JAMB’s colloquium: Experts fault use of tunnels, fumigation for COVID-19

By Felix Khanoba

Experts have described the use of safety tunnels and fumigation for the prevention of COVID-19 as useless effort.

The experts made this known on Tuesday at a virtual colloquium organised by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in collaboration with the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and Premium Times.

JAMB’s Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, said the event became necessary following the preponderance of divergent opinions from professionals on some of the pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical measures being adopted by relevant authorities to curb the spread of the virus.

Prof. Oloyede, who expressed delight over the scientific contributions at the event, said the decision reached would go a long way in effectively tackling the spread of COVID-19.

“The contributions have been very enormous; many things that were not cleared are now clear. We believe the over 300 participants who are here, will tell others who are not here.

“We should be doing things rightly and be taking all the precautions against COVID-19. What brought JAMB into this was that we wanted to do the boots (safety tunnels) for all of our states branches and it cost a lot of money, and when there were doubts, we needed to bring people together. We didn’t want to do something wrong,” he said.

Speaking at the event, the Coordinator of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Aliyu Sani, argued that there is no scientific basis for deployment of disinfectant tunnels in public places as a way of preventing COVID-19.

“There is no absolute evidence that this (disinfection tunnel) is effective, that is why at the national level we have taken it out,” Sani said.

“This disinfection could be less effective than washing hands. Is not like as you go into the tunnel, it will tell you to open your mouth, your eyes,” he added.

Sani’s whose submission, was also corroborated by majority of other participants-mostly head of Microbiology departments of tertiary education institutions, decried the use of fumigation in fight against COVID-19.

“COVID is not a rat neither is it an insect that you fumigate. All that is needed is to wear a mask and keep your environment clean. All these fumigation all over the places makes you feel good but common sanitation is what you need to prevent other diseases, not even COVID,” he said.

But the Executive Vice Chairman of National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Muhammed Haruna, picked holes on the non-effectiveness of safety tunnels, saying such arguments are not backed by clinical evidence.

Haruna, whose agency, has continued to churn out disinfectant tunnels, said countries like China, India, among others, adopted tunnels to cut down on the spread of the virus and argued that the advisory by the World Health Organisation on the non-effectiveness of the product could be reviewed in not too distant time.

On his part, representative of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof Sunday Bwala, warned against the commercialisation and politicisation of the pandemic.

“Many are seeing it as a way of business. We are dealing with a virus and the best way is to attack it. We should embark on the scientific preventive ways,” he said.

Also speaking, the President of Nigerian Academy of Letters, Prof. Francis Egbokharu, called for clear-cut preventive measures that are easily understandable by the people as against the confusion that trailed some of the guidelines.

Participants also agreed that hand-washing for at least 40 seconds, regular use of face masks, and other scientific-proven preventive measures would cut down the spread of the virus.

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