
“Most worrisome, however, is that, a considerable number of the newly confirmed cases are not imported. What this implies is that our situation is gradually getting to community transmission of the diseases.
“This is evident in the case of aides of some top government functionaries who are said to have come down with the illness without travelling outside the country. They contracted it from their bosses.
“ANHEJ, therefore, calls on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to, as matter of urgency, track all the people that might have had close contact with the top government functionaries who are currently down with the Covid-19. Nobody should be left out, no matter how high placed. They should be closely monitored for 14 days.”
ANHEJ however, called on the various state governments to fix the Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs), considering that the current shut down by most states of the country will witness the influx of urban dwellers to the rural areas.
The group further called on the Federal Ministry of Health, the NCDC, to provide all the necessary protective materials to its members (journalists) who are at the centre of this crisis.